Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce

I’m always looking for new recipes.  Whether they are my own creation, a tweak on someone else’s creation or just a recipe straight-up.

I wasn’t feeling well today so I decided to make one of my comfort foods – pasta.

I found this great recipe for Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce at saveur.com last week and decided to try it today.

It was delicious!  The perfect combination of flavors and spicy, spicy, spicy.  It takes a while to cook, so start early.

Here’s the recipe from Saveur Magazine.  I tweaked it a tad because it’s what I had on-hand – fabulous!  Bravo Saveur!

Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
8 cloves garlic, smashed
6 oil-packed anchovy filets, chopped
4 red Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped – I used 2 long hot Italian peppers and a good dose of red pepper flakes
4 gherkins, chopped – I used 6 cornichons
2 red onions, chopped
1  28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained – I used crushed tomatoes
12 oz. bock beer, preferably Birrificio Italiano Bibock – I used a white beer
3⁄4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 lb. pasta, such as scialatielli or linguine – I used penne rigate
8 caper berries, for garnish
2 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add capers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, chiles, gherkins, and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are browned, about 20 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and beer; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Purée sauce in a blender; return sauce to pan over low heat. Stir in olives and season with salt and pepper.

2. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente. Drain pasta and transfer pasta to sauce; toss to combine. Stir in a little pasta water to loosen the sauce, if you like. Serve pasta garnished with caper berries and parsley.

SERVES 4

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Recipe courtesy of Saveur Magazine.

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My Autobiography – from 6th grade?

Recently I have been redecorating my home office/craft room – looking for painting ideas on the Internet and basically overhauling the whole damn thing.

I have been wanting to change the decor in that room for 12 years!  Twelve years!

Finally, it seems like a reality – but I’m not quite there yet.

Scouring every inch of shit I’ve accumulated has been a real chore but maybe finally I’ll get my ass organized.  I’ve come across bill from 1993 and other crap that I promptly burned in my chiminea – because that damn shredder keeps crapping out!

Anyway, I cam across a lot of sentimental items as well:  pictures, mementos and my 6th grade autobiography.

It’s so funny to see what I thought of the world at 12.  That was 33 years ago!  I can’t believe I’m that old!  Damn!

So I thought I’d share some excerpts with you.  Now keep in mind that after I graduated college I became a translator in New York, the 6 years later a French & Spanish teacher.  Here we go:

Table of Contents (including page numbers of course!)

First Born
Kindergarten to Third
Fourth to Sixth Grade
My Future Plans
My Thanks
To Get This Information
Pictures

A full 14 pages!!!!!  Remember that this was pre-computer – 1979.  This is not the complete “work”….

… At two years I was potty trained and at four months I used to climb out out of my playpen by putting my toes and fingers in the holes and climbing out.  I couldn’t stand my pacifier or playpen.  I used to climb out of my crib and my parents couldn’t figure out how I did it.

I swam at two years and stopped my bottle at two years old, when my mother threw it in the garbage.  I walked at eight months and was a pain in the foot.

I cried a lot, my mother said I was born with my mouth open.  I never slept, my mother had to play country music mostly “Tiger By The Tail” by George Jones and dance me to sleep, but I still wouldn’t go to sleep…

…When I used to do something wrong I used to hide under my Aunt Mary’s bed.

My mother said I was always quiet and good, and never touched anything when I went out.  I used to sit by my mother all the while, I was very shy like my father…

…I was promoted to first grade when I had Mrs. Romano.  We had a play and I was a sunflower.  For Halloween I was a flower girl with a pink gown.  Mrs. Romano left to have a baby, and that’s when Mrs. Tobie took over.

When I was in second grade I had Mrs. Forstenhausler.  She was a very good teacher.  We had a play and I was an Arabian belly dancer.  I looked exactly like Jeannie on T.V., even my hair and shoes…

…When I was eight years old I made my First Holy Communion

…I was in Brownies from second to third grade.

