Sunday, April 30, 2023

Tessa Kiros' Beef and Potato Croquettes

 Back in 2007, I was looking through the cookbooks at Williams-Sonoma and happened upon Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros. I hadn't heard of Tessa at the time, but the cookbook was beautiful and the recipes were organized by color and it really caught my attention. I scooped up Tessa's cookbook that day, bought every other cookbook she wrote, and have been happily making her recipes ever since.

Tessa's Beef and Potato Croquettes from her Gold chapter have been on my "to-make" list ever since. They caught my attention because they are simple and seem like the perfect family-friendly type dish to make. A handful of ingredients: potatoes, ground beef, Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, salt, breadcrumbs, and oil. Then I read Tessa's blurb and it says "these are very popular and seem to just disappear when there are kids around," and I'm sold. If a dish is kid-friendly then it likely means that it'll be a dish everyone loves. 

If you have leftover mashed potatoes laying around (and someone didn't eat them prior to your plans to make this dish) then these will come together so easy and quick it would make your head spin! However, if you had just enough mashed potatoes left over to make this dish and a certain ravenous 16 year old boy ate them, then you'll have to make another batch of mashed potatoes. Such is life!

Either way, this dish is easy, economical, family-friendly, savory, crispy, tender, and oh so flavorful. I will definitely be making them again.


 Beef and Potato Croquettes

Adapted from Apples For Jam

by Tessa Kiros

Makes about 40 small croquettes

about 4 potatoes, scrubbed

3/4 pound good quality ground beef

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

about 1 cup dry bread crumbs

about 5 tablespoons olive oil

Put a pan of salted water on to boil. Add the unpeeled potatoes and boil, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until they are soft and completely cooked through. (My potatoes were not the same size so I did peel them and cut them into same-size pieces and then cook them). 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Drain the potatoes and, when they are cool enough, peel them. Mash them well in a wide bowl. Add the beef, parmesan, egg, and salt, and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Roll into balls about the size of small walnuts and then flatten them a bit into little ovals. Put the bread crumbs on a plate and pat the croquettes in them to coat both sides. Drizzle about 2-1/2 tablespoons of oil over the bottom of a large baking pan, spreading it around with the back of a spoon. Pack the croquettes like tight soldiers on the pan and drizzle lightly with another couple of tablespoons of oil.

Put the pan in the oven and bake the croquettes for about 30 minutes, or until the undersides are nicely golden and a bit crisp. Turn them over gently and bake for another 10 minutes, or longer if necessary, until the new undersides become nicely golden (even a little crisp here and there - but not dried out).

Serve warm or a room temperature with a small scattering of salt, if you think they need it. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Ina's Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake {A MUST MAKE}!!

I joined a facebook group called The Barefoot Contessa Fan Page where members make and share all sorts of Ina Garten recipes. Now, we all know that everything Ina makes is foolproof and delicious, but every once in awhile, specific recipes will cycle and before you know it EVERYONE is making them and going on and on about how Extra Wonderful they are!

It happened with Ina's Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce. It happened with Ina's Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel. And, recently, the group has literally blown up over Ina's Blueberry and Ricotta Breakfast Cake from her latest cookbook, Go-To Dinners

I bet I've seen Ina's Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake shared hundreds of times to the point where people have asked for everyone to quit sharing it! I have been wanting to make it for months and you know what.... IT IS WORTH ALL THE HYPE!


I think it is a top tier Ina Garten recipe and one to stick in your back pocket. The cake is made a little differently than most, with both ricotta and sour cream and only about 1-1/4 cup flour. It is extremely light, tender, and moist with the perfect ratio of blueberry and lemon flavor. The inside of the cake has the consistency of a cloud while the edges get all golden brown and crackly. The balance of flavors and textures is just right! I don't always like my desserts warm, but this cake is total perfection warm from the oven and I recommend serving is warm.

Please do yourself a favor and make this cake this season! It is most definitely going to be one of my top recipes of the year and I can tell you that it will be THE RECIPE that I think of when I'm asked to bring a dish somewhere.



Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake

Adapted from Go-To Dinners

by Ina Garten

Serves 8-10

10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder


2 cups fresh blueberries (12 ounces), divided

sifted confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Note: I don't have a 9" pan or a springform pan, so I baked mine in a 10" stone pan and it was just fine! Some people have made this cake the day ahead and served it the next day. I'm sure it is great that way, but I would highly recommend serving it the day of, fresh from the oven with about 30-60 minutes to cool .

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9" round springform pan, shaking out any excess flour. 

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix well. (The batter will look curdled.)

