Archives for July 2015

Stunning Summer Salads by Hannah and Mary Ladesic

Editor’s Note: We are thrilled to share this guest blog post from our favorite identical twins – Hannah and Mary Ladesic. Glenbard West graduates, Hannah and Mary were dishwashers and culinary assistants at Marcel’s. They have just completed their sophomore year at Boston College and have embarked on a blogging journey at Two Spoonfuls, which is filled with inspiring cooking and baking recipes, tips and beautiful photography!

2Spoonfuls2While the temperature may be heating up, this refreshing orzo salad made with watermelon, arugula, basil and feta is an easy way to help stay cool on a hot summer’s day. It mixes sweet and savory flavors as well as fresh herbs and summer produce for a satisfying and healthy side dish perfect for any party or cookout. 

Here are a few tips we use to create stunning summer salads: 

-Engage the senses! Combine colors, textures and flavors for the perfect eye-catching and palate-pleasing salad. With the abundance of summer fruits and vegetables, it is easy to bring pops of color to your plate, from the vibrant pink of a watermelon to the deep purple of an eggplant. Play with adding something creamy, something crunchy and something crispy by mixing in your favorite cheese, nuts and seeds, and a variety of greens.

-Make your own dressings! It is so simple to toss together a light lemon olive oil drizzle or a balsamic vinaigrette. Use natural sweeteners like honey to reduce the sugar content, and throw in chopped fresh herbs like parsley, oregano and thyme for a boost of flavor. 

-Go with a grain! To add variety to a traditional green salad, add in a healthy grain to help make your salad more filling and nutrient dense. Stir in cooked quinoa, whole wheat orzo, farro or wheat berries. 

-Mix up your greens! Move beyond the classic head of iceberg and experiment with vibrant, nutritious greens such as kale, watercress, arugula, and spinach. These greens will bring both a flavor and nutrient boost to your salad. 

One of our favorite things about cooking is incorporating fresh, seasonal produce and herbs from our backyard garden. We also love experimenting with putting healthier twists on traditional recipes. This recipe allows us to accomplish both, creating a dish that is perfect to beat the heat and enjoy your summer days. 

Watermelon Feta Orzo Salad with Lemon, Basil and Arugula
  1. 1 1/2 cups dry orzo (either whole wheat or white)
  2. 1 T. fresh lemon zest
  3. 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  5. 2 t. honey
  6. 5 cups cubed watermelon (diced into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes)
  7. 6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  8. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  9. 1 cup arugula
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to directions listed on package. Drain well (do not rinse) then pour into a large bowl.
  2. While pasta boils, stir together lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Pour half of mixture over drained pasta in bowl and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool.
  3. Add watermelon, feta, basil and arugula to the orzo. Add remaining lemon juice mixture and toss to evenly coat.
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Strawberry Ricotta Tartlets

Strawberry Ricotta Tartlets
  1. 2 ½ cups almond flour
  2. 1/8 t. sea salt
  3. ½ t. cinnamon
  4. 4 T. plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 8 T. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  6. 1 pound strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  7. 1 ½ T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  8. 1 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
  9. 2 T. confectioners’ sugar
  10. 1 t. freshly grated lemon zest
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the almond flour, salt, cinnamon and 4 tablespoons of sugar. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the dough comes together.
  2. Transfer the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather it into a cylinder. Roll the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the strawberries, remaining 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice. Mix well and allow the mixture to stand until syrupy.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat.
  5. Unwrap the dough and cut into 16 slices. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and gently flatten lightly with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
  6. Bake the tartlet crusts until they are crisp and golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
  7. In a small bowl combine the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest.
  8. Carefully spread about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture over each tartlet. Arrange a few strawberry slices over the ricotta and drizzle some of the syrup over the top.
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Pickled Summer Squash

