No Ordinary Banana Bread

Fast, Easy And Most Of All, Delicious!

It just seems that every week we have some bananas that just get too ripe for my taste. Harry doesn’t mind if they get those “Age Spots” on them but I just can’t eat them when they’ve gone that far.  So, very often a moist flavorful Banana Bread appears.

Banana Bread.jpg

What we love about this recipe other than saving  the life of a couple of bananas, is that this cake stays fresh for days or freezes really well. You can slice it before freezing and then just take out a few slices at a time.

Lets get started resuscitating those over the hill bananas!

Two Food Nuts Banana Bread:

For the batter you will need:

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup of raisins (you can also add 1 cup chopped pecans if you like)

For the glaze  you will need:

The juice of one lemon and enough icing sugar to make a stiff, but pourable icing.

banana loaf.jpg

We use a stand mixer but if you have a hand mixer you can do this in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together until the sugar is well incorporated. Add the bananas and mix just to break them up. Add the eggs and mix for 15 seconds. Pour in the milk and lemon juice. Mix for 10 seconds and now add the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking soda). Mix just to create the batter. Now switch to a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir in the raisins and nuts if using them.

Prepare a loaf pan by greasing with either butter or baking spray such as Pam and flour the pan. You can also spray the pan and line it with a sheet of parchment paper to be sure the cake released.

Parchment lined pan.JPG

Bake in the middle of the oven at 350 F degrees for at least 1 hour. Check at that point with a wooden skewer. If the cake is still wet, reduce the oven to 300F degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes. If your cake is getting too dark but still not baked, lay a piece of foil over it.

Banana Bread.jpg

When the cake is done, I remove it from the pan by lifting it on the parchment and cool it on a baking rack. Once the cake is cool, pour the glaze down the middle and help it run down the sides with a spatula. Thanks for saving the life of a doomed Banana!

We look forward to your comments on this recipe. Happy baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Braised Red Cabbage With Apples

Braised Red Cabbage With Apples.

Elfie and momWinter  wouldn’t be Winter without a big pot of Braised Red Cabbage with Apples!  This is a family recipe that has been handed down by my mom and my grandmother. As you know by following this blog, we are big vegetable fans. Harry and I aren’t vegetarians but a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is just plain healthy.  Red cabbage is regular visitor on the German table, so it’s my pleasure to share my mother’s recipe with you.

PS: Shhh…..Elfie’s Mom always put fried bacon in this recipe! Maybe Bacon is the secret to living to 84!

 

TwoFoodNuts Braised Red Cabbage with Apples:

  • 1 medium red cabbage
  • 2 large or 4 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar (mom would have used red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil (optional, but it gives richness to the finished dish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Braised Red cabbage with applesYou’ll need a dutch oven to prepare this recipe.  We don’t make it in a slow cooker,  but you can certainly use one.  The recipe makes a large batch that’s perfect for a big crowd or for freezing.

Begin by quartering the cabbage. Remove the big white core.  Now finely slice the quarters. As you slice one of the cabbage quarters, layer on one sliced apple and a tiny bit of salt and pepper. (go easy here so its not too salty).

Red cabbage

Once you have all the cabbage and apples layered, pour the other ingredients into the pot.  Now, let the stove top or the slow cooker do all the work!

Cook’s Tip:  If using a slow cooker, cook on low all day and turn up to high with the lid off for about an hour to reduce the excess moisture.

I cook the cabbage on medium-low for about 2 hours covered. Then remove the lid for the remainder of the cooking time. You want the excess moisture to cook away, leaving the cabbage in a light glaze.  The dish is finished when the cabbage is tender and the apples have dissolved. Taste for salt and pepper. That’s it!

Look at that color!  Here we served the Braised Red Cabbage and Apples along side quality smoked sausages with hot mustard and fluffy mashed potatoes and finally our creamed Kohlrabi and Carrots.  It’s equally good with our German Rouladen.

Guten Apettit!

red cabbage Next time you go shopping, look for this much under-used vegetable and you may just find a new side dish in our braised red cabbage!

 

 

 

Eggs For Dinner. Ole!

Eggs With A Mexican Twist.

Busy lives demand fast, healthy meals that hit all the high notes in taste. This dish offers protein without meat, speed in preparation and savory flavors sure to please. It’s versatile too. We love eggs for dinner and this is a favorite at our house, we hope it will be at your table as well.

eggs for dinner

Lets get started:

The base of this dish is warmed flour tortillas topped with:

  • scrambled eggs(2 per person)
  • You can do the “Hungry Man or Woman” version and use 3 eggs.
  • sour cream
  • chopped tomatoes
  • fresh avocado
  • grated cheese (use your favorite)
  • Chopped red chili (optional)
  • chopped fresh herbs (we used Italian parsley) try sliced green onion too!
  • salsa.

We begin by cracking the eggs into a bowl and adding chopped red chili. Set aside.

Next chop fresh tomatoes and avocado and herbs. This takes just minutes.

Grate some cheese. This is a  good way to use up those bits in the fridge  Just a little to keep fat in check.

Place two non stick pans on the stove. You will heat the tortillas by placing on the hot pan for 30 seconds per side.

Make the scrambled eggs while you heat the tortillas. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the best dish by placing the scrambled eggs on the warm tortilla, then topping with dollops of sour cream, the chopped tomatoes, avocado, cheese, salsa and herbs.

It took Elfie no more than 15 minutes to make this start to finish. It’s rich in protein from the eggs and avocado and bit of cheese. It’s going to be your new favorite meat-free supper!

mexican eggs

 

Quiche by TwoFoodNuts

Quiche Like No Other.

Quiche is a funny thing.  It seems to go in and out of favor every few years.   Then there was the old saying “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche”!   What was that about?  No one ever said real men don’t eat ham and cheese.  For us, Quiche is ever-evolving and in many ways it’s better today than it’s ever been. With access to such a variety of cheese and fresh herbs year round you can always whip up a sensational lunch or light supper.

quiche for lunchQuiche accompanied by Harry’s Famous Caesar Salad is always a hit around here. When we have company for dinner we make a large Quiche in a pan, but for our little lunch we went through the trouble of making individual Quiche.

This recipe results in a light texture and a rich taste due to the heavy cream and the addition of the Ricotta cheese.

If you aren’t able to make pie crust, you have a couple of options.  Ready-made pie crust or quality puff pastry yields a wonderful Quiche, so no excuses.  You can do this!

TwoFoodNuts Ham and Cheese Quiche:

Makes one 9 inch Quiche

1 puff pastry thawed and laid into a removable bottom tart pan or pie plate.

  • 1 small package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp butter to fry mushrooms
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme to add to mushrooms
  • 4-6  slices quality country ham from the deli (or 1/2 cup left-over dinner ham diced)
  • 1/4 cup peas  or asparagus
  • 1 cup of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/3 cup of Feta crumbled
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by cutting up the ham and grating the cheeses into a mixing bowl.  Fry the sliced mushrooms along with the thyme sprig in a little butter.  When the mushrooms are brown, discard the thyme.   Add everything into the mixing bowl and stir well to incorporate. Pour into the pan and  decorate with the little pieces of extra dough.

decorating the Quiche

 

Quiche from scratchBake the Quiche in a 350F oven on the middle rack until the filling is just set. The reason Quiche is often rubbery is that it is over baked. You should be able to touch the center of the quiche with a slight pressure but not break the surface. There should be the slightest jiggle when the Quiche is cooked.

Allow the Quiche to set for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it.  Serve with a side salad for a complete lunch or dinner!quiche for lunch

Don’t forget to share this recipe with your friends and family on FaceBook!

 

 

 

 

Baby Its Cold Outside Shepherd’s Pie!

Comfort Food Shepherd’s Pie

Boy, this one is really “Old School”!  Everybody likes comfort food and in order to be really comforting it has to be simple to make. Before we built our new house, we lived in a little cabin here on the property. The kitchen was an after-thought, so making big fancy meals didn’t work. We spent a lot of time outdoors in those days as we tried to tame the jungle that was our little country property. After a long day of raking leaves, or shoveling snow we’d be exhausted but starving. This humble little supper was a favorite then and now.

 

TwoFoodNuts Sheppard's Pie

Here’s our TwoFoodNuts Shepherd’s Pie recipe:

Serves 4

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 can peas and carrots or (1 & 1/2 cups frozen)
  • 1 package Beef gravy Mix, (we like Knorr or International Gravy Mix)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups cold water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 Russett Potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Tbsp salt for boiling the potatoes
  • 1/4 cup soft butter for mashing

Peel and cube the Potatoes. Boil in a pot of salted water until very soft. Drain well and mash with 1/4 cup butter.

sheppard's pie filling

Fry the ground beef until well browned. Add the onion and fry until it is just transparent.  Add the peas and carrots, sprinkle the gravy mix in and add the water. (If using frozen peas and carrots you need to microwave for 3 minutes or so).

Gravy mix

Bring the meat filling to a boil and once the gravy is thickened, place the meat into a 2 quart casserole dish. Scoop the warm mashed potatoes on top and using the open side of the spoon, make a nice pattern on top.  Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes since everything is hot when assembled.

 

TwoFoodNuts Sheppard's Pie

The top should be lightly brown and the gravy will bubble up when its done!

Sheppard's Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So after a hard day, this is your reward! What do you think? Would you stick around to eat with us?

Cooking With Fire

Steaks In The Living Room Fireplace!

Wood Fired oven

We have a wood fired oven on the patio and it cooks the best food. We can’t use it in winter but we still want the taste of of cooking with fire. The solution is cooking in the wood-burning fireplace. We live in the country and the power can go out during bad winter weather so we kept a wood-burning fireplace as a source of heat.  The added benefit is cooking in it when you want that subtle taste that you get from the wood fired oven in summer.

