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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Seasonal Fruits And Vegetables

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Looking for something to do one weekend?  Check out where you might find a farmers’ market, in your community.

It’s key, when cooking or baking, to use the freshest ingredients.  Whether it’s vegetables or fruit, you want to use what’s local and in season.

Going to your local farmers’ market and getting to know the individual vendors makes such a big difference. Seriously, your shopping experience will be so much fun. Best of all, your dishes will taste AMAZING!!!

Mexican Style Corn On The Cob
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Pavlova With Fresh Berries

 

Mexican Style Corn On The Cob

 

Heirloom Tomato Salad

 

Pavlova With Fresh Berries

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A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home

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My very good friend Lynn asked me if I would have a cooking class/ luncheon at her home. Without hesitation, I said yes! Her home is located in the Historic district of Orlando. This was the perfect place for Lynn and her friends, Marian, Jean, Diane, Gloria, and Sandy to spend some quality time together. I thought it would be a great idea to put a menu together. Show the girls some tips, and cooking techniques that they could take home and use when they’re cooking for their families.

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Earlier in the week, Lynn and I met to iron out all the details. We came up with a plan and set it in motion. Gifts for the girls, a tablescape that would compliment the Italian theme, and then, of course, the menu. The day before the luncheon, I went shopping and found some great seasonal ingredients at the local farmers market in town. I wanted the centerpiece for the table to also echo a few of the ingredients I was using. A large rustic bowl filled with pink grapefruits, lemons, fennel fronds, and fresh bay leaves.

Menu:
Peach Bellinis
Cheese Board, Parmesan, Parmigiano- Reggiano, and Grana Padano
Fennel Salad With Grapefruit, Red Onion and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese garnished with edible flowers
Kale And White Bean Soup
Homemade croutons
Eton Mess By Way Of Italy (menu category -desserts)
Peach And Fresh Mint Iced Tea

I set up a small cheese board filled with shards of different types of Parmesan cheeses. The saltiness of the cheeses paired really well with the cocktail I made. I chose to serve Peach Bellinis  Fresh peach puree mixed with Prosecco sparkling wine, garnished with a strawberry. A traditional cocktail that originated in Venice, Italy.

I went through the steps for each course step by step. The ladies were taking notes which made me feel pretty special. They asked great questions and I think they went away realizing that when you use fresh and seasonal ingredients, cooking can be fun as well as delicious. I want to say that these were some of the sweetest ladies and I hope that we’ll be able to get together again in the near future. Lynn, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to help you with this amazing luncheon.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 to 40 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 6-quart Dutch ovens with lids

Recipe For Kale And Cannellini Bean Soup:
Know as Beans And Greens Soup
All ingredients divided evenly into two 6 quart heavy bottom pots

2 bunches of fresh kale, stems and center rib removed coarsely chopped
4 15-ounce cans of white Cannellini beans -drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 stalks of celery diced halved and coarsely chopped
2 large onions coarsely chopped
8 carrots peeled and 1/2 inch diced
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of grated fresh nutmeg
2 Fresno chilis seeded and minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
8 cups of water (amount of water may vary slightly)
2 2-inch pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (1 tablespoon per pot)
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pot)
2 fresh bay leaves ( dried are fine)
2 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary leaves
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
*E.V.O.O drizzle (drizzle on top as a finish to the soup)
Accompaniment: homemade croutons

Note: smoked sausage is an option to add to this soup (slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick pieces)

Directions:
Turn the burners to medium-high heat allowing the two heavy bottom pot to heat up. Remember that all the ingredients will be evenly divided into the two pots. Once the pots have come up to temperature, adjust the temperature to medium. Add in the olive oil, diced onions, minced Fresno chili, celery, diced carrots, and tomato paste. Stir all the ingredients together cook until vegetables start to soften, around 10 minutes. Make sure to season as you go by adding Kosher salt, black pepper to taste.

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, and freshly chopped rosemary leaves continue to stir. About 3 to 5 minutes in, add in the unsalted chicken stock, cheese rinds. Slowly add in the half of the chopped kale leaves to each pot. Using a spoon, start to submerge the leaves into the liquid. Next, slowly add in the water and the rest of the chopped kale. This is the point is where you’ll be able to see if you have enough liquid, (refer to the pictures above) allowing 3 inches of space at the top of each pot.

