Saturday, November 17, 2012

Roasted Delicata Squash with Pancetta and Sage

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

1 large Delicata Squash
2 to 3 teaspoons or so of good Olive Oil
Kosher or Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 ounces very thinly sliced pancetta, cut into strips
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves

Tools you'll need:
Large, sharp knife
shallow rimmed baking pan (lined with parchment for easy clean-up)
spatula to flip the squash

Place rack in center position of oven and preheat oven to 425º(F)

• Wash the squash with water, dry and slice lengthwise from stem to blossom end. Scoop out seeds and membrane.  (Discard the seeds or do as I do and roast them~ they make a tasty snack)
• Slice squash into 1/2-inch slices crosswise (slices should look like half-moons)
• Place slices and smashed garlic on lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• Toss the squash with your hands to distribute the olive oil over the squash and garlic. 
• Arrange squash slices flat on the pan. (You can crowd the slices together
but don't overlap.) You want the squash flesh resting on the pan so each slice roasts evenly. 
• Place pan in oven and bake 6 minutes, flip slices over. Bake additional 6 minutes.
• Sprinkle pancetta and sage leaves over the squash and return to oven and
roast for an additional 6 minutes or so, until the squash is tender when pierced with a knife tip and pancetta has begun to get crispy.
• Remove from oven and allow to cool a minute or two before serving.


Recipe adapted from Siren Sea 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tomato Zucchini Soup ~ 2 ways, and Cheese Toasts

Tomato Zucchini Soup ~ 2 Ways and Cheese Toasts
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Recipe provides 8 to 10 servings
1/4 cup good, flavorful olive oil
1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium size)
4 cups zucchini (about 3-4 medium size)
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced yellow or white onion
1 cup diced celery
6 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
2 to 3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
2 bay leaves
pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups crushed Italian peeled tomatoes, (approx. Two 28-ounce cans)
4 cups water or chicken stock/broth
2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk (optional)
[You can reduce the amount of milk or cream, or omit it entirely for a Dairy-free soup]
For the chunky soup only: a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar, shaved parmesan for garnish.

1. Choose a large stockpot with a covered lid, warm olive oil over medium-
high heat. Cook the vegetables with garlic, herbs and pepper flakes until
tender (about 10 to 12 minutes), covered with lid. Stir frequently so they do not brown or burn.
2. Reduce heat to medium, remove lid and add tomatoes and 4 cups of water or chicken broth/stock, bring soup to a boil, then simmer for 20
3. Season soup with salt and pepper remove bay leaves and taste for seasonings; adjust if necessary. Remove pot from heat.
4. At this point you may continue with the recipe to blend all of the soup, or half of it to make a smooth soup; or

For chunky soup: Add a splash of the vinegar, sprinkle with with shaved parmesan as garnish (Don't add milk or cream to the chunky version if you add the vinegar as it will curdle.)

For smooth soup: Carefully ladle half of the soup into blender, place lid on blender container, cover with a kitchen towel to avoid hot splatters, and blend for 2 or 3 minutes with the milk or cream (if using.) Serve hot.

Cheese Toasts:
Ingredients for each serving of toast:
2 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoon creamy goat cheese
1 teaspoon butter

Spread goat cheese on one of the bread slices top with other slice to make a sandwich. Spread thin layer of soft butter on both surfaces of the outside of sandwich. Grill in a warm skillet or on a griddle (over medium heat), butter should gently sizzle as it is placed in the skillet or on the griddle. Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown on both sides.  Remove from pan and allow to cool for a minute or two (for easier slicing), remove crusts from edges and cut each sandwich into 2 or 3 slices. Serve warm.
Enjoy! ~Mari

Recipes adapted from: 

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Haricot Verts with Dijon Mascarpone

Haricot Verts with Dijon Mascarpone
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
4 servings

2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon or Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 cup mascapone
1 pound haricot verts (or other green beans), remove stem ends
Lemon zest
Salt and freshly crack black pepper, or tri-color pepper
(Make the Dijon Mascarpone at least 1/2 to 1 hour ahead of serving time and refrigerate:)
Allow mascarpone to come to room temperature. Using a whisk or silicone spatula, mix the mustard into the mascarpone until well combined, season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour (until firm.)
Just before serving; cook the beans:
1.) Line a rimmed baking pan with a clean kitchen towel, or double thickness of paper towels. Set aside.
2.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add about 2 Tablespoons salt for each quart of water. Add the haricot verts to the boiling water, cook until just tender but still firm (about 3 to 4 minutes.)
Using a slotted or wire spoon remove the haricot verts from the pot and drain in prepared baking sheet. Grate the lemon zest over the top.
3.) Transfer the beans to a warmed serving bowl and top with spoonfuls
of the Dijon mascarpone. Sprinkle with more lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper. The mascarpone will begin to melt over the beans;
serve hot.

