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Chef Jeff’s Aromatic Herb Spread
1 Garlic clove finely minced
8 ounces unsalted butter softened.
16 ounces softened cream cheese
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp ground pepper
2 tsp fresh Basil finely chopped
2 tsp fresh Chives finely chopped
2 tsp fresh Marjoram finely chopped
1 tsp Thyme finely chopped (can also use dried)
1 tsp fresh Dill (can also use dried)
1 Tbsp Parsley finely chopped
 
 


Blend softened cream cheese and butter.  Add salt, pepper and finely chopped herbs to cheese mixture. Mix well.  Serve with crackers or your favorite toast
Yield 3 cups

Dried herbs can be used, adjust quanity as dried herbs are more potent than fresh. Generally it takes three times the amount of fresh herbs as dried to get the same flavor.

Chef Jeff's Tip: Thin the spread with sour cream, milk or yogurt and use a dip for vegetables.

 
     
     
 
Summer Cucumber Salad
3 large Cucumbers  Peeled, seeded, diced or sliced
Dressing:
½ cup of Champagne or White distilled Vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
3 Tbsp Sugar
1½ cups Vegetable, Canola, or preferably Sunflower oil
3 Tbsp fresh chopped Dill
1 Tbsp fresh chopped, finely minced lemon zest
 
 

In  glass bowl, slowly drizzle oil into vinegar stirring constantly with  a wire whisk to create a vinaigrette.  Stir in sugar, garlic. dill, and lemon. Zest.  Add cucumbers and stir so vinaigrette coats cucumbers evenly.  Allow to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes.
This salad is best served fresh as cucumber salads turn a bit rubbery if stored overnight.

 
     
     
 
Oriental Cucumber Salad
3 large Cucumbers Peeled and seeded diced or sliced
4 large scallions sliced
Dressing:
½ cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Dark toasted sesame oil
1½ cups Vegetable, Canola, or preferably Sunflower oil
2 clove crushed garlic
3 Tbsp Sugar
2 Pinches of ginger powder
1 Pinch Red Chili Flake
1 Tbsp orange zest, preferably tangerine
 
 


In a glass bowl, slowly drizzle oils into vinegar stirring constantly with a wire whisk to create a vinaigrette.  Stir in sugar, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and orange zest.  Add cucumbers and stir so dressing coats cucumbers slices evenly.  Scatter sliced scallions over salad to garnish.  Allow to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes so flavors blend. 

 
     
  Squished Squash Espresso
4 pounds of Acorn or Butternut Squash
1 stick of butter cut in cubes
4 Tbsp Clover Honey
1 pinch Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Ground Cardamom
3 Tbsp instant espresso crystals (Found with instant coffee)
Salt to taste
 
 


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut squash in half, remove seeds and place cut side down in baking dish covered with foil. Roast squash for 2 hours or until tender. Raising the oven temperature may speed up the process of roasting but the higher temperature will add darker color to the squash. The squash my also lose some of its moisture which may increase the need for more butter. When squash is completely tender and falling out of the shell, remove from the oven and let it rest until you can manipulate it with either your hands or utensils. Chef Jeff suggests using about 3 pairs of food handler gloves to block the heat while you remove the flesh to a heat resistant bowl. Add butter and allow to melt to before adding remaining ingredients. For smoother consistency place squash mixture in a food processor and pulse for about ten seconds. If not you may have some fibrous squash strands in your squash depending on the variety.

 
     
     
  Spaghetti Squash with Chervil butter and Toasted Fennel Seed
1 Large Spaghetti Squash
½ stick of soft butter
3 Tbsp Chopped Chervil          
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Plum tomato diced small
1 tbsp toasted fennel seeds
Salt and white pepper to taste
 
 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cut Spaghetti squash in half horizontally and remove seeds. Place cut side down in a half in baking dish with half inch of water. Bake about an hour and fifteen minutes, depending on size of squash, until tender. When squash is tender pull squash strands out with a fork.  Squash should look like spaghetti noodles.  While squash is baking add olive oil to softened butter, stir in chopped chervil and toasted fennel seeds. Add butter mixture to hot squash and allow to melt.  Mix until everything is coated, add chopped tomato. Salt and pepper to taste.

 
     
     
  Cilantro Watermelon Salad
For each 5 lbs of watermelon:
1 bunch of fresh chopped cilantro (no stems)
Juice of two fresh limes
1 medium shallot slivered
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
 
 


Cut watermelon into one inch cubes and place in a very large bowl. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper into oil, quickly mix and marinate watermelon cubes.  Add Cilantro and sugar to top of watermelon.  Juice limes over the sugar.  Mix well until coated.  Fold in slivered shallots and salt to taste if desired.
For a “loaded” watermelon salad, add ½ cup of tequila

 
     
  Calico Bruschetta
Bruschetta, in Italian, refers to thick slices of country bread usually topped with a tomato and basil mixture. Bruschetta is also known as 'Crostini' which in Italian means 'little toasts'. I like to make these treats with my garden fresh tomatoes and herbs.  You can use all red or plum tomatoes but I like the color contrasts from using different tomato varieties.
Many people like to add fresh chopped garlic and onion to Brucshetta mixes, however these flavors do not really add to this recipe.
 
