Panzanella, or panmolle, is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes. It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy (per Wikipedia). The first time I had this salad, about 10 years ago, I fell in love.
It’s a scrumptious salad, any time of the year, but especially when I have fresh tomatoes from my garden. Fresh, flavorful and healthy!
3 tablespoons good olive oil 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced 20 large, fresh basil leaves 3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 1/2 cup good olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
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.
Chlebíčky are open-faced sandwiches served in the Czech Republic. The sandwiches include meat, cheese and vegetables and are meant to be eaten in a few small bites. Think of them as an appetizer, often served with wine or beer.
Czech hospitality is like a warm hug from your Babicka, or Grandma. While visiting the Czech Republic and visiting my ancestors villages, we were almost always asked to enter their home and enjoy a treat, be it Chlebíčky, pastry, dandelion tea, or even a little sip (or two) of Slivovice.
Our Colorado Czech/Slovak/Rusyn Genealogy Group used to gather once a quarter (before COVID), often sharing Czech treats. I made Chlebíčky for one of our potlucks, using recipes from Czechcookbook.com. They are easy to make and you can customize the ingredients to your liking. I’ve included links at the bottom to the recipes as well as a link to more information on the history of these delightful bites!
Czech Spread (vlašský salát) (Recipe follows)
thinly sliced ham
thinly sliced cheese (baby swiss)
hardboiled eggs, sliced
dill pickles, sliced
bell peppers, cut into strips
cheese for grating
Czech Spread – Vlašský salát
3 small potatoes (13 oz.)
10 mini carrots or 2 medium (4-5oz)
2 pickles (preferably dill pickles)
1 tsp pickle juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
little bit pepper
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/3 cup canned peas
4 oz. bologna or ham
1 cup mayo
Crusty Bread that I don’t have to knead? Just what I needed to go with the soup I was making. Honestly, the recipe seemed too easy but it worked perfectly. I baked the bread in my Lodge Dutch Oven and I baked it according to directions. The crust was a little too brown, but the interior of the bread was perfect and tasted great!
It is wonderful served with soup and also wonderful as a sandwich. As long as I plan a day ahead, I can make this bread any time!
CRUSTY NO-KNEAD BREAD
3cupsall-purpose flour 1 ¾tsp.salt ½tsp.active dry yeast 1 ½cupswaterroom temperature
Form the dough: In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated. You do not need to activate the yeast before, even though we’re using active dry yeast. The slow rising process will do the trick.
Allow it to rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter or inside your unheated oven for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat your oven: Preheat oven to 450°F. Add your cast iron pot to the oven as it’s heating and heat it as well until it’s at 450°F. Usually when the oven is done preheating your pot should be hot enough as well. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. Use oven mitts, as to not burn yourself.
Shape the dough: Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball. Sprinkle some extra flour directly into the bottom of the pot. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven. Alternatively, you can also place the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper, then lift the parchment paper and drop it in the pot, with parchment paper and all. This could also ensure that your bread doesn’t stick at all to the bottom of the pot. I have found that if I use parchment paper, the bread doesn’t brown so much on the sides, but otherwise it’s still crusty and delicious.
Finish the bread: Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the bread from the pot, it should fall out easily. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.
Cranberry and Orange are a culinary match made in heaven. The combination in this wonderful quick bread is divine, especially with the addition of Orange Glaze.
The bread is great with a cup of coffee or tea or can be served as a dessert.
CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE
1 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk into the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. If your loaf starts to get too brown drape a piece of foil over the top to finish baking. I did this during the last 10 minutes of the baking time.
Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife. Carefully remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
While the bread is cooling, make the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. Cut and serve.
Note-The bread is best eaten within 2-3 days or freeze.
Unique Zucchini recipes are always of interest to me and this Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Zucchini Break did not disappoint. Breads, cakes and cookies with rolled oats are a favorite, now adding coconut and chocolate…what’s not to like!
OATMEAL COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI BREAD
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat white flour (may be substituted with all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt 3/4 cup coconut sugar (may be substituted with granulated or brown sugar) 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (may be substituted with canola oil)
2 large eggs
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a standard size loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Whisk together the oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and coconut oil vigorously, until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, coconut, and chocolate chips and stir until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!
Sungold cherry tomatoes have become our family’s favorite tomatoes, eating them off the wine as a treat. They are so sweet and incredibly delicious. Just perfect for Cherry Tomato Jam.
Each year I seem to have an abundance of tomatoes, making salads with them, roasting them with peppers and garlic and much more. Tomato Jam recipes were popping up this year and I decided to try it. It’s so easy and delicious. I haven’t tried to can it because it disappears from the frig long before the expiration date. Serve it on a crusty bread or on top of a soft cheese. I also made a Grilled Cheese with a schmeer of tomato jam. YUMMO!
CHERRY TOMATO JAM
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup) 3 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 32 ounces (2 lbs.) cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pints) 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 large spring thyme 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chili powder and smoked paprika and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes burst and thicken, for about 10-15 minutes. If at any time the pan becomes dry and the tomatoes begin to burn, add a tablespoon or two more of water and reduce the heat a bit more.
Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.
Breakfast casseroles are always a treat and easy peasy when you make it the night before. This casserole has a wonderful cream cheese surprise in many bites. Why have I never thought of that?
Serve this dish with a wonderful fruit bowl, a cup of hot coffee (or tea), and great conversation.
BIG COUNTRY BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING
1 loaf Brioche bread, cubed (I used French Bread)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
1 /2 cup milk
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
2 c. + 1 c. shredded sharp white cheddar (or any shredded cheese of your liking)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
10 oz. browned breakfast sausage (optional)
5 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or 1 tsp. McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Spray a 9×13″ extra deep baking dish and place 1/2 to 2/3 of the bread cubes in the dish.
Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl, add cream, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Reserve 1 to 1.5 cups of mixture and pour remaining over the bread cubes.
Spread green chiles on top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 cups of shredded cheese. Lightly press the bread down to aid in absorption of the egg mixture. Top with cream cheese, sausage and bacon, if desired.
Top with remaining bread and pour reserved egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, if desired.
The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake on middle rack for 45-55 minutes or until the center is firm. Cover the bread pudding with foil about halfway through the cooking time and remove for the last 5 minutes or so.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup Raisins (I skipped the raisins since the family doesn’t like)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a Bundt or 9 inch loaf pan.
In a bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla until
light and fluffy. Stir in the shredded zucchini. Then transfer this batter to the flour mixture and stir until everything is combined. Fold in the raisins.
Pour into the baking pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in
the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to completely cool.
** Please note, cook time for Bundt pan will be around 60 minutes and for the 9 inch loaf pan, around 1 hr 10 minutes. Always check after 1 hr for doneness as all ovens are different.