June: Flatbread with Zucchini Flowers

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Flatbread finish 2 with script

Buon giorno!

I simply love flatbread! It is useful in so many ways – as a bread with dinner, as an appetizer or snack. This FLATBREAD WITH ZUCCHINI FLOWERS  is lovely to serve and really delicious. It offers another use for the beautiful Zucchini Flowers or Squash Blossoms that are in abundance right now as our zucchini plants are developing in the garden. There is nothing that makes me happier than going into the garden in the morning and picking these lovely flowers – knowing that with them, a delicious treat awaits.

zucchini-in-garden-300x225 - CopyFirst Zucchini flower 2015

This flatbread is so simple using my pizza dough recipe which is the one my mother, Loretta, always used. It is so easy to make and use. It makes several loaves which you can freeze for another time. I suggest gathering as many blossoms as you can for this flatbread. A few are fine, but the more you have, the better your flatbread will be. The secret is that these flowers are stuffed with goat cheese which offers a small explosion of goodness each time you bite into one.

FLATBREAD WITH  ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

Makes: one 12-14 inch flatbread

Prep: 30 minutes + time to make the dough

Bake: about 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 loaf of Loretta’s Pizza Dough

Several Zucchini Flowers (the more, the better)

Goat cheese

8 Oz. Fresh Mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme or Lemon Thyme

Pinch of Dried Oregano

About a cup of Castelvetrano Olives but in half (these are the bright green Sicilian olives)

1/2 C. Grated Pecorino Cheese

Fresh Chives  – as many as you like chopped and sprinkled over the top

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

Take one loaf of dough and roll or stretch it into a 12-14 inch rectangle on a sheet pan. This is not pizza so don’t worry about pizza stones etc.

Drizzle the rectangle with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Flatbread 1

Grate or thinly slice the mozzarella and lay it on the top of the dough.

Sprinkle the Thyme Leaves over the cheese.

Prepare your zucchini flowers: snip off and discard the stems. Remove and discard the pistil (long thing inside the flower). Fill the flower with a lump of goat cheese and fold the petals gently around it.

Flatbread 2

Place the flowers on the flatbread. The more flowers the better!

Flatbread 3

Sprinkle the Pecorino and oregano on top.

Slice the olives in half and scatter them around the flatbread.

Flatbread 4

Follow with the fresh chives.

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Flatbread 5

Add your favorite wine – you need nothing more!

( For more on Flatbread, see this post: Zucchini and Potato Flatbread)

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Spiedini alla Romana

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Crostini alla Provatura

Spiedini alla Romana finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

Spiedini?? What? But there is no meat! Lesson: Spiedini refers to  the skewers and can relate to different types. SPIEDINI ALLA ROMANA is an extraordinary and memorable form of kebabs or skewers made of bread, cheese, and topped with a dreamy light anchovy sauce. Anchovy ? Before you run from the room screaming , those of you who have an aversion to these little fish, consider this: In this dish, anchovies provide unmistakable but still subtle flavor without anyone knowing they are there as a really a critical ingredient in the sauce. All together, these ingredients provide an unforgettable and rather addictive first course, appetizer, or addition to any meal. Guarantee: Eat one and you can’t wait until the next one!

Clue: When anchovies are chopped into tiny pieces, added to a sauce, and cooked slightly, they seem to melt into it – providing flavor – but they are almost undetectable. Also – they are a required ingredient in this particular sauce –  so after reading all this, if you still have an aversion, advising  that there is no proper substitute, you may continue to run screaming from the room and on to another recipe.

Those of you who chose wisely to remain in the room – smile knowingly and continue reading.

A Little History: This is one of those Italian regional dishes which I love to talk about. It is from Lazio – the region of Rome – and the region from which my mother, Loretta’s family, came. The food of this region is lovely, distinctive, and has its signature dishes . SPIEDINI ALLA ROMANA  is one of them and actually has another name – Crostini Alla Provatura because it is traditionally prepared from a soft egg shaped cheese, small in size called Provatura. This preparation calls for the skewered cheese and bread to be cooked over a wood fire and basted occasionally with melted butter.

Most preparations now fry the skewered bread and cheese in a pan with olive oil, although you will see the occasional recipe using batter before frying. I find the batter unnecessary and heavy, lending itself to a sometimes soggy exterior. Simply frying the bread without coating it is easy and quick and is in the Italian style of just frying the bread which Italians seem to love to do ( with good reason) every chance they get!

Style: It is your choice as to how large you make these. For a first course, you might like them a little larger. As an appetizer, served on small plates, you might like them smaller so your guests can just pick up the skewers and eat them without a knife and fork.

I also like to serve them as part of a light meal for “on the patio” dining in the warmer months. Add a stuffed artichoke and a lovely wine and you have a meal!