 
1 Large Black or Green Tomato
1 Large Yellow Tomato
1 Large Red Tomato
15 fresh Basil leaves
15 fresh Mint leaves
2 Tbsp Fried Garlic Bits (see Secret Fried Garlic Recipe below)
2 Tbsp Fried Garlic Bits Oil
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Kalamata Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar Syrup (2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar if you cannot find syrup)
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Granulated sugar depending on ripeness of tomato or to taste
1-2 pinches of red chili flake or to taste
5 good turns of a peppermill
Salt to taste
Shredded Mozzarella for garnish.
1 Baguette (see Crostin Recipe Below)
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  Remove skin and seed the tomatoes if desired.  Dice tomatoes into small pieces. Chiffonade the herbs by stacking the leaves, rolling the stack into a “log” and thinly slicing the “log”.  Combine tomatoes and herbs; add fried garlic bits, all oils, Balsamic syrup, vinegar, sugar and chili flakes.  Salt and pepper the mixture to taste.
Allow mixture to marinate for at least a half hour.  Spoon tomato mixture on top Chef Jeff’s Best Crostini for Bruschetta just before serving.  Placing the tomato mixture on the crostini too far in advance will cause the crostini to become soggy.
Yields approximately 15-20 slices
 
 
 

Secret Fried Garlic Bits.
This recipe has two very important steps for cooking the garlic pieces.  You can buy garlic cloves pre-peeled but do not use chopped garlic in water.  If you buy whole cloves it will be more time consuming, but will yield a better flavor.  If you have food processor you can skip the tedious process of hand chopping by pulsing the garlic bulbs into very fine bits.  Otherwise you may benefit from the stress relieving process of bashing each clove under a chef’s knife with your fist to get a head start on mincing your garlic.

Once Garlic is minced, heat a temperature oil, such as Crisco or Canola oil, in a large sauté pan with high sidewalls. Use a ratio of 3-4 cups oil to each cup of garlic bits.  Use medium high heat to heat the oil.  The garlic bits should fry fast and not just lightly simmer.  When the Garlic has a light hazel color, turn off the heat source and the carry over cooking heat will finish cooking the bits to a dark chocolate color.  If your garlic bits are blonde and sticky and do not want to finish frying, your heat is too low. 
WARNING! Add a test pinch of garlic into your hot oil to test its reaction to determine if oil is the correct temperature.  Garlic should start frying immediately and not sink to bottom.  Add your garlic in spoonfuls to avoid splashing of hot oil which could start a fire.  Be prepared with a whisk to break up the garlic while it is frying, the garlic tends to stick to itself in the oil. Be aware that garlic emits a lot of steam when frying, so keep your hands a safe distance when mixing.

Tips about fried Garlic Bits
The fried garlic bits you have made are a fantastic flavor enhancer for many things.  A little goes a long way.  Store in a covered container, and they will last several weeks.  Once fried the garlic bits become crystalline and keep very well. 
A few suggestions to utilize your garlic bits: Add to broth soups, your favorite grilled or steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, cooked pastas, hors de’ oeuvres, Italian sauces such as Marinara or Alfredo, or brushed over your favorite breads.
 
     
     
  Chef Jeff’s Best Crostini for Brushetta
Buy a nice, fresh Baguette and slice into ½ wide slices on a 45 degree angle.  Brush both sides of bread with garlic oil and bits making sure you leave plenty of bits on the bread.  This process will be more efficient if you stir the bits up as they have tendency to sink to the bottom of your oil.  Salt each slice on both sides.   For best results grill bread slices on a Forman Grill, or under a closely supervised broiler.
 
     
  Tomato and Green Bean Salad
Light and tasty summer side dosh
1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes
1 cup thin green beans ends trimmed
Handful of mint chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
4 T Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 t Balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Cut tomatoes in halves and place in bowl.  Cook green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain well, cool and add to tomatoes.  Add mint, garlic, olive oil and vinegar.  Toss to coat tomatoes and beans,  season with salt and pepper to taste.
 
     
  Grilled Eggplant with Lemon Pesto
4 medium Eggplant ends trimmed cut lengthwise into 1 inch thick slices coated with olive oil.
1/3 thinly sliced basil
3 ounces toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Grated rind of 2 lemons
4 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place a griddle pan over medium high heat or preheat gas or charcoal grill.  Place oiled eggplant in pan or on grill and cook until cooked through about 4 minutes per side. 
Place remaining ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Drizzle the Pesto over grilled eggplant. 
 
     
 
Tomato and Eggplant Parmesan
1 large egg plant thinly sliced
Olive oil for frying
2 cups plum tomatoes sliced
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Parsley sprigs
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.
In a greased oven proof dish layer the egg plant and tomatoe slices sprinkling some Parmesan cheese between layers. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until browned and bubbling.  Garnish with Parsley.
 
     
 
Simple Strawberry-Banana Smoothie
1 pint fresh strawberries; remove stems
2 ripe bananas
3 Tablespoons sugar or honey
1 cup of ice cubes
¾ cup milk, yogurt, or coconut water

Wash strawberries and remove banana peels.  Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  For extra flavor add a few drops of vanilla extract.  Be careful not to add to much as a few drops go a long way.  Garnish with whole strawberries on the rim of the glass.

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Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam
2 Quarts crushed Strawberries
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 cups of sugar
Add lemon juice and sugar to strawberries, bring slowly to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Cook rapidly until thick (about 30 minutes) and stir often to prevent sticking.  When thickened, skim off foam with a slotted spoon and ladle into hot sterilized jars.  Leave ¼ inch of space at top of jar and fasten lid.  Process in boiling water for 10 minutes

 
     
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