On the Cape, with the tourist season, summer officially starts on Memorial Day. This year it has been rainy and cold — more than I ever remember. It is so wet that we have not been able to get into one garden to plant it, a record late date for this!! In spite of that, the strawberries are pouring in a tubful at a time, sometimes 2 tubfuls at a time in spite of the fact that they are sometimes literally under water.
On Fridays we do projects in the kitchen — jams, cookies, or prepping for retreats or events. It is a good-sized crew, and very faithful. Last week one of the sisters was celebrating a 60th birthday. I asked one of the sisters to put something together, so we had this wonderful spread of cheese dip, cheese ball, crispy tortilla strips and… strawberry bruschetta — surprisingly delicious! Another way to enjoy those juicy jewels from the garden (or grocery store!)
Happy 60th Birthday Strawberry Bruschetta
Happy 60th Birthday Strawberry Bruschetta
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut baguette into 1/2 inch slices.
- Butter one side of each slice.
- Place on baking sheet, and bake 4 to 5 minutes until toasty and golden.
- Set aside.
- Combine strawberries with vinegar and sugar, let sit while preparing cream cheese mixture.
- Beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
- Add zest and beat again to combine.
- Spread this onto baguette slices.
- Top each with strawberry mixture, and finish off with the chopped mint.
Now that spring is definitely here to stay we want to turn to warmer weather needs—dishes that are fresher and lighter and require less cooking. Here’s where plump tender chicken breasts can be so accommodating—offering endless possibilities. Last week one of the sisters gave a “Birthday Gift” lunch to a young community girl who loves Asian food. The result was a delicious and attractive chicken salad. That inspired me to have something similar made for the convent lunch the next day. Both versions were a success, similar in some ways, yet each quite different in others. Here’s my Basic Asian Chicken Salad that you can alter to your liking—adding to or taking away any ingredients that do or don’t appeal to you.
- Chop or thinly slice grilled chicken; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the spicy ginger dressing.
- Add the cabbage, chicken, carrots, spinach, tomato, mint and cilantro to the large bowl and toss gently.
- Top with mango slices and roasted peanuts. Garnish with scallions and roasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.
I’m often amazed at the speed with which different foods become popular once they are introduced to the public. Growing up we always had homemade Greek yogurt available in our refrigerator for snacks, desserts, or general cooking. (This was before it was sold commercially). A cup of fine demitasse and a little dish of yogurt topped with a spoonful of homemade peach or cherry preserves was a typical dessert at our house. Often we had crumbled Feta cheese in our scrambled eggs for breakfast, and almost daily sprinkled it on our salad. None of my friends had it at their homes. Back then it literally was “foreign” to them. Today it’s very common. You can seldom make your way through a homemaker’s magazine without finding Feta cheese sprinkled somewhere on something! Here is a dish using both Feta cheese and yogurt that was once considered out of the ordinary and is now a familiar favorite of many. This is Spanakopita, Greek spinach pie… a healthy, flavorful, easy to make meatless meal.
Spanakopita (spinach pie)
Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash spinach, cut off stems, dry and chop.
- Brown scallions in 1/2 cup olive oil until tender.
- Combine spinach, mint, parsley, cheese, yogurt, lemon peel, lemon juice and add beaten eggs.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
- Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and begin by layering one phyllo sheet, brush with butter/olive oil mixture.
- Continue for 10 layers then spread with the spinach mixture.
- Top with remaining sheets each brushed with the butter/olive oil mixture.
- Score the top into diamonds.
- Bake 25-30 minutes until golden on top.