Spiedini Combo with artichoke

This dish is so delicious and lovely that that I can’t rave about it quite enough. You will just have to see for yourself how the flavors blend and enhance the crisply fried skewers to the point where no one really cares about the rest of the meal. Actually, think about that – this dish may save you hours in the kitchen! Just watch!

SPIEDINI ALLA ROMANA

Serves: 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 4 minutes

Ingredients

4 Stacks of 4 rectangular pieces of thickly sliced bread, crusts off, (preferably a dense Italian type) – stale is best or let the bread slices sit out for a few hours

8 Oz. Fresh Mozzarella, cut into slices or cubes slightly smaller that bread slices

1/4 C. Olive Oil

6 Anchovies packed in oil, patted dry with paper towels and chopped into tiny pieces

3 Tbsp. Butter

1/3 C. Dry Vermouth or any dry white wine

2 Tbsp. Fresh chopped Basil

2 Tsp. Fresh chopped Oregano

Dash Hot Pepper Flakes

2 Tbsp. Capers, rinsed and drained

1 good squeeze of Fresh Lemon Juice

(S&P only if needed – Usually the anchovies take care of salt needs)

Sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino

Instructions

See the ingredients list for suggestions on the bread.

Spiedini 1

Skewer your bread cubes alternating with Mozzarella cubes. I suggest using the shorter wood skewers you can find at most grocers.

Spiedini 3

Heat oil in a fry pan to VERY hot. Add your skewers to the hot oil. Leave a couple of minutes just to sear, and turn once. Having your oil hot is key here. You can peek at them to see if it is time to turn them.

Spiedini 4

Once seared on both sides, remove them to a plate and sprinkle with Parmigiano.

In the same pan, add the chopped anchovies and butter. Cook a minute, stirring, and add the wine, herbs, pepper, and capers.

Spiedini 2

Cook another minute, then squeeze in lemon juice. Stir – DONE!

Spoon this delicious sauce over your fried skewers, making sure some of the herbs and capers stay on top of each one.

Serve immediately!

OMG! You are in for a treat with these SPIEDINI ALLA ROMANA!  Serve them with a beautiful crisp and dry Italian white wine  – perhaps like an Arneis from the rolling hills of the Roero area in Piemonte – light and lovely with these flavors.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Crostini

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Christmas Crostini

Sweet Pepper Crostini finish 2 with script

Buon giorno!

Look no further for an easy and beautiful Christmas appetizer with all the colors of the season. EGGPLANT AND SWEET PEPPER CROSTINI is the perfect choice. Watch them fly off the dish! Everyone loves these. They offer a little sweet and spicy tang to your cocktail fare and will pair well with cocktails of all types and wine, wine, and more wine!

This is also the perfect snack to leave for the Befana  who is sweeping her way to leaving treats for Italian children everywhere. Caution: she rides a broomstick, and you wouldn’t want to disappoint her!

They are easy to make and the topping can be made ahead and frozen. So what are we waiting for??

EGGPLANT AND SWEET PEPPER CROSTINI

Makes: about 18 crostini

Prep: 25 minutes

Ingredients

French baguette – thinly sliced and toasted under broiler – brush with a little olive oil

2 Cloves fresh garlic – chopped finely

2 C. Cubed Eggplant, peeled and chopped small

1/4 C. Olive Oil

6 Peppadews – chopped (South African sweet peppers – so delicious not to be believed – found at olive bars at grocers everywhere!)

2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste

1 Tsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp. Orange Zest

2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – chopped

1/3 C. Dry White Wine

Salt and pepper to taste

2 1/2 Tbsp. Pignoli Toasted

Mascarpone Cheese

Fresh Italian Parsley for garnish

Instructions

Cook eggplant on medium high 5 minutes.

Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Crostini 1

Add garlic, peppadews, tomato paste, vinegar, orange zest, parsley a couple of minutes.

Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Crostini 3

Then add wine. Cook at a strong simmer for a couple of minutes until some of the liquid cooks off.

Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Crostini 4

Add salt and pepper as needed.

Add pignoli and stir in.

Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Crostini 5

Make this ahead and freeze if you like.

When ready to serve – prepare the crostini with the baguette slices as described.

Spread each slice with a little Mascarpone Cheese and top with just a little of the eggplant and pepper topping.

Garnish with fresh Italian parsley and serve.

Sweet Pepper Crostini finish 1 with script

These EGGPLANT AND SWEET PEPPER CROSTINI are so delicious and seasonally appropriate in color that I call them Christmas Crostini!

For more crostini recipes like this one, check out my ebook, for yourself or for a gift for someone else:  FOR LOVE OF CROSTINI

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Roasted Vegetable and Tortellini Salad

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Finish with script

Buon giorno!

