Monday, July 23, 2018

A Delicious Summer Bruschetta

With the heat of summer on high, it's definitely time to grill. And while there's always the classics (steak, hamburgers, hot dogs) Tonia's Kitchen wants you to think about something different, different as in a grilled bruschetta. Chef Billy from Restaurant Associates stopped by to talk about this seasonal take on that classic and told Tonia he starts with grilled tomatoes and onions, cutting the tomatoes in slices and marinating them in olive oil. You can use any size tomato, although beefsteaks are probably best. Billy says when grilling them, make sure you know where the hotpoint on the grill is. The grilling leaves the tomatoes with a smokey, caramelized flavor that really stands out. Pro-tip from Billy, don't over marinade what you're grilling with too much oil!

  • 1loaf crusty bread, sliced into 10 slices
  • 2garlic cloves, minced
  • 13cup olive oil
  • 3plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1teaspoon finely diced onion
  • 2teaspoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons parsley
  • salt & pepper
  • 12teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Mix oil and garlic let sit 10 minutes.
  • Lightly brush oil mixture on both side of bread. Grill over high heat to mark and toast both sides of the bread.
  • Meanwhile mix tomatoes, onion, herbs into the remaining oil and garlic adding the balsamic, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top each slice with some mixture and serve.

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Light and Lemony Dessert

This one's a light, creamy dessert that doesn't require an oven. Abbie Dodge, who wrote the cookbook The Everyday Baker, came by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about her no-bake Lemon-Ginger Mousse Souffle. It uses a gelatin base, and ricotta cheese, both of which help keep it deliciously light! Try it out, and have fun.

For the mousse:

  • 3⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 1⁄4 cups ricotta (part skim is fine)
  • 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • Pinch of table salt 4 whites from large eggs at room temperature
  • 1⁄2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • 12 gingersnap cookies + more for the crushed cookie topping (I use Nabisco or homemade molasses cookies)
The souffl├ęs can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving. Have ready six 6-oz. ramekins arranged on a flat plate or quarter sheet pan. Cut parchment into six strips 2.5 inches wide and 12 inches long. Wrap one strip around each ramekin so that the paper covers the ramekin and stands 1 inch above the rim; secure with tape. Lightly grease the inside of the paper rim (I use a paper towel dipped in a bit of neutral oil).


Make the mousse

  1. Pour the lemon juice into a small heatproof ramekin (or keep it in the measuring cup) and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top. Set aside to soften. Once the gelatin has absorbed the liquid and is plump (about 3 minutes), microwave briefly until it is completely melted and crystal clear, 1 to 2 minutes. This can also be done in a small saucepan (instead of the ramekin) over low heat.
  2. Put the ricotta, granulated sugar, lemon zest, ginger, and salt in a blender. Scrape the lemon gelatin mixture into the blender, cover, and process until the ricotta is smooth and the mixture is well blended, about 1.5 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. Pour into a medium bowl and refrigerate, stirring frequently, until the mixture is cooled and thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. It should be as thick as unbeaten egg whites. For faster cooling, set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice, stirring and scraping the sides frequently until cooled.
  3. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium bowl and using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters) and beat on medium speed until the whites are frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites form soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue beating while gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat until the whites form firm and glossy peaks when the beater is lifted.
  4. Scoop about one-quarter of the whites into the thickened lemon mixture and, using a silicone spatula, gently stir until blended. Add the remaining whites and gently fold in until just blended.

Assemble the mousses

  1. Arrange one cookie in the bottom of each ramekin.
  2. Using a large spoon, fill the ramekins halfway with the mousse.
  3. Arrange a cookie on top of the mousse and evenly portion the remaining mousse on top of the cookies. Using a small offset spatula, smooth the tops.
  4. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.

To serve

Using a sharp paring knife, carefully peel away the parchment from the ramekins (up to 3 hours ahead). Just before serving, place each ramekin on a small plate and top with some of the crushed ginger cookie or a little of the blackberry compote, passing the remainder at the table.

Blackberry Compote


  • 2 cups blackberries, rinsed and well dried
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. limoncello liqueur
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest


  1. Put the blackberries, limoncello, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium bowl.
  2. Toss with a silicone spatula, lightly crushing the berries to release some of their juices.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or for up to 6 hours.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Is That Stale Bread You're Using?

