Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Eton Mess By Way Of Italy

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This dessert is my favorite to serve whenever I have guests over for dinner. I think it’s the “WOW” factor of Eton Mess By Way Of Italy.

My mom was born in London, England, then on my dad’s side of the family was from Sicily. This combination, from my background, definitely allows for awesome fusions dishes and desserts.

Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, broken meringue, and double cream. As a young girl, who lived in London in the early ’70s, with my sister and mother, I was exposed to a whole new style of food. Eton Mess was a dessert we’d have after Sunday supper. I remember my mom always let me help, telling me that I could be as creative as I wanted to be when assembling this dessert.

I thought I would update this recipe by taking a slight detour through Italy. Bringing my Italian influences onto the scene.

I’m using a mix of fresh berries, Mascarpone  (Italian cream cheese) mixed with lemon zest, and broken turtle pecan Biscotti cookies. Topped off with a sprig of fresh mint and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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mint

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 1 rimmed baking sheet pan, 6 parfait glasses

Ingredients:
1 box of turtle pecan Biscotti cookies
2 (8-ounce) containers of Mascarpone, room temperature
1 lemon, zested
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 pint blackberries
1/2 pint blueberries
1/2 pint raspberries
10 large strawberries, hulled and quartered
6 small sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
powdered sugar, for dusting the tops

Directions:
Start by setting up 6 parfait glasses on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Using a small mallet, break up the Biscotti in their package. In a large bowl, add all the berries (reserving a variety of fresh berries for the top).

To the berries, add the granulated sugar, stir to coat all the berries. Let the berries macerate in the sugar for a few minutes. While the berries are macerating, in another bowl, add the Mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest, mix until smooth.

Now it’s just a matter of assembling this dessert. Start with a spoonful of the crumbled Biscotti, next, a spoonful of the Mascarpone mixture. Then a spoonful of the berries. Repeat this process ending with a few of the reserved fresh berries and the crumbled Biscotti on the top. Garnish each Eton Mess By Way Of Italy with a sprig of fresh mint and a dusting of powdered sugar.

This dessert is served best chilled for a least 15 minutes.

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Autumn Squash Soup

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This soup is so delicious and is a great way to ring in the fall season. I like to serve my Autumn Soup with a drizzle of *E.V.O.O,  Homemade Ciabatta Croutons, fresh chives, and roasted (Mexican pumpkin seeds) Pepitas.

It’s a nice way for your family and/or guests to customize their soup. There are a few steps in making this soup, but they are all really easy.

Mozzarella in Carrozza, which means carriage in Italian, is a type of fried cheese sandwich, in Italian cuisine, that’s super popular in the Campania region of Southern Italy. The perfect sandwich for dunking.

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Pumpkin Puree

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Chives (2)

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E.V.O.O.

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 1 (10-cup) food processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 (6-quart) heavy-bottom saucepot, 1 medium-size mixing bowl, 1 large mixing bowl

Note: The soup alone is gluten-free.

Ingredients:
2 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded, 1 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, divided

6 heaping cups of diced butternut squash, roasted
1 cup of onions, puréed (1 1/2 large onions, diced)
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped and puréed
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder ( add more if you like more heat)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin purée
1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of chicken stock, unsalted
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1/4 cup of chives, finely chopped for garnish
1/2 cup of Pepitas for garnish, roasted
Ciabatta croutons (optional)
*E.V.O.O. to drizzle over soup
Mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.
Start by peeling and seeding the butternut squash. Dice into 1 1/2-inch size chunks. Spread them out onto 2 rimmed baking sheet pans in one even layer, Drizzle olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Using your hands, toss to coat. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until caramelized and fork-tender.

In a food processor add diced onions and garlic, pulse until puréed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In small batches, add the roasted squash to the food processor pulse until puréed. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Repeat until all the squash has been processed.

In a saucepot over medium heat, heat olive oil, ground cumin, ground chipotle until the oil becomes fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the puréed onion mixture stir until coated with the spice mixture. Add Kosher salt and brown sugar, stir to combine. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Next, add the puréed butternut squash and pumpkin to the pot, again, stir to combine.

Add the chicken stock to the pot, stir to combine. Once the soup comes up to a very low boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, add the heavy cream then give that a big stir. Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Soup’s ready! While it’s staying nice and warm, spread the Pepitas out in an even layer. Toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until you begin to smell their aroma. Chop fresh chives. Transfer both the Pepitas and chives to two small garnish bowls Serve with Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

To serve, ladle my Autumn Soup into a porcelain serving bowl. Garnish with chives, Homemade Ciabatta Croutons, toasted Pepitas, and finally a drizzle of *E.V.O.O.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for extra virgin olive oil.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

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There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread bought from my local bakery. Ciabatta bread is my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right into the bread.

If you love good bread, and you’ve made your own homemade croutons then you know what I’m talking about.

These are a few of my recipes where I’ve added Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. My Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons, French Onion Soup With Mini Meatballs, Panzanella Salad, and finally, my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.

I think in the future I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another variety of  Ciabatta bread. They are just so many recipes that start out with great Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Let me show you two techniques I use when making croutons. One is the stovetop method, the other is the oven-bake method.

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Panzanella Salad (2)

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Parsley And Parmesan Croutons

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Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minute
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 cups of croutons

Ingredients For Stove Top Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Ingredients For Oven Bake Method:
4 to 6 cups of bread cubes, 1 1/2-inch size cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, optional

Directions For Stove Top Method:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes making sure not to overcrowd the bread cubes and that they’re in a single layer in the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes around so they absorb the butter and olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown, on the first side, then toss them again until brown all sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Directions For The Oven Bake Method.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Start by evenly dividing the bread cubes out onto two rimmed baking sheet pans. Add olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, toss to evenly coat the bread cubes. Spread the bread cubes evenly into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking process to make sure they brown evenly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While the croutons are nice and hot add freshly chopped herbs and/or grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Updated-Zuppa Toscana Soup With Homemade Parmesan Croutons

French Onion Soup With Mini-Meatballs

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed With Italian Sausage And Pears

Panzanella Salad

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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