Fried Chickpeas

 This is a great little snack to serve for unexpected guests or anytime. We all have a can of chickpeas in our cupboard that is usually hidden in the back and forgotten about. Here is simple, delicious recipe that is ready in no time.

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour or cornstarch (cornstarch produces a crisper chickpea)
1/2 teaspoon each, garlic powder, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, dried thyme
    (you can literally use any spices or dried herbs you like)
zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)

 Mix spices and herbs with flour (or cornstarch) in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the chickpeas in a single layer, or fry in batches. Toss chickpeas in the flour mixture and evenly coat them. Pour them into a strainer and shake off excess flour. Spread them out in the saute pan in a single layer. Allow them to get a golden crust on one side before moving them. Shake pan or use a spatula to turn them over to crisp up all sides. Pour into a dish or platter and sprinkle zest over top.

Optional: I add a handful of olives and almonds to the pan at the end, to warm them up along side the chickpeas. They are great served together.

Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam

  This is my new go-to condiment. I put it on cheese, in scrambled eggs, along side lamb, chicken or beef and in sandwiches. It is also great with seafood and sausages.

2 1/2 lbs of any combination of plum, cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 lemons
4 1/8" rounds of fresh ginger (I keep mine in the freezer, it lasts forever)

  Wash tomatoes and lemons. Chop plum tomatoes,  or halve cherry and grape tomatoes. It should yield about three cups. With a vegetable peeler, zest the lemons into wide strips.
  In a medium sauce pan add all the ingredients along with the juice of both lemons. Bring to a boil on medium high heat uncovered. Lower heat to medium and cook on a high simmer for about 1 hour or until it registers 220* F on a candy thermometer. It should be a deep red color and moderately thick. Cool before filling jelly jars. It can last refrigerated up to 2 weeks.


 Pesto is an extremely versatile sauce and the perfect flavor enhancer to soups, risotto, and salad dressings. It  keeps in the refrigerator for days and frozen (without the addition of cheese or butter) for months. I use it to top fish, chicken, and vegetables, along with the obvious, pasta. Another delicious way of using it is to add a tablespoon or two to a half stick of softened butter, and make a log using plastic wrap or waxed paper. Refrigerate it until it is firm, and it can then be sliced into medallions and used to top a grilled steak.
 The "purists" way of making pesto is by using basil and pignoli, but quite frankly any herb or nut will do. As an alternative, make it with mint, green olives and capers as a condiment with lamb.

2 cups washed and dried basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pignoli (I often use walnuts)
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons softened butter

  In a food processor, put the first 6 ingredients and pulse to a creamy consistency. Transfer to a bowl and mix in cheese and butter by hand.
  If you do not plan on using it immediately, add the cheese and butter just before using.
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