Cherry Clafoutis

2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of whole milk
2 teaspoons of Amaretto -or- 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour a 9X9 or 10X7 baking dish. Toss in the cherries and slivered almonds.

Whisk the eggs, sugars, salt, and flour together until smooth.

Add the milk, Amaretto (or almond extract, if using), and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When you pull it put of the oven it will wiggle a bit which is normal. Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling. When cool dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve.
Yield: Serves 6.

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil for the marinade plus more for grilling
Grated zest from 2 limes
Juice from 2 limes, about 1/4 cup
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lime wedges, fresh sprigs of cilantro, and slices of avocado to serve

Place the chicken breasts between two piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and pound to an even thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

Mix the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, sugar, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and massage the marinade into the chicken. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the grill for medium high heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the refrigerator. Remove them from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken breasts with some olive oil. Soak a paper towel in a little more oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. When the grill is hot, place the chicken breasts on the grill. Grill for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through.
Yield: Serves 4-6.

Couscous Pilaf with Pistachios and Apricots

1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 10-ounce box of couscous, about 1 1/3 cups
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios*
10 dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Optional 2 teaspoons harissa, prepared or homemade (see this Paula Wolfert harissa recipe)
*If you only have access to shelled roasted pistachios, use them and skip step 2 in the method instructions.

Place the chopped onion in a small bowl. Pour the lemon juice over the onions, set aside and let the onions soak in the lemon juice.

Toast the pistachios in a small pan on medium-high heat until lightly browned and fragrant. (Take care when toasting nuts, they can burn quickly if you don’t pay attention!) Remove from heat and place into a small bowl to cool.

Put 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of salt to the water. Once the salt dissolves, stir in the couscous, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Move the pot off the hot burner and let the couscous steam, covered, for 5-6 minutes.

Scoop out the couscous into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Stir in the harissa, if using. Stir in the pistachios, chopped apricots and parsley. Stir in the red onion and lemon juice. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil, stir well and add salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Zucchini Stuffed with Pesto and Mozzerella

2 cups of day old cubed bread*
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 very large zucchini (about 2 pounds), otherwise known as a baseball bat zucchini
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
A handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
Salt
*The bread should be a little dry, this way it will toast better. If you don’t have day old or slightly dry bread, cut up fresh bread and lay out on a baking sheet. Heat in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

1 In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium to medium high heat. Add the slightly dry cubed bread, toss to coat at least some of the sides in a little butter. Lay out in a single layer cook, without moving the croutons, until one side is lightly browned, then toss and let cook a little more so a few more sides get a little brown. Remove from pan and let cool to touch.

2 While the croutons are browning, heat a small skillet on high. Add the pine nuts and cook until they begin to brown (do not walk away, once they start browning they can easily go from brown to burnt!). When they start to brown, remove them from the pan into a small bowl.

3 Place the croutons and Mozzarella in a medium bowl. Toss with the pesto. Add the grated Parmesan, chopped cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and toss some more.

4 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inner flesh with a metal spoon, leaving 1/4 to a 1/2-inch thickness in the zucchini boats.** Place the zucchini boats in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the inside of the boats with salt. Fill the boats with the stuffing mixture. Pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the roasting pan (so that zucchini doesn’t dry out on the outside), to about 1/4 inch depth. Bake for 45 minutes at 375°F.

**In this recipe we are not using the zucchini flesh that we have scooped out. You can easily freeze it for later use with zucchini recipes such as zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, or zucchini cake. Or you can chop some of it up and mix it in with the stuffing mixture.

Zucchini Stuffed with Breadcrumbs

2 medium zucchini, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cups soft bread cubes
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
salt and pepper

Wash zucchini; cook whole in a small amount of boiling water for about 8 minutes. Drain and cut into halves lengthwise. Scoop out pulp; chop. Melt butter in a heavy skillet, sauté garlic and onion for a minute, or until onion is tender; stir in chopped zucchini pulp, bread cubes, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Stuff zucchini with bread mixture. Place zucchini in a greased baking dish and bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.

