Royal Foodie Joust: Entries Due Tomorrow!!!

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The time is just flying by! I can’t believe it is almost September 1st! This being the case please don’t forget to enter this month’s Royal Foodie Joust competition! The voting will start tomorrow night and you don’t want your entry to be left out!

Click here for more details!

Daring Bakers Challenge: Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart

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I think I am now officially a Daring Baker. I have to admit I was rather smug during my first two challenges – Bagels and Strawberry Mirror Cake, completing them with no real difficulty and having a great time while doing so…a kind of baking bliss. Before becoming a Daring Baker, as many of you know, I did not bake at all and was very intimidated to bake. So with two challenges under my belt, I was feeling pretty good about this whole baking thing – it wasn’t such a big deal. I was actually amused by the stories other Daring Bakers shared about their experiences, people who actually BAKE, about frustrating moments and culinary crisis, imagining that if it were I who were in those situations I would have kept my calm and remained cool. This baking thing wasn’t gonna get me, it was fun, and dare I say EASY. Well I was about to experience the mother load of baking karma!
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…another MEME

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I have been tagged by Dharm at Dad~Baker & Chef for another meme. I really liked the premise of this one so I decided to give it a go. It was actually much harder than I thought and turned out to be quite philosophical as well! Who would’ve thunk it? I am not going to tag anyone, but I do hope that any interested parties will feel free to participate and comment here to let me know! It is always fun to learn new things about all the foodies out there!
So here goes, my middle name meme:
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Recipe: Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans, A Food Philosophy

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This is one of my go-to recipes, one of those early recipes I devised out of leftovers which has since then given me the title of “Leftover Queen”. I have been thinking a lot lately about my food philosophy, where it came from and how I have become the kind of cook that I am. I am a cook born out of passion combined with necessity. I learned from an early age from my grandparents and my mom that leftovers can be a wonderful thing. I come from a big Italian extended family and so we were always cooking for large groups of people, which meant that we usually cooked more than was necessary which ultimately left us with a lot of leftovers.

It was a tradition in my mom’s house that when the fridge was too overwrought with leftover containers that we would have what we called a Smörgåsbord, which is actually a Swedish word meaning”sandwich table”, but has been translated into English vernacular to mean a buffet or variety of hot and cold dishes.
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Recipe: Tunisian Grilled Vegetable Salad

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I hate to say it, but it is past the middle of August and so we all must face the reality that for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is coming to an end. Even though I live in Florida where it is always summer I can feel the change at an instinctual level. I have started craving heartier meals, with autumnal ingredients, like squash and herbs like sage and there has been this urge in me to drink hot chocolate. I have even been having dreams about snow and our old house in Vermont…So even though the temperatures are still hot and humid, there is something about the air that is changing and it is creating in me the need to use up the summer surplus – do something with all those eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. Preserve them from rotting in my fridge now that my taste buds have shifted.

I have made a lot of grilled vegetable dishes over the summer and for me it is essential to have them – they are great for sandwiches and wraps, wonderful stirred in pasta and perfect just as is. The grilling of the vegetables brings out the natural sweetness in the vegetables and the marinade adds tang. It is best to prepare the vegetables a day ahead so they have time to marinate overnight. Leftover grilled vegetables go great in a wrap with a dressing made of Tahini, Greek Yogurt, Olive Oil and Sumac, which has become my condiment of choice this season! I use it in place of mayo.

This recipe is a wonderful Tunisian dish which is served alongside of hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, olive oil packed tuna and green olives. It is great as a meal served with warm pita bread.

I featured it in my Mediterranean Cooking Class that I taught last week. It was perfect as we had some vegetarians in the group and they could still eat this dish, by passing on a few of the garnishes! They loved it! So this dish is also very versatile.
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Recipe: Zucchini Fritters with Chipotle Harissa Yogurt

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This is my entry for this month’s Royal Foodie Joust!
The ingredients for this month’s challenge are:
chipotle peppers, zucchini and buttermilk.

The three items were picked by Marye of Apron Strings and Simmering Things who was the Joust’s winner last month.

My inspiration for this dish is my love of spicy condiments and my love of all things Mediterranean. Harissa is a North African spicy pepper relish, often found in many forms on the streets of Tunisia. I love Harissa and usually get around to making it once a year. It is a wonderful treat gotten with quite a bit of culinary effort and time, but it is worth it. I keep telling myself that I really need to make a bigger batch next time, but always forget! Maybe next year!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this dish! The fritters are nice and crispy on the outside and deliciously creamy on the inside, topped with the spicy Harissa and the cooling Greek yogurt it is a perfect combination!

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If you want to join us this month for the Royal Foodie Joust, Click Here
for the details or just stop by the Leftover Queen’s Forum!
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Dragon Fruit: Heartbreaker

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Well we finally did it, we tried fresh dragon fruit. Honestly I am still not sure what it is exactly. There was a very interesting conversation about dragon fruit going on at the Leftover Queen Forum. I love dragons quite a lot and anything associated with dragons I want to like. It is that one love from childhood fantasies that I still carry with me. Anything to do with dragons excites me. It is my Chinese astrology sign, maybe that has something to do with it.
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Recipe: Crostini con Cannellini Rustici (White Bean Spread)

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This is a dish I created for the “Mediterranean Summer” class I taught at The Culinaria Food & Arts Studio in Ocala, Florida. This menu was designed to travel well so that one can bring these dishes to a picnic, summer BBQ or family gathering. I have always loved crostini with white beans and I wanted to create one that would stand strong in terms of taste by adding fried rosemary and prosciutto. I hope you enjoy it and bring it to your next picnic!
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