Roasted and toasted this beautiful ROASTED VEGETABLE AND TORTELLINI SALAD is my favorite among pasta salads. The flavor in this one far surpasses any others that I have had.

Why? The roasting of the vegetables and the use of the marinade in dressing the salad itself are the keys to the kingdom on this one. Instead, of dressing the salad with a fresh mixture of ingredients, you use the marinade in which the veggies were roasted. This packs a double whammy of flavor – not only with the dressing  but also the flavors of the roasting process. The flavor in this is amazing! It is so fresh, light, and healthy tasting.

Shrimp: I like to add shrimp to the salad – although sometimes I don’t, so this is an optional thing and up to you.

Salad or side: Of course, the obvious choice is to serve the dish as a salad or side dish along with your grilled meats. However, you can also make this a main course for a luncheon or light supper, especially if you decide to add the shrimp.

Appetizer: Not only does this make a great side or salad – but it is also a really great appetizer. I serve it with small plates and forks.It is an especially lovely appetizer when served on the patio or for any outdoor dining event. The summer light at the end of the day lends itself well to the colors in the dish. Nothing else is needed once you offer this with your cocktails or wine. OH THE COLOR! This little dish does it all!

So let’s head for the patio!

ROASTED VEGETABLE AND TORTELLINI SALAD

Serves: 6-8 as an appetizer or 4-6 as a side

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Ingredients

8 oz. Tortellini – cooked

1 Head of Broccoli – cut into florets

1 Red or Yellow Pepper – cut in pieces

1 Sweet Onion – cut coarsely

1 C. Grape Tomatoes – sliced in 1/2

3/4 C. Olive Oil

1/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary – chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 c. Fresh Basil – chopped

1 lb. Shrimp (optional) – Grilled or Roasted after tossing in: 1/3 c. olive oil, juice of a lemon, 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley, splash of white wine, salt & pepper to taste.

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grated or shaved Asiago Cheese

Instructions

Mix the broccoli, pepper, onion, and tomatoes together in a bowl.

Make a marinade of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbs.

2 marinade

Lay them out on a large sheet pan and Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tender. Test with a fork at about 20 minutes.

3 roasting vegetables

After roasting, allow the roasted vegetables to cool a bit – just a few minutes. Add them to the cooked tortellini along with ALL of the juices from the roasting pan.Then add the chopped fresh basil and the shrimp, if using it.

1 Roasted Tortellini Salad

Toss gently together, mixing all the juices in.

4 Tossing

Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and add the cheese.

Finish 2

Without a doubt – this ROASTED VEGETABLE TORTELLINI SALAD is my favorite of all pasta salads. It is something about those roasted vegetables and the marinade and roasting juices that become the salad dressing that make ALL the difference.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Baked Ricotta

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The Magic Cheese!

Baked Ricotta with script

Buon giorno!

It’s just an opinion – but it’s mine! Ricotta is a magic cheese! You can be a sort of Houdini in the kitchen when you work with it. Huh? It’s true. Ricotta is a wonderful cheese that can make itself (with a little help from you) into so many different things constantly bobbing and weaving from savory to sweet. BAKED RICOTTA is one of the ways you can transform it into something you may have not considered.

Ricotta is pretty amazing when you think about it. There are so many more uses for it than in the obligatory lasagna or ravioli. It is often used in sweeter dishes like cheesecakes but also as a filling in cakes and pies. It’s natural sweetness lends itself well to the dolci. I especially like to use it, lightly sweetened, and with a touch of vanilla as a dollop along side a slice of pie or dessert instead of whipped cream.

Many times you’ll see it in savory pies and even on pizzas giving these dishes a touch of cheese with a less sharp flavor. It makes a wonderful stuffing ingredient not only for filled pastas, but also for vegetables like tiny sweet peppers (RECIPE) and eggplant (RECIPE).

Here, in this recipe for BAKED RICOTTA, we are invited to see this cheese stand on its own as the main event instead of as an added ingredient. When baked, the ricotta, retains its soft fluffy consistency while the top is brown and a little crusty. It spreads beautifully and with the added ingredients, this dish becomes the easy, rustic, “big on flavor” appetizer you seek for your gatherings. Serve it warm with crackers or bread or with crostini as you see it here. Watch it disappear!

For more crostini spreads and recipes, check out my ebook: FOR LOVE OF CROSTINI!

Cover photo - Crostini (2)

BAKED RICOTTA

Serves: 4-6

Prep:

Bake: 20 minutes

Ingredients

2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

1 Clove Fresh Garlic chopped finely

1/2 C. Chopped Black Olives

2 Tbsp. Toasted pignoli (pine nuts)

2 Tbsp. Chopped parsley

Dash Red Pepper Flakes

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fresh Lemon Zest for Garnish

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle before serving

Bread, crackers, or crostini

Instructions

Rub your baking dish with olive oil first.