Enjoy! ~Mari

Recipe has been adapted from

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams

The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams
1 to 4 servings (depending upon appetites!)
As shared from Once Upon a Plate by Mari

For this dish, I like to find the smallest clams available in the market. These shown are Venus clams, farmed in the cold waters of Baja Mexico ~ they are a sustainable crop and generally available year round where I live.

Here's what you need to make the BEST steamed clams you've ever tasted:

about 40 live, fresh steamer clams
dry white wine
1/2 cup (a stick) butter, more if you are steaming a lot of clams
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 to 6 cloves fresh, minced garlic (not the stuff from the jar) 
some finely chopped fresh parsley
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
a bay leaf or two

To finish:
a generous shower of chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges
1/4 cup chives, thinly sliced crosswise
freshly cracked black pepper (optional) 

Method: After allowing the clams to purge themselves of any sediment* , rinse them in fresh water, cleaning the shells of any sand, discard any with cracked or broken shells. Put the them in a pot (large enough to allow for some expansion, as the shells pop open they will take up more space), pour the wine over them**, enough to just barely cover them add the butter, onion, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Cover the pot and bring to a boil until the clams pop open (usually about 5 minutes.)

Discard any clams that have not popped open after cooking ~ but check out this
TIP I recently learned from a seafood cook:  When the clams have cooked, you may find a couple that don't pop open; using tongs remove the open clams and shells then cover the pot and boil for another 3 to 5 minutes. Check the remaining clams, and you may be surprised that some stubborn ones have now popped open. But again, discard any that don't open upon the 2nd round of cooking. 

To serve: Sprinkle the remaining finely chopped parsley over the cooked clams.
Ladle cooked clams into bowls with some nectar (broth), and serve with
crusty sourdough or French bread for dipping up the broth.
*To purge the clams of any sand that might be present: soak them overnight, or at least for a few hours in a pot or bucket of cold salted water (1 Tablespoon salt to
2 quarts of water), they will die in fresh water. You may add a tablespoon or two of cornmeal to the water.  (This acts as an irritant & encourages the clams to
expel any grit, along with the cornmeal.) Discard any with cracked or broken shells, as well as those that don't close when rapped gently on a hard surface.

** No need to cover the clams completely with the wine, as those above the liquid level will steam cook, hence the name "steamers".


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Porcini Salt Minute Steaks with Rosti

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Adapted from Donna Hay

2 Servings

For the Meat:
About 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (15 grams)
1 Tablespoon sea salt flakes
4 thin-cut sirloin steaks, or beef filet (about 3 ounces each)
olive oil (for brushing)
For the Rosti:
I large potato (Russet; starchy baking potato), about 13 to 14 ounces, peeled and grated
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
Scant 2 ounces butter, melted
Sea Salt
Vegetable Oil for frying
In the bowl of a spice mill, small food processor or blender, combine porcini and sea salt flakes and pulverize until powdered. Set aside.
To make the Rosti:
Mix the grated potato, rosemary, butter and salt in a bowl, toss to combine.
Heat frying pan over medium-high heat, add a little oil and one-quarter of the potato mixture, spreading out to make a thin even pancake. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until crispy and browned. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, and hold on a rack placed over a baking pan in a warm oven.
To cook the meat:
Brush the steaks with oil and sprinkle with porcini salt. Heat a frying pan over high
heat; when hot, add steaks and cook for about 1 minute, or so, each side. Serve with the rosti and extra porcini salt on the side.


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Asian-Style Dipping Sauces

From the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate, by Mari

Any or all of these are wonderful served with Asian style spring/summer rolls, or egg rolls. Also delicious drizzled over poached or grilled chicken, fish, prawns or crab. You can make them up to a day ahead and store, covered in the refrigerator.  (Bring to room temperature before serving) You can double or triple the recipes if you need larger servings.

Lime-Sesame Dipping Sauce (Tangy and mild)

  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2  teaspoon soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil, or more to taste
  • sesame seeds (optional garnish)
  • Method: In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together until blended and sugar is dissolved. Taste for seasonings and
  • adjust. Sprinkle with a few sesame seeds before serving.
Peanut-Hoisin Dipping Sauce  (Make it Mild or Spicy)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter (creamy)
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce (OR optional: use 1 up to 3 teaspoons soy sauce if you prefer, start with after 1 teaspoon. After mixing sauce add more soy sauce, to see if you like it saltier)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste or hot bean paste (more if you prefer spicier)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • Method:  Warm the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, fish sauce or soy sauce, sugar and chili paste, stir well and simmer for 15 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth; the mixture should have a thick, creamy consistency. Stir in peanuts. Allow to cool and serve, garnish with a few chopped peanuts if desired.

