Monday, April 20, 2015

Uncle Johnny's Legendary Zucchini Parmesan

Zucchini Parmesan
     This past January my family lost another beloved member my Uncle Johnny. He was an amazing man. Kind hearted, sweet, friendly, and willing to help anyone. He was a gardener, a woodworker, and a fantastic cook. A man that had such an infectious laugh that as soon as you met him you felt at home. He was also the inspiration for my Children’s Book; Paul And The Porch Gnome, which is also on this blog. One of my favorite dishes of his was his Zucchini Parmesan. It is a simple dish so quick and easy to make and full of flavor. My mother, his sister, never made this for us because Uncle Johnny’s was so good and he only lived next door that when he did make it he would always bring some over for us.  A fantastic Italian cook he was that this dish is just the tip of the iceberg to what he could do. Please enjoy this fantastic simple recipe that means more than the ingredients that make it up.  Zucchini Parmesan.
  • 3 medium zucchini cut into 1/3 inch slices
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Marinara
  • Preheat Oven 350
1.       After slicing your zucchini into 1/3 inch slices place a bit of marinara of your choice into a 9 x 9 pan.
2.       Lay down a layer of sliced zucchini.
3.       Top with some shredded mozzarella and parmesan.
4.       Drizzle some marinara over and begin layering in the same order as above
5.       One you reach the top sprinkle more mozzarella and parmesan.
6.       Cover with tinfoil and bake in oven for 60 minutes.
      As I eat this I will always think you of Uncle Johnny. Summers spending time next door, helping plant, working in the basement, and cooking. Miss you every day.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4-5

A young Uncle Johnny Sainato

Hard working in the yard

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini

Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini
     I cannot take credit for this recipe. I was hosting a dinner party for some coworkers and was making a bunch of different homemade Italian dishes. I needed an easy and delicious appetizer recipe and didn’t feel like making one I was used to. I searched to web and discovered a great way to take grapes and turn them into something even more delicious; roasted grapes. This was quick and easy and the flavor of the grapes completely changed with this recipe. They were more like figs or some other kind of fruit once they had been roasted. That with the combination of a ricotta mixture and drizzled balsamic vinegar created a burst of flavor in your mouth. Hope you enjoy my Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini.

  • Baguette of French bread
  • Bundle of grapes
  • Thyme
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Ricotta
  • Pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
1.       Preheat oven to 450. Take your bundle of grapes and toss them in a bit of olive oil, drizzled honey, and sprinkled thyme.

2.       Place the grape mixture on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

3.       Meanwhile take some ricotta and drizzle some more honey into it. Sprinkle with black pepper and whip together until you have a sweetened but spicy mixture. Add in a bit of sea salt to give it that salty contrast.

4.        Slice the baguette into ½ inch crostini slices and brown in the same oven.

5.       Take the ricotta mixture and spread a bit on each slice of bread.

6.       Once the grapes have come to room temperature top each ricotta sliced bread with a couple grapes.

7.       Serve with a bit of balsamic vinegar to be drizzled over each crostini.

     These were fantastic. The jaminess from the grapes, the peppered but salty creaminess from the ricotta and the contrast with the addition of the balsamic vinegar made for a perfect blast of flavor and excitement in your mouth. They were a big hit at the dinner party.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 10 plus


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tropical Grilled Shrimp

Tropical Grilled Shrimp

     This dish is easily inspired by one of those days where you have one ingredient but you have no clue what to do with it. That ingredient was shrimp. I didn’t want to make the same old shrimp recipes that I am used to so I rummaged through my spice cabinet and came up with this idea for a tropical Asian twist to a great grilled shrimp recipe. The spices added were perfect for the grill and were accompanied well by adding grilled asparagus and some whole grain rice. Just a few ingredients added to a bowl and let the shrimp marinate in the fridge for a half hour and viola! A quick grilled shrimp with so many flavors you will definitely be making this again. Tropical Grilled Shrimp.

  • ½ lb shrimp
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • Dash of water for thinning
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp chili pepper
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

1.       Combine all ingredients above in a bowl to make a semi-thick paste.

2.       Place the shrimp in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the shrimp to coat. Leave a bit in
the bowl to use for basting.

3.       Refrigerate the shrimp for about half an hour.

4.       Remove from fridge and grill until the shrimp have turned pink. Roughly about 5-7 minutes each side.

5.       Use the left over marinate to baste the shrimp.

6.       Serve with your favorite rice and vegetable dish.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-3 people.

     These grilled shrimp were fantastic. Full of flavor, spicy in just the right places, and packed with complimenting flavors that made the rice and asparagus fantastic. Enjoy.