Mix all in one bowl: ricotta, garlic, olives, pignoli, parsley, red pepper flakes, black pepper and Kosher Salt. A word about the salt – I like Kosher or Sea Salt for better flavor – the salt is VERY important here. It brings out all of the flavors. Your Baked Ricotta will not have the same punch without it!

Baked Ricotta 1

Pour into the greased dish and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Baked Ricotta 2

After baking pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top.

Top with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garnish with lemon zest. SERVE!

Serving suggestion: For an individual first course – bake and serve your BAKED RICOTTA in little ramekins – serving 4. If you use the tiny ramekins – it serves 6. Add some roasted cherry tomatoes and luscious crostini on the side!

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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Crab Oreganata

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Crab finish with script

   Buon giorno!

Anything “oreganata” always reminds me of my Dad, Attilio. My CRAB OREGANATA is really a tribute to him. He loved to cook in the Napoetana style, and he was clearly good at it. When it came to seafood, in my opinion, he had no competition. He always seemed to know how to treat the treasures from the sea, respected them as an avid fisherman would, and knew how little actual cooking time they needed. We were raised with his seafood dishes and pretty much took them for granted. Looking back – they appear as gifts now to his family, as we try and mostly fail to equal his talent.

There was a ritual on Christmas Eve involving my father and his Clams Oreganata. As adult children, each year when we arrived at the back door (no one used the front door!), the captivating aroma of those clams was the first invitation to our senses, drawing us in. He greeted us personally with a hardy “Buon Natale”, along with a glass of champagne and one of his amazing clams! He smiled and his eyes sparkled knowing that he had created something very special for his family. It was always the same – we expected it – we loved it  – as this was the start of an evening of Italian seafood delights.

It is my belief that the Oreganata style of seafood preparation is so wonderful that it should not be reserved for holidays. The CRAB OREGANATA that we talk about here is a great dish for patio and outdoor dining as well. It is so simple – can be prepared hours ahead and stored in the refrigerator to be baked quickly right before serving. This dish can be made in shells as you see here – the large ones for a sit-down appetizer or first course or in small shells for a crowd. If you don’t have the shells – you can prepare it just as successfully in a baking dish.

Some tips: As with all Italian dishes, it is all about the ingredients. I always instruct in my classes that anything you make will taste like the ingredients you use. That is why I always recommend the freshest ingredients for the most part. Using fresh herbs in this dish makes all the difference along with fresh garlic. I like Lump Crab or Jumbo Lump Crab here. Your flavor is better – the consistency is better – and this type of crab meat is always cleaner of tiny shell pieces. It is more expensive but worth it! I caution you not to break up the crab pieces too much and to mix gently. A gentle hand keeps the “integrity” of the meat. When these wonderful larger pieces of lump crab hit your tongue, it is sweet ecstasy! The best part of this preparation is that it is one of those “one bowl wonders” – easy! Lastly – bringing out your best Extra Virgin Olive Oil for that last drizzle before serving is a touch you don’t want to miss. Be generous with it.

Hey! The patio is ready – the sun is going down  – and the glasses are poured – ANDIAMO!

CRAB OREGANATA

Serves: 4 as a first course; 10-12 if served in small shells

Prep: 20 minutes

Bake: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 lb. Jump Lump or Lump Crabmeat

2 C. Fresh white breadcrumbs + extra to sprinkle on top

2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano Leaves – chopped + extra for garnish

1 Tbsp. Fresh Italian Parsley – chopped

1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

2 Tbsp. Pignoli (pine nuts)

2 Tbsp. Capers, rinsed and drained

Dash Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano grated

2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/3 C. Olive Oil

Coarse Salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle prior to serving

Instructions

Pick through the crabmeat a little to check for shell pieces. Lump and Jumbo Lump are usually clear of these. Leave the crab pieces as whole as possible – not need to shred.

Make your fresh white breadcrumbs in the food processor. A good white Italian bread is always good for this – but any white bread is fine.

Gently mix the all the above ingredients together in a large bowl except the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and herbs for garnish. Try not to break up the crab pieces.

Crab Oreganata 2

Spray your shells with cooking spray and then fill them with the crab mixture. This can be made in a baking dish if you prefer and spooned out to serve on small plates.

Crab Oreganata 1

Sprinkle some extra breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Then put the shells under the broiler until the tops are golden brown. Watch that you don’t scorch them!

Crab Oreganata 3

Crab Oreganata 4

Drizzle generously with a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil – garnish with some fresh oregano and serve!

Your CRAB OREGANATA will be the hit of your next gathering. Serve it with some Prosecco, Champagne, or a lovely Falanghina or Vermentino. Prepare for applause!!

