Category: Mozzerella

BLT Caprese with Chicken or She Returns from the Cruise and Finds She Must Cook and Clean Up for Herself

BLT Caprese with Chicken or She Returns from the Cruise and Finds She Must Cook and Clean Up for Herself

After being on  a Canadian cruise (Boston- Quebec City- Boston on Holland America) for two weeks…. (in no special order)


To say we ate a lot of mussels would be an understatement. Served here with lovely Prince Edward Island beer, of course.


Public (Victorian) Garden; Halifax, NS, Canada

Confederation Bridge:  8 miles long.  Links Prince Edward Island with New Brunswick mainland.  We went under it twice.

We clean up well.

Quebec City

We had brunch here at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.  Oh, do go!

Above photo:  courtesy Chateau Frontenac.  All others:  copyright 2013, Alyce Morgan.
Please request permission before using.  Thank you. 

Breathalize yourself for $2 bucks in the Quebec bars.

A spruce swag indicates spruce beer is available on Cape Breton.
Here’s why I cruise.  Taken off our balcony–above and below.

Margaret shows us how to tell the diff between male and female lobsters at Peggy’s Cove, not far from Halifax, Nova Scotia (left) and Dave ocean kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine

Anne of Green Gables House — Prince Edward Island


Tavern at Louisbourg Fortress, Cape Breton Island, Canada–Drinkng real chocolate!

 Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove above.  The warning on it below:

…it appears I must shop, cook, clean up, and even garden for myself.  Upon returning home, Dave and I immediately were both ill for a couple of days (??) and that was topped off by several days of horrific storms in the Twin Cities, after which we were without power for two days.  Nearly every neighborhood had many trees down in the streets and on buildings–not hit by lightning necessarily, but just toppled by heavy winds after their root systems were weakened by too much rain.  Here’s what our neighborhood looks like when I walk; you’ll get the idea about how many trees we have:

Lots of cleanup all over; 410k people were without power.  Some still don’t have power from last Friday’s storm.  Today, the rain is predicted again; we don’t want it.  Rain:  go to Colorado.


Did you want the plan for the BLT Caprese with Chicken?  I’ve blogged several similar things but perhaps never this exact salad.  This is a cool meal that’s pretty much grill, slice, layer, and eat. (Or make a couple of extra chicken breasts the night before, though I do think it’s best fresh.)  It solves the problem of meals for hot days, of which there are more than I’d like.  That puts it nicely.  Enjoy!

blt caprese with chicken
 serves 2

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Kosher salt; fresh ground pepper
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts grilled or sautéed, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 4 ounce (approximate) log fresh mozzerella, sliced thinly
  •  16 fresh basil leaves (approximate)
  • 8 slices cooked, crispy bacon cut in half
  •  Juice of half a lemon
  • 12 kalamata olives, pitted, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below) 

 On a medium-sized platter, scatter spinach around the edges and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Layer chicken, tomatoes, mozzerella, basil leaves, and bacon either in two lines in the middle or in a circle inside the ring of spinach.  There needn’t be every ingredient in each layer; some layers might be  two pieces of chicken with basil between, etc.  Strive to make the layers as even as possible without being too precise.  Drizzle evenly with lemon juice and sprinkle layered salad with salt and pepper.  Garnish with olives.   Drizzle with about two tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Serve with bread and olive oil.

Cook’s Notes:  If you need to make this ahead, try to do it no more than an hour or two beforehand, cover and refrigerate. Do not add lemon juice or vinaigrette until it’s time to serve the salad.  You could also make this salad with grilled or store-bought, cooked shrimp.

Wine:  I like a very, very cold rosé with this–nearly any would do (I’m partial to French ones and they’re inexpensive as wine goes.), but a chilled nicely-rounded white like Viognier or even a lighter, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc– like one from New Zealand–would suit this dish with its herbal notes. Some folks might like a big-bellied California Chardonnay with this, but if you do go that route, don’t chill it to death.   2 hours or even room temperature works.

 Dessert:  Pineapple sherbet or fresh strawberries in melted chocolate ice cream.

…  …  …

Alyce’s (and soon to be yours) Balsamic Vinaigrette  makes 1 cup dressing

1/3 cup fine quality balsamic vinegar (I like Masserie di Sant’eramo)
2 heaping tablespoons dijon-style mustard (Grey Poupon is fine)
1 tablespoon honey
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste–this is a cup of dressing)
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
several drops tabasco

In the food processor, pulse until thoroughly pureed and very-well mixed. (Or whisk by hand in a medium bowl)

2/3 c best quality  you can afford extra-virgin olive oil (I like Olio Santo (California) or Ravida (Italy)

With machine running, slowly pour the 2/3 c olive oil into the tube on top of the processor and leave running until thoroughly emulsified. (Or whisk in by hand one – two tablespoons at a time until thoroughly combined.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.

book news

Alyce’s Salmon Chowder

  I have a title!!!!  Soups & Sides for Every Season. We looked at lots of titles, but many are taken already. Fooey. Who knew? Well, as a longtime librarian, I did–or I guessed.   Anyway:  the designer’s designing and the artist is creating the cover art; the editor’s editing and the sommelier is “somming”–it’s nearly done.  I look for a 1 September date available through  Will let you know FIRST.  Meantime, this is my great,loving, and hard-working team, along with a great list of testers across the country (can’t name them all here–they’ll be listed in the book):

Patty Miller, Editor
Amanda Weber, Designer
Daniel Craig, Artist
Drew Robinson, Sommelier

THANKS!  YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!  I love working alone on a book, but this one became lots of fun once others were involved.  There is beauty in numbers and multiple brains and talents.  Blessings.

