Book Club almost always inspires me to try making something new and the Watermelon Heirloom Salad has been on my list of ‘must try’ since my sister-in-law, Betty, told me about it.
I served this in July with tomatoes and watermelon in season. It is a refreshing salad especially during the hot days of summer. The salad was served with the feta on the side since some of our members are Vegan. Easy peasy and satisfies all. What a wonderful fusion of great flavors. It’s now one of my favorite summer treats.
WATERMELON HEIRLOOM SALAD
3 large heirloom tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds), cored and cute into chunks or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I used multi-color cherry tomatoes)
4 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar)
juice of 1 lime
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh feta (don’t skimp on the quality of the feta)
1 lime, cut into wedges
Combine the tomatoes, watermelon, mint and basil in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour olive oil mixture over the fruit and toss to mix.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle the feta over the salad (or on the side). Serve with lime wedges and sea salt.
In 2020 I planted golden beets for the first time in my garden. I love a fresh beet and goat cheese salad but the big surprise for me was how delicious beet greens are.
My friend, Jan, told me about a Swiss Chard with Tahini recipe, referenced below, which I adapted to use with beet greens, minus the extra sauce. I made it several times last year and will be making it every year that I grow beets or can purchase beets with greens. Out of this world!
BEET GREENS WITH PINE NUTS
2 3/4 lb. beet greens or Swiss Chard
2.5 tbsp. unsalted butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil
scant 5 tbsp. pine nuts
2 small cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1/4 cup dry white wine
sweet paprika, to garnish (optional)
salt and pepper
Clean the beet greens or Swiss Chard. Chop into strips.
Put half of the butter and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the large frying pan and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the pine nuts and toss them in the pan until golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan.
Throw in the garlic. Cook for about a minutes until it starts to become golden
Carefully pour in the wine. Leave for a minute or less, until it reduces to about one third. Add the chopped beet greens and the rest of the butter and cook for 2-5 minutes, until the beet greens are wilted.
Season with slat and black pepper. Divide the greens among the individual serving bowls, and scatter with pine nuts. Drizzle with additional olive oil and paprika, if you desire.
Gin & Tonic Cake sounded delicious when my sister-in-law, Betty, told me about it a few years ago. Summer time evenings on the patio with a G&T and good friends inspired me to make this wonderful cake. Warning…it is a bit boozy but oh, so delicious!
I converted the recipe to American measures (in parenthesis) and it worked well. Instead of baking a big pan of cake, I baked in several smaller cake pans and froze a few cakes, minus the lime slices. It freezes well.
GIN & TONIC DRIZZLE CAKE
250g unsalted butter (8.8185 oz. or 1.102 cups)
250g sugar (8.8185 oz. or 1.102 cups)
250g self rising flour (8.8185 oz. or 1.102 cups)
5 medium egg
1 lime, zested
75g sugar (2.6455 oz. or 1/3 cup)
5 tbsp. Gin
5 tbsp. Tonic Water
Icing: 200g powdered sugar (7.0548 oz. or .8819 cup) 3-4 tbsp Gin
Decoration: 1 lime, zested lime sliced
For the Cake:
Grease and line a 2 lb. loaf tine (i used several small loaf pans instead).
Preheat the oven to 180 centigrade or 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light an fluffy.
Add in the eggs, flour, and lime zest. Beat again until smooth and combined.
Pour the cake ingredients into the cake pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes. When baked fully, a cake skewer should come out clean and the cake shouldn’t be making a bubbling sound.
Remove the cake from the oven and cool slightly while making the drizzle.
For the Drizzle:
In a small pan, add the sugar, Gin and Tonic.
Heat on a low-medium heat while stirring. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat.
Poke the cake lightly with a cake skewer and drizzle over the cake. Allow the cake to cool fully in the cake pan.
Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the cake pan.
In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar and gradually mix in the Gin until you get a thick, pourable consistency.
Pour the icing over the cake, sprinkle with lime zest. Add lime slices to the top for decoration.
Cinnamon Basil…who knew there was such a thing. I grew Cinnamon Basil in my garden, not really sure what I would do with it. It truly has a cinnamon essence and is great in salads. I adapted this recipe, adding chopped walnuts and Craisins to add a fruity, crunchy addition to the salad. Next time, I may add a little crumbled goat cheese. Mmmmm.