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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Grissini; Northern Italian Breadsticks

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Grissini - finish  with script

Buon giorno!

This is a recipe you’ll want to star and keep close by – not only as an appetizer, but also as a crunchy alternative to bread or rolls at dinner. These are addictive, easy, and really good.

Those Northern Italians have it right with their GRISSINI – NORTHERN ITALIAN BREADSTICKS. Using my pizza dough which is so easy to make – recipe: HEREthese easy breadsticks can be made in a flash anytime by freezing a couple of loaves of dough ahead. I always keep some in my freezer for just such an occasion. They are great to munch on with beer or cocktails and also as a substitute for a heavier bread with pasta. When looking for a light but tasty bite before a heavier meal, this is the way to go. They are interesting to display on your bar or table also. Just look at these!

Grissini - finish 2 with script

About Grissini: Most would agree that they got their start in the Piedmont region in the north of Italy. It is thought that they have been around since the 14th century and may have been “born” in Turin. Even Napoleon acknowledged them and called them “ les petits batons de Turin”!

If you are looking for a little help, these breadsticks are also fun to make with your kids or grandkids! What are you waiting for – start rolling! Andiamo!

GRISSINI – NORTHERN ITALIAN BREADSTICKS

Makes: 18-20

Ingredients

1 Loaf pizza dough – Recipe HERE

Olive Oil

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, Romano, or Asiago

Chopped Fresh Rosemary leaves or Coarse Salt– as options

Instructions

Make your pizza dough ahead and freeze it like I do. It’s easy and you’ll have about 4 loaves to keep in the freezer.

Grissini 1

Take one of the loaves (or defrost one) and roll out flat and thinly on a lightly floured surface.

Grissini 2

With a sharp knife, cut strips about ½ inch wide.

Grissini 3

Take each strip, fold over on itself, and then roll with both hands to make a “snake” about 14” long.

Grissini 6

Grissini 5

Repeat with each strip.

Grissini 7

Place on a cookie sheet, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with grated cheese ( & chopped rosemary leaves) or simply Coarse Salt.

Grissini 9

OR – Another way of adding your rosemary, salt, cheese etc. – you might try rolling out your dough like this and sprinkling the dough first – then roll your sticks!

Grissini 8

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Keep in an airtight container. They do not have to be refrigerated and will keep tightly covered for several days.

OK – so you got Napoleon’s approval and you are now ready to make your own GRISSINI – NORTHERN ITALIAN BREADSTICKS!

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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Lamb Meatballs

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Lamb Meatballs finish with script

Buon giorno!

Meatballs are a welcome sight at anyone’s Italian table. These LAMB MEATBALLS are no different in that respect. These little balls of flavor are sure to delight all who sample them.

To Italians, meatballs can be a quite a personal thing. Everyone has a method –  everyone has a secret – everyone’s Nonna or Mama makes the best. Some use dry breadcrumbs – some swear by soaking the bread – some use eggs – some don’t. For the record, in my heart and mind, my mother, Loretta, most definitely cornered the market with her simple moist and delicious meatballs. While I’m not here to dispute that any of your meatballs or my mother’s are indeed the very best, I would like to offer something a little bit different.

These LAMB MEATBALLS are definitely different than the usual Italian meatball. They are chock full of interesting ingredients that pop and stand out individually when you bite into them. They are delicious in your “Sunday Sauce” but also can serve an interesting and different purpose – as an appetizer!

These little balls of flavor are made in one bowl – with everything thrown in together. You can make them ahead and freeze them if you like. (You can even freeze them in the sauce!) You’ll notice that I use dry breadcrumbs. For the smaller meatballs with so many chunky ingredients, the dry seem to hold them together better. They moisten up in the sauce. You can fry them or bake them. I like to fry them a little and then finish them off in the sauce. The fact that they contain some very interesting and perhaps different ingredients makes them a perfect item for a cocktail buffet or an extra item at a holiday table. Use them any way you like – but they will disappear!

I have made them here in a smaller form as appetizers. You can use them any way you like.

When used as appetizers, I recommend a Sweet Tomato Sauce with a hint of mint which I include here. Perhaps a sprinkle of feta cheese at the end to serve?

Just for fun – see these same meatballs made with ground ELK!

Elk Meatballs

LAMB MEATBALLS

Makes: 55-60 1 1/2 inch balls as an appetizer

Prep: 25 minutes

Cook: 3-4 minutes (fried) – about 12 minutes – baked

Ingredients

1 lb. Ground Lamb – ( if you don’t see it at your grocer, ask them to get it for you)

2 Links (about 7-8 oz.) Italian Sweet or Mild Sausage  – out of the casings

3/4 C. Dry Plain Breadcrumbs – yes dry! The smaller balls with all the chunky ingredients hold better using them. They will moisten up in the sauce.)

