Late Summer/Early Fall Menu’s

While it’s still pretty hot out in So. California it’s hard to go into the kitchen to cook. Here are some light recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. Mangia!

Spinach Salad, Traditional

Serves 2

  • 6 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried well
  • 1/4 small or medium shallot, minced
  • 2 pieces thick-sliced bacon, finely diced
  • ¼ cup Champagne Vinegar, or Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 large egg, hard-boiled, chilled, peeled and thinly sliced

Remove any stems from the spinach and place in a salad serving bowl.

In a heated sauté pan add bacon and cook until crisp, drain on paper towels. Remove all but 2 Tb. of bacon grease and add vinegar, whisk in Dijon mustard and taste for seasoning. Pour over salad and toss quickly, scatter with mushrooms and eggs.

Serve while still warm.

Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese Flatbread with Artichoke Pesto

  • 1 jar artichoke hearts, 12 oz., drained
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pizza dough
  • 1 large heirloom tomatoes or ½ basket cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese

Drain the artichoke hearts. If they are marinated in oil, you can omit draining the hearts and adjust the oil measure downwards appropriately.

Add the artichoke to the food processor with the nuts, cheese, and garlic and pulse until you have a paste. Add in the lemon juice and with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the processor as needed and pulse until you have a uniform paste-like consistency.

Taste and season with salt, pepper, oil, and lemon juice to taste.

Heat oven to 450°. Roll pizza dough out to desired shape, place onto parchment lined baking pan. Brush 1” of the edge of the pizza dough with olive oil, spoon on the artichoke dip to the remaining dough, top with tomatoes, goat cheese and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

Spinach Bacon Cheese Puffs

Baked pastry puffs stuffed with a cream cheese, feta, bacon and spinach filling. These are great appetizers that you can put together ahead of time and bake off as needed.

Yield: 10 puffs

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 packed cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 3 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into 10 squares (cut on a floured board), Keep the pastry cold until ready to use.
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease round or square muffin pan.

Place the cream cheese into a food processor, add egg, oil and dill and pulse until combined.

In a separate bowl mix the spinach, feta and bacon. Pour the cream cheese mixture over top, season it with salt and pepper and stir until combined.

Line the muffin pan with the pastry squares, stretching them out a little if needed; press them into the bottom of the cups. Divide the spinach among the cups as evenly as possible. Bring the 4 points together over the filling and press them together.

Lightly brush with the melted butter.

Bake about 25 minute until golden brown and puffy. Allow to cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges to loosen them and help pop them out.

Bird's Nest Pesto With Stuffed Tomatoes

  • Pesto
  • 1/2 cup pine nut -- lightly toasted; plus, some for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic -- peeled
  • 2 cups basil leaf -- loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese -- grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • 11 ounces goat cheese -- room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 small tomatoes -- plum
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti -- or angel hair pasta


In a food processor, rough chop pine nuts and garlic. Add basil and process using pulse until the leaves start to break down. Add the cheese and blend until you have a rough paste. With machine running add olive oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425° and put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Mix the goat and Boursin cheese with enough cream to make it soft and spreadable. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides. Lightly salt and place, cut side down, on paper towels to drain for 20 min. Spread a little pesto on the inside of the tomato and fill to the top with the goat cheese mixture. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over each one and bake until they start to shrivel, and the cheese is lightly browned, about 20 min.

Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with the pesto, adding a bit of the pasta water if necessary, to loosen the pesto. Plate the pasta and add a tomato in the center. Top with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts.

Sea Bass Provençal

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small leek, cut in half and then into half moons
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped or 2 large fresh garden tomatoes
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup Greek olives, halved
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 4 4 ounce Sea Bass fillets, or any white fish

Heat a medium sauté or saucepan. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, add onion and sauté until lightly translucent. Add garlic and stir for about a minute. Crush or squish tomatoes and add tomatoes and remaining ingredients except the fish then simmer about 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat; add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot carefully place dried fish fillets into oil, it should start to simmer right away. Cook about 3-4 minutes and turn carefully for another 4 minutes.

Serve with sauce.

French Apple Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over cake
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Granny Smith)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional), for decorating cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. If using a regular cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease again.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Don't worry if the batter looks grainy at this point; that's okay. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a rack. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. If using a springform pan, remove the sides. If using a regular cake pan, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, then gently flip the cake over and place right-side-up on a platter. Using a fine sieve, dust with Confectioners' sugar (if using). Cake can be served warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Freezer Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, cover it tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.



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