Pancakes

Pancake stack

Pancake stack

Since I discovered this recipe in my ATK cookbook, I have not bought another box of pancake mix again.  These pancakes are easy to make and taste better than any boxed mix.  There is one change that I insist upon in this recipe.  The original recipe says to use vegetable oil in the skillet when cooking the pancakes but I use butter because it tastes much better and it makes this crisp edges that are so addictive.

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Petulla – Albanian Fried Dough

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Deep-fried alien-looking dough

Yeah, yeah I know….. fried dough doesn’t sound all that inviting…it’s not as pleasant-sounding as doughnut or as exotic as beignet but trust me, Petulla are fried pieces of heaven to our family.  There are many variations in the world when it comes to fried dough.  These petulla can be eaten alone (the way I like them) or with feta cheese or with honey or both as my husband and son like them.  They can also be covered with powdered sugar…to do this I place some powdered sugar in a clean paper lunch bag….toss in a couple of petulla and shake until they are coated with the sugar.   My son and I like to look at the odd shapes and see if we can identify objects in the shapes just like you would do with clouds in the sky.

Three petulla

Three petulla

I grew up on these but my mother didn’t teach me the recipe.  She is old school so she doesn’t measure her ingredients with measuring cups and spoons and I don’t like to cook or bake without those measuring devices.  I came across my recipe in the most unexpected of places….The Sopranos Family Cookbook.  I bought the cookbook because I loved the TV show and I love Italian food….but the recipe I’ve used the most in this book was the Zeppole recipe.   I was floored when I saw the Zeppole picture….they looked exactly like Petulla!  So I tried the recipe but I was slightly disappointed…it was close to my mom’s petulla but something was missing.  I thought back to the way my mom made it and I realized that she put eggs into her batter.  I tried the altered recipe and SUCCESS!  I turned an Italian zeppole recipe into an authentic Albanian petulla recipe.

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Hummus

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Although I have posted this recipe in my blog before , it seems lost because it shares a post with other recipes.  This Hummus is so good that it deserves a post of its own.

Hummus

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

The hummus can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 5 days. If you do not plan on serving it immediately, refrigerate the hummus and garnishes separately. When ready to serve, stir in approximately 1 tablespoon of warm water if the texture is too thick.

Makes about 2 cups

3             tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons

1/4             cup water

6             tablespoons sesame tahini , stirred well

2             tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling

1             (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed

2             garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press

1/2             teaspoon table salt

1/4             teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne

1             tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds.

Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.

With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube.

Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute.

With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and parsley over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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Fattoush – Lebanese Bread Salad

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with a slice of Feta

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My favorite salad

I was lucky enough to grow up in the Metro Detroit area…..an area rich with cultural diversity.  In school, there were kids of Italian, Polish, German, Hungarian, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Balkan descent.  There were more but I can’t even name all of the backgrounds…there were so many.  For me, it was the best of America……a true melting pot.  One thing I really miss is all the wonderful and delicious Lebanese food that can be found there.  It’s colorful and healthy.  Lots of salads and vegetables.  Just before my husband arrived this weekend, I talked to him on the phone and I asked him what he wanted to eat first when he came back…”Fattoush,” he said, “I miss your awesome Fattoush.”  I had not made Fattoush in awhile because it can be a bit time consuming……not complicated but there is a bit of prep work.  What I do to make it more worth my while is make enough to last for several days.  I clean and cut all of the vegetables, mix them together but without the dressing and then store this salad mixture in zippered plastic bags in the refrigerator.  This way the salad mixture will last much of the week.  I toss in the chopped parsley, pita bread and dressing just before serving.  This salad mixture is adaptable….instead of Fattoush you can make a tasty Greek salad by adding feta cheese, olives and Greek dressing instead of the pita, parsley and Fattoush dressing.  Or you can leave it as is and use it with your favorite dressing.  I don’t have precise measurements for this recipe because it should be to your taste, so you may add or remove as much of each item as you like.  A tip for the moms out there:  When my son was younger and would not eat spinach, I would sneak it into this salad by chopping it up….he didn’t know it was in there for the longest time and ate this salad blissfully unaware.

Fattoush & Feta

Fattoush & Feta

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Salad in a Sandwich

Caesar Wrap

Caesar Wrap

Once, sometime last year, I remember ordering a dish at one of those family chain restaurants which we don’t frequent much anymore.  I had a sandwich similar to the one in the photo and I knew it had to be easy to duplicate at home.  It was a Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap.  I don’t have a detailed recipe for this sandwich but you don’t really need one.  I didn’t use chicken this time but I normally do.  This sandwich makes a great light lunch.

Here’s what you’ll need for your wrap:

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Panko-encrusted Fried Zucchini

Fried Zucchini

Fried Zucchini

Ok, I realize that I am in a very small minority but I’m not into Asian food. There, I said it!  Hate me if you must.  But I’ll bet there is at least one Asian person who dislikes Mediterranean food.  I find the spices and sauces used in much of Asian cooking to be so very different from the Mediterranean food that I grew up with.  So I’m not part of the cool crowd that loves sushi, stir-fry, and pad thai.  My husband, my son, my stepdaughters all love Asian food so I’m the black sheep of this family when it comes to Asian food.  I do love to learn about other cultures and peoples but eating the cuisines is another story……with one exception…..PANKO!  Panko bread crumbs are so crisp and crunchy and fry up beautifully.  Today I wanted to use up some zucchini that I had bought a few days ago.  I found a recipe at Food Network that worked well for me.  I used one less egg than what the recipe called for because 3 eggs seemed like too much and I didn’t want to use up all my eggs in one recipe.  I served the zucchini with some jarred pasta sauce (Muir Glen to be exact) that I warmed up.  The zucchini came out so very good that there are no leftovers left. 🙂

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Boneless Buffalo Chicken

Buffalo chicken and celery

Buffalo chicken and celery

My kids like places like Buffalo Wild Wings.  But with money being tight lately I wanted to give them a taste of Buffalo chicken without breaking the bank.  I found a worthy recipe in the Feb/Mar 2009 issue of Cook’s Country magazine. After making this recipe a couple of times, I’ve found that the amount of cornstarch and egg whites can be reduced so I’ve included my amounts in this recipe.

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