When I was eight and a half I started twirling at the Masonic Temple in Bloomfield… But then she transferred the Bloomfield girls to Nutley to the Elks Club and we became the “Elkettes”.  Then I was asked to take private lessons…

…Fourth to Sixth Grade.  I went to Mrs. Little’s class and developed many nicknames but one still sticks called “Apollo Creed” because I always put up my fists…

…At nine years of age I started competitive twirling, modeling, strutting, etc…

…I’ll soon be going to North Junior High and I’m a little bit scared about the whole new thing.

My hobbies are:  twirling, swimming, crafts, ceramics, ice and roller skating, biking, modeling, diving, dancing and many more…

…I have been in numerous twirling contests and beauty contests…  All together I have about ninety trophies and medals…

…I will certainly try to get into Miss America when I grow up.

My Future Plans.  For my future I would like to be a Psychiatrist.  I have thought about being an actress but with a hundred to one chance I won’t get to be famous….

It’s so weird to read this.  Lemme see…  I did want to be a doctor but when I realized that I couldn’t stand the sight of blood – that was out.

Miss America?  After Essex County Junior Miss (which I did for MY MOTHER) I was DONE.  D – O – N – E, done.  Pageants weren’t for me.

I can still twirl, and I still consider my hobbies to be crafts, roller skating, swimming and if I was younger and still clubbing my nights away – dancing!

Some things have changed, some haven’t, but I’m still Jacqui.

How different or alike are you all these years later?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Shame, Shame, Shame or Sham, Sham, Sham? NObama Strikes Again!

My blogs are never political.  True I do throw a shot to the left here and there, but politics are not my favorite topic of discussion.

Today I have to make an exception after the horrifying shootings in Aurora, Colorado.

This morning I was watching Rachel Ray when President Obama interrupted to talk about the terrible tragedy.

The first words out of his mouth were something like, I’d like to thank all of the people who have campaigned for me… blah, blah, blah.

Wait a minute!  Isn’t he supposed to be supporting the American people, giving information and trying to improve the general malaise caused by these senseless murders?

I thought so.

I was so disgusted by his campaign touting and pandering that I had to shut off the TV and explode into a political tirade on Facebook.

He could have fixed the world after that comment but I wouldn’t have known because of his opening stupidity.  His opening remarks were so offensive to me during this time of tragedy.  How dare he!

I immediately e-mailed the White House with my angry yet valid comment:

I can’t believe that President Obama opened his speech with touting his re-election and thanking campaigners while 12 people are dead in Colorado! I thought that’s why he interrupted our TV regimes? Because of the shootings not his re-election.  This is yet another example of my utter disgust for the current administration.  Shame on you! Shame, shame, shame.  Or should I say sham, sham, sham?

Short and not so sweet.

I am so pissed – and I hate being pissed so early in the morning – especially politically!

I already live with an angry, white man who at first wanted to give the president a chance.  He immediately digressed and has a level of hate for the not only the White House but for ALL LIBERALS.  He tries to make me de-friend my liberal friends on Facebook  daily – I will not.  Who wants 800 carbon copies of me?

He has also hung out American Flag upside down to symbolize America in distress.  I wasn’t really on board with that – but now I am.

I also want to say how deeply sorry I am for the tragedy.

I’m even angrier now that this political shamble – some call a president – has put me in such a tizzy.

My balls are totally in an uproar and I don’t even have balls.

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Stuffed Tilapia Steamed on the Grill

I love fish and seafood.  Flounder, tilapia, trout, catfish, shrimp, scallops, lobster – you name it!

I can eat it every day – my husband is a different story.  I have to invent new ways to make the same fish taste very different.

This summer I’ve done the foil packets, the steaming, the grilling, the everything, so I decided to try a stuffed filet.  I have never been successful in finding a recipe that I liked, thus decided to create my own.

Here it is – or at least I think it is but I didn’t write it down until this morning:

Jacqui’s Stuffed Tilapia on the Grill

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (if using larger shrimp, coarsely chop) – soak in white wine for a few minutes before cooking
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 2 tbsp ea of fresh lemon thyme & dill
  • white wine
  • 1 cup Panko
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin pieces of tilapia or other whitefish fillets, such as lemon sole, flounder or haddock (about 2 pounds total)

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil. Add the onion and zucchini. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Add the shrimp, approx 1/4 c – 1/2 c wine, herbs and seafood seasoning and cook, stirring, until the seafood is just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not over-wet.  Remove from the heat.