  • Spicy Sweet  Chili Dipping Sauce 
    • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
    • 1/4 cup rice vinegar 
    • 1 to 2 cloves peeled, crushed garlic
    • 2 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce 
    • 1 Tablespoons sugar, plus more, to taste 
    • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño chili, plus more, to taste*
    • *You may use serrano chilis, I used ripe (red) serranos from the garden this time.
    • If you like it spicier, add a little Chinese Chili-Garlic Sauce (from the jar.)
    • Method: Mix all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Serve.
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Mini Savory Cheesecakes with Dressed Greens
Makes 4 servings

For the cheesecakes:
3/4 cup capacity ramekins or custard cups
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

1 slice bread, processed in a food processor to make 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup (one 8-ounce container) whipped cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat four small (3/4-cup) soufflé molds with the butter. Divide the bread crumbs among the molds and coat the bottoms and sides heavily with the crumbs, pressing them onto the buttered dish so they stick.

Put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and add the eggs, sour cream, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Mix well with a whisk and divide among the soufflé molds. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture in the molds. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
Arrange the molds on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.  Do not over bake. The cheesecakes should still be slightly wet and soft in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from molds. 

For the salads:
3 cups arugula or butterhead lettuce (Bibb, Boston leaves, or Spring Mix)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Dash salt and freshly ground pepper.  Meanwhile prepare the salad.

To assemble:

Whisk Olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the greens. Add lettuce leaves to the bowl and toss gently. Divide the greens among 4 salad plates. Invert each cooled mini cheesecake into one of your hands to unmold it, then turn it over so it is right side up and place it in the center of one of the plates on top of the lettuce. Serve immediately.


Recipe adapted from More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Jacques Pepin's Easy One-Pot Bread

As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari

Note: It is crucial to use a non-stick pot in order to keep this a one-pot recipe ~ I used a 4-quart saucepan. (Although you could mix up the dough in a bowl, then transfer to a greased baking vessel ~ that would defeat the idea of a simple one-pot bread, yes?)

Here's what you need and how to do it:

Non-stick pot
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
4 cups flour


In a non-stick pot combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Place lid or cover on pot and proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes.

Break proofed dough down (deflate), replace lid and place pot in the refrigerator overnight; 10 to 14 hours or so.
As Jacques suggests, I mix up the dough about an hour before retiring for the evening, then it's ready to bake in the morning.

When ready to bake, remove lid and place pot in (preheated) 400º(F) oven ~ bake for about 40 minutes until deep golden brown. If you're not sure, an instant read thermometer inserted in the hot-from-the oven bread should read between 190º to 200ºF. 

It's excellent toasted, and you can also vary the recipe by adding herbs of your choice, minced onion, roasted garlic, etc. to the dough while mixing the flour, yeast and water together.

Jacques give a great tutorial for making the bread during 
the first few minutes of this youtube video from his series
on PBS "Fast Food My Way", episode 209:

Hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summer Fruit Cake
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate, by Mari
(My notes are in italics)

Makes 1 single layer 9-inch cake
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
scant 1 cup sugar*, put 2 tablespoons of this aside for topping
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fruit: Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries). Pitted apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, cut into wedges or chunks. (I quartered the plums.) If using frozen berries, do not thaw. (The recipe did not indicate the exact amount of fruit to use, next time I'll probably add more plums as they shrunk as they baked, but it was still very good.)
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract; I used almond extract instead.

*You may cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup if desired. I used Italian Plums.

Method: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, coat with plain breadcrumbs or flour.

In a bowl whisk or stir together the flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, with a spatula, cream together the butter and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla (plus extract, if using.)  Note: I found it more effective to use a whisk to incorporate the butter with the rest of the ingredients.

Stir in the flour mixture with a spatula until smooth. Transfer batter to the
prepared pan. Cover the surface of the batter with fruit, pressing fruit slightly into the batter. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Note: I tossed the quartered plums with about a tablespoon of sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon before pressing them into batter.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350º, then reduce to 325º and bake until golden
brown and firm to the touch. [Original recipe stated to bake for another 50 to 60 minutes ~ but my cake was done at approximately 35-40 minutes. Perhaps if you really use a lot of fruit you may need to bake longer.]

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.  Enjoy!

Recipe posted on by Sir Gawain, July 2005/Apparently an adaptation from a Martha Stewart recipe

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Lemon, White Chocolate and Basil Cookies from Mia's Domain

These are very good cookies; bright with lemon and the fresh basil just adds a nice little flavor nuance in the background. The recipe is from Mia at
www.  It's a beautiful blog with lots of appealing recipes, stop on by enjoy all the eye candy that Mia creates! 

Mia's Domain: Lemon, White Chocolate and Basil Cookies

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white chocolate, chips
1 cup superfine sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, chocolate chips and basil.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, and lemon juice and beat until combined.  With the mixer on low, beat in flour mixture to combine.

Drop teaspoonfuls (about 1" apart) onto two cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked and a golden color. Remove from the oven to cool.

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered/icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest

Whisk fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Frost cookies and sprinkle with fresh lemon zest.
My notes: Start with slightly less than 1 tablespoon lemon juice and add more by droplets to get the desired consistency.

Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe Mia! (

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