Why yes, yes it is stale bread! Believe it or not, this salad is really quite tasty with stale bread! Chef Mark Sapienza with Cafe Fleuri in Boston told Tonia's Kitchen about one his favorites that feature tomatoes.  He told Tonia he uses fresh tomatoes, vidalia onions, a blend of basil, parsley and red vine vinegar.  Mark then adds blanched yellow beans and the kicker...stale bread!  He says the bread soaks up the oil nicely and provides a nice foil to the tomatoes!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Why Behind Preserving

There's many reasons to preserve fruit.  The basic one of course is to make it last longer, that's what people had to do in the old days.  Somewhere along the way, foodies discovered that preserves can be delicious, and you can get creative with this.  Enter Alison Duffy, who wrote the cookbook Preserving with Pomono's Pectin.  She stopped by Tonia's Kitchen to talk about some of her favorite recipes, including Brandied Apricot Preserves.  Chef Alison told Tonia she starts with Lemon Peel that she cooks until they're soft.  She then adds fresh apricots (you can use frozen), brandy (of course!), sugar and pectin powder.  It's a not overly sweet preserve that people on low-sugar diets can enjoy.


  • 1/2 kg (3 Ib) apricots
  • 450 milliliters (3/4 pint) cold water
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 kg (3 Ib) sugar
  • 175 milliliters (6 fl oz) apricot

  • Halve the apricots and remove the stones. Crack one third of the stones and remove the kernels; blanch by dipping into hot water to remove the skins. Put the apricots, kernels, water and lemon juice in a pan and simmer until the fruit is tender. Test for pectin. When a satisfactory clot is formed, add the sugar, stir until dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil rapidly until setting point is reached, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the brandy. Remove any scum, pour into hot sterilized jars and cover

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    What Exactly are Preserves?

    Let's discuss what preserves actually are. Alison Duffy who wrote the cookbook Preserving With Pomona's Pectin says while preserves are similar to jam, they use whole fruit or a substantial piece of fruit.  Jam is made up smashed pieces of fruit.  Alison told Tonia's Kitchen about her Cherry Port Preserves. Alison says she uses whole or halved cherries and a small amount of Port wine.  She says it makes a fantastic dessert topping!

    Whole uncooked Cherries: 1 pound
    Sugar: varies, depending on volume of cooked cherries, for every cup of cooked cherry add 3/4 cup of sugar
    Any good port wine: approx 1/4 cup
    Apple juice: approx 1/4 cup
    Zest and juice of lime or lemon: 1 no.
    Star anise: 1 (optional)

    • 1. Rinse the cherries and remove the stems. Using a Cherry pitter or a knife pit the cherries.   Chop about 3/4ths of them into smaller pieces, the rest leave whole for a varied texture.

    • 2. Cook the cherries in a large stainless steel vessel with just enough port wine and apple juice to soften or wilt cherries. Apple juice contains pectin that will cause the jam to set/ gel. Add the zest and juice of one fresh lemon. Lemon juice adds pectin as well as acidity, and also help the jam gel later on.

    • 3. Cook the cherries, stirring once in a while with a heat proof spatula, until they’re wilted and completely soft, which should take around 15-20 minutes on a medium to low flame. 

    • 4. Once cooked, measure out the cherry mixture into a cup and use 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of mixture.The sugar is necessary to keep the jam from spoilage.

    • 5. Stir the sugar and the cherries in the pot and cook over moderate-to-high heat. The best jam is cooked quickly. While it’s cooking, put a small white plate in the freezer. Scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir as well. Do not allow the jam to burn.

    • 6. Once the bubbles subside and the jam appears a bit thick and looks like it is beginning to gel, (it will coat the spatula in a clear jelly-like layer, but not too thick) turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate and return to the freezer. After a few minutes, when you nudge it if it wrinkles, it’s done. 

    • If not, cook it some more, turn off the heat, and test it again. If you overcook your jam, the sugar will caramelize and it won’t taste good and there’s nothing you can do. Better to undercook it, test it, then cook it some more.

    • 7. Once it’s done and gelled, add another splash of port wine to the jam if desired. Port wine adds depth and sophistication to this jam. Ladle the warm jam into clean jars and cover. Cool at room temperature, then put in the refrigerator where it will keep for several months.