Add the Panko and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stuff filets and place in a Pam sprayed grill-safe foil baking pan.  You may place extra stuffing alongside.

Pour white wine over fish – just to coat – and sprinkle with Old Bay.  Cover with foil and cook on grill until cooked through – maybe 10 – 15 minutes depending on thickness of fish and temp of grill.

Serves 8.

Enjoy!

What are your favorite summer seafood recipes?

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Drive-By

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment.

Said sarcastically:  I’ve only been living at the Jersey Shore for 12 years (cough, cough) and my dentist, eye doctor and lady parts doctor are still an hour away.  I could never bring myself to leave them.

So I kill several birds with one stone.  I get my teeth cleaned, visit my mom in the cemetery, visit my dad and feed him hamburgers, subs, ribs and other artery clogging fare and sometimes I even get to see a friend or two.

After an hour trip up the parkway I popped in on Daddy with subs from Jersey Mike’s.  Did I say I was definitely cheating on my diet?  We chatted, caught up and I fixed his TV.

Aside:  My father and his TV issues are massive.  He wasn’t able to watch TV for an entire day because the remote wouldn’t work – and God forbid he called me to ask for help.  No.  He waited until I went up yesterday.  On Monday when I called him, he explained the dilemma and I schooled him in the art of using the DTV box to change channels – voilà TV!

So back to the TV repair daughter… I looked at the remote and realized the 9 was depressed.  I unjammed the number and snap!  The TV turned on and the remote worked!  He thanked me a thousand times, like I cured cancer (I wish).  I love my Dad!

At 2:30 I headed over to the dentist’s, and by 3:30 I was back in my car, top down, music blasting.

Should I ride by my old house?  Maybe I’ll see Skippy or Aunt Dolly?

2012

I gave in to my inner voice and swung by the old homestead.  Wow!  Does it look different!  They built a driveway (we had none) and a carport and an addition.  It looked nice.  It brought back so many memories!

When I returned to my dad’s house, I showed him the pictures.  I’ve been dreaming about that house a lot lately and those pictures made my father dream about it last night too.

He was telling me this morning that he was thinking about how many different people lived in that house.  Originally the house was three rooms (pre-addition) and a small upstairs.  My dad told me there was a host of boarders and tenants that lived with them.

Daddy was a cry-baby (his words, not mine), so he slept with his mother (my Nanoo) in the back bedroom where my Aunt Tootsie and Aunt Mimi also slept.  My Uncle Joe and my grandfather slept in the front room (I always knew it as the parlor) and the tenant d’année lived upstairs.

Imagine all those people in 3 rooms?  Crazy.  The Depression.

In between tenants, when my dad and his siblings got older, he and my Uncle Joe slept upstairs.

Over time tenants came and went, the family grew, moved out and then moved back in with and without their spouses and or children.  My Aunt Tootsie was the first of the family tenants.  Uncle Joe came next.  Then my mom and dad moved in and I came along 4 years later.

After we moved out when I was 4, my Aunt Mimi who was widowed by her 26-year-old husband (he died of testicular cancer) moved in.  I’m not sure of the timeline, but the next person that moved in was my Aunt Tootsie after my Uncle Teddy died.  Mimi moved downstairs with Nanoo and Aunt Tootsie stayed there until she fell ill and moved in with her daughter.

Now it was time for me to move in.  This was my third apartment after leaving my parents’ house.  I quit my job and went back to school for my Master’s Degree and teaching certification.  My parents offered to pay my rent for me but I wasn’t going to make them do that.

My Aunt Mimi asked me if I wanted to live upstairs in my old house, rent free.  Nanoo had already died a while ago and she was very lonely.  So I moved in with all my shit – furniture, clothes – everything!  My dad painted for me and my mom decorated the kitchen with black and white checked contact paper to give the room a little pizzaz.

I showered downstairs and was allowed any overnight guests.  LOL!  That didn’t work.  I had been dating my boyfriend John (now husband) for a while and he used to stay over and I would pretend he showed up at 6 am to see me.  I would go as far as to walk down the stairs, answer the door and walk on all fours back up so it would sound like 2 people coming in.

