Posts Tagged ‘Garden State’


I haven’t posted a recipe in quite a while, but tonight’s dinner was so damn good, I really want to share it with you.  It was an easy dish to prepare, with a little earlier in the day prep.

Before I post the recipe I just have to extoll the virtues of using fresh ingredients;  Spending some summer time at the Jersey Shore affords me with an unbelievable assortment and supply of fresh vegetables and herbs.  I don’t have a garden in my yard because I’m not here consistently to keep it watered and weeded.  NO PROBLEM!  I have my own basil plants and peppermint and my neighbor who is growing oregano, thyme and rosemary has told me to help myself any time, any day.  And for the vegetables themselves, I love going to Matt’s Farm Stand.  We have been feasting on the corn so sweet, it’s like sugar on a stick, tomatoes so sweet and juicy that adding basil, is like gilding the lily.  Matt grows a lot of his own vegetables and obtains the rest from farmers around the Garden State.


Penne with Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Green Beans and Feta Cheese **

That’s enough about that, here is the recipe.

2 Cups chopped fresh tomatoes (I used regular tomatoes)

6-8 oz. green beans, trimmed, strings removed and cut in half if they are long

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS balsamic vinegar

1 plump garlic clove, minced

2 TBS slivered basil

Sea salt and ground pepper

3/4 # penne

2 oz. crumbled Feta cheese

Combine olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, basil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Let sit for up to 4 hours or less (I put it together and went to the beach for a couple of hours).

Put a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the string beans and boil for about 5 minutes.   Prepare a bowl of ice water.  Remove the string beans with a slotted spoon and put into the ice water.  Once cool, drain and put aside.

Bring the water back to a boil, cook the pasta till al dente per package instructions;  A minute or so before the pasta is done, drop the string beans into the pot with the pasta.

Drain and toss with the tomato mixture, add the Feta, toss to mix and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Easy, delicious, vegetarian, perfect for a summer supper!

** The photo is from the NY Times recipe.  I strongly advise using plump juicy red tomatoes instead of Heirloom which are not as juicy.  I also chopped my tomatoes much smaller so I would get a more sauce-like consistency. I cut the beans in half and slivered the basil.  This photo looks like Food photography and not at all like mine looked.

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It’s Tasty Tidbits Tuesday!  You know I love to cook on the weekend, especially at the shore because the kitchen is bigger although the stove is smaller as is the oven.  The real reason I love cooking in New Jersey is the accessibility to several marvelous grocery stores and two magnificent fruit and vegetable stands.  Believe they don’t call New Jersey the Garden State for nothing! Unabashedly, Wegman’s is my favorite grocery store and I love making the recipes in their seasonal MENU magazine.  This recipe for Tuscan Baked Beans is in the latest edition.   I don’t know if it was meant to be a main dish but it certainly would satisfy a vegetarian or vegan.

1 pkg dry Great Northern Beans OR 4 cans of Great Northern Beans undrained.

9 cups of water* (only needed it you use the dry beans)

24 leaves of fresh sage OR 20 if you are NOT using dry beans

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, OR 1 if you are NOT using dry beans

1/2 cup of Extra Virgin olive oil, divided

1  1/2 pkgs of chopped onions.  (12 oz)

4 cloves of garlic, finely diced

8 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 TBS salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 cup basting oil (olive oil with Italian herbs in it)

2 cups of Panko bread crumbs

You’ll need a stockpot* and a braising pan

** indicates usage with the dry beans

*Place sorted and rinsed beans in stockpot.  Cover with about 2 inches of water, tilt cover to vent and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain the beans.  Put the beans and 9 cups of fresh water in the stockpot. Heat on HIGH uncovered, until boiling.  Skim off as much foam as possible.  Add 4 leaves and 1 sprig of rosemary to the pot.  Reduce to MEDIUM.  Cover, tilting to allow steam to vent.  Cook one hour, do not stir.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in braising pan on MEDIUM.  Add onions and garlic, cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Chop 20 sage leaves and sprig of rosemary, add to onion mixture.  Cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

Check beans for tenderness. If not quite tender, cover completely and cook an additional 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Add beans and liquid to the onion mixture in braising pan.  Stir to combine. Drizzle remaining olive oil and bake for 60 minutes.  Beans will be done when liquid is syrupy and bubbly.  Carefully remove from oven, season with salt and pepper.