Our son maintains “If you aren’t cooking with fire, you aren’t really cooking”!  We agree.  With that in mind we cooked our steak dinner in the fireplace tonight. We have fitted the fireplace with a BBQ grill that is supported by firebrick set on their side. This gives just the right height when cooking meat. We cook steak, chops and we’ve also done homemade pizza with way. The taste is fantastic!  When we prune old fruit trees, we save the cuttings for cooking.  Adding them to the fire gives the meat added flavor.

Cooking steak, is real simple:

Worchestershire Sauce and Montreal Steak Spice to marinate the meat.

seasoned ribeye steak

Season the meat 3 hours before cooking. Allow the meat to come to room temperature before grilling. This gives the best result. Charred outside, juicy and tender inside.

Cooking Method: Start your fire with hardwood  about 40 minutes before you wan to grill.  If you can get it, add the fruit wood when the hardwood has turned to embers. Once the fruit wood is mostly embers, it’s time to Grill!  Oil the grill and set in place.   When you place the meat on the grill you want the embers just off to the side below the meat otherwise it will burn on the outside before it’s cooked to perfection inside.

fire grilled ribeye steakCook the meat until you get a good char for about 4 minutes per side. Flip it over and allow to char on the other side.  Cooking time depends on the thickness of the steak. We only cook 1 to 1 & 1/2 inch thick steaks and chops. They stay juicy during the high heat grilling. Remove to a heated tray and cover with foil for 5 minutes.

cooking with fireSlice the meat. If it’s a bit too rare, pop it back on the grill on the tray for 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite side dish. Tonight we had Mushroom Crostini and Tomato Salad.  This is fabulous Steak Dinner, we both agreed its as good or better than the Keg.

BBQ Ribeye steakIf you have a wood-burning fireplace we challenge you to use it to cook your next steak. You won’t be sorry.

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp An Old Fashioned Dessert.

Homemade apple crisp

Apple Crisp is a go to recipe when we have an abundance of apples. This year we foraged so many apples  that we promised we’d share all our best recipes with you.  We like to make a batch of these crisps and freeze them so we can grab one and bake it off at a moment’s notice.

foraging for apples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s recipe makes 4 mini crisps or it will make one family size. Lets get started.

TwoFoodNuts Apple Crisp:

The filling:

  • 3 lbs of apples, peeled, cored and sliced into thick slices
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 allspice
  • 1/1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter cut into little cubes

Peel, core and slice the apples, place in a large bowl and add all but the butter. Divide into 4 mini foil loaf pans or place in one deep casserole for a single dessert.  Dot each crisp with the little butter cubes.

apple crisp filling

For the topping:

  • 1 cup of quick cooking Oatmeal. (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cold butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Place everything in a bowl and rub the butter into the flour and sugar to form crumbs. ( you can use a food processor to do this)

Apple Crisp

Sprinkle the crumb topping onto the fruit filling and cover with cling film and foil if freezing or pop into the oven at 350F until the filling bubbles up through the crumbs. This can take from 40 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the crisp.

Top with freshly whipped cream or quality ice cream and serve.

Cooks Tip: Sometimes when we want to change it up a bit, we use a can of cherry pie filling on top of the apple filling. It bakes into the apples and gives you a most amazing Apple/Cherry crisp. It’s a great way to use a stock recipe but add variety! Try it

 

 

Curried Squash and Apple Soup.

Squash Is A Favorite Of TwoFoodNuts

This summer we discovered some new varieties and methods of preparing all the  squash we got our hands on.  We cooked with Zucchini flowers, Patty Pan, Globe Squash stared in our Summer Ratatouille, and Zucchini Carbonara.We also roasted Delicata with pumpkin seeds and cranberries in early October.  The Abundance of Winter Squash is a blessing as we turn to making hearty soups to warm the soul during the cooler weather.  One of our favorites is Curried Butternut Squash and Apple.  How do you beat the creaminess of the squash combined with the sweet/tart flavor of crisp apples?  You just know these two ingredients will work well since they both come to harvest together.

curried squash soup

Curried  Butternut Squash and Apple soup was one of the first soups that our son Justin perfected.  He makes a mean Roasted Red Pepper Soup as well.  If  you don’t like curry you can still make the soup but perhaps you’ll use a bit of cinnamon and allspice instead. We feel the soup really benefits from the zing of spice, so be creative and try it your way.

TwoFoodNuts Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.

  • 1 medium Butternut Squash peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 small or 2 large apples, peeled and roughly cut
  • 1 Small onion roughly cut
  • 3 tables spoon Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 10 sprigs of Thyme

Peel and cut up the Apples, Squash and onion. Spread on a baking sheet lined with Parchment Paper. drizzle with oil, add salt and pepper to taste.  Place Thyme sprigs over the top and bake at 400F for 45 minutes to an hour. The Squash should be fork tender and slightly caramelized.

roasting squash and apples

squash, apples, onions

In a Dutch oven or large pot place:

6 cups of water

1 Knorr stock package (Use Chicken or Vegetable stock depending on if you are going vegetarian).

2 Tbsp mild curry

2 bay leaves

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves minced

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 red thai chili seeded and minced (optional)stick blender

Add the roasted vegetables to the soup base and simmer for 30 min. Remove the Bay leaves and puree with a stick blender or place in a regular blender.

making soup

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cranberries, pecans and a fresh Thyme sprig!   Indulge!

curried squash soup

We hope you love this hearty and a bit spicy soup. Please remember to share the recipe with your friends and family. Leave us a comment if you have a moment.

Cabbage Rolls with Secret Sauce

Farm Style Cabbage Rolls.

What’s  Fall without a great big batch of Cabbage rolls?  Each year we whip up a big pan of these hearty Cabbage Rolls and eat till we burst.  We use an old recipe that was first published in the Palmer Rapids cook book. It’s a culmination of recipes from all the ladies in the town. This one certainly stood out as one of the very best and it’s a Family Tradition at our house.  Elfie’s aunt Iona, then her mom and now the TwoFoodNuts have adopted and adjusted the recipe to make the Best Darn Cabbage Roll Recipe Ever!

Farm style Cabbage Rolls

One of the best things about food like this is you can make a ton of it and it tastes as good or better when it’s been frozen. So, one mess and many meals is a great solution to busy lives.  Besides just because life gets crazy doesn’t mean we can’t eat well.  We serve our cabbage rolls with a chunk of crusty bread slathered in fresh butter.  You really don’t need anything else!

TwoFoodNuts Cabbage Roll Filling:

  • 1 large Savoy Cabbage (this is the curly Cabbage rather than the smooth type)
  • 1 Pound ground Beef
  • 1 Pound ground Pork
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cup minute rice or other instant rice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Sirrachi Sauce (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of the Secret Sauce
  • Bacon slices sufficient to cover the entire top of the Cabbage Rolls.

Two Food Nuts Secret Sauce:

  • 1 large can Tomato Juice
  • 1  680 ml can of Spaghetti Sauce (this is about 24 oz or 3 cups ) Harry uses Hunts Extra Spicy
  • 1 bottle Pasata (this is pureed tomatoes)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 red chili, seeded and minced (Optional but oh so good).

Cooks Tip:   This is a big job, but being organized is the best method. We remove the cabbage leaves first, then make the sauce, and finally assemble the filling.  Now you have all the parts of the recipe ready to go.  The actually rolling takes very little time.

Using a very sharp knife, cut around the core of the Cabbage. Place the Cabbage into the microwave for 5 minutes. Peel off the softened leaves and reserve. Repeat this process until you have 18 leaves.  Cut the heavy rib off on each piece of Cabbage to make it easier to roll.

remove rib

Make the sauce and set aside.  Then, in a large bowl, place all the filling ingredients and mix well.  Once all is incorporated, its time to Rock and Roll!  Set the oven to 350F

 

filling the cabbage leavesPlace the filling at the core end of the Cabbage leaf and roll away from yourself to encase the filling.

folding the cabbage leavesNow fold the sides towards the middle and continue to roll into a tight packet. No need to use tooth picks, just place the roll with the seam side down in the roasting pan. Continue until all Cabbage Rolls are in the pan.

cabbage rollPour the Secret Sauce over the Cabbage Rolls and lay the bacon evenly over the entire roasting pan.  It will seem like too much sauce, but the rice is raw and will absorb a great deal of the liquid. By the time the Cabbage Rolls are fully cooked there will be just enough sauce to serve. (If you are short on sauce, just add a bit of water).

Cover with a lid or 2 layers of tin foil.  Place the pan in the center of the oven and cook for 2 -3 hours or until the cabbage is very tender and the sauce is somewhat reduced. The bacon will not be crisp but the fat will all be rendered out making the sauce very rich tasting. The bacon also imparts a slightly smokey taste to the Cabbage Rolls. You can discard it once the cabbage rolls are cooked, but we eat it.

Oven Ready Cabbage rolls

We are so pleased to share this family recipe with you. We hope you’ll give it a try. We know you’ll be delighted with the outcome. Pick a rainy day and Rock and Roll!

 

Farm style Cabbage Rolls

Bruschetta

Put This Dish In Your Repertoire!

We love this Bruschetta recipe because its so versatile. It can be a stand alone appetizer or a side dish to a great salad like Harry’s Famous Caesar Salad. Either way its a hit.  If you’re having guests, you can prep the topping in advance and pop it in the oven when they arrive. Look how appetizing the finished dish looks!

 image

When we talk about versatility, we mean that the type of cheese, bread, onions, or olives and all be swapped up. If your baguette isn’t fresh enough to serve at dinner, don’t worry its fine for this recipe because you’re going to brush it with Olive oil and toast i t anyway.