Pickled Summer Squash
  1. 1361 g. summer squash (about 3 pounds) –sliced into thick pieces
  2. 28 g. salt
  3. 567 g. white wine vinegar
  4. 283 g. water
  5. 113 g. white wine
  6. 57 g. sugar
  7. 1 T. curry powder
  8. 2 t. smoked hot paprika
  1. In a colander placed over a bowl, mix together the squash and the salt. Let stand 1 hour. Place the colander in the sink and rinse the squash slices. Drain.
  2. Bring vinegar, water, wine, sugar, and spices to a boil.
  3. Disburse squash among canning jars.
  4. Pour brine over squash (leaving head space of 1/2-inch)
  5. Cover and process if canning or cover and store in refrigerator if not (process for 10 minutes if canning)
  1. Yields 5 pints.
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Cherry Mostarda

Cherry Mostarda
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  3. 1/4 c. + 1 T. water
  4. 1½ T. Dijon mustard
  5. 1 T. dry powdered mustard
  6. ½ T. mustard seeds
  7. 1 t. kosher salt
  8. 1 pound sweet or tart cherries, stemmed and pitted
  1. Mix together all ingredients except cherries in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add cherries and cook over medium-high heat until they are softened, about 20 minutes.
  3. Refrigerate or preserve.
  1. Excellent over pork or on a sandwich as a savory/sweet/tart spread.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Farmhand Salad with Goat Cheese

Farmhand Salad with Goat Cheese
Serves 4
  1. 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and cored
  2. 1 large carrot, peeled
  3. 1 small red or golden beet, trimmed and peeled
  4. 3 large radishes, washed and trimmed
  5. 1 head Belgian endive, trimmed and cut crosswise into ½” diagonal slices
  6. 1 cup baby arugula
  7. 1 T. fresh tarragon leaves
  8. 1 T. snipped dill
  9. 1 T. flat leaf parsley leaves
  10. 1 T. snipped chives
  11. 2 T. Balsamic vinegar
  12. salt
  13. freshly ground black pepper
  14. 4 T. olive oil
  15. 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  16. ½ cup Marcona almonds
  17. 4 Medjool dates, pitted and thinly sliced
  1. Using a mandoline, very thinly slice the fennel, carrot, beet and radishes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
  2. Add the endive, arugula, tarragon, dill, parsley and chives.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Add the dressing, half of the goat cheese, the almonds and dates. Toss the salad gently to combine.
  5. Transfer the salad to plates and garnish with the remaining goat cheese. Serve immediately.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Fresh Berries with Lavender Syrup

Fresh Berries with Lavender Syrup
  1. ½ cup sugar
  2. ½ cup dry white wine
  3. 2 T. crumbled dried lavender flowers
  4. 1 bay leaf
  5. 1 1” strip lemon zest
  6. ½ t. whole peppercorns
  7. 2 T. white balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 pound mixture of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries, hulled and quartered if necessary
  1. Combine the sugar, white wine, lavender, bay leaf, lemon zest, peppercorns and balsamic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Simmer briskly 6 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool. Strain and refrigerate.
  2. Arrange the prepared berries in goblets or serving bowls and drizzle with the syrup.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Swiss Chard Ravioli with Marcella’s Famous Tomato Sauce