1/4 C. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Provolone Cheese

1/4 C. Chopped Sundried Tomatoes packed in oil

1/4 C. Currants or Chopped Raisins

1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

1/4 C. Toasted Pignoli (pine nuts)

Herbs: 1 Tbsp. Fresh Sage, 1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, 1 Tsp. Fresh Mint – all chopped

1/2 C. Crumbled Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Lightly Beaten Egg

Oil for frying – if frying.

Sweet Tomato Sauce when serving as appetizer – recipe below.

Crumbled Feta for garnish

Instructions

I like to use clean hands for all mixing with meatballs.

Mix ground lamb and sausage together in a large bowl.

Lamb Meatballs 1

Add: breadcrumbs, grated cheese, sundried tomatoes, currants, chopped garlic, toasted pignoli, herbs. Mix together well.

Lamb Meatballs 2

Add feta and mix gently.

Lamb Meatballs 3

Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Add egg and mix.

Roll meatballs with your hands. For appetizer size – about  1 1/2 inch size – using about  one and one half  Tbsp. of mixture per ball.

Lamb Meatballs 4

Fry in oil and drain on paper towels – about 3-4 minutes. Keep them moving in the oil for more even cooking. If baking – 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes – do not over bake. They will cook more in the sauce.

Lamb Meatballs 5

SWEET TOMATO SAUCE WITH MINT

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

1 28 oz Can San Marzano Tomatoes – crush with hands if whole tomatoes

3 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Mint – chopped

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat the garlic about a minute in the hot oil. Do not burn or brown the garlic!

Add the tomatoes, herbs, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.

At medium high heat – bring to a strong bubble and then lower the heat.

Cook at lower temp., stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes until the sauce is thick and concentrated. Much of the liquid will cook off.

Add the meatballs to the sauce – gently toss so that all are coated. Cook another 5-7 minutes. Leave the meatballs in the sauce to serve, refrigerate, or freeze until you are ready to use them.

These LAMB MEATBALLS will be difficult to resist! The sauce is sweet and with a subtle hint of mint. These are amazing as appetizers and also delicious over orzo! Of course you can make larger ones and drop them in your own favorite tomato sauce.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Ricotta and Goat Cheese Crostata with Onion, Apple, Cherry Relish

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Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese - finish  with script

Buon giorno!

I love fall entertaining. The air is cool – the breeze is crisp – it’s time for an outdoor fire – it is a last opportunity to enjoy friends and family outside before the winter chill sets in. RICOTTA AND GOAT CHEESE CROSTATA WITH ONION, APPLE, CHERRY RELISH  is the perfect appetizer to rely on for this time. You need nothing else with your wine and cocktails – not even a nut! It is also an incredible pairing of sweet and savory to go with any before dinner or around the fire drinks. Just uncork the wine – shake those cocktails and set this in front of your guests. Actually, you can enjoy it with them – as your work is DONE!

Italian Crostate are so easy to make. Usually they are sweet, filled with jam, fruit, custard, whatever and are lovely for dessert or a sweet treat. For a sweet crostata , try THIS!   OR  THIS!

This crostata is a savory one with cheese and a hint of sweetness from the fruit topping.

Often you’ll see some crostate made with pie crust dough or pasta frolla, an Italian pastry dough. This particular RICOTTA AND GOAT CHEESE CROSTATA is made with frozen puff pastry sheets. This is sooo easy. You can make your cheese filling a few hours ahead and make your Onion and Apple Relish ahead as well, leaving only the dough and the construction to do just before serving.

You will enjoy serving this crostata all through the season with your favorite wine or drinks. It would also suit well as a lunch or brunch item.

RICOTTA AND GOAT CHEESE CROSTATA WITH ONION, APPLE, CHERRY RELISH

Makes: 1 crostata

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients

1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry – thawed

FILLING:

1/2 C. Ricotta Cheese – (Whole Milk)

5 oz. Goat Cheese

1 1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Sage Leaves

1 Beaten Egg for brushing edges

RELISH:

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Butter

1/2 Onion – sliced thinly

1/2 Apple – sliced thinly – cut slices in 1/2

1/4 C. Dried Cherries

1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

Dash Cayenne Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. Toasted Pignolis (pine nuts) for garnish

Instructions:

CRUST:

Roll the puff pastry sheet in a little flour to about 12-14 inches across.

Cut the corners off – use for something else like some easy breadsticks!

Place on a baking sheet (ungreased) for assembly.

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 4

Pierce the center of it with a fork a few times to prevent bubbling up.

FILLING:

Mix the ricotta, goat cheese and sage in a bowl. You can do this a few hours ahead if you like.

