Bella’s Table — June/July 2017

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Estella with her Shortbread Bars with Cream Cheese Filling and Fresh Strawberries.

It’s summertime…and that means outdoor grilling, picnics, and bar-b-ques! I want to share some recipes for summer entertaining with your families and friends. Wherever you live, I hope you are taking advantage of the farmers’ markets and all the wonderful produce. 



These shortbread bars are beautiful and delicious!

Shortbread Bars with Cream Cheese Filling
and Fresh Strawberries
Makes 12 squares

If you love a buttery shortbread cookie, you will love this dessert. It is the perfect summer treat. I have used fresh blueberries or mango pieces instead of the strawberries—also very good. I know this recipe looks labor intensive, but it is really very easy and worth every bit of effort.  
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-2 teaspoons almond extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 teaspoons almond extract
2 tablespoons cream or milk
3/4 to 1 cup fresh strawberries, diced or sliced

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 X 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Make crust: in a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and mix on low using a handheld electric mixer. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you have pea-sized lumps. Using a spatula, pack the crust batter into your prepared pan so you have an even layer of crust. Bake for about 15 minutes (don’t over bake as crust is going back into the oven). While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

Prepare filling: combine all filling ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and combined. After crust has baked for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and pour the filling over the crust, spreading it evenly into the corners. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 16-19 minutes until the filling is no longer jiggly in the center and the edges have begun to set. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Prepare frosting: combine very soft butter, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract in a bowl. While beating with electric mixer, slowly drizzle in the cream. Add additional cream to reach desired glaze consistency. Evenly frost the cooled bars and let set for at least an hour before slicing so the frosting can set up.

Before serving, sprinkle with strawberries—the berries can run and bleed into the frosting, so if you are serving this for an important event, make sure not to add the strawberries until just before serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temp for up to 5 days (without fruit added). You will love this dessert!



Sesame Noodle Toss

Sesame Noodle Toss
6-8 servings

This recipe is one of my alltime favorites. It is so easy to prepare and you can eat it warm or chilled—great for outdoor entertaining. If you like dishes on the spicy side, add another drop or two of chili oil. You are going to love this dish.

12 ounces thin spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons pure sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, thinly sliced

Prepare the spaghetti noodles according to package directions. While noodles are cooking combine soy sauce, canola oil, sesame oil, sugar, vinegar, chili oil and garlic in a small jar. Cover with lid and shake well.

Drain noodles and pour the sauce over the warm noodles and toss to coat well. Sprinkle with green onions. Toss and serve warm or chilled.



Rosemary Red Cocktail looks as great as it tastes!

Rosemary Red Cocktail
Serves 1

Because I really like ruby red grapefruit juice, I knew I would love this combination. It is a refreshing summer cocktail, and very easy to make by the pitcherfull for summer entertaining by increasing all the ingredients proportionally. The addition of the rosemary simple syrup adds great flavor to this drink.

4 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
1 small slice fresh grapefruit, for garnish
1 small sprig fresh rosemary, for garnish

In a cocktail glass, combine grapefruit juice, vodka, and rosemary simple syrup. Stir.  Add ice to fill the glass and stir again. Garnish with rosemary sprig and fresh grapefruit slice.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 large sprig fresh rosemary (add more rosemary for a more pronounced rosemary flavor)

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and rosemary. Cook over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let cool for a couple of hours on the counter. Remove rosemary sprig. You may store in a sealed container for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.



Cold Roasted Veggies with Herbed Yogurt Dip.

Cold Roasted Veggies with Herbed Yogurt Dip
Serves 6-8

This is a great recipe for outdoor dining and can be prepared the day before. Chris and I enjoy having this recipe available because the veggies go with anything: chicken, fish, or meat. It also makes a great appetizer. Experiment with your favorite vegetables—the dip pairs well with just about every veggie.

Yogurt Dip:
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and pepper

Roasted Vegetables:
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunky stick wedges, 3-4 inches long
5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunky stick wedges, 3-4 inches long
2 zucchini, cut into chunky stick wedges, 3-4 inches long
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into quarters and separated
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

First make the herbed yogurt dip: combine yogurt, mint, parsley, dill, garlic, lemon zest, and juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Now roast the vegetables: preheat oven to 475. Using two baking sheets, arrange parsnip and carrot wedges on one sheet in a single layer. Arrange zucchini and onions on another sheet. Drizzle both with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Roast the first sheet with parsnips and carrots for about 10 minutes until lightly browned but still firm. Roast the zucchini and onions 7-8 minutes until lightly browned but not soggy. Transfer roasted vegetables to a ziplock bag and refrigerate.

Serve the roasted vegetables cold with the herbed yogurt dip. M! June/July 2017




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