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing just until incorporated. With the rubber spatula, fold two thirds of the blueberries into the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining blueberries on the cake, pressing them lightly into the surface.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and lightly dust the top with the confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Five Favorite Mediterranean Dishes!

Mediterranean food is my all time favorite and most of this blog probably consists of some form of Mediterranean-based dish. 

I thought it would be fun to look back on some of my favorite Mediterranean dishes, namely my top Greek and Italian recipes. I chose a good mix of main dishes, one appetizer, and a dessert! As always, if you click on the recipe title it will direct you back to my original post with the recipe!

                                                    Ina Garten Sausage and Fennel Rigatoni

This is one of the MOST DELICIOUS FIVE STAR pasta dishes I've ever made or eaten anywhere, both in my kitchen and in a restaurant. Many others say the same, so I feel like it is a must make if you're a pasta lover. Don't let the fennel worry you if it's not your favorite. I felt that way and it turned out just fine. The fennel just gives this dish a delicate background flavor that really gives the dish the boost it needs to be something special. It is an outstanding dish!

White pizza is a real favorite of mine and this version with three cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan is just a stunning dish! This pizza turns out perfectly for me every single time and to this day it is THE SINGLE MOST delicious pizza I've ever made at home! I always imagine myself eating a slice at an outdoor restaurant over the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.
I love all things shrimp and feta cheese, feta is one of my favorite cheeses, so this dish was meant for me! It's flavorful and light and feels so special. One day when I get over to Greece I plan to eat my weight in all things feta and shrimp, and probably baklava, but that's for another post.
Again, feta cheese! I am ALWAYS looking for ways to eat feta cheese so this recipe makes me feel better about eating so much cheese because I'm also eating vitamin rich pepper as well! It's a win-win situation!
As I mentioned several times over the years, the Amalfi Coast of Italy is rife with lemons and in my spare time I watch travel vlogs on Youtube and everyone is dining al fresco on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast doing shooters of Limoncello, eating fresh fruit, pasta, etc. This dessert reminds me of the Mediterranean because it's fruity and light, spiked with Limoncello, and just a little bit creamy with a lemon yogurt dressing. It just seems like the fruity desserts you find all over Italy and I'm going to declare it Mediterranean! 

A Taste of The Mediterranean!





Sunday, April 9, 2023

Ina's Spicy Pimento Cheese Spread

 My son and I had spring break last week. At the very last minute, we decided to take a trip to Charleston, SC. We saw all the sights: Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, the Naval & Maritime Museum at Patriots Point, Sullivan Island, Downtown Charleston and the historic area South of Broad, the Pineapple Fountain, The Slave Mart Museum, The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Rainbow Row, Charleston City Market, King Street, James Island, Folley Island and more!

We also ate all the things: World Famous Barbecue at Lewis Barbecue, a local place called Home Town BBQ, all the biscuits at Callie's Hot Little Biscuit, and all the fresh fish and seafood at Ellis Fish Camp Restaurant.

It didn't matter where we went to eat, there was sure to be some Pimento Cheese! It was on biscuits at breakfast, with barbecue for lunch and dinner, and it was also at the fish and seafood restaurants. Charlestonians love their pimento cheese! 

I came home obsessed with all things Charleston and decided to make Ina Garten's Spicy Pimento Cheese Spread in honor of our trip. When I was reading through the comments on the Food Network site, I had to laugh out loud because at least one or two people mention South Carolina, Charleston, and pimento cheese. Apparently they go just together.

While Ina's recipe isn't the most traditional Pimento Cheese, it is spectacular in both flavor and consistency! Pimento cheese can sometimes be one note - just cheese that spreads. Ina's version is FULL OF FLAVOR from the addition of pimentos, pickled jalapenos, and a heavy dose of garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt. It is simply what makes this recipe absolutely incredible!

I have had my share of Pimento Cheese and none hold up to Ina's recipe. Ina's recipe below is simply THE PIMENTO CHEESE you need to try! Serve it at your next party or potluck - you won't be sorry!

Spicy Pimento Cheese Spread

Adapted from Food Network

by Ina Garten

Makes 1 quart

10 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup masyonnaise

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped

6 ounces piquillo pepper, chopped (or regular pimentos can be subbed)

5 cups shredded Cheddar (approximately 1-1/4 pounds)

1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha

Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery seed. Mix in the pickled jalapenos, piquillo peppers and grated Cheddar. Add the Sriracha and combine. Taste and add more mayonnaise and Sriracha, if necessary. Chill before serving. 

Welcome Claudia Roden @ IHCC!