Swiss Chard Ravioli with Marcella's Famous Tomato Sauce
For Pasta Dough
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 T. olive oil
  3. 1 large egg
  4. pinch of salt
For Swiss Chard Filling
  1. 12 oz. Swiss chard
  2. 2 T. olive oil
  3. 1 medium onion, chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 16 oz. whole milk ricotta
  6. 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
  7. ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  8. ¼ cup chopped basil
  9. 1 t. kosher salt
  10. ¼ t. pepper
  11. 4 sheets of fresh pasta, cut into squares
For Tomato Sauce
  1. 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes peeled and seeded OR use 2 cups canned imported tomatoes with juice
  2. 5 T. butter
  3. 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  4. salt to taste
For Pasta Dough
  1. On a bread board or the counter, place the flour on it. Make a well in the flour, and carefully add the egg, olive oil and salt. Mix together with a fork, by starting in the middle of the well, and gradually incorporate the flour into the egg and oil; when you can't mix in any more of the flour, start kneading the mixture with your hand. Next, using a pasta machine, run the dough through the wheels of the machine at no. 1 dial until it is smooth and feels like “leather”. This process could take about 10-15 times. Now, put the dough through each numbered dial (2-6 or 7) just once. Cut into squares.
For Swiss Chard Filling
  1. Remove the stems of the Swiss chard. Chop the leaves into 1 inch pieces. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté till soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the chard and cook until wilted and let the mixture cool.
  2. Place the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl of food processor. Add the cooled chard mixture and blend until smooth. Spoon this mixture into a pastry bag and pipe into center of ravioli dough. Place another piece of dough on top and seal the edges. Cook in salted, boiling water. Serve with tomato sauce.
For Tomato Sauce
  1. Put the prepared tomatoes in a saucepan. Add the butter, onion, and salt. Cook uncovered on very low heat at a steady simmer about 45 minutes. Cook until the fat floats free from the tomatoes. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste for seasonings. Discard the onion. Spoon over the ravioli, adding grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Tian of Eggplant, Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Tian of Eggplant, Summer Squash and Tomatoes
  1. 1 large eggplant
  2. 1 medium zucchini
  3. 1 medium yellow summer squash
  4. 4 medium garden tomatoes
  5. 3 T. olive oil
  6. 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  7. 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 1 cup heavy cream
  10. ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  11. ½ cup basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  12. ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  13. salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes crosswise into ½ inch thick slices. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. First, add the eggplant slices and cook, turning once. They should be a light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Brush a ceramic baking dish with olive oil. Make a pinwheel pattern of the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and tomato slices, layering in the onions and garlic, until all of the vegetables are used.
  4. Whisk the eggs, cream, parmesan cheese, basil, and red pepper flakes together. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake the tian until the vegetables are tender, the custard is set, and the top is browned, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Asparagus Panzanella

Asparagus Panzanella
Serves 6
  1. 1 pound medium asparagus, trimmed
  2. 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  3. 4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  4. sea salt, preferably gray salt
  5. freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1 cup English peas, blanched for 1 minute, until tender
  7. 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion, thinly sliced
  8. 1 1/2 T. plus 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
  9. 1/4 head radicchio, ribbon-cut, soaked, drained, and dried
  10. 1 cup whole baby spinach or arugula leaves
  11. Wedge of ricotta salata cheese, sliced with peeler
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the tips off the asparagus stalks and keep in a separate bowl. Add the asparagus tips to salted water and cook for 45 seconds, just until they lose their raw taste. Lift them out with a sieve and drop into an ice bath for 3 minutes. Add the remaining portion of the asparagus spears to the boiling water and cook until tender enough to puree, about 3 minutes for thin asparagus, then drain well. Add peas and blanch for 1 minute, pop in ice bath for 2 minutes. Drain.
  2. Put the blanched asparagus spears in a blender or food processor with the basil, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth. Add a little water if needed to thin.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the croutons, asparagus tips, peas, and green onions. Add some of the asparagus puree and toss to coat well. Add more puree as needed to coat lightly and evenly. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of the lemon juice and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then make an even layer of the mixture on a platter.
  4. In another bowl, combine the radicchio and spinach or arugula. Dress with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, then mound on top of the dressed croutons and sprinkle with the shavings of ricotta salata.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad

Heirloom Tomato & Peach Salad
Serves 4
Makes a delicious light meal with burrata and a baguette.
For Peaches
  1. 3 medium ripe peaches, pitted and sliced, diced, or cut into wedges
  2. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2-1/2 T. spiced dark rum
  4. 2 T. sherry vinegar
  5. 1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  6. Pinch kosher salt
  7. Pinch granulated sugar
For salad
  1. 3 cups Sherry Vinegar and Rosemary Marinated Peaches, drained, marinade reserved
  2. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  3. 4 large heirloom tomatoes (about 2 lb.), cored and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  4. Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, and freshly ground black pepper
  5. 8 medium fresh mint leaves, torn
For Peaches
  1. Gently combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and let marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours. After marinating, you can refrigerate the peaches for up to 1 day.
For Salad
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved marinade and the Dijon; it’s OK if it doesn’t emulsify. Arrange the tomato slices on 4 plates or a platter, top with the peaches, and drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the top. Season lightly with salt and pepper and garnish with the mint. Pass any remaining vinaigrette at the table.
Adapted from Fine Cooking Issue 136
Adapted from Fine Cooking Issue 136
Marcel's Culinary Experience