Sunday Dinner

Basil Pistou and Garden Fresh Sun Gold Tomatoes on Crostini

Baked Chicken Meatballs 
Pepperonata and Arugula  Salad


This is a variation of the flavor packed accompaniament that traces its roots to the south of France. You will notice the absence of nuts in the recipe. I actually prefer it this way. When the garden is over flowing with the bounty of a full summer, this pistou will bring the flavor of the season to your table. Use it as an accompaniment to anything. Tonight, we are having it on crostinis with garden fresh Sun Gold tomatoes.


Rustic Peach Cake

Let me start by saying that there is only one thing "rustic" about this cake and that is its appearance. I mean, shouldn't a rustic dessert be super easy?? Don't let me scare you from making this because it is incredibly delicious! For this post, I am going to use bullet points to explain part of the process. 

Here we go...

1.The original recipe calls for a 9-inch spring-form pan. Why? Go ahead an use an 8-inch cake pan.

2.The original recipe calls for two medium firm peaches. I used one large (about 8-ounces), but not overly ripe peach. And yes, I sliced my peach into 9 wedges; eight for the edges and one for the middle.

3.The peaches are macerated in a divided sugar and cinnamon mixture, but DO NOT use the juices when adding the peaches to the cake.

4.The original recipe calls for dried peaches or apricots (they are both similar in taste when dried and amplify the flavor). DO NOT use freeze dried fruit. 

5. Dried fruit is sticky to chop, so spray your knife with cooking spray and finely (and I mean finely) chop the dried fruit.  

6. I could tell you to pulse the dried fruit with the dry cake ingredients in a food processor (because it works), but also requires more dishes to clean.

7. Are you still with me?

So, how is this a "rustic" peach cake? I HAVE NO CLUE! I need to rename this recipe Very Good Peach Cake😋🍑.

If I just put peach on your brain, here are some links to some of my other peachy perfect recipes...


Sunday Dinner 8/15/2021

Hatch Chile Cheese Spread

Hickory Smoked Pork Ribs
Illinois Sweet Corn

with Whipped Cream

Where do I start?  Well, I  can use five words...spinning-beach- ball-of-death!  And it was not just one annoying ball, there was also a black-grey ball of death when I tried uploading my images.  I'll leave the 404 Error out of this post because I am at wits end with technology!!

On to the good stuff...August is Hatch Chile season and I wanted to share a spin on my Pimento Cheese.

When the chiles are available, I buy them in bulk.  Once I broil and skin them, I place them on a parchment lined baking sheet to freeze and store for when needed. 

This spread is so good on the cornbread crostini that I served on this past Sunday, but is equally as good, on crackers, tortilla chips or as a spread on a sandwich or burger. I have even used it as a filling for quesadillas and empanadas. Let's just say that the possibilities are almost endless. Happy Sunday-err Tuesday!


Kale Salad with Creamy Poblano Dressing

Growing up in a Southern household, we certainly enjoyed our fair share of greens, but they were most certainly not served up like this recipe.  Our greens were simmered, almost until surrender, in a pot of broth and a smoked ham hock.  Delicious as they were (and still are), they were completely depleted of texture and essential nutrients. I still enjoy a pot of greens and its likker, but I also like to enjoy the taste, texture and nutrient value of fresh kale. 

This beautiful bowl of health came to me via Chicago Magazine a while back.  The developer was chef John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina.  The restaurant has since closed, so am I ever glad I have this recipe to share with you.  Chef Manion developed this dressing as a nod to green goddess dressing with a Latin spin and boy did he ever nail it!

The base of the dressing is made with blackened poblano peppers, avocado, and garlic. Yum! They are blended together with egg yolk, Dijon, buttermilk, and oil for an incredibly creamy dressing.  I like to thin the dressing with a little bit of water, but you can make it as is of to your own desired consistency.  The one thing that I did change was to dial back on the oil, so it doesn't emulsify into a green mayonnaise.  This bold dressing holds up very well to the somewhat tough kale leaves.  Having said that, one trick I like to use when working with fresh kale, is to massage the dressing into the kale with your hands.  This helps break down the leaf fibers making them more tender.  Toss in some sliced jalapeños, radishes, pepitas, cilantro and a sprinkle of grated Cotija and this will become your new favorite kale salad with just one bite.  Ok, you'll probably be "bowled" over by the taste of the dressing before you even get to the kale.)  There will be some leftover dressing, but be thankful.  It is delicious as a dip, as a sandwich or burger spread, or even as a dressing over potatoes.

Serve as a light lunch, as side salad, or add in some protein like shrimp or chicken to make it a loaded meal.  Enjoy!