Mix basting oil and panko crumbs in small bowl.  Place mixture over beans and return to oven, bake 20-30 minutes until topping is brown and crisp.

This makes enough beans to feed 8 people. It tastes great, REALLY!!

Recipe from Wegman’s MENU magazine 

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Sweet Tomatoes, Creamy Mozzarella!

Sweet Tomatoes, Creamy Mozzarella!

Sunday night supper!  A few days ago I happened across one of Lidia’s recipes and it seemed simple enough and was just perfect for simple supper after a day at the beach.  I thought the season was perfect for Garden State ingredients but I was slightly off.  I called one of our favorite Market Stands and I was told that it’s still too early for native plum tomatoes.  As you know I’m a huge fan of Wegman’s but there are some vegetables that I will only eat in season and bought from a fruit and vegetable stand and tomatoes are definitely in that category.  Well, at least I had the fresh basil growing in my backyard!  Lidia allowed for the fact that you might not be able to get your hands on 2# of fresh plum tomatoes so she suggested you use a 28 oz can of peeled Italian tomatoes – so I did.

This really is a quick and easy recipe  and so damn good!  

1/4 cup olive oil

8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3 # fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded or 28 oz can of peeled Italian tomatoes

2 sprigs of fresh basil

pepperoncino (crushed red pepper to taste)

1 # Ziti

2 cups of mozzarella cubes ( 1/2″)

1/2 cup granna padano grated ( I used shredded Parmesan/Peccorino)

1/2 cup basil leaves, shredded and packed loosely

Bring a pot of  salted water to boil for the pasta.

Add the oil to a medium size saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook till lightly browned – about 2 minutes.

Carefully add the tomatoes and their liquid.  Add the basil sprigs.  Bring to a boil and season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper.  

About 10 minutes after the sauce has been up on the stove, add the ziti to the boiling water.  Reduce the heat for the sauce to a simmer and break up the tomatoes. Sauce should get chunky and thick – anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings  Lydia says to remove the garlic and the basil sprigs.  I didn’t.

Drain the ziti and add to the sauce – toss till pasta is covered with sauce.  Turn off the stove, add the mozzarella cubes and the grated cheese.  Serve immediately and garnish with shredded basil leaves.

Recipe by Lidia Bastianich


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I LOVE ICE CREAM.  Everyone knows it, I’m not ashamed.  If there was only one food I could eat, it would be ice cream.  Certainly, my readers know I’m an ice cream freak, aficionado, crazy woman – any and all descriptive words apply.  Summer is my time to indulge in ice cream at almost any time of the day.  Seriously, seriously…I think I would show up at Day’s or Nagles when they opened up and have ice cream for breakfast.  What’s holding me back?  Well I already need to lose weight so every time I go for ice cream I have to deal with the angel on my right shoulder and the devil on my left and lately I noticed I’m holding my ice cream cones as if I were a southpaw!  And then again, the food police are in residence every couple of days and that really curtails my ability to succumb.

Besides my two favorite Ocean Grove ice cream shops, I also stop now and then at the Cone Zone.  Now there’s a place that knows how to make an ice cream cone.  It is two huge scoops precariously perched one on top of other.  I stopped there two days ago on my way into town from NYC.  Can you imagine the inner conversation I had with myself from Exit 11 on the NJ Turnpike till I actually arrived in Neptune?   I ran through  a list of possible flavors and plausible reasons of justification about stopping and eating ice cream at 1pm.  After much back and forth, I think the heat and humidity were the deciding factor, why not ice cream?

And that brings me to my latest taste experimentation.  For the past two years I don’t think I ate any flavor other than Peanut Butter Moose Tracks, and hey, it is STILL right up there in the top 3.  However, this year has been the year of the new flavor and flavor combination.  My stop at the Cone Zone which blessedly had no line (not like the two ice cream empires in OG) allowed me to look over the invitingly cold and colorful offerings.  I had a cone with two scoops and I almost always get two different flavors because you know life is short and you never know when you’re going to get that next ice cream cone!