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 1

Pour the cheese mixture into the center of the puff pastry crust on the baking sheet and spread it with a knife or a fork to about 8-9 inches diameter.

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 5

Fold the sides inward toward the cheese filling, leaving a wide center and creating a wide edge all around.

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 6

Brush the edge with the beaten egg all the way around.

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 7

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the edges are golden. Remove from the oven and proceed with adding the relish right away.

RELISH:

Put oil and butter in a pan and melt butter.

Add the other ingredients, mixing well.

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 2

Cook about 8-10 minutes until the onions and apple caramelized. The mixture will be kind of shiny!

Crostata Ricotta & Goat Cheese 3

When the crostata is finished baking and has been removed from the oven – Mound the relish mixture in the center.

Top with Toasted Pignolis.

Slice in small pie shaped slices – kind of like a pie or pizza. Serve warm on little plates with forks.

Enjoy your RICOTTA AND GOAT CHEESE CROSTATE WITH ONION, APPLE, CHERRY RELISH with a bottle of a lovely vino rosso!. I like a Valpolicella Ripasso with this. A spirited Syrah (or Shiraz) would also be nice.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Stuffed Figs with Blueberries and Goat Cheese and More!

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Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Blueberries -copy with script

Buon giorno!

Extra Extra! Get your fresh figs now! There should be someone shouting this on every corner. It is the end of summer and fig season will soon be over for another year. DRAT! But for now – we can all revel in the plentiful figs on our trees and at our markets. Git ‘em while they last! I posted a photo of STUFFED FIGS WITH BLUEBERRIES AND GOAT CHEESE the other day on Facebook and was deluged with requests for the recipe. Known for not walking away from a sincere request – I happily post the recipe now and you are gonna love it! Watch it! They are highly addictive!

Putting the figgies aside for a moment—a word or two must be said about the amazing “stuff” with which we propose to fill them. Goat cheese I say! Goat cheese is a good one for this – it is soft, savor, and subtle enough to take on the flavors of some of the other goodies we want to add – plus it is just GREAT with sweet figs.

Taking a page from Lieutenant Colombo: “One more thing – there are a couple of loose ends I’d like to tie up…” About the leftover stuffing – just tuck it in the refrigerator and use it as a spread for crackers! Let me make a fuss over this for a moment – as this cheesy stuff deserves it. It is absolutely amazing on crackers – so much so, that when figs are not available, I highly recommend making and using it as a spread. It’s just that good!

STUFFED FIGS WITH BLUEBERRIES AND GOAT CHEESE

Makes: stuffs about 2 dozen figs

Prep: 30 minutes

Ingredients

8 oz. Goat Cheese’

1 Cup Fresh Blueberries

1/2 C. Walnuts – chopped coarsely

2 Tbsp. Crystallized or Candied Ginger – chopped finely

1/4 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Fresh Orange Zest

1 Tsp. Vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. Honey

About 24 fresh figs

Balsamic Glaze – optional

Instructions

Mash the goat cheese in a bowl with a fork

Add the walnuts, ginger, cinnamon, zest, vanilla, and honey.

Stuffed Figs 1

Mix well.

Fold in the berries.

Stuffed Figs 2

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Rinse your figs and remove any stems.

Slice the figs vertically 3/4 of the way down – turn the fig and do it again (do not cut all the way through). The fig will sort of look like a tulip.

Stuffed Figs 3

Stuff some of the goat cheese mixture into the fig. Fill them quite full.

Stuffed figs 4

Stuffed Figs 5

Refrigerate until ready to serve. You can make these several hours or a day ahead and refrigerate. Serve them at room temperature. Drizzle with Balsamic Glaze if you like – it’s a great flavor combo!

Stuffed Figs 9 with script

Guaranteed – you will love these STUFFED FIGS WITH BLUEBERRIES AND GOAT CHEESE!

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Zucchini and Potato Flatbread

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Buon giorno!

What to do with all that zucchini in the garden? Lookin’ for a great appetizer? Need an interesting bread for dinner? Lunch maybe? How about a few drop in guests on the patio? I have just the right answer to all these questions – ZUCCHINI AND POTATO FLATBREAD. Flatbread is a great and versatile thing. It can be an appetizer with wine or cocktails. It can accompany your meal as a rustic homemade bread. It can be lunch! You choose!

This is an easy and fun recipe. Get everyone in on the act – your grandchildren, your kids? You can even enlist those drop-in guests. They’ll love you for it. So fun – so easy – soooo good!

I had just this experience the other day when a neighbor dropped by for a Friday night Martini while I was preparing some of this incredibly delicious flatbread. I had her at the front door actually when she smelled the garlic roasting and then followed the aroma to the kitchen. She was amazed at how quickly it all came together and said she wasn’t leaving until she tried some. Well, she did – and followed her first bite with a loud OMG and eyes that I thought might just pop right out. ( FYI – this is always a good sign) In other words – success! It was amore!