I was nuts!

Everyday when I came home, Mimi had to hear ALL the events of the day – no matter how mundane.  She and my mom were like the FBI!

I lived in that house for almost 3 years before I got married and moved in with my husband – right up the street.

All my apartments were in the same few block radius.  I went from Evergreen to Entwistle and then down to the end of Entwistle and back up to Passaic Ave – and now I live at the Jersey Shore – but that’s another story.

I loved living in my grandmother’s home.  It was so familiar and brought back so many memories.  I wish that we would have kept the house in the family – but I guess we all have to move on.

Move on but never forget all the good things.

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Grilled Chicken Sausage & Peppers

Summertime always makes me think of cheese steaks at Midway on Seaside Boardwalk, funnel cake, zeppole and of course a nice sandwich of sausage and peppers.

If you have a grill, there is no reason to use the stove – it makes the house too hot in the summer and makes the AC work too hard.

I’ve been grilling my sausage and peppers for years.  The grill gives the dish a great flavor and it’s done in no time.

Last nice I decided to try a chicken sausage instead of my normal HOT sausage & peppers.  I bought the Premio chicken sausage.  Don’t buy the fully cooked one.  It will not be the same.  You can also use any combination of peppers you like.

Here’s my recipe.  I hope you try it and enjoy it!

1 large package of Premio uncooked chicken sausage (about 8-12 links)
2 cubanelle peppers, sliced into chunks (does that make sense?)
2 poblano peppers, sliced into chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, chunked
2 long hot Italian peppers – left whole
5 or 8 mini mixed color bell peppers, chunked – I used orange, red and yellow
1 large onion, thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
light agave syrup
salt & pepper
hot red crushed pepper
Italian seasonings
extra virgin olive oil
grated Pecorino Romano
a handful of mixed, fresh herbs – I used basil, oregano, rosemary & thyme
a grill fry pan – one with holes in it

Take out sausage and bring to room temperature.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all peppers, onions, garlic, a large drizzle of agave, a few good shakes of Italian seasonings, salt & pepper & red pepper flakes to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix well.  Adjust seasonings and amount of oil if needed.

Heat grill & cook sausage, flipping until browned all over and cooked through.  Do not overcook!  Meanwhile, place fry pan on grill and dump in pepper mixture. Cook until vegetables are charred and softened.  Remove when done and place back in bowl.

Add a handful of Pecorino and fresh herbs to pepper mixture.  Mix well and adjust seasonings.  Slice sausage and add to peppers.  Mix well and serve.

Serves 4 – 6 depending – maybe 8 – who knows.  All I know is that I served two and it was well received and almost gone!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

My Life As A Jersey Girl

For the first 4 years of my life, my mom, my dad and I lived upstairs from my paternal grandmother (aka Nanoo) and my Aunt Mary (aka Mimi).

We lived in 3 rooms.  A large old-fashioned kitchen with a big white sink like you would see in the movie A Christmas Story, a large living room with a scratchy yet pristine couch, a smaller flowered love seat that pulled out into a bed, a big reclining chair and a console colored TV.  The bedroom was small with a full-size bedand a small closet.  That was the only closet space in the entire apartment!  Oh wait!  Maybe there was one in the living room.  I can’t remember.

My Nanoo in her kitchen

We had a half bath with a toilet that was so tiny, if you were an adult your knees would hit the pipe directly in front of the bowl.  Showers and baths were taken downstairs at my Nanoo’s but my mother used to bathe me in the large tub adjacent to the kitchen sink.

We had no air conditioning, so we spent most of our warm evenings on the porch swing chatting with the neighbors.  This is the late sixties and early seventies, when you knew your neighbors and actually spent time with them.  This is before everyone got too busy to see each other face to face, before families started moving away from each other instead of living on the same block or in the same house for that matter.

Playing the organ in my Nutley kitchen

This was a time when we all gathered for Sunday dinner at 1:00 in the afternoon to enjoy a giant pot of gravy with meatballs and sausage, and a huge bowl of macaroni (not pasta) that my mom and maternal grandmother (aka Grandma) slaved over for a couple of days just to get the perfect flavor.