Here’s how Harry makes Bruschetta:

This makes 12 toasts. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

12 slices Baguette cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

  • 1/2 cup of chopped seeded tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Feta ( try Parmesan for a substitute)
  • 2 Tbsp minced green onion or chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped green or Kalamata olives your choice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Roasted Red Peppers if you have them
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil plus an additional 2 Tbsp to brush the bread.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

4-5 Fresh Basil leaves sliced to sprinkle on top of finished dish.

image

Slice the bread and brush one side with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet.  Place all the ingredients except the basil in a bowl and mix well.  Pop the bread under the broiler and toast lightly. Turn the bread over and toast the other side. Once the bread is toasted on both sides, top with the tomato mixture reduce the heat to 400F and return to the middle of the oven for 5-7 minutes. You just want to heat the topping not cook it.

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Serve right away but topping with the basil strips and get ready for the compliments!

image

 

 

Rouladen – German Beef Rolls

Making Rouladen With Friends!

Delicious Rouladen

Our friends Paul and Lynda were over for dinner when we served our version of Rouladen.  They just loved the meal and asked if Harry and I could do a cooking lesson so they could learn how to make this traditional dish. We were more than happy to share a very old family recipe with them. The best part was they came over to cook and we all got to sit down to a lovely meal together.  There’s nothing like cooking with friends and family!

German Beef Meat Rolls

Harry and Paul did the meat prep. Guys love that sort of thing.

rouladen cut of beef

This is how the Beef looks before you season it with the Mustard, Bacon and Pickle.

TwoFoodNuts Rouladen recipe:

Each Rouladen is one serving.

We like to make them 8 at a time and freeze the leftovers for a fast week night supper.

  • 8 slices of round steak cut for Rouladen
  • 1/2 cup quality grainy mustard
  • 8 slices of streaky bacon
  • 8 small dill pickles
  • 2 packages Knorr roast gravy mix ( this is one of those off the shelf ingredients that gives an excellent result)
  • 5 cups water
  • Pepper  (there is no salt added to this recipe as the bacon and the gravy mix are salty enough)

Lay the beef slices on a plastic cutting board, spread with a tablespoon of mustard.  Lay on a slice of bacon.  Place a small dill pickle at one end of the meat and roll up. Secure with a skewer. Brown the rolls in a heavy skillet on the stove top.  They should be browned all around.

Braised Rouladen

Once the Rouladen are browned, combine the gravy mix and water.  Pour it over the meat. Cook it on the stove top until the gravy thickens slightly.  Now place the pan in the oven at 350F till tender.  This should take from 1-1 1/2 hours.  The gravy mix is not traditional but it gives an excellent result without fuss.  It’s Ok to add an ingredient that is ready-made provided its good quality.

 

Delicious Rouladen

We served the Rouladen with Mashed Potatoes and Aunt Iona’s Wax Beans with cream.  Spatzle or Potato Gnocchi pair equally with this rich meat dish.

Cucina Povera

Tuscan Peasant Cooking.

 We  fondly remember our first trip to Tuscany. We stopped at a little cliff-side restaurant with a panoramic view of the countryside. The cypress trees reached to the sky at each of the little farms in the distance. It was so beautiful and hot!

Tuscan views

Since we had just arrived in Italy and this was our first trip, we wanted to eat in little places outside the cities.  Once you leave the tourist areas you get to eat “real” Italian food.  Italians have a way of creating exciting food using a few quality ingredients without much fuss.

That’s Cucina Povera  or the Peasant Kitchen.

We admired the views as we waited in anticipation for lunch to arrive. Today it would be Insalada Verde (Green Salad) and Spaghetti a la Limone (Lemon Spaghetti).

Spaghetti A la lemone

Of all the pasta we have eaten in our travels it has to be said that this one stood head and shoulders above all others. The flavors of lemon, garlic, peppery olive oil and fresh herbs make this a light but exciting pasta dish. The Parmesan gives it a richness that completes the experience.

We enjoy making this fast and easy pasta when we’re busy or when the fridge is empty. At our house you can be sure that even when there’s “nothing to eat” we will always have lemons, garlic and fresh herbs. The pantry may get low but no so much that you can’t find some type of pasta to save the day.

We hope you’ll try this simple delicious dish when you take a break from eating meat. We love meat based meals but each week we make the effort to have at least two meat-free dinners.

Spaghetti a la Limone by TwoFoodNuts:

 ingredientsServes 4

  • Half a package of regular Spaghetti noodles
  • Grated peel of 2 large lemons
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4-6 large Garlic cloves (depending on your love of garlic)
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley (divided in two)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil. (that’s 2Tbsp per person, so don’t panic)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In a large pot boil salted water to cook the pasta until Al Dente.  While the pasta is cooking, put all ingredients (except Parmesan) into a large skillet and just warm through for a few minutes. You do not want the garlic to get brown. The moment the pasta is done lift it out of the pasta water with tongs or a pasta fork directly into the skillet. You want a bit of the water to create a sauce. Toss to incorporate all ingredients and serve.

Spaghetti A la lemoneSprinkle with Parmesan and reserved parsley. Drizzle with a bit more oil and Mangia!

Best Ever Roast Potatoes!

Crispy Outside, Tender Inside!

We love potatoes and the roast potato is one of our all time favorites. We love to serve them with our fabulous Easy Roast Chicken but lets be serious all meats benefit from being served along side of these babies!

Best ever roast potatoes

TwoFoodNuts Best Ever Roast Potatoes:

  • 2 lbs Russet Potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt for boiling
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Begin by peeling the potatoes. We love the fluffy inside when this is the potato that’s used. It does work with white potatoes too but the inside is a bit more waxy when cooked.

Cut the potatoes into big chunks. If the potatoes are small, leave them whole, if medium cut them in half and if they are large cut into quarters. If they are too small they loose that fluffy center. Start them in a pot of cold water with salt.  Boil until just tender. you want them to hold their shape.

boiled potatoes

Place the potatoes into an oven proof dish and drizzle with plenty of olive olive, sprinkle on some fresh minced Rosemary.  Place in a hot oven 400F until they are golden brown. ( you should turn them over when they are crispy on the top side).

 

roast potatoes

You know your Best Ever Roast Potatoes are done when they are brown all over and pierce with the point of a knife. Now lets dish it up and call it dinner!

Best ever roast potatoesIs your mouth watering yet?

Two Food Nuts Secret Sauce.

The Perfect Sauce.

We created a tomato sauce that is so versatile that we want to share it with you today. We use this sauce when we make our fabulous Cabbage Rolls, Stuffed Peppers and we’ve even used it with our beautiful Ricotta filled Zucchini flowers. It’s such a winner that you have to give it a try.  It’s so simple to make and you can freeze it so you’re never out of the sauce that makes your food sing!

Stuffed peppersDSC01741Two Food Nuts Secret Sauce:

  • 1 large can Tomato Juice
  • 1  680 ml can of Spaghetti Sauce (this is about 24 oz or 3 cups ) Harry uses Hunts Extra Spicy
  • 1 bottle of Pasata. (This is puréed tomatoes)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 red chili, seeded and minced is optional but oh so good.

Begin by: Placing everything into a dutch oven. Stir well and and allow to simmer on medium low for 1/2 an hour. Now you can allow it to cool and divide it into small portions for freezing or use it right away for Cabbage Rolls or Stuffed peppers.

Secret SauceOther uses:

  • Pan Stew with Chicken and potatoes (above)
  • Add it to a pasta with stir fried sausage and peppers
  • It makes a great base for a tomato rice soup
  • It can be a sauce for home made pizza
  • Add extra flavor to Tostatas
  • Riccotta stuffed shells

Enjoy making this simple sauce and let us know if you found a new use for it in your own Kitchen.  We’d love to know how you used our Secret Sauce!  Happy cooking.

 

 

 

A Delicata Situation

Discovering Winter Squash

At the Farmer’s Market we picked up a squash that was advertised as Potato Squash. The funny thing is it’s actually named Delicata Squash, a much prettier name. When we were ready to cook we needed to research whether it was a winter or summer squash and how to prepare it . Google to the rescue!  In minutes it was being dressed for dinner! This humble squash could be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner. The pumpkin seeds and cranberries are sure to compliment the Turkey!

DelicataSince most squash benefits from roasting with some sort of fat we opted to prepare it to match the flavors of the Honey Mustard Chicken thighs we had on hand for dinner. We’re happy to report that we think this is a hit! The flavor was not unlike a potato, so now we understand the nickname. We’re certainly going to serve this to company!

If you haven’t given this humble little squash a try, perhaps this recipe will change your mind. We think even the kids will like the taste due to the gentle flavor and the addition of honey to the recipe.

TwoFoodNuts Delicata Squash:

½ Squash per person is a serving.

Per piece of squash use

  • 2 tsp soft butter
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Sprinkling of Pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries

Split the squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Arrange in a baking dish

Delicata SquashMix the appropriate amount of honey and cider vinegar in a bowl depending on the number of squash you are cooking. Salt and pepper the squash, dollop the butter along the squash and spoon a bit of the honey and vinegar mixture on top of each piece. Finish with the pumpkin seeds and cranberries.

Delicata SeasoningBake in a hot oven, 400F for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the squash. It should be well browned and the tip of a knife should pierce the flesh. Cooking times will vary.  We served it with Nigel Slater’s Sticky Chicken Thighs recipe. Give it a try!

Potato SquashDon’t be afraid to try new things. You will increase your cooking skills and thrill your family all at the same time. Your guests will be delighted to try something new as well!  Happy Fall!

Shrimp Pasta With Rose Sauce.

Ten Minutes To A Sensational Shrimp Pasta Supper.

