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Any Day Brunch

Can it be possible that we are in the year 2010? Will we call it "twenty-ten" or "two thousand-ten"?  My vote is for the former. This is a delicious brunch that can be served on any occasion...not just to celebrate the first month of Sunday's in 2010. All recipes yield six servings.

Champagne with strawberries
Grissini Breadsticks with Prosciutto di Parma
Crostini with Mushrooms
Pasta Carbonara
Endive, Radicchio and Mango Salad
Lemon Squares with Raspberries


Chill two standard 750 ml bottles of your favorite Champagne to 45 to 48 degrees F. in a bucket with ice and water for 30 minutes before serving. Choose 6 fresh strawberries without blemishes, leaving the stem intact (as long as it's fresh green looking) Pour the Champagne into fluted glasses and float a strawberry in each. As an alternative, try the tropical taste of mango nectar to the Champagne, about 1 ounce of nectar to a flute of Champagne.

Grissini with Prosciutto di Parma

Grissini are long thin bread sticks imported from Italy and can now be found in most major supermarkets and specialty food shops. If you can't find the Italian style, purchase a brand that is as thin as possible. You will need 12 or 14 slices of Prosciutto di Parma sliced paper thin. Just before serving, wrap a slice of ham around a bread stick. Place wrapped bread sticks on a serving dish and garnish the plate with springs of fragrant fresh basil. Drizzle a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the bread sticks and refrigerate until ready to serve as an hors d'oeuvre with the Champagne. Have a pepper grinder at hand for those wishing to grind black pepper on the bread sticks.

Crostini with Mushrooms


18  half-inch thick slices of Italian or French Bread
Extra Virgin Olive oil for brushing on bread
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 ½ lbs. Assorted fresh mushrooms (crimini, chanterelle, oyster, portabello, white button etc.
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Italian parsley (flat leaf) minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat up the broiler unit in your oven. Place bread slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet and broil until lightly browned on each side. Don't leave the kitchen while broiling the bread as it browns very quickly and can easily burn. Remove pan from oven and brush each slice lightly with olive oil. Rub the cut side of the garlic halves over each bread slice. Reserve.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the mushrooms. Sauté over medium-high heat until mushrooms have released their juices and are slightly browned, approximately 10 - 15 minutes. Stir in minced parsley, salt and pepper.

3. Spoon an even amount on the toasted bread slices and arrange crostini on a serving platter.

Pasta Carbonara


¼ lb. Prosciutto di Parma in one slice, cut into small cubes
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Shallots, finely minced
½ cup dry white wine
2 eggs (Eggland's Best are really the best eggs)
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup Italian parsley (flat leaf) minced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. Thin spaghetti or Thin linguine

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil (at least 6 quarts of water)

1. In a large skillet, sauté the Prosciutto di Parma in the olive oil for about 3 - 4 minutes. Remove cubes from skillet and let drain on paper towel until needed.

2. Discard any oil remaining in the skillet and add the shallots -- cook for 1 minute over medium heat and then add the wine. Cook wine and shallots for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the reserved cubes of Prosciutto to the skillet.

3. When water has come to a rapid boil add about 2 tablespoons coarse salt. Cook pasta according to package directions.

4. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the eggs, cheese, parsley, basil, salt and pepper in a warmed pasta serving bowl.

5. When pasta is cooked al dente, transfer the hot pasta with tongs to the serving bowl and toss quickly with the egg and cheese mixture to cook the egg. Add the reserved prosciutto/shallot mixture and toss again.

Endive, Radicchio and Mango Salad


½ cup walnut halves, lightly toasted
4 heads Endive, cut into julienne strips
1 medium head Radicchio, cut into julienne strips
2 fresh mangoes, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano



¼ cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon Dijon style mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Toast the walnut pieces in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan to prevent burning. Make dressing in a small mixing bowl; whisk together the dressing ingredients; taste and make any adjustments necessary (more oil, or more vinegar, etc.) When ready to serve, toss the Endive and Radicchio with the dressing in a large mixing bowl; arrange a portion of the Endive/Radicchio mixture on each of 6 salad plates. Place two or three wedges of mango on each serving; place one or two walnuts on each plate. Garnish each plate with one or two shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Use a vegetable peeler to make the shavings.

Lemon Squares with Raspberries








1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick, cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 eggs (I recommend using Eggland's Best eggs)
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
Additional confectioners sugar for dusting
1 package fresh raspberries (or any other fresh berries)

1. In a medium bowl, use a pastry blender (or two forks) to blend the flour, butter and confectioners sugar until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Note, mixture can be made in a food processor with the steel blade)

2. Pat mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until the crust is lightly golden in color, approximately 15 minutes.

3. In another bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer until they are light and lemon colored. Beat in the sugar, lemon juice and lemon rind. Beat the mixture for 8 minutes. Sift in 2 Tablespoons of flour and the baking powder. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined.

4. Pour mixture over the prepared crust and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until it is golden in color. Remove pan from oven and let cool on a rack.

5. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top and cut into 9 squares. Place lemon squares on a serving dish and surround the pieces with fresh raspberries.




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