The kale will wilt as it cooks, and most of the ingredients will also release their water. Not to worry, (cooking soup uncovered) as the soup comes up to a boil, water will also evaporate as the soup cooks. Now, the drained Cannellini beans. Next, it’s time to add the 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and the freshly grated nutmeg to each pot. Stir all the ingredients together. Bring the soup up to a boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the kale and carrots are tender. Once finished, cover the soup pots until ready to serve.

Serve in porcelain bowls with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a drizzle of good *E.V.O.O.

The dessert you see in the pictures above, “Eton Mess By Way Of Italy”  and “Homemade Croutons” recipes can be found by clicking on the links below.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 

Eton Mess By Way Of Italy

 

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Pavlova With Fresh Berries

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There’s a long-standing argument on whom credit is given, New Zealand or Australia, for creating this beautiful dessert. This dessert was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who first toured Down Under in 1926. It was said that this dessert was created by a Wellington chef in her “honor”.

This meringue-based dessert’s origin was created somewhere else. After tireless research, it turns out this dessert actually belongs to the Americans and English. This meringue-based dessert with its crisp crust, and soft light inside, usually, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit is as elegant as it is delicious.

Pavlova With Fresh Berries is a dessert that can be made in advance and assembled right before serving. I’m going to use all types of fresh berries and modestly toss them in a delicious raspberry sauce. I’m also going to make a fresh whipped cream kissed with pure vanilla.


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: Food Processor, Sheet pans, Stand or handheld electric mixer, pastry bag with a star tip

Ingredients For Meringue:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of Kosher salt
1 cup of sugar
3 teaspoons of sifted corn starch
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 cup of cold heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract

Raspberry Sauce:
Yields: 2 cups
1/2 pint of fresh raspberries
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of raspberry jam with seeds (seedless optional)
1 tablespoon of Chambord ( raspberry liqueur)

Fresh Berries:
1/2 pint of hulled and sliced strawberries
1/2 pint of fresh blueberries
1/2 pint of fresh blackberries
1/2 pint of fresh raspberries
Fresh mint for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw the outline of 4 inverted 6-inch creme brulee dishes, using the dishes as your guide, two on each paper. Turn the paper upside down so the pencil marks won’t get on the meringue.

Place the egg whites and salt n the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about a minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about another 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the sifted corn starch, white vinegar, and vanilla extract to the beaten egg whites.

Fill the piping bag with a star tip with the egg whites. Starting in the middle moving outwards, draw out the meringue to complete the traced outline of the creme brulee dish. Once the outside of the line of the dish has been reached, go around one more time on the outer line to make a lip. This will allow you to fill the meringues to be filled. Refer to the pictures above.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven, for a least 1 additional hour. They will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

While the meringues are baking and cooling in the oven, this gives plenty of time to make the raspberry sauce and prepare the whipped cream.

Directions For Raspberry Sauce:
Place the raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and the Chambord, into the bowl of the food processor, fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Transfer the raspberry sauce to the frig and chill.

Directions For Sweetened Whipped Cream:
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Note: Do not over beat!!!
Yields: 2 cups

To Serve the Pavlova With Fresh Berries, carefully place the meringues onto the serving dishes. When ready to serve, fill the centers of the meringues with sweetened whipped cream. Place 1/4 cup of the mixed fresh berries (per meringue cookie) in a bowl. Ladle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce in with the fresh berries and toss. Then ladle the sauced berries onto the top of the whipped cream in the center of each of the meringue cookies. Take a tablespoon of the raspberry sauce and drizzle some around the meringue. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

 

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Blueberries And Peaches With Sweet Ricotta

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I’m going out on a limb here, and say, this is the fastest dessert you can make EVER! With that said, it’s also one of the most delicious and healthy desserts too. My Blueberries And Peaches With Sweet Ricotta.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 8-ounce container of ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 pint of fresh blueberries
1/2 package of thawed frozen peaches (2 fresh peaches pitted and skin removed, yielding 8 slices per peach)
2 tablespoons of slivered almonds, divided
2 sprigs of fresh mint

Directions:
In a bowl, add the 8-ounce container of ricotta cheese. To the ricotta add the confectioner sugar and stir to combine. Place half the amount of the sweet ricotta mixture in each bowl.

Next, add 1 of the sliced peaches, or 1/4 package of the thawed frozen peaches to the bowl. To that, add the fresh blueberries divided equally between the two bowls.

Drizzle honey equally over each one, then sprinkle on the almonds. Garnish each bowl with a sprig of fresh mint. My Blueberries And Peaches With Sweet Ricotta.

 

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