Sometimes you just want a quick meal, but you know it still has to hit all the notes. Fast doesn’t have to mean you are giving up anything when you cook with Two Food Nuts! Since we love pasta we’ve learned to take a few simple ingredients and whip up something good enough to serve to company but perfect for a regular weekday supper.

Shrimp pastaThis pasta dish is ready in just minutes because the protein is Shrimp. Even better is knowing that you can use the smaller more cost effective raw shrimp that save you money. No need to use jumbo shrimp as in recipes where the Shrimp is the “star of the show”, even though in this dish it still plays a leading role.

Here’s the Two Food Nuts Recipe for Shrimp in Rose Sauce:

This recipe is intended for two

  • Pasta of your choice (we love using regular spaghetti noodles)
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried Herbs de Provence or 2 tbsp fresh thyme and basil chopped
  • 1-2 chopped fresh tomatoes ( use one if it’s large, 2 if they are small)
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper (add a pinch of chili flakes to add zip if you like)
  • 1 cup small raw shrimp (you can add them in frozen or thawed)
  • 1 cup light cream (we use 10% but you can use 5% if you are fat conscience)

Prepare Chopped fresh Basil and grated Parmesan for garnish on finished pasta.

Set a pot on the stove to cook the pasta. Add plenty of salt. Cook till al dente.        Meanwhile make the sauce. In a non-stick skillet, place all the sauce ingredients except the shrimp and the cream.

pasta flavoringsSaute the mixture gently till softened about 4-5 minutes. Then add the cream to the pan.

shrimp and pasta in a rose sauceAdd the shrimp and cook until they turn pick throughout.  Adjust the salt pepper and chili flakes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

saute shrimpAdd the pasta to the pan with the sauce and toss to spread the sauce over the pasta. Use a bit of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick.  Serve to bowls and garnish with the chopped Basil and Parmesan!

This is so fast that the pasta will be cooked in the time you prepare the sauce.You can almost see the flavors in this photo. Do you smell garlic and fresh  basil???

Serve with our Not So Secret Garlic Bread for a satisfying meal when you just don’t have time to cook.

Shrimp pastaTell us what you thought of this easy dish if you give it a try. we love to have your feedback.

 

Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato Appetizer or Lunch!

If you have company coming and you need a light and savory dish, you’ll have to give this a try.  You can make it in advance so there’s no stress at party time.  You can also make this as a light lunch. We enjoyed it on our recent picnic with a side salad of Arugula and grapes.

Tomato tartOur TwoFoodNuts Tomato Tart:

Serves two for lunch or 4-6 as an appetizer.

  • Oneready made sheet of puff pastry
  • 3/4 cup plain goat cheese
  • 2 med tomatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 Tbsp Herb de Provence
  • 1 small garlic clove grated finely
  • 1/4 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 springs of fresh Thyme, leaves picked and sprinkled on tart
  • 2 tsp olive
  • Salt and pepper

tomatoe and goat cheese tartHeat oven to 450F.  Spread out the sheet of Puff Pastry.  Using a fork, prick the pastry all over but not within 1/2 inch of the edge.  In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, grated garlic, and Herbs de Provence.  Crumble the goat cheese over the tart.  Distribute the sun-dried tomatoes over the cheese.  Lay the tomato slices on top.  Pluck the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle over the tart.  Salt and pepper the tart.  Using a spoon, lightly drizzle the olive oil over everything and bake on the middle shelf of the oven. It’s ready in under 20 minutes.

If making for a party, assemble the tart early in the day and cover with cling film to refrigerate until you are ready to bake it.

Tomatoe Goat Cheese TartThe result is a light tart with rich goat cheese underlying the juicy tomatoes and herbs. Whether served as an appetizer or a light lunch this is a tomato and cheese lovers treat!

 

Visit Our Tiny Cottage Kitchen

Our Tiny Kitchen Saw Some Amazing Food!

We’ve had so much fun at the cottage this summer.  But all good things must come to an end.  We actually launched out Blog and Facebook page while we have been here.  Much of the fun was exploring local produce and the Farmer’s Market helped us do that.  We created more than a few new dishes for you because we were inspired by fresh local ingredients as they became available.

We thought you might like a peek at our tiny cottage kitchen while we talk food!

our cottage kitchenSome of the things we cooked this summer were completely new to us. One of the big triumphs were the Zucchini Flowers that we received.  They were a gift form a new friend and the first time we had ever made them.  The other was the Summer Ratatouille that developed out of a shopping trip that left us with just too many fresh vegetables.

kitchen vingetteWith all the sunshine, we had a bumper crop of Basil.  The Pesto we made offered us an opportunity to make Pasta, Pesto and Peas and to add that special touch to our Tomato Lover’s Lunch.  The local corn was outstanding so we made Mexican Street Corn, (everyday for about 2 weeks). Then we took a break and just had buttered corn.

We did a lot of baking this summer so of course we had to feature our Apple Blossoms and lets not forget about the Black Forest Cupcakes. The guests at the pot luck fell upon them like a herd of locusts!  Luckily we made a few extra so we actually got to enjoy them.

dining area Then there were the parties! You can’t have great party without fabulous food. Cool and Creamy watermelon feta bites went fast and our Wine and Cheese Appetizers had more views than any other recipe to date when it was posed. You guys love your wine and cheese don’t you?

This weekend will be the last Get-to-gether of the season with our cottage friends.  We’ll be making those awesome Maple Bacon Donuts as well as the Apple Blossoms in miniature.  And since we all need to eat our veggies, there’s Carrot Cake for the health nuts!  I’m sure they will all be delicious served with a Rose’ wine, Vin Santo and Apple cider.

Next week we’re heading home and we’re looking forward to that. Its been an awesome Summer but its time to go home. We’ll be out shopping in our favorite places once we’re back in town.  We’ll take you on some shopping and cooking school adventures too.  Don’t forget to check out our new page called “Lets Shop” here on the blog.

We wish you the best that the Fall can bring. Thanks so much for your readership over the Summer!

 

Zucchini Carbonara

 Zucchini and Pasta Together Are Winners!

Zucchini is an underrated vegetable. We have never been great lovers of this particular summer squash but this year something changed. We learned to understand Zucchini and we have now come to love it.  There a time in summer when zucchini just goes crazy and we were exposed to a lot of it. we tried it in our Summer Ratatouille, we made stuffed Zucchini flowers which were sublime and we let it star in our Zucchini Carbonara!

Summer Squah carbonara This was our first attempt at this luxurious dish and it was a hit! We invited our Cottage neighbor Donna to join us as the guinea-pig for this new recipe and she loved it.  So here goes!

Cook’s Tip:  Carbonara is a simple enough dish to prepare if you understand that you are making a sauce from raw eggs and cream. The secret is to remove the pan from the heat once the pasta and veg are ready.  This way the eggs will not scramble and the sauce will be rich and creamy.  Too much heat will simply scramble the eggs ruining the texture of the dish. The pasta water is added to loosen the sauce so it is light not thick.

Two Food Nut Zucchini Carbonara:

For 4 people

  • 8 slices of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 Tsps olive oil
  • 2 cups dried pasta (we used Penne)
  • 1 cup each of yellow and green summer squash of your choice
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • We used Patty Pan and Globe squash cut in the shape of the Penne
  • 4 egg yolks,
  • 1 and 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • a bit of reserved pasta water, about 1/2- 3/4 cup.
  • Pepper
  • Minced Italian Parsley and more grated Parmesan for garnish.

Carbonara ingredientsBegin by cutting up the zucchini and bacon.  Mix the egg yolks, cream, grated Parmesan and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.  Heat the water in a large pot for the Pasta and start frying the bacon lightly in a skillet.  You will need to watch the timing on this dish just a little.  As the bacon becomes lightly browned, toss in the Zucchini and garlic.  Stir fry the Zucchini but just till it softens a little. DO NOT OVER COOK the zucchini.

Zucchini carbonaraThe moment the pasta is al Dente, drain it and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Put the pasta in the skillet and remove the skillet from the heat.  Pour in the egg and cream mixture.  And just enough of the pasta water to create a silky sauce. Serve with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.  Bellissimo!

 

Our First Pop-up!

Our First Pop-up Was A Success!

Pop- up by definition: Denoting a store or other business that opens quickly in a temporary location and is intended to operate for only a short period of time.

TwoFoodnuts pop-upOn Friday we packed the car with everything needed to cook for the owner of Silgrey Resort We planned on making lunch for Mike using the fruits of his garden.  He was very generous with his produce earlier in the week when we had just met him.  We wanted to show our appreciation for the beautiful Zucchini Flowers  he gave us by cooking for him.

filled zucchini flowersWe arrived at the resort about 11:30 with everything necessary to Pop-up. Harry and I got started by cooking a wonderful farmer’s sausage to accompany the Summer Ratatouille. You’ll remember we made it last week for the first time after our visit to the local farmer’s market.  Next the chopping of the veggies began. Its Harry’s specialty.  Nobody preps food like Harry! I  like to do a lot of the actual cooking but his skilled prep makes the whole thing come together so professionally. TwoFoodNuts pop-upEven Mike lent a hand with the stirring. He told us he had been so inspired by our walk through the garden earlier in the week that he had harvested and prepared one of his own spaghetti squash for dinner the night before. Lets not mention here that he and his wife ate like a family of 4 because it was so delicious! Its just between us Mike.

Mike cooks RatatouilleWithin no time our lunch came together.  Today we had the most varied Summer Ratatouille yet.  Mike’s garden provided us with Tomatoes, Globe Squash, Swiss Chard (stems and leaves), Green Beans and we supplemented that with Sweet Peppers, Pearl Potatoes, Patty Pan Squash, a Hot Red Chili and Double Smoked Bacon.  What doesn’t benefit from the addition of Bacon?