1. Banana Caramel Chocolate Chip: Looking at the barrel through the glass, I could see thin lines of caramel swirled throughout the not-too-pale and not-too-bright (yuk artificial) yellow ice cream which was spotted with dark chocolate chips.  This one will be good and I can count it as a serving of fruit in today’s food pyramid.

2. Java Jolt: What could be better for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up than a bit of caffeine and in such a delightful form?  Cold, creamy, vanilla ice cream liberally laced with coffee and wide ribbons of chocolate fudge running through it? Nothing that I could think of so I had one scoop of this and one scoop of the Banana Caramel Chocolate Chip.

3. Mission Fig: Spending time in the Garden State is hardly an area of deprivation from the best fruit and vegetables, so not sure why this year, fruit ice creams are among my favorites.  But they are and this delicacy is to be had at Day’s .  Mission Fig has a delightful, delicate flavor.  It must have a vanilla ice cream base but it is not really white, and bits of fig and the distinctive taste and flavor of the fig puree throughout the ice cream is remarkable.

4. Chocolate Midnight Cookie: For the past many years, since the advent of Cookie Dough ice cream, makers have been tweaking and twisting that concept to myriad creations.  This one is a WINNER!  Even Peter orders it every time.  Deep dark rich-looking chocolate ice cream with very, very dark crumbs and pieces of very dark, well Midnight actually cookie mixed in.  YUMMY!

5. Blueberries and Cream: I had to taste test this one first because you know how artificial some fruit-flavored ice creams ; this one just sang of wild Maine blueberries.  Chunks of the fruit in vanilla ice cream and if you closed your eyes, you might think you were in Ogunquit.

Well I started this blog late last night, most likely out of severe disappointment because I literally drove to both Day’s and Nagle’s TWICE during the course of the evening while I was out doing a few errands and BOTH times BOTH places had such long lines and I was so hot and tired that I couldn’t imagine standing around for 30 minutes to get some ice cream to take home – by this time it was already 8:30pm and I hadn’t even started making my gazpacho – oh yes that again!  Now it’s 10:00am and I swear if I write one more sentence about ice cream, I am out the door and on my way!!!!

Project 366 2008 Feb 10 - 40/366. Not my favor...

OR maybe this one?

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Luscious Jersey Tomato

I think I have to do a blog post to pay homage to the Jersey Tomato, one of God‘s blessings on the Garden State.  But not tonight because I’m too tired to think creatively and clearly.  However, I made Gazpacho Sunday night, a dish that is truly a celebration of the fruits of the summer. Tomatoes are the main ingredient and I used some of the best beefsteak tomatoes Jersey has to offer.

And there’s a back story to the Gazpacho recipe.  A few years ago there was a health food store on Third Avenue that made the BEST Gazpacho ever! I would call them from work and ask that they put aside some for me. Once I even served it as a first course at a dinner party! And I would also bring some to New Jersey to give to my friend, Jane.  I never made Gazpacho before so I did some serious research and read several recipes until I found one I that sounded like what I remembered the store’s version to be.  I was RIGHT!!  I’m happy to share it with all of you.  It is easy to make;  the only real work is the prepping of the veggies.

6 tomatoes, cored, peeled and chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 purple onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped

2 TBS chopped chives

2 TBS lemon juice

2 tsp sugar

4 cups of tomato juice

1 tsp Worceshire sauce

6 drops of Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in food processor.  Refrigerate overnight so flavors can meld.

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Betty Crocker logo used until 2003

It's not a bake-off!!

It’s only Tuesday but my OCD is in high gear and I think today I made at least 2 new lists concerning the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  We are expecting my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, our friends Susan and Jim and Murray too for barbeque on Sunday – along with possible other couples showing up for a day here and there.  Well the here and there is not making me happy.  I plan, I list, I shop, I prep and I really NEED to know just who is coming on what day!!  I know this is part of my own neurotic behavior BUT it is you know who’s doing that I am up in the air and in the dark.  NOT for long, tomorrow he damn well better make some phone calls.  Whew, now that I got that off my chest….back to my list-making and menu-planning.