Sunday Dinner

Watermelon, Goat Cheese and Candied Pecan Canapés

1/2-n-1/2 Browned Butter Creamed Corn
Refrigerator Pickle and Heirloom Tomato Salad on Arugula

1-2-3 Hidden Ice Cream Shortcakes
Peaches and Whipped Cream

Who likes shortcakes with macerated fruit and whipped cream? My hand is raised high. I have various shortcake recipes, but I wanted to feature this building block of a recipe.  With only three ingredients, it is super easy.  How are there only three ingredients? Well, the "hidden" ingredient is melted ice cream. Yep, you read that right. Think about it. Ice cream is cream, sugar and egg yolks; everything you need for a good cake. And the self-rising flour eliminates the need for added leavening or salt. The dough is baked in one pan, so no rolling or cutting. You can serve the slices warm or at room temperature. Top a slice it with any macerated fruit and whipped cream. This is a "hidden" gem of a recipe.  Happy Sunday!


Frozen White Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars with Blackberry Swirl

Remember when I said that I was playing around with some new recipes this past Sunday?  Well, let me introduce to you the newest recipe that I am adding to my (quite extensive) dessert caché, Frozen White Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars with Blackberry Swirl.

I call these "Frozen" because they really need to be served almost right from the freezer.  Otherwise they will become too soft.  The combination of chocolate wafers, white chocolate and cream cheese lend a flavor profile that will have your tastebuds thinking about that classic, four-letter sandwich cookie. You know, the one you either twist to eat the filling or dip in milk to eat.

The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of blackberry purée.  I don't know about you, but that is not something that I keep on hand.  Blackberries in the garden or store? Yes.  Blackberry purée in the fridge? No.  So, I adapted the recipe to make up for that.  If you are wondering about using blackberry jam, I wouldn't recommend in doing so.  It would make the bars overly sweet.  

They are beautiful to serve on a plate garnished with fresh berries and mint leaves (I used chocolate mint from my garden) or you could do as my husband does and just open the freezer drawer, pick one up and eat it out of your hand.  Either way, you will enjoy them.  Happy cooking!


Orecchiette with Shrimp, Pepperoncini and Basil

Ready for a quick weeknight dinner that is so incredibly delicious you'll want to serve it to company?  This is it!  Think shrimp piccata with a power punch of flavor from pepperoncini peppers and fresh basil.  You could use any pasta , but the orecchiette (which means "little ears") is perfect because it cradles all those wonderful ingredients and flavors.  

Speaking of ingredients and flavors, there is a food pairing in this recipe that, for some people, is either up for debate or strictly forbidden.  Cheese and seafood.  I could write a whole separate post about this topic. This pairing is definitely a no-no in most Italian households.  Why?  Maybe because the major cheese region in Italy is landlocked and no where near fresh seafood.  Maybe because, for some people, one flavor overpowers the other.  But let's think about it... Anyone ever heard of a tuna melt? What about baked clams with cheese or smoked salmon and cream cheese.  How about that classic holiday appetizer made with a brick of cream cheese, crab and cocktail sauce?? And let's not forget about anchovies on pizza.  

So, sometimes I think that rules are meant to be broken.  If it works for your palate, go for it.  If it is against your culinary religion, just omit it.  Once again, make it for you, make it your own.  Happy cooking!

Oh, wait... You might also be wondering about the baking soda.  I find that a quick brine of salt and baking soda help tenderize the shrimp.  


Sunday Dinner

Shrimp with Sauce Verte
Grilled Chicken Marinated with Herbs and Wine
Fresh Tomato Galette
Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I've been playing in the kitchen today trying out a few new recipes, but this Fresh Tomato Galette has been a keeper for over a year now.  Fresh garden tomatoes, herbs and cheese all tucked into a buttery flaky crust? Yes, please!!  

It is a pretty straight forward recipe.  The only trick is to make sure the tomatoes are drained of excess juice in order to keep the crust from becoming soggy.  The sliced tomatoes are salted and drained in a colander, but I like to take it a step further and drain them on paper towels as well. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes and you can use any variety of tomato to your liking.  Tonight  I used a mixture of heirloom tomatoes from my garden; Brandywine, Big Rainbow, Green Zebra and Whopper.  I have also used cherry tomatoes when they are in abundance.  The herbs I use are fresh thyme and basil, but you can certainly use any herb of your choice.  Gruyère cheese is scattered on the bottom of the dough before baking, but a good sharp cheddar yields equally good results.  As I have said many times before, make it for you, make it your own.  Happy Cooking!