TwoFoodnuts ratatouilleWell, it looks like we’ve come to the point in the festivities where we get to indulge, taste, eat, savor and delight in the spontaneous cooking experience of the pop-up!

Dinner's readyWe wish you could be here to try this wholesome lunch made mainly of right-from-the-garden vegetables with a bit of quality Farmer Sausage and topped with fresh Feta.

To make this a meat free dish don’t use bacon and do not add a side of sausage. This dish has great flavor as a vegetarian meal!

Two Food Nuts Summer ratatouilleA great big thanks to Mike of Silgrey Resort for providing such an amazing setting for our very first pop-up!  Lets do this again real soon!

We concluded the meal with a dessert of Muffin Guts, but you’ll have to wait to find out what that is in a few days. We can’t give it all away right now.  Just so you know, Mike loved it!   So don’t be scared when you see us post it.

 

The Gift of Zucchini Flowers

If Someone Gives You Flowers…Eat Them!

We were out on one of our adventures today and we came upon a lovely rustic resort on the shore of the York River. It’s called Silgrey  We had the good fortune of meeting the owner Mike as he and a friend dragged a 700 pound piece of burl through the woods. Both men were exhausted from the hard work of physically pulling this large piece of a tree through the forest. But in the end it will be an amazing piece of art.

Stuffed Zucchini flowersOnce Mike caught his breath we had a chance to chat about the resort and marvel at the raw beauty of his setting on the shore of the York River. He is a very interesting transplant from Toronto and he and his wife have created a wilderness retreat that’s just heavenly.

As we were about to say our good-byes, Mike asked if we would like to take home some bounty from his garden. As with most gardens, the crops all come in at once and there is waste. But not today!  We walked around looking at the selection of vegetables and I spotted some gorgeous zucchini flowers. Mike encouraged me to take some and I wanted to hide my sheer excitement so he wouldn’t think I was some food weirdo.  I’m 62 years old and have never had these delicate blossoms stuffed with fragrant ricotta, but today would be my luck day.

zucchini flower fillingWhen we got to the car and started down the driveway to home, I was able to share my pure delight with Harry. How could he know that as a foodie, weird or otherwise, this was like a dream come true. A gift of fresh off-the-vine zucchini blossoms would be transformed into dinner tonight!

Here is the Two Food Nuts Recipe.

  • Fresh Zucchini Flowers (we had 6 of them)
  • 400 gram container Ricotta Cheese
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • handful of fresh Basil leaves sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper

Mix everything together in a small bowl and fill a piping bag with the cheese mixture. Remove the stamen from the center of each flower and stuff them by putting the piping nozzle fully into the flower and squeezing the filling to fill the blossom. Then twist the tips of the petals to form a little flower pouch.

filled zucchini flowersFor the Batter:

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chilled sparkling water or club soda
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Canola or Peanut oil for frying.

Place everything into a bowl except the sparkling water.  With a whisk, quickly stir in the water and mix just until incorporated. Do Not Over Mix or the batter will be heavy.

This batter must be used within half an hour.  So make it after you have filled the flowers and you have the oil heating. 

Dip  the filled blossoms into the batter, allow the excess to drip off and deep fry at 400F for 4-5 minutes or until the batter becomes just golden.

Take extreme care when deep frying. We take the deep fryer outside and place it on a sturdy table that we have lined with newspaper. This avoids oily smells and clean up is a matter of folding up the newspapers. If using a dutch oven only fill to 1/3 full never leave unattended. Use a thermometer to be sure not to overheat the oil.

DSC01741Serve on a light marinara sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce.

Zucchini Flowers are as rare as hen’s teeth so if you have the good fortune to receive them as a gift, make sure you eat them!  These Two Food Nuts certainly did!

Harry’s Amazing Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers are Real Comfort Food!

This is one of the best times of the year for produce hands down. Farmer’s markets are bursting with the freshest ingredients and it’s up to us to be creative with our cooking. Harry is a stuffed pepper lover!  Me, not so much but I do find myself asking him if he will share just one now and again. I suspect today will be one of those days.  Harry’s going to walk you through his secrets and tips for making the best stuffed peppers in town!

Harry Hayes Stuffed PeppersThis recipe uses the crock pot so you won’t heat up the kitchen.  You can also do this for a busy day. Make the stuffing on a Sunday when you have a few minutes, then let the crock pot do the cooking.  Voila!  Dinner’s ready when you get home.  The ingredients are fresh so the end result will be savory and a bit spicy with a luxurious sauce.

TwoFoodNuts Stuffed Peppers:

Makes 6 medium stuffed peppers

  • 6 sweet peppers, tops cut off and seeded
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1 tsp minced fresh Rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 medium chili pepper seeded and minced
  • 1 large or two small garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup stewed tomatoes with their juice

For the sauce:

  • 1 19 0z can  Tomato Juice
  • 1/2  a  680 ml can of Spaghetti Sauce (this is about 12 oz or 1 1/2 cups ) Harry uses Hunts Extra Spicy
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground pepper

Begin by: Make the sauce by placing everything into a pitcher. Stir well and reserve.

Stuffed Pepper IngedientsThen: Mix all the ingredients in the first segment and stuff the peppers.

Seed the peppersPlace peppers into the crock pot or if baking in the oven place them in an oven proof dish that is deep enough to hold the peppers and the sauce.

stuffed peppers into crock potOnce the peppers are stuffed and placed in the crock pot or oven proof dish pour the sauce no more than half way up the peppers. These are now ready to cook.

Stuffed Sweet PeppersCooking times and method:

  • For the crock pot, set it on low for 6 hours
  • For the oven set it on 350F for 1 hour or until a knife easily pierces the pepper.

Stuffed peppersHarry’s Tip:  I prefer yellow, red  or orange peppers to green peppers since they are much sweeter tasting.  There’s  no room for the slight bitter edge of green peppers in my recipe.

We hope that you give this recipe a try. You’ll find that the savory filling and succulent pepper is an unbeatable combination. Happy Fall!

Summer Ratatouille.

The Lighter Side of Ratatouille.

Today we were at the farmer’s market and the produce was outstanding.  It led us to think of how to make a satisfying lunch of a few vegetables. Lately we have found ourselves creating some pretty remarkable dishes using what’s in season and what’s local.  Farmers aren’t given enough credit for their hard work and passion for growing wonderful wholesome food. Thankfully these Two Food Nuts appreciate everything that they put on our plates.

ratatouilleRatatouille is a dish found in Provence. It is a comfort food, made with a tomato base and lots of winter vegetables. It’s the inspiration for this lighter summer version.  Just look at those colors! A few humble ingredients put together with a pinch of love and a few herbs!  I know of a few restaurants that should be jealous of this creation!

The beauty of this dish is it’s simplicity and variety. You can decide what you want to add into it.   Look at what’s in the market and what your family enjoys eating. Go ahead be brave!

To make this a vegetarian dish simply leave out the bacon. There is still so much flavor with just the vegetables.

ratatouille vegetablesFor our Two Food Nuts Summer Ratatouille we used:

This recipe serves two as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.

  • 6 slices of diced bacon to get the party started
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 15 of tiniest potatoes halved or one thinly slice one large potato.
  • 1 Patty Pan Squash sliced
  • 1 large luscious field tomato sliced
  • 2  fresh garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Herb de Provence
  •  A few thyme and oregano sprigs
  • 1/2 of a red chilli finely diced for interest
  • 5-6 leaves of CavoloNero (Italy’s black Cabbage) or baby kale leaves and Greek Feta to finish.
  • Greek Feta to sprinkle on top

Notice there is no salt in this dish. We found the bacon and the Feta provided all the salt that was necessary. The chili brought the mild heat so no pepper was added either!

Begin by putting the bacon and oil in the skillet. Fry on high until the bacon is just beginning to brown. Add the potatoes now, stir to coat with the bacon fat and oil and add a small splash of water. Cover and cook on medium-low to allow the potatoes to soften.

ratatouille flavoringsAfter a few minutes, add the garlic and layer on the vegetables and the herbs and chilli. Cover, increase heat to medium high and allow all the ingredients to soften and the flavors to mingle. This only takes a few minutes but depends on the density of the vegetables used.

ratatouille ingredientsOnce everything has cooked down and  you can see a light broth in the skillet, your Ratatouille is done. Grab a big bowl and some amazing bread to sop  up all those glorious pan juices.

This dish can include other vegetables such a sweet peppers, snow peas, green zucchini, kale, sliced brussels sprouts, mushrooms or rapinni. It’s whatever you love.

Crepes Are An Outstanding Dessert.

Simple Crepes For Amazing Desserts!

We both love crepes!  Harry likes his with Bananas and Nutella. Blasphemy!  I like mine with lemon juice and sugar, the way they should be served!  But we both agree that filling them with a velvety cream cheese filling and topping them with fresh seasonal fruit is never wrong!

We love to make everything from scratch and share our recipes as you know,  but we do rely on the skills and knowledge of a few really great cooks.  For this recipe we like to use Martha Stewart’s Simple Crepe recipe.  It works beautifully and tastes great. What’s not to love? We can’t  improve on this one folks so trust us and try it for this or any other dish that calls for crepes.  The recipe makes 12 crepes. Our filling recipe is enough for all 12.

Martha Stewart's Simple CrepesHarry was manning the crepe pan and he stacked the completed crepes between sheets of parchment so they don’t stick.  You can let them cool, slide them into a zip-lock bag and freeze them at this point.  It makes it so easy to create a professional dessert in no time once the crepes have been made.

Cook’s Tip:  You can leave out the sugar in the crepe recipe if you want to stuff them with a savory filling such as Asparagus with cheese sauce or Chicken a la King.                            Harry used an actual  Crepe pan (a low sided non-stick pan) to make these but a good non-stick skillet about 10 inches in diameter can also be used.