My dad and I were always disappointed when mom made a roast beef or some other non-macaroni Sunday dinner.  It just wasn’t the same without the smell of pork and beef wafting through the house.

In the Nutley kitchen with my cousins

In the summers I swam in my Uncle Al’s pool next door.  He really wasn’t my uncle but calling a neighbor or a cousin aunt or uncle to show respect was an upheld practice.  My Aunt Ann (aka Tootsie) also had a pool that we would swim in.  She lived on the next block up the hill from us.

My Nutley childhood is full of fond memories of people, events, smells and daily life.  It was simpler time.

In 1971 we moved to the next town over.  It was only a 5 minute drive but it seemed like a world away.  No more running downstairs to see Nanoo and Mimi.  No more running up the block to visit Aunt Tootsie.  No more running across the Pipeline to visit my Tata (my Nanoo’s sister) and my 2 cousins that were my age, Bobby and David.

I was alone in Bloomfield.  No friends.  No family.  Just mom and dad.

My Poppy (my step-grandfather – really my great-uncle) helped my dad put up a 18 foot above ground pool.  It seemed like days that they were digging.  My dad

In my pool

was a perfectionist.  Everything had to be smooth and level.  When it was done, I couldn’t wait to jump in!

I spent day and night in that pool.  I was part fish.  I learned how to swim underwater first (I had been swimming since I was 2) and then I gradually mastered the art of freestyle.  My dad was a great swimmer who could hold his breath longer than anyone I knew.  He would stay under water for what seemed like hours but was really A LOT of minutes.  It was unbelievable.  No one could match or beat his breath-holding expertise.

One day a neighbor down the street came over with his daughter and introduced himself as Dick and his daughter Susan.  He thought that we might be the same age – and we were.  Susan was my first friend and more importantly, my first BEST friend.  But Susan is another story – I’ll talk about her later.

Back to my my new house…

We finally had air conditioning!  Two units!  We all slept downstairs until I got a little older, then we moved upstairs.  Then we had 2 units downstairs – one in the

My 1st bedroom at our new house

dining room wall and one window unit in the den (once my parent’s room, then the den, now my dad’s room) and one in each of our bedroom windows’ upstairs.

We could NEVER have all 4 on at the same time or they would trip a breaker.  Two at a time my father said.  So during the day we had the downstairs 2 running and at night the upstairs 2.

He used to come in my room to wake me up (I was NEVER a morning person) and bitch and moan because I kept the AC so cold.  He’d walk in and say, “Jesus Christ!  I can see my breath in here!”  I loved it cold in the summer so I could snuggle underneath the covers.

During the summer we spent most of our time in the half finished basement watching TV, eating, playing games (this is when I wasn’t in the pool).  We had another kitchen in the basement and my mom did most of her cooking downstairs 1.  because of the heat of the summer (even with AC) and 2.  because she wanted to keep the upstairs clean.

Did I mention that my mom (and her mother) were OCD, clean-crazy Italians? ALWAYS cleaning the house.  You could literally eat off my grandma’s floors – they were so clean and shiny.

We weren’t ALLOWED to use the front door.  The living room was for company

Sitting in the livingroom

only.  Food was definitely off-limits there.  I wasn’t allowed to sit on my bed after it was made.  My mother always said, “Beds are for sleeping, not for sitting.”

That about sums it up.

My bedroom floor was covered with an itchy indoor/outdoor block carpeting.  It was an ugly gold and I hated stepping on it.  My walls were hidden with white wood paneling and wooden beams framing my bed.  My furniture was a dark, early American clunky set that was popular in the seventies.  One wall had ceramic Hummel’s that my mom made but I was not allowed to put up posters or anything like that.

I loved Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson but posters of the Jackson Five or Puppy Love were out of the question.  Phyllis put her foot down.

We had a half bath upstairs complete with a built-in vanity and a little faux fur covered chair.  It had a big sink that I loved washing my hair in.  All my makeup (when it was time for makeup), hair stuff and other toiletries were tucked away in  3 out of the 8 cabinets.  I loved that part of the house!

The kitchen was an open galley-like kitchen with a wall oven and a stove top.  My

Singing away in the kitchen with Grandma & Poppy

mom set up a small “ice cream table” with 2 chairs so we had someplace to eat besides the dining room – which happened to be adjacent to the kitchen.