It started out simply in my mind with the usual cook-out barbeque fare then the Martha syndrome struck (better sooner than later).  Soon the very idea of having burgers and hot dogs seemed like a bad dream.  No, no, that wouldn’t do; Saturday night’s meal evolved into marinated chicken breasts, grilled asparagus and an orzo and zucchini salad.  Of course every thing is subject to change or whim and until I’m in the check-out line at Wegman’s … well this is what happens;  First it starts out simple, then it gets more involved and creative and then even more dishes are going to be made from scratch, sometimes to the point of the fact that there literally would not be enough time in the day to prep all.  At that point I get out the red pencil and try to be rational about the menu and remind myself that this is not a Betty Crocker bake-off!!

I think this dish is going to be a definite side dish on Sunday.  With an eye to the locavore movement, an easy philosophy to follow in the Garden State and ever vigilant to including green vegetables, this dish has it all.  I found it online at MarthaStewart.com under an enticing heading of 50 Great Side Dishes.

3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise

2TBS plus 2TBS olive oil

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 (I’ll use 2 or 3) garlic clove, minced

1 TBS white vinegar

2 TBS torn mint leaves

Preheat oven 475 degrees

Toss zucchini slices with 2 TBS olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread on two rimmed baking sheet pans and roast 10-15 minutes till undersides are browned.

On serving platter, sprinkle slices with minced garlic and drizzle with 2TBS of olive oil and vinegar.  Let stand 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.  Serve at room temperature – Scatter torn mint leaves on top and serve

Recipe from Martha Stewart

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The new The Food Emporium logo

This evening the kids were here and had dinner.  To define kids: I’m referring to my daughter and her husband Tom, my son Joel who is visiting from San Diego and my nephew Justin, who is home from Japan for a visit and his mother, Juanita.  With Peter and me, that makes 7 and besides not being sure how to stretch my pre-planned dinner, I wasn’t sure we could actually get 7 people around the table – this IS a New York City apartment you know!

I planned on making Chicken Paprikash and Spaetzle and needed a vegetable and a salad.   Chiara was assigned the dessert, Juanita would bring some wine.  So during the rainy afternoon I ventured out and walked up to the German market, Shaller and Weber, one of the few remaining vestiges in this neighborhood which used to be known as Germantown.  I bought some spaetzle there and headed to the Food Emporium for broccoli.  It’s been weeks since the vegetable vendors have been out on the street with all this bad weather and I forgot what great deals you can get from them.  I love buying 5 bananas for $1. but the thought of buying broccoli for for close to $3 per lb in the store was ugh!  I settled for a pretty good size cauliflower which cost $4.50 and two heads of iceberg lettuce for $2.49 each.  Why am I telling you how much these items cost?  Well first of all the title of the blog is Dinner Under $10 and by the way, that only refers to the main dish.  And I’m used to shopping in New Jersey and certainly not paying those prices for fresh produce – hey it IS the Garden State.

The menu: Chicken Paprikash, Spaetzle, Roasted Cauliflower(see prior blog) BAKED WHOLE CAULIFLOWER and Iceberg Lettuce wedges with a Blue Cheese Vinaigrette (see prior blog) Tasty Tidbits Tuesday- A Light Summer Supper.

Chicken Paprikash

4 chicken leg quarters, cut in half at joint (about 3lbs)

coarse salt and ground pepper

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced lengthwise

3 garlic cloves roughly chopped

2 Tbs sweet paprika

3 Tbs flour

1  3/4 cups chicken broth

1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes

1/2 lb egg noodles or spaetzle

1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt

Season chicken with salt and pepper in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over high.  Cook chicken skin side down until golden brown, about 6 minutes.  Flip chicken and cook another 6 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Discard all but 1 tsp of fat from pot and reduce heat to medium.  Add onion and cook stirring frequently and scraping bits from bottom of pan with wooden spoon, until beginning to soften, 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook stirring frequently, 3 minutes.  Add paprika and flour, season with salt and pepper, and stir constantly until mixture begins to stick, 1 minute. Add broth and whisk till smooth.  Add tomatoes and bring to boil over high. Return chicken to pan in single layer, skin side up, and reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles according to package instructions.  Drain noodles, divide among four bowls; Top with chicken.  Stir sour cream into sauce, then ladle sauce over chicken and noodles.

Recipe from Every Day Food

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