We made a lovely cream cheese filling for the crepes.  It’s so easy we’re embarrassed to call it a recipe, but here goes.

Two Food Nuts Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1 brick, 8 oz cream cheese.
  • The grated zest of one lemon
  • The juice of 1/2  of the lemon (reserve the juice from the other lemon)
  • 1 cup of icing sugar

Allow the cream cheese to soften at room temperature. Add all the other ingredients and beat until smooth.

Once the crepes are cooled follow our photos for filling them. We used a pastry bag without a tip to pipe the filling onto the crepes, then flatten the cream cheese with a spoon before drizzling a bit of the reserved lemon juice (from the second lemon half) and a bit of sugar on the crepes before folding and rolling the crepes.

Crepe recipe by Martha StewartFold the crepes from the outside to the center to enclose the filing and roll them up gently.

Martha Stewart Simple crepesWe said this dessert would look professional, didn’t we?  Your guests will just love them.

Crepes with Fresh FruitHere we used fresh raspberries and whipping cream with a dusting of icing sugar and a fresh mint sprig to complete our delicious dessert. Serve one or two crepes per person. If you have leftovers, go to the fridge at midnight and indulge your need, we certainly have!

Waste Not Want Not!

Wasting Food Is Just Too Costly!

Everyday we have little bits of this and that left over when we are preparing our meals.   We just hate waste so we have a system for saving what might seem like scraps and turning them into valuable ingredients for the next meal. Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to saving money. Not only can you buy in bulk or stock up when your favorite items are on sale, but by creating a small inventory of things that would otherwise be wasted, you can save even more.

waste notHere we have a small sample of some of the things we bag up and save to add to our next creation. Pictured here we have from top to bottom:

  • Chicken Backs to use for stock when making soups or stews.
  • Jalapeno peppers seeded and ready to add a boost of heat.
  • Left over muffins to be torn up in the next Mini Triffle
  • Diced onions can be added to anything savory.
  • Diced sweet peppers make your next rice Pilaf sing!
  • Parmesan Cheese rinds added to Minestrone or your favorite Spaghetti Sauce
  • Peas, well what can we say you can do so much with a 1/2 cup of peas.
This soup contains all the ingredients above except the muffins!

This soup contains all the ingredients above except the muffins!

Not pictured above but equally as good:

  • Brown Bananas  freeze well till you have enough to make a Banana bread!
  • bits of cranberries or nuts can be frozen till you make stuffing or muffins.
  • Herbs should be minced and covered with olive oil then frozen in ice-cube trays.
  • Bits of grated cheese tossed into one bag will add up to great Mac and Cheese.
  • Over-ripe tomatoes are great in your next chilli!

We also use our less-than-fresh bread to make our “Really Crumby Topping” and our Home Made Croutons. Check it out.

These are just a few ideas that keep food out of the compost bin and on your table where it belongs. We hope you find this helpful in your own kitchen.

 

 

 

Tomato Lovers Lunch

It’s Tomato Thyme!

This is the time of year when the bounty of Summer comes to our tables through the harvest of fruits and vegetables that we love.  Tomatoes and Basil are such good friends that we just had to create a meal that allows them both to shine.  For the Pesto portion of this dish please refer to our recipe for Pesto right here on our blog.

Fried tomatoes

Not only is this dish something you can make in 20 minutes, its healthy and delicious too. You won’t have to worry about having too many tomatoes on hand once your family tastes this flavorful dish.

Basil PEsto It’s great when two star ingredients come into season at the same time. Our Basil is doing so well in our patio pot, that making fresh pesto takes only moments. We also have some nice lemon thyme and fresh oregano in pots so we have incorporated them just to kick the flavor up a notch.

Try our Pesto recipe.

Heres’ the Two Food Nuts Recipe for Fried Tomatoes and Pesto:

Serves two generous portions.

  • 3 ripe tomatoes, tops and bottoms sliced off (should yield 2 thick slices per tomato)
  • 2 thyme sprigs (pick off the leaves and add to the tomato slices
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 big garlic clove sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese ( you can substitute goat cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Small oregano leaves for garnish (optional)

Tomatoes and thymeHeat the oil and garlic in a non-stick pan until the garlic just begins to brown. Add the tomato slices sprinkle on the thyme leaves and fry until brown, turn and fry second side. Once the tomato slices are well browned, top with the crumbed cheese and turn off the heat.

Tomatoes and FetaTo serve, place the tomato slices on a plate, spoon over a bit of the pan juices. Add your tiny oregano leaves for garnish. Surround the tomato slices with your pesto and serve with fresh bread to mop up the gorgeous juice.

This makes such a satisfying lunch all by its self or with a side salad. We hope you’ll give it a try the next time you see those luscious tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market!

Fried tomatoes

Let us know what you think of this lunch suggestion by leaving us a comment in the handy form below and don’t forget to share those recipes that you love with your friends on Facebook!

 

Caesar Salad Dressing

Hail Caesar!  No! Wait a minute! Hail Harry!

When Harry first began his culinary adventures he asked me to show him how to make my Caesar Salad.  I gave him the recipe that I had used for decades and he makes it better than I ever did!  I haven’t made it since.

Party Caesar SaladWe use the dressing to create two different serving styles. One is for regular dinners and the other for parties.  The ingredients are classic but I think that Harry really takes his time when he assembles the ingredients, making the dressing a soft thick mousse that clings to the lettuce.  All our friends swoon over it.  Hold your applause please.

Caesar dressingWhen we do parties, Harry places the Caesar dressing into the bottom of a Champagne glass.  He makes crouton sticks from puff pasty, and to make it extra special he adds long strips of crisp bacon. The result is beautiful and the taste…. Let’s just say is memorable.  Guests dip the trio of lettuce, crouton and bacon into the dressing and you will hear nothing but the inevitable Mmmmmm sounds.

Party Caesar SaladParty or dinner the great taste is worth the extra effort.

Caesar SaladWhen Harry serves the salad for lunch or dinner, he splits the head of Romaine into long pieces by cutting it from the top of the leaf to the stem.  One head of Romaine should yield at least 4 servings, more if it is extra large. Then he lays it on the serving plate, drizzles the dressing over it, shaves some quality Parmesan on top and finishes with our homemade croutons.

By serving the salad with the dressing drizzled on top rather than mixed into small pieces of lettuce you assure that the salad stays crisp to the last bite!

Two Food Nuts Caesar Salad Dressing:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard  (please do not use yellow mustard in this recipe)
  • 2 Anchovy fillets or 1 tsp Anchovy paste
  • 3 garlic cloves pressed or grated
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 cup canola or sunflower oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a small deep mixing bowl (about 6 inches in diameter) add all the ingredients except the oil, lemon and Parmesan cheese.  Whisk  together to incorporate well. Pour the oil into a 1 cup measure with a spout.  Drizzle the oil almost drop by drop while whisking it into the eggs. The slow incorporation of the oil at the beginning insures emulsification (thickening) of the sauce. Once you have about 1/3 of the oil blended into the egg mixture, you can add a few tablespoons of oil at a time and whisk briskly after each addition.

Once all the oil is incorporated, add the lemon, Parmesan and salt and pepper. This dressing lasts in the fridge for a full week if covered.  The recipe serves 8.

The more time you spend whisking the oil into the eggs the thicker and richer the final result will be.  You are trying to get a sauce that will mound on a spoon.

Caesar dressingCook’s Tip: Place a damp towel on the counter. This helps steady the mixing bowl while you stir in the oil.

cook's tipSo there you are,  our Caesar Salad dressing!

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Cupcake Liner Storage Tip

Everyday is a good day for Cupcakes!

When it comes to baking, Harry is the champ at our house!   I have an artistic edge that causes  me  to need the flexibility of tossing things together. Baking doesn’t work that way.  We often make cupcakes for events and we love baking with our two grandchildren so we have lots of liners on hand. As with most things in the kitchen, storage is vital.  We find that using a mason jar to store the cupcake liners not only keeps them clean, but helps keep their shape!

Cupcake liners

This image is courtesy Pinterest.

Watch for more cooking tips and tricks on our TwoFoodNuts.ca blog and Facebook page!

 

Pasta, Pesto, Peas!

Pasta, Pesto, Peas Please!

Some days just get crazy.  Whether you work or like us you live a very active retirement, we don’t always feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen to put a nice dinner on the table. To the rescue, Pasta, Pesto and Peas!  Our little container garden has given us a bumper crop of Basil this year. We also had a handful of fresh garden peas and some edible flowers.  So we thought why not make a meal that allows all the ingredients to shine on one simple plate!

Pasta Pesto and peasWe created this dish using our recipe for Pesto. Just click the link for that part of the recipe.

Two Food Nuts Pasta, Pesto and Peas dinner:

Begin by making the Pesto from our recipe.pesto ingredientsNext:

  • Set a pot of water to boil, and add plenty of salt to cook the pasta of your choice.
  • Once the pasta is almost cooked, toss in the fresh peas for just a few minutes.
  • when “al Dente”, drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.

Place the pasta and peas back in the pot, add half of the pesto and about a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, stir to incorporate everything. Taste it. Do you need more Pesto? add a bit more as well as more of the water. The water helps create a sauce for the dish.

We normally make Pasta for 2 so we only use 1/2 the Pesto recipe. If you are making it for 4 people, use it all.  What the heck, everyone will have garlic on their breath anyway!

Cook’s Tip: You can add interest to a simple plate by using edible flowers to garnish. We grow nasturtiums and we also grow peas, so using the pea shoots with the edible flowers makes something special out of the ordinary!  Nasturtiums taste quite peppery! Try them.

Garnish  with a few fresh basil leaves, grate some Parmesan cheese on top and Presto!