The living room had a wall of built-in bookcases and cabinets from floor to ceiling.  It housed all the books we loved to read:  Reader’s Digest, how-to books, nature books, encyclopedias and all the treasures that I bought from the Weekly Reader and various book fairs we had throughout the year at school.

The curtains on the front windows were made with material from Germany or Austria that one of my dad’s bosses brought back for my mom.  They were pretty, white, lace curtains covered by a heavier material drape.

The entire house was wired for sound.  I mean it was ahead of its time.  We had speakers in the livingroom, kitchen, basement and everywhere else – all hooked up to a stereo system complete with turntable, radio and 8 track.

It was cool!

I loved my new neighborhood and my new friends.

To be continued….

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

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Grilled Pasta Primavera

It’s only June 29th and I’m running out of summertime food fare.

I’m sick of grilled meat and fish, so I decided to throw this together.  I hope I remembered everything!

Jacqui’s Grilled Pasta Primavera

1 or 2 packages of asparagus-gruyere ravioli (I used 2) or 1 lb pasta
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 zucchini cubed
1/4 – 1/2 package of fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 – 1 1/2 c assorted bell peppers coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c grape tomatoes
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves 1/4 c roasted garlic
a squirt of agave syrup
1/2 c marinated bocconcini
a handful of mixed fresh herbs, chopped – I used basil & oregano
a handful of grated cheese – Pecorino Romano
x-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, whole garlic cloves with salt and pepper, agave and a drizzle of olive oil.  Toss.
Meanwhile cook ravioli or pasta according to directions.

On a grill in one of those pans with the holes in it, grill bacon until starting to brown.  Add vegetable mixture and grill until cooked to your liking.  Place back into the bowl.

Add roasted garlic, bocconcini, herbs, grated cheese, cooked ravioli and some olive oil.  Mix gently.  Adjust seasonings and olive oil.  Mix well.

Serves 4-8.

Enjoy!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Israeli Couscous Salad

Here’s a great side dish for the summer.  So simple and easy.

Let’s see if I can remember how I made it…

2 cups Israeli Couscous cooked according to package directions – cooled
1 can cannellini beans – drained & rinsed
1 cucumber – chopped into small wedges or chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
approx 2 tablespoons of chopped onion
1-2 cups grape tomatoes
2 mangos cubed
1 handful of fresh herbs, chopped – I used parsley, basil, oregano & mint
1 handful of grated Pecorino Romano
X-Virgin olive oil to moisten – I used only a couple of tablespoons
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine vegetables, fruit, garlic, onion & herbs in a large bowl.  Add couscous, cheese, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Mix well and adjust seasonings.

Serves 4-6.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  Remember season, season, season!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Summer Tomato Salad

Yesterday I grilled a marinated pork tenderloin and needed a side dish that was light and summery.  Instead of an ordinary tomato salad with olive oil and basil and garlic I decided to try a new twist on the usual suspect.  I raided my garden for fresh ingredients and was delighted at the results.  I actually wrote it down.  I rarely write my recipes down;  1.  because I don’t measure and 2.  because it rarely crosses my mind to put it down on paper.

I must say that it was delectable!  I had a hard time not eating the entire bowl.  I begrudgingly left some for my husband’s lunch and tucked it away in the fridge so it didn’t tempt me anymore.  John called me this morning to tell me that the salad was delicious and asked if I could make it again.  Good thing I wrote it down!

Jacqui’s Summer Tomato Salad

Salad:
3 – 4 tomatoes cut into chunks
a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden
2 – 3 slices of Italian bread, toasted or grilled and rubbed with a garlic clove – cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled and chunked
a hunk of fresh mozzarella, diced
fresh herbs from garden:  basil, oregano, thyme – chopped
a handful of grated romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste
a pinch of sugar

Dressing (you may have extra):
1/4 c x virgin olive oil
a splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
fresh thyme – a pinch

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.  Toss.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.  Pour over salad and mix together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6

The bread soaks up the dressing and transforms into a mouth-watering delight.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

© 2012 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Reblogged.