Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons

Use up all those late summer tomatoes in my Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons for a fabulous side salad!





Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons


If you love tomatoes you are gonna love this salad.  Juicy ripe tomatoes are the star of this Tuscan dish along with mozzarella cheese, red onion, basil, and the BEST homemade croutons!  This is the perfect dish to use up all your tomato harvest, or take advantage of the late summer tomatoes that are full of flavor available in the stores and farmers markets.  

The other highlight of the dish is the HOMEMADE croutons!  They are really so easy to make you won't believe it.  They soak up the delicious vinaigrette that we will be making and just take this salad to a whole different level.  Remember using the ripest, freshest, and highest quality ingredients (since there aren't many ingredients) for the best tasting salad.

Enjoy!





What Ingredients do I need?

  • French bread loaf
  • olive oil
  • tomatoes - ripe - good types would be Roma, on the vine, or heirloom if you like
  • red onion
  • fresh basil
  • mozzarella - I used "pearls" or "Ciliegine" which are small balls of mozzarella
  • red wine vinegar
  • garlic
  • salt & pepper


Substitutions and Variations

  • Add chopped cucumber
  • Add roasted or grilled chicken for a main entree salad
  • Add salami, procuitto, or ham, or a combination for an Italian Chopped(ish) Panzanella Salad
  • Turn this Greek by switching mozzarella for feta, adding cucumber and kalamata olives
  • Use heirloom cherry tomatoes for more color
  • For a Southern spin make cornbread croutons
  • Don't have red wine vinegar?  White wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar will all work well.



Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Make your croutons first.
  • Day old bread works best however, I've used fresh French baguette with no problems!
  • Croutons can be a Make-Ahead item:  you can make these up to a week head and keep them at room temperature.
  • Good breads for croutons:  French Baguette, ciabatta, sourdough (make crispy croutons) Soft bread such as focaccia or sandwich bread will make a softer crouton that may become soggy.
  • Don't skip the homemade vinaigrette!  It's light and vibrant and adds tons of flavor to the salad.



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Panzanella Salad with Homemade Croutons 



serves 4


Salad:
1/2 loaf French bread or baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
4-6 ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 oz fresh mozzarella pearls, halved
1/4 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped


Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.   Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss to coast and then spread all the cubes out in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake for 9-12 minutes until toasted.  Remove from oven when golden and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl or mason jar combine your vinaigrette ingredients and whisk or shake until emulsified.  Set aside.

In a large bowl add tomatoes, cheese, red onion, croutons, and chopped basil.  Drizzle with the dressing and toss so all items are coated.  Serve.













Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Late Summer Peach Pancakes

Give your weekend breakfast pancakes a flavor punch with sweet peaches and cinnamon, for a dish that's scrumptious and one the entire family will enjoy!



Late Summer Peach Pancakes


We are going to slowly ease in to the Autumn food transition since it's technically Autumn this Thursday but in Southern California it is still in the 80's and 90's.  So let's make a dish that has both summer items (peaches) and a bit of fall (cinnamon) in it.  

Pancakes are a go to breakfast for weekends and I thought I would make them a little "fallish" by adding some late summer peaches that are juicy and sweet along with a hint of cinnamon.  This combination is excellent.  The peaches are sliced and added when you are cooking the first side.  The real treasure is that when you flip them the peaches are exposed to the heat and end up tasting like roasted peaches.   Oh My Heavens, especially with the touch of cinnamon to the Great Aunt Grace's buttermilk pancake batter!  You will definitely be missing out if you don't make these pronto.

Enjoy!




What Ingredients do I need?

  • Flour - my favorite flour
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • buttermilk
  • cinnamon - you want a good quality spice.  I use this one
  • vegetable oil or canola oil - The recipe is from a few generations ago hence the vegetable oil.  I use canola oil.
  • egg
  • peaches - ripe but not mushy
  • butter - used for the skillet or griddle


Substitutions and Variations

  • Use whole wheat flour or 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose.
  • You may use regular milk instead of buttermilk.
  • Add a dash of nutmeg.
  • Top with whipped cream for a peaches and cream effect.
  • Top with powdered sugar instead of syrup.


Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Don't overmix your batter - lumps are fine.
  • Preheat your griddle and cook the pancakes on a low temperature.
  • When you see bubbles on the tops of your batter it's time to flip.
  • Any leftover pancakes can be frozen up to 3 months. Place them individually (don't stack) on a sheet tray to flash freeze for 30 minutes then you can stack them in a freezer bag.

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Late Summer Peach Pancakes


small batch: 2-4


1 cup flour
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
1 peach, peeled and sliced into wedges
butter for the pan

In a medium bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the oil.

In another bowl whisk together buttermilk and egg.

Add to dry ingredients and mix together until just moistened. Batter will be lumpy.

On a pre-heated cast iron skillet, add a little butter to coat the bottom.  Ladle batter onto skillet for each pancake. Top each pancake with 2-3 slices of peaches.  Cook until golden brown and holes begin to appear on top. Turn on the second side and cook until golden brown
.  Serve with extra peach slices and warm maple syrup.











Monday, September 12, 2022

Grilled Summer Squash Caprese

 A variation on an Italian Caprese Salad this Grilled Summer Squash Caprese features summer squash, grilled to perfection, juicy ripe summer cherry tomatoes, and fragrant basil.  The perfect side dish!




Grilled Summer Squash Caprese


This summer it's been all about the side dishes and salads around our house.  We've been grilling pork chops, steaks, and chicken all summer long but the side dishes are really the outstanding items this year.  Here is another delectable side dish that couldn't be easier to make.

Ripe yellow summer squash cut into strips and grilled is topped with cherry tomatoes and basil, then doused with really good olive oil and minced garlic.  Simple, straightforward, and scrumptious!  Try this out while tomatoes are at their peak.

Enjoy!




What Ingredients do I need?

  • yellow summer squash
  • cherry tomatoes - I used heirloom cherry tomatoes for the color variety.
  • fresh basil
  • good olive oil - since this is a main component you want the best flavor you can afford.
  • fresh garlic


Substitutions and Variations

  • Try zucchini or eggplant instead of the squash.
  • Switch up the herbs - thyme or oregano would be wonderful.
  • Use cut Roma tomatoes or large heirloom tomatoes instead of cherry.






Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Buy ripe fresh tomatoes - since this is a main ingredient you want very tasty tomatoes.  Cherry tomatoes that are on the vine are the most flavorful.  I chose heirloom cherry tomatoes for a more pop of color.
  • This dish is perfect served hot off the grill or at room temperature.
  • When you use olive oil as a tasting ingredient (the oil flavor is prominent in the food you are eating such as salad dressing, dipping oil for bread, drizzling etc.) instead of cooking, you want the best quality oil that you can afford.  The taste will be better and will make your dish stand out.  Here are a few olive oils that I trust and like.  Kouzini Greek Olive Oil - California Olive Ranch - Lucini 

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Grilled Summer Squash Caprese


serves 6


1 1/2 lbs yellow summer squash (about 3 medium) cut lengthwise in to slices
olive oil
kosher salt & ground black pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved (I used heirloom cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup fresh basil 
1 Tablespoon minced garlic

Brush both sides of the squash slices with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill on an outdoor grill, or indoor using a grill pan, about 5-6 minutes until crisp-tender, turning once.

Arrange squash on a serving platter along with tomatoes.  Top with basil leaves.  Drizzle with olive oil and minced garlic before serving.


adapted from BHG.com










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