You have Pasta, Pesto and Peas!

nasturtiums

 

 

 

 

 

Foraging Food Nuts

Free Food Can Cost A Fortune.  But Its Worth It!

The other day Harry thought we should get out and pick some wild Raspberries. This year the bounty was affected by late frost, so you have to get out and pick now. I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. It was a nice warm day we had all our chores done and having a bowl of fresh, wild raspberries for desert couldn’t have sounded better.

Now you have to know something about picking wild berries. They grow everywhere. But Harry feels that if you go to a “Special Place” to pick them, you will get better berries.  So load the berry buckets into the gas powered 6 cylinder, grab the bug spray and a bottle of nice cold water and off we go.

Foraging Food NutNote:  Elfie is smiling.  Photo was taken at the beginning of the adventure!

We drove for about 10 minutes to get to the “Special Place” so that would be about $3 in gas to get there. One of us still wants to get back home, so consider $6 for gas. We got out of the car and found that apparently someone else also thought this was a “Special Place”.  That or the bears have been tramping down the weeds at the roadside to get to the berries.

Now, I said it was a nice warm day which means that the Deer flies felt they could also get a  free meal.  They especially love to bite me and I had to spray myself with deadly chemicals just to be able to stay on task.  (can of “Deep Woods Off” $7.95)

wild raspberries

After about half an hour of tramping through thickets, being eaten alive by flies, sweating like a marathoner at the finish line and reducing my life expectancy with the chemical spray, we picked about 2 cups of the berries.  Not a bad haul!  And so far we only spent $15.95 (including $2 for water )on the free food!  Is it becoming hard to believe that we both had careers in which we helped people use their money to their best advantage?

In the end we came home with our bounty and that night after dinner we poured some heavenly cream over the little red gems.  I had to admit that it was all worth it.  When are we going foraging again Harry? Its almost Blueberry season isn’t it?

Berries and creamHave you had a foraging adventure? Please share it with us in the comments.

Dumb Kitchen Gagets

We love good Kitchen Gadgets!

However, we think some are just dumb. Spend your money on quality items that make your cooking easier or better not this silly stuff that is always being sold to relieve you of your “dough”.   Use a fork and save your money to buy something yummy instead!

Dumb Pickle Fork.

pickle fork

Try using this instead.

fork

A Really Crummy Recipe.

I love this title, don’t you?

This is a story of the lowly breadcrumb.  Most of us will attest to throwing out our share of old bread. It’s what we do. Bread is readily available and inexpensive compared to most foods we buy.  In the past bread was handcrafted at home and therefore it was precious.  Time had to be spent making this simple yet revered food. We’re not suggesting that you start baking bread so you can have breadcrumbs, rather we suggest that you can make something special out of an otherwise throw-away ingredient.

Most of us will make a casserole at some point in our culinary lives and seasoned breadcrumbs can add a crisp, tasty topping that sends the ordinary to the stars.  In southern Italy breadcrumbs were used by peasants in place of the heavenly Parmesan that was only produced in the north of the country.  Toasted breadcrumbs, seasoned with fresh herbs have been scattered over pasta for centuries.

We love to take our leftover bread and do two things that make us look like culinary wizards. First is our recipe for Seasoned Breadcrumbs and the other is our Garlic Croutons.

We do  not use sandwich bread for this recipe. We always incorporate good baguette, crusty rolls, Pita, Italian bread and so forth into our everyday meals. This is the type of bread that we like.  We then allow it to dry on the counter overnight before running it through the food processor. Processed white sandwich bread is not a good option here.

Two Food Nuts “Crummy Topping”:

  • Process your bread cubes into a small crumb in the food processor but not a powder. Place the crumbs into a mixing bowl and add:

Makes two cups of “Crummy Topping”

  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp saltSeasoned Bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp grated pepper
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • A combination of herbs of your choice: Thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, flat leaf parsley  (chopped finely)  About a 1/4 cup of freshly minced herbs
  • If you do not have fresh herbs, this recipe does very well with a good dried Herb du Provence or your own blend of rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil. Use 2 Tbsp only.

 seasoned breadcrumbsBlend the ingredients together and incorporate well. We store our crumbs in a freezer bag so they’re on hand when we need them.  You can certainly make more crumbs if you have more bread or as we often do, buy a nice loaf of crusty bread for the sole purpose of making the crumbs or croutons. This way they can be pulled from the freezer and used immediately.

Here we have used them to top some luscious tomato halves. They are baked in the oven  but can be cooked on the BBQ as a side dish to any meal.  Just place them in an oven proof or foil dish. You can garnish a casserole with this topping  as well.

Tomato Provencial

Two Food Nuts Seasoned Croutons:

We love these Croutons with a good Ceasar salad. They’re particularly  good when made with Portuguese buns. They come out light as air and the end result is crisp outside but soft inside. Mmmmm.

Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes

Sprinkle lightly with dried garlic power

CroutonsPlace bread cubes into a non-stick pan and drizzle some good olive oil over the cubes. Just enough to moisten then. Now toast in the pan over medium high heat.  Stir gently until they are golden brown. Stay focused, because one minute they are white then they’re done.  It’s almost impossible not to eat them at this point, so always make a few extra for the chef. happy face emodiconGarlic Croutons

We hope you’ve enjoyed the first of our “Waste Not, Want Not” blogs.  If so, tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter by sharing this post and don’t forget to leave us a comment about the post.

 

Spinach Ricotta Puffs

The Busy Hostess Loves Spinach Puffs!

Harry and I love to entertain, that’s not a secret. We enjoy preparing interesting meals that introduce our friends to the world of food as we see it.  Time is often the one thing that keeps people from having dinner parties more often.  We found a way around that.  We do what is called a “Cottage Supper”.  When we invite friends for a “Cottage Supper” its understood that the food will be simple,  interesting and wholesome. They love it!

spinach ricotta puffsOne of the things that buys the cook a bit of time when company comes, is the appetizer course and we do love our appetizers!  However, we don’t like to fuss a great deal in the preparation. This is where our Spinach Ricotta Puffs hit all the marks.  It’s easy, it can be made ahead and frozen till the guests are in the driveway and it tastes so good.

Here’s the way Two Food Nuts prepare…

Spinach Ricotta Puffs:

  • 1 sheet quality frozen puff pastry dough. We use this because you simply can’t make it any better at home and it takes an entire day to make.  We said this was easy right!
  • 8oz Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 a package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed to remove the water
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves grated or finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Allow the puff pastry to thaw and unroll it. The type we use is PC brand. It comes in a sheet that is rolled and ready to use.  In the meantime, mix the cheese and spinach filling. Place all the ingredients except the puff pastry into a bowl and blend together.

Once the dough is thawed cut it into 9 equal squares. (the dough should measure about 12 inches square when unrolled).  In each of the small squares of dough place an equal portion of the filling. Now gather the corners of the small puff pastry pieces to the center and pinch them together.  At this point you can freeze the pieces, ready for your next party or you can refrigerate them for baking in an hour or two.

DSC_5911

Puff pastry dough performs best when cold dough is placed in a hot oven. It causes the layers to really puff.  We use a 400 F oven to cook anything with a puff pastry cover.   In this case you need only 15-20 minutes of baking time. Keep a close eye on the oven at the 15 minute mark to be sure the puffs are not getting too brown.

We love to serve this appetizer when we do an Italian dinner. The flavors of the meal and the appetizers compliment each other nicely.

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Your comments are always welcome.

 

 

 

Beans, Beans The Magical Fruit!

Two Food Nuts Baked Beans.

We’re at the cottage a good deal of the summer and there are days when it’s really just too hot to cook. That doesn’t mean you can’t make something that requires cooking though. You just have to use your Bean!  Or in this case your slow-cooker.  Baked beans traditionally require soaking beans overnight then boiling them for an hour,  but let’s get real!  We want good food without steaming up the kitchen or our glasses and we found a way to do it!

Baked beansThe pantry is often your best friend, so throw open the door and let’s get out the cans of Navy Beans, those little plump white, pre-soaked, par boiled darlings.  We’ll add  some great flavoring to the beans and put the slow-cooker on the picnic table till dinner’s ready. No sweating and really very little preparation.

Here’s how these Two Food Nuts make “Baked Beans”.

3 – 19 oz cans of navy beans.    Drained, rinsed and placed in a slow cooker.

Add:

  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 4 strips of bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces and lightly browned
  • 2 tbsp of the bacon fat (discard  the rest)
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite spicy mustard (we like Dijon or Grainy mustard)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp hickory BBQ sauce (this ads a nice smokey taste)
  • 1/4 cup Molasses or if you live in Quebec like our son, it must be Maple Syrup!
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar, those of us that are adventurous might even give Balsamic a try.

Optional:  And now for the secret ingredients.  A small mango or peach peeled and diced or even an apple adds a sweetness to each bite that makes it taste wonderful.                 Some “Like it Hot” so add your favorite hot sauce or fresh chili for a thrill!

Once you have everything in the slow-cooker, stir gently to incorporate all the goodness and set on low until dinner. We suggest at least 6 hours.  Check the beans after 4 hours and if they are tender and the flavor has developed you can switch to the keep warm setting.  Slow-cookers vary in temperature so always check at the 4 hour mark.  Remember you are starting with beans that are fully cooked, so you can prep these at lunch and  still have full flavored baked beans by supper.

Baked beansThese baked beans will last in the refrigerator for several days if tightly covered.  That is if you have any leftover. If you are feeding more than 4 people you may want to double the recipe. These disappear fast!  Add a side of beans to your bacon and eggs this weekend!

Don’t forget to share the recipe with your Facebook and Twitter friends. We love to know how you like the recipes, so please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Not So Secret Garlic Bread Recipe

The Secret Is Out!