 So what’s the book like?  The short book is divided into seven quick and easy to use chapters.  There is a chapter for every season with 6-8 wine-paired soups in each.  Each soup recipe has a little story or blurb and also has recommendations for accompaniments; many are right in the book. The other three chapters are:  Breads and Spreads, Salads and Vegetables, and Desserts.  You can put  meals together as I’ve indicated or mix and match as you like OR JUST MAKE SOUP!  I can’t wait to share it with you.

Sing a new song; think soup!

Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella or What to Cook off the Plane

Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella or What to Cook off the Plane

Italian sausage, red peppers, grilled eggplant, onions, garlic…a little fresh mozzerella.  Throw in some pasta and–

Note to readers:  for an updated, totally done on the grill version, please click here

    Coming off a plane, I’m often greeting thoughts like, “Did I leave anything at home that’ll work for dinner?”  I usually stop by the store anyway for fresh produce or something to fix quickly.  Yesterday, as I traveled home from Minneapolis, I remembered a couple of eggplants wilting in the crisper.  Odd phrase, eh?  In other words, they needed to be used.  What else?  Italian sausage in the freezer that I had put in at Christmas, but hadn’t yet cooked.  Sounded like a grilled pasta sauce night to me.  Mid-winter, I often am jonesing for something grilled.  I have two grill pans:  one is a square Calphalon and the other is a large, rectangular cast-iron grill that is flat on one side and ribbed on the other to siphon grease off the food or to provide the ubiquitous grill marks.

  I did run in for veggies for a chopped salad…bibb lettuce, radicchio, cilantro, parsley, red pepper, tomatoes…  I already had a little blue cheese.

Right now, the eggplant is sliced, salted and dribbling its dew (weeping copiously? bawling like a baby?) into a towel.  I’m about to start the pasta water, heat the grill, and start grilling cut pieces of sausage.  Oh, and a Seghesio Barbera’s waiting on the table.  (If you don’t know Seghesio, grab one of their zinfandels next time you’re in the wine shop and try that with grilled sausage and peppers, pizza or anything grilled.)  The recipe isn’t written, but will come together as I cook…and I’ll place it below the pics….  Enjoy!

Slice the eggplant thickly, salt and let drain on toweling.

Ah, California wine.

Ah, Italian tomatoes!

Indoor grilling of cut Italian sausage and eggplant

Sauteed red peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes…a little wine didn’t hurt.

Cook some pasta.

The sauce comes together with the addition of the grilled eggplant and sausage

Adding the mozzerella and fresh basil to the hot pasta.  Mix this with the sauce and…

Vieni a mangiare! (Come and eat!)

Grilled Eggplant-Sausage Pasta with Fresh Mozzerella serves 6  (8-10 for a first course)

  • 1# pasta such as penne, mostaccioli, tortiglione or rigatoni
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1# Italian sausage (sweet or hot), cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-1″ pieces (salted and drained on toweling)
  • 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 red pepper, chopped coarsely
  • 8 oz fresh, whole mushrooms, wiped, trimmed and cut into halves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz can tomatoes (I like Italian-canned tomatoes)  or 4 chopped fresh tomatoes-in summer only
  • 1/4 c red wine or water
  • sprinkle ea of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 pint container of fresh mozzerella
  • 1/2 c fresh chiffonade (julienned) basil (or 2t dried basil); save out a little for garnish
  • 1/2 c Parmesan, grated (opt)
  1. Bring pot of well- salted and peppered water (10 qts) to boil, reduce heat and hold.  (Bring it back to boil soon as you get part-way through making sauce.) I like 1 T dried or fresh basil in my water, too.
  2. Heat oven to 250 F and place oven-safe bowls or plates in to warm.
  3. Heat grill to medium (10 min) and wipe with an oiled paper towel.  Add sausage and eggplant.
  4. Meantime, heat saute pan with rest of oil and add onion, red peppers and mushrooms.  Cook until nearly tender and add garlic.  Saute together for 1-2 minutes and add tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, red pepper and honey.  Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce heat.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  (More salt and/or honey will cut the acidity of the wine and tomatoes.)
  5. Bring water back to boil and add pasta.  Cook 11-13 minutes or til al dente. Drain and place back in pot.    Add mozzerella and most of the basil, saving some for garnish. Cover and hold.
  6. When sausage and eggplant are done, chop eggplant coarsely and add both to sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings again.  Add sauce to the pasta mixture and stir gently, breaking up large hunks of mozzerella.  
  7. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.  Garnish with reserved basil.  Pass Parmesan, if using.

Cook’s Note:  If you’re making this in the summertime, why not grill all of the ingredients and just use fresh tomatoes (skip wine/water, honey)  for a very light al fresco meal?  You could cook the pasta in the morning before the temperature rises, store it in the frig, and bring it out in time to let it warm to room temp.

      Two-Dog Kitchen or What’s Goin’ on in the ‘Hood:

      Back from Minnesota trip where we almost froze literally; my skin is still peeling.  The day I left Colorado, it was -20 in St. Paul.  We’re not talking wind-chill.  I was so glad Dave wasn’t coming that day.  A 6 hour delay in our airport first….  Hey, I had a wonderful time reading the NYT cover to cover, getting a good start on a novel, enjoying a long lunch, and–not so fun–listening to my fellow travelers talking on the phone all day.  (There are so many private spots in the airport; why?)

      House hunted for the third time! and this time made an offer on a house:

      The view from what might be my new kitchen window.  Lots of birds!!!

      Still job-seeking…like a million? other Americans.  I’m grateful to our president for his positive, healing speech last night. 

      More travel soon….family birthdays, inspections on new houses… and so on.
      Sunny and warm here.  Ah, Colorado!

      Happy 80th Birthday to Gene Morgan!

      Here’s Dave’s Dad, Gene, and his Mom, Lorna, at Emily’s college graduation–all smiles.   


      Sing a new song,