ARUGULA AND CINNAMON BASIL SALAD
6 cups rocket (arugula)
1 cup cinnamon basil, torn (I used a little less)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Craisins
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 dash salt
Put the dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well.
Put the rocket, onion, walnuts, Craisins, and basil in a salad bowl and toss, with a little dressing.
Daughter Megan found this recipe and shared this mega cookie with me. I have never heard of Levain Bakery in NYC but if I ever get back to the City, I will try to go! The cookies are delicious!
A batch of these cookies would make a wonderful Father’s Day present, or if you aren’t a baker, you could order them from the bakery! Slightly warmed in the microwave, topped with vanilla ice cream, it would be a wonderful dessert for two or more!
LEVAIN BAKERY CHOCOLATE CHIP CRUSH COOKIES
1cupCold Buttercut into small cubes 1cupBrown Sugar 1/2cupSugar 2Eggs 1 1/2cupsCake Flour* 1 1/2cupsFlour 1teaspoonCornstarch 3/4teaspoonBaking Soda 3/4teaspoonSalt 2cupsChocolate Chips 2cupsWalnutsroughly chopped
Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together cold cubed butter, brown sugar, and sugar for 4 minutes or until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined to avoid overmixing. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Separate dough into large balls and place on lightly colored cookie sheet. They are bigger than you think! You will fit 4 cookies on one large cookie sheet. The dough makes 8 extra large cookies.
Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to set.
*can substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour
*Levain Bakery has stated they don’t use vanilla extract in their cookies. If you would like to add vanilla extract, I would suggest adding 1 teaspoon when adding the eggs to the batter.
Beat first 5 ingredients on medium speed until blended, 2-3 minutes (do not overbeat).
Whisk lemon juice and sugar in a shallow bowl until sugar is dissolved. Quickly dip 8 ladyfingers into lemon juice, allowing excess to drip off; place in a single layer in an 8-in. square dish. Spread a third of the mascarpone mixture over top. Repeat layers twice.
Sprinkle with lemon zest. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours before serving.
Pork Carnitas are a favorite while dining at local Mexican restaurants. This recipe, made in the Crock Pot, made the work easy. I chose to skip the final step in the recipe and it was delicious. If you love the crispy pork, go for it. The pork is great in tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos….your choice!
Chicken Tikka Masala is made easy using Trader Joe’s delicious Masala sauce. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe below. The second time I made the recipe, I used strips of red, yellow and green pepper, carrots and chopped onions. Both were delicious and easy, peasy. We were so excited when a Trader Joe’s was built fairly close to my house. There are always new products to try and enjoy!
During the pandemic, I went to Trader Joe’s only a couple of times. Hat’s off to Trader Joe’s and how they managed shopper entry, masks, and cleanliness. By far, the best job of any grocery store I ventured into.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…TRADER JOE’S STYLE
1 (15-ounce) jar Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup sliced baby carrots
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the sauce in a single layer. Pour the drained tomatoes evenly over the chicken.
Add onions and carrots
Pour the remaining sauce on top.
Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (I cooked for 4 hours)
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Mango Shrikhand was a recipe made by my friend, Diane, for Book Club now over a year ago. It was delicious and I wanted to try to make it at home. I made it with Greek Yogurt and cut the cardamon in half.
For those who don’t love Greek Yogurt, I would recommend using Vanilla yogurt. If you don’t like cardamom, try using cinnamon. If you don’t like mango, try another fruit. It’s a versatile recipe and healthy dessert.
2 1/2 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup mango puree
5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons crushed almonds
Line a colander with a clean piece of cheesecloth. Place colander over a tall vessel to collect the dripping water.
Pour yogurt onto the cheesecloth and gently twist the ends. Tie the ends into a knot above the yogurt. Let drain and thicken in the refrigerator, 5 hours to overnight.
Whisk yogurt, mango puree, confectioners’ sugar, and cardamom in a bowl until well blended.
Refrigerate Shrikhand for 1 to 2 hours. Garnish with crushed almonds and serve chilled.
Honey + Chicken = Delicious! I am fortunate to live next to a beekeeper and have two additional friends that have hives in their yards. Local honey is such a wonderful treat and inspires me to try new recipes. This recipe is definitely a keeper and wonderful paired with a fresh, green salad.