Garlic bread is a wonderful accompaniment to Italian foods, but we like to think it goes with just about everything that comes from the BBQ too!  What is it about the crispy, buttery garlic flavor that just makes your mouth water?  Perhaps when it comes right down to it we all have a bit of Italian in our heritage, and if not, we probably wish we did. There is something special about a few simple ingredients put together in just the right way that makes us happy at the table.

twofoodnuts garlic breadThe quality of the garlic bread is directly related to the type of bread that is used and whether or not you use fresh garlic or the dried stuff.  As a reader of this blog, you should be getting the idea that fresh is better and quality ingredients create a qualify end result.

We opt for fresh garlic in everything we cook with the exception of home made croutons and dry rubs for meats.

We like two breads in particular for our garlic bread. The first are the ultra-light Portuguese buns pictured above. The second is an outstanding Baguette such as Ace Bakery (available at all Loblaws Super Stores in Canada).

The Portuguese Buns give a very light texture to the garlic bread, Airy in a word. The Baguette, is slightly denser, so it results in a chewy end result. We love both.  You can also try a whole grain version, although we are purists and prefer a white bread option.

two food nuts secret garlic breadHere’s our Not So Secret Recipe:

  • 2 Portuguese buns split or 1/2 a French Baguette split lengthwise (enough for 4 people)
  • 1/2 cup of soft butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves grated or crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced flat leaf parsley
  • grated rind of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 pinch of salt

Combine in a small mixing bowl until all ingredients for a smooth paste. Spread generously on the cut sides of the bread and place under the broiler on the center rack of the oven. Placing it too high in the oven makes it burn before it toasts.

twofoodnuts garlic breadCooks Tip:

Using a Microplane to grate the lemon and the garlic gives the best result. A good quality Microplane is an essential kitchen tool. We do not consider it a gadget!    Its essential!        Amazon has them for under $10 at the time of writing of this blog.

Enjoy the taste of our “No So Secret Garlic Bread” with your next meal!

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Flavor Packed Roasted GrapeTomatoes.

Any time of year is a great time for Grape or Cherry Tomatoes.  During the cold winter months tomatoes leave a lot to be desired in the taste department.  They tend to be hard orbs without the color or taste of a vine ripe tomato. To the rescue the glossy red or yellow Grape or Cherry Tomato. This recipe captures the sweetness and amps up the taste with the help of fresh garlic and Rosemary and a quality olive oil.

grape or cherry tomatoesHere’s our recipe:

Heat Oven to 400F degrees

  • 1 container grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves halved
  • 2 Rosemary springs
  • 1 good pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup quality Olive oil

If you want a subtle twist to this recipe, try a good splash of flavoured Balsamic vinegar such as fig or truffle before roasting the tomatoes.

DSC_5879In a shallow oven-proof dish, spread the tomatoes, rosemary and garlic slices. Add the sea salt and pour over the Olive oil. Place in hot oven. You will smell the tomatoes once they reach the stage of perfection. Make sure the skins are starting to burst and they will be ready. Set aside until they cool.

You can now use them with a savory cheese side dish as an appetizer, or as part of a light sauce for your next pasta dish. We use them in many of our Italian recipes. Watch for more ways to use this ingenious little dish right here on the blog.

roasted Grape tomatoes with herbed goat cheeseFor the Goat Cheese Spread:

  • 1 small tube of goat cheese (about 4 ounces) at room temperature.
  • 1 tbsp Herb de Provence   This herb mixture is available at most grocery stores packaged under a variety of brand names. As long as it is fresh choose the one you like.
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive oil.

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl.  Let rest for an hour or so to allow the herbs to infuse the cheese.  Serve by spreading on your choice of crackers and topping with a roasted Grape or Cherry Tomato. We love Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuit Crackers!

herbed Goat Cheese

This is one of our favorite go-to appetizers when we have a garlicy main dish on the menu. It’s easy to make a day ahead and keeps for several days in the fridge. We prefer to allow the tomatoes to be room temperature when serving. It lets the flavors shine.

Let us know if you tried this simple yet tasty dish. Share this recipe with frineds and family on Facebook if you enjoyed it!

 

 

Asparagus Provencal

A Fresh New Take on Asparagus.

For those of us that have been around a while Asparagus was not always a favorite vegetable. I recall it being a soggy dull green veg that came in a can and was always presented at our house for Sunday Dinner. I suppose as veggies went in the 60’s it was expensive so it had to be held over for special meals.

Things have changed and Asparagus is no longer expensive and comes fresh from the fields so there’s no excuse not to try this fresh new version.

Asparagus Provencal

Not only is this a great way to prepare a summer classic but it takes no time at all.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch fresh Asparagus (ends removed) and cut pieces into thirds
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, (we love the tri-colour type) halved (see cook’s tip)
  • 1 large or two medium garlic cloves sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

To finish: Pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon juice for freshness.

Place all but the pine nuts and lemon juice into a shallow pan. Stir over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low for another 3-5 minutes. Take care not to allow the Asparagus to become too soft, otherwise this will be just like the stuff of childhood.

Asparagus ProvencalOnce the Asparagus is just tender, squeeze the lemon juice over the top, remove to a serving dish and sprinkle with the pine nuts.  There’s a certain something that’s hard to describe about the combination of the cherry tomatoes and the Asparagus. Perhaps its the sweetness of the tomatoes combined with the oil and lemon juice, but it’s sublime.

Asparagus Provencal

Cook’s tip:

Cutting Cherry tomatoes en-mass

  • Corral the tomatoes on a ziplock lid, cover with the second lid.
  • Place your hand on top to steady the tomatoes and slice through with a large knife.
  • You’ve halved a dozen of the little gems in a few seconds!

Cherry TomatoesCherry TomatoesCherry Tomatoes

If you enjoyed this recipe don’t forget to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!  Somethings are just to good to keep to yourself.

 

More Than Just A Sandwich

Heddy’s Ham, Cheese and Mushroom Croissant.

Over the years my own mother prepared a lot of great food.  Having a German heritage, meant we ate a lot of European foods.  But I loved one thing in particular that was not from her usual recipe collection.  It was a delicious sandwich that she made when her friends came to lunch.  Now I make it when I want an easy supper for Harry and I, or when our own friends join us for lunch or brunch.

Ham, cheese and mushroom criossantThe recipe we’re sharing serves 4 hungry people.  When this sandwich is pared with a salad it’s really a complete meal.

Continue reading

Hot Day, Refreshing Cool Salad

Bean Medley, one of summer’s tasty delights.

How often do you turn to vegetables like beans to make a salad?  Most of us think lettuce first. At our home this Bean Medley is a perennial favorite when new crop beans are available at the market. There is a special crisp, sweet character early in the summer, so the very first time you see them, try out this easy dish.

We especially love that the dressing is stable and can be taken to a BBQ or picnic without the worry of spoilage. Mayo based dressings are always risky when the temperature climbs, but this oil and vinegar dressing is safe even at room temperature.

Three bean salad

The Two Food Nuts Recipe.

  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 pound Mixed yellow and green beans trimmed and cut to 1 1/2 inch pieces( I grab two good handfuls of each) when shopping
  • 1 small sweet onion minced finely
  • 1 tsp salt

Place the yellow and green beans in gently boiling salted water and cook until just fork tender. Drain well and place into a large bowl. Add the kidney beans and finely chopped onion. You’ll find that the onion will loose all its sharpness once the dressing is allowed to fully marinate the salad.

For the Dressing

1/4 cup each:

  • Canola oil
  •  Rice wine vinegar
  •  White sugar.

Then add just enough salt and pepper to suit your taste.

Whisk together and add to the beans and onions while the yellow and green beans are still warm. This really helps the veggies absorb the dressing.

If you like a salad with attitude you can add a bit of fresh chili (with or without the seeds depending on how brave you are).

Red chili peppers

Now the temptation is to serve it up right away, but honestly the salad is best when made the day before and allowed to marinate.

Be the hit of your next summer supper or pot luck with is Bean a Medley Salad.  Let us know how you enjoyed it!  Don’t forget to share this recipe with your friends on Facebook.

Three bean salad

 

Eat Dessert First!

Apple Blossoms

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor away, Lets hope this recipe qualifies. Well never see a Doctor again.

We saw a great recipe for an apple tart that looks like a rose when its baked. We just love apple pie so we thought why not give it a try.  You can see from the picture that it turned out just beautifully and it was so easy to create.

Apple Pie

 

We did make some changes to the recipe and we’ll share them below.  Just wait until you taste this delicious little treat for  yourself.  You’ll want to make it for company because it can be made ahead of time and then popped into the oven while your are enjoying dinner.

We just love things that are simple to create but look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

 

Lets get started!

2 rolls of real butter puff pastry from the freezer section of the supermarket (Thawed) I use PC brand all butter puff pasty.

2 Granny Smith apples, cut in half, core removed and sliced thinly

2/3 cup soft butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup real maple syrup

Unroll the puff pastry and cut each sheet into three equal long strips

Place the apple slices in a single layer on a plate and microwave for 2 minutes. (this makes the slices pliable)

Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl

Spread the mixture down the middle of each of the pastry strips in a 2 inch wide band

Lay the apple slices (peel side to one edge of the pastry) overlapping each piece of apple to the next

Now fold the pastry so you have a row of apples between the pastry like a closed book.

apple roses

Here’s where the magic happens! Begin rolling the pastry from one end to the other and a rose of apple  and pastry will appear.

apple pie

Pop it into a large muffin tin. Complete this process until you have 6 beautiful Apple Blossoms. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 or so minutes.

apple pie

When baked drizzle a teaspoon of maple syrup over the Apple Blossoms and top with whipped cream.  Let us know if you think you could prepare this easy and so beautiful recipe.