Kousa (Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini)

2 lbs zucchini, even sized

Filling
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon clarified butter or 1 tablespoon oil or 1 tablespoon plain butter
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
8 ounces ground beef or lamb (or a combination)
1/4 cup short-grain rice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
salt
pepper

To finish
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup clarified butter or 1/2 cup regular butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup peeled tomato, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt
water

Choose either medium or small zucchini. Wash well cut of stem end. Using a corer hollow out zucchini leaving rounded end intact. Try not to puncture the skin. Soak in salted water for 10 minutes.

Gently fry onion in butter until transparent. Add pine nuts after 10 minutes cook with onions for another 10 minutes, stir occasionally.

Add pan contents to ground meat, rice parsley, spice and about a teaspoon of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of water if need to be easy to work with. Fill zucchini with stuffing. (The rice expands and the meat will shrink so fill them all the way).

Prepare the sauce: in a frying pan gently fry chopped onion in butter. When transparent add chopped garlic cook for a few seconds and chopped peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, water and cinnamon with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of a heavy based pan, arrange zucchini in layers adding sauce to each layer, you may have 2-3 layers of zucchini.

Add enough water to just cover the zucchini with sauce, you may or may not need to do this depending on how much sauce you have.

Cover and simmer gently for 1 1/4 hours or until veggies are tender and rice is cooked.
Serve hot or warm with sauce and Arabic pita bread for dipping.

Zucchini Tian with Curried Breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon curry powder
7 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat or regular panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced (about 7 cups)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add curry powder and let toast until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, then stir in panko bread crumbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out skillet.

In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat, then add onions, rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until onions are a deep golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Pour white wine into pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits. Remove from heat and stir in garlic, orange zest and black pepper.

Grease inside of a medium-size gratin dish with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and spread a third of the onion and tomato mixture on the bottom. Begin layering zucchini in an overlapping pattern, beginning around the outside and working your way in. Sprinkle with a third of the bread crumbs. Repeat layering two more times, ending with bread crumbs. Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil over bread crumbs and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until vegetables are extremely tender and top has browned.

Imam Bayaldi

8 aubergines (eggplants)
3 medium sized onions
½ cup (4 fl oz, 125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium sized tomatoes, peeled
¼ cup (1/3 oz, 10g) chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
A good squeeze of lemon juice
A pinch of sugar
½ cup (4 fl oz, 125ml) water

Wash the aubergines well and remove the stems. Peel the skin lengthwise in ½ inch strips, to give a nice striped effect. This will help the aubergine absorb the flavours while cooking, even if the stripes disappear to some extent when cooked.

To salt or not to salt:
There is a debate about whether it’s necessary to salt aubergines or not in order to drain out any bitterness. Modern varieties are apparently less bitter than they used to be, and if you choose small and very fresh ones there is probably no need to bother salting them. If you are of the salting persuasion, then at this stage cover your aubergines with salt and allow them to rest on kitchen towel for about half an hour. Afterwards simply wipe away the salt.

Cut the aubergines in half (lengthwise), and cut a slit lengthwise in the fleshy side of each of the halves, stopping a little short of the ends. Cut onions in half (from tip to tip) and then chop into slender wedges.

Heat half of the oil in a heavy based saucepan or frying pan with a lid, and add the onions. Cook gently until they are transparent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for about a minute. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, and stir in the chopped tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, as well as the lemon juice, sugar and water, to make the mixture used for stuffing the aubergines.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan until it starts to smoke, then add the aubergines and cook over a high heat for about 5 minutes, until they are lightly browned all over, but still nice and firm. Then remove from the heat.

Arrange the aubergines in the pan with fleshy sides upwards, and spoon the filling mixture into the slits. Try to stuff in as much as possible, and spread any remaining filling on top. Put a lid on the pan and cook over a gentle heat until tender (approx 45 minutes). Check on it occasionally, adding more water to the pan only if it is getting dry (aubergines do release a great deal of water).

Alternatively, you can arrange the stuffed aubergines in a covered oven proof dish, and cook for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Remove from the heat, and let the stuffed aubergines cool to room temperature. Serve as an appetizer/meze, or as a light meal with fresh bread and/or yoghurt. It can also be refrigerated and served refreshingly chilled.

Confit Bayaldi

FOR PIPERADE

1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a bay leaf
Kosher salt

FOR VEGETABLES

1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings