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FTD Take-away Pizza Pretzel Bread

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FTD Take-away – You can make your own pizza pretzel bread by rolling pizza dough into a two foot-long 3/4 inch roll and twisting it into a pretzel-like shape. Top with coarse sea salt and cook at 400 degrees in a convection oven for about 12 minutes (cooking times vary based upon the dough and oven) until slightly brown on the outside. Serve with your own garlic butter which you can easily prepare by adding crushed garlic and fresh herbs to room temp salted butter. Chill slightly before serving so you can scoop out a teaspoon or two for the perfect presentation. Easy, impressive, and just plain fun to eat at your next picnic or pasta dinner!

FTD Take-away Octopus Salad

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FTD Take-away
Anyone who is a bit adventurous can make their own warm octopus salad.  The trick is a quick sauté in olive oil of thinly sliced fresh octopus with par-boiled peanut size potato bits, cherry tomatoes, and lots of chopped parsley. A dash of lemon juice and a touch of salt finishes the dish.  Give it a try someday.  Ciao!

Burrata Tomato Salad Recipe



Two Medium Tomatoes

One Round of Burrata Cheese



Aceto Balsamico

Olive Oil

The acidity of the tomato compliments the sweetness of the Burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. What was once considered an exotic cheese carried only by the finest fromageries, Burrata is now readily available in most high-end grocery stores and, on occasion, you can even find it at Costco! The outer shell of the Burrata is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream giving it an unusual, soft texture. For this salad, you simply slice off the top of two tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and part of the fleshy center with a spoon to make a well for the cheese.

Salt and pepper the inside of the tomatoes. Take a ball of Burrata and slice it in half, being careful not to disturb the cream inside. Place the half ball of Burrata, “skin” side down in each tomato, leaving the creamy inside facing up. Drizzle with Aceto Balsamico which is a sweet thick balsamic syrup. If you can’t find it pre-made alongside Balsamic Vinegar, you can make your own by taking a ½ cup of Balsamic with a ¼ cup of sugar and boiling it down until it is very thick. Finish with a touch of olive oil. This recipe makes two individual servings.

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Truffle Smashed Potato Recipe

truffle smashed potato_revision


4 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes

Truffle Salt

Truffle Oil

A quick and easy exotic side dish that is sure to impress. Preheat a toaster or conventional oven to 400 degrees. Take four medium potatoes (about the size of a goose egg) and microwave them on high for four minutes. Immediately remove and completely wrap each separately in aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. While still in the foil, smash the potatoes in the foil until about 1 inch thick. Take a small baking pan and line with foil.

Drizzle a few dashes of truffle oil on the foil where each potato will be placed to roast. Carefully remove the flattened potatoes from the foil and lay on the oiled pan. If they break, you can push them back together. Drizzle each smashed potato with a little more oil and sprinkle with truffle salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until golden on top. You can serve plain or with a dollop of sour cream and pinch of fresh chives. Makes four servings.

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Zesty Chunky Gazpacho Recipe


Zesty Chunky Gazpacho

2 Cloves Garlic

2 Small Red or Green Jalapeno Peppers

4 Large Green Onions

2 Celery Stalks

1 Large Red or Green Bell Pepper

4 Large Tomatoes

4 Cups of Spicy V8 Juice

3 Small Cucumbers

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 Teaspoons Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

A Few Dashes of Tabasco

It’s peak tomato season so it’s the perfect time to make my Zesty Chunky Gazpacho!  I’m dedicating this recipe to my sister-in-law, Terese, and her family who grow an abundance of organic tomatoes in Wisconsin that my niece and nephews sell at a roadside stand.  I also need to give a little credit here to Cuisinart as this is a modification of one of their recipes and you really can’t make this without one of their fantastic food processors!

Remove the husk from two large cloves of garlic, and de-stem and de-seed the jalapeno peppers.  Put both into your food processor with the chopping blade and pulse until finely chopped.  Cut the onions, celery stalks, and bell pepper into chunks.  Add to the food processor and pulse into a medium chop.  Remove and transfer to a large bowl.  Quarter and de-seed your tomatoes.  Place half of the tomatoes in the food processor and pulse to a medium chop.

Remove and add to the other veggies in the bowl.  Take the balance of the tomatoes and put them in the processor and chop until pureed.  Add ½ cup of the V8 juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Tabasco and continue mixing until well blended.  Transfer to the bowl with the other ingredients.  Add the balance of the V8 juice to the bowl and mix.  Peel, quarter, and de-seed the cucumbers.  Cut into thin slices.

You can use the slicing blade of your food processor or slice by hand.  Add the cucumbers to the bowl and your gazpacho is complete!  Easily makes 8 servings and will last in the refrigerator for about 5 or 6 days.  It really doesn’t need a garnish, but sprig of fresh basil is a nice finishing touch.  My husband likes me to add a handful of bay shrimp and a bit of lemon zest.  Sometimes I’ll top my gazpacho with a little sour cream, bacon and chives.  Yum.

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Cucumber Yogurt Pepper Cups

Refreshing As a Side Sauce Or Unusual Salad

4 Green Peppers (make sure they’ll stand upright)
1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
Fresh Mint – Handful, Sheared
½ Tsp Salt
1 Large Container of Plain Natural Russian Yogurt

Carve the tops off of each pepper, as you would a jack-o-lantern on Halloween. Deseed and wash. Set aside. Mix cucumber, and salt in bowl. Fill green peppers with sauce. Place top back on peppers and refrigerate for one hour or more.

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Maple Nutmeg Mandarin Carrots

An Unusual Easy Surprise

1 pkg Fresh Peeled Baby Carrots
2 Tblsp Maple Syrup
1 Tblsp Butter
¼ Tsp Nutmeg
Dash of Salt

Optional Twist – 1 Small Can of Mandarin Oranges

Steam the carrots until just tender. Drain. Toss hot carrots in maple syrup, butter, and nutmeg. Add a dash of salt, if necessary. As a traditional side dish, serve as is. For a unique flavorful twist, add 1 small can of mandarin oranges. Heat til warm. Serve.

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Garlic Chili Green Beans

A Quick Spicy Side Dish

1 ½ to 2lbs Fresh Green Beans
Garlic Chili Sauce

Wash and prep the grean beans. Lightly steam on the stove top in a small cooking pot. Drain. Return to the pot and toss with 1 tsp of garlic chili sauce. Cook over low heat for an additional two or three minutes. Serve.

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Horseradish Bleu Mashed Potatoes

Rich, Creamy, And Delicious

5 Medium Potatoes
½ Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Butter
½ Cup Sour Cream
¼ Cup Crumbled Bleu Cheese
1 Tbsp Horseradish
2 Tsp Mince Parsley
Freshly Ground Pepper

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Mash, adding butter, pepper, sour cream, bleu cheese, horseradish, and minced parsley. Serve topped with a small dollop of sour cream and a sprig of parsley.

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Cranberry Saffron Basmati Rice With Almonds

An Absolutely Delicious And Colorful Side Dish

2 Cups Basmati Rice
½ Tsp Saffron Threads
1 Tsp Sugar
½ Cup Dried Cranberries
¼ Cup Silvered Almonds
4 Tblsp Butter

Rinse two cups of basmati rice well. Place into a large dutch oven or cooking pot. Cover with water to about 4 inches above the rice and add about 2 tsps of salt. Bring to a boil on the stove top over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until the rice is tender. About 15-20 minutes. Drain through a calendar or strainer and set aside.

Grind the saffron threads with the sugar in a mortar & pestle until fine. Return the empty cooking pot to the stove top. Add ¼ cup of water, ground saffron/sugar, 4 tblsps of butter to the pot and bring to a boil. Return the rice to the pot and mix with the saffron mixture until bright yellow and even in color. Add the cranberries and slivered almonds and heat on low until hot enough to serve.

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