The dough: I use my  mother, Loretta’s, pizza dough which is easy to make. Visit: Pizza – That’s Amore for the recipe – guaranteed to be the best pizza dough you’ll ever taste! OK so I’m just a little bit biased maybe? But, it’s not just me. My husband doesn’t like to order pizza anymore because he says the crust doesn’t measure up. My book designer, Doc, who lives in San Francisco and has access to good Italian food and ingredients, says I’ve spoiled him forever with this dough. He can no longer go out for pizza! It is very easy to make, and the flavor and consistency  – perfect. I like to make it when I don’t need it and freeze it for when I do need it. The recipe makes 4 loaves. I wrap each one individually and always have it available. I just pull it out of the freezer a few hours ahead and let it defrost.

The ingredients: Pretty straight forward here – freshness being of utmost importance as always. As far as ingredients go – this flatbread is all about layering them and achieving several levels of flavor that combine for maximum impact. In other words, YOU NEED ALL OF THEM!

The roasted garlic is VERY important here. It gives the flatbread a layer of flavor that you cannot duplicate without it. If you have followed my posts in the past, you know the high regard I have for roasted garlic. It is easy to make, has so many uses, and the roasting transforms it from strong to mild and nutty. The flavor of roasted garlic is nothing like the raw garlic, and those who may not appreciate it in its usual form should really give it a go. It is wonderful stuff!

Fresh garlic

This is a great way to use some of that good seasonal zucchini. The zucchini and potato are sliced paper thin. You can do this with a sharp knife or use a mandolin like I do – a handy tool that slices to the thickness desired in nothing flat! It is very easy to find in any store that sells cooking gadgets. This is what it looks like:

flatbread 1

The Rosemary – fresh as ALWAYS! Hopefully you have some growing in your garden. Maybe your neighbor has some you can steal when he/she isn’t looking – or yes ask to “borrow” some. If not, you can always find it at your grocer. The Rosemary is necessary. Do not substitute something else – not all herbs impart the same flavor!

The cheeses – Gorgonzola or Blue combined with the Parmigiano – these are the ones you want for this flatbread. The combo is fantastico!

And of course – the Extra Virgin drizzle is the ribbon that ties up this package. Choose a good one that has more of a peppery finish.

Some tips: This is not pizza. We are not making this on the grill and charring the edges and bottom like a Napoletano pizzaiolo. Instead, we make this in the oven with a little olive oil under the dough – baking at 450 until golden. We want a more bread like consistency with a little more oil dominance. Follow the directions – you’ll get the idea!

ZUCCHINI AND POTATO FLATBREAD

Makes:  one large flatbread (Serves 4-6)

Prep: 15 minutes + time to make the dough

Cook: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients

1 loaf pizza dough – Recipe HERE

2 Whole Bulbs Roasted Garlic ( instructions below)

Olive Oil

1 Medium Zucchini – skins on – sliced VERY thinly

1 Medium Potato or 2-3 small ones – skins on – sliced very thinly

3 Sprigs Rosemary – chop and use the leaves

3/4 C. Crumbled Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese

3 –4 Tbsp. Parmigiano – Reggiano Cheese – grated

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

Make your pizza dough – recipe noted in the ingredients list – highly recommended. You can make it ahead and freeze it like I do. If so – defrost it the morning of the day you intend to use it.

Roast two garlic bulbs: Take each whole bulb and peel off outer leaves leaving inner skins on and bulb intact. Cut off the top of the bulb at the “pointy” end exposing the tops of the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and add a little salt. Place in foil and seal up like a package. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Remove from the foil carefully – they will be hot. Let the bulbs cool a little until ready to use.

Slice your zucchini and potato – paper thin. A mandolin is a good tool for this as shown and explained in the post. If you don’t have one – use a sharp knife.

Flatbread 2Flatbread 3

You are ready to make your flatbread!

Flatbread 4

Roll out your dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured board.

Take a sheet pan and rub it with a little olive oil. Then place the dough on the pan. Rub the top of the dough with a little olive oil.

Take your roasted garlic bulbs, turning them upside down – squeeze each bulb. The cooked cloves will slide right out onto the dough. Squeeze them all out. Then take a fork and mash them around on  the dough.

roasted garlic

Lay the zucchini slices, overlapping a little,  in a long row on the long edge of the dough. Follow this with a row of potato slices also overlapping slightly.

Repeat with another row of zucchini and potato.

Flatbread 5

Sprinkle on the Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese. Then follow with the Parmigiano.

Top with the fresh Rosemary leaves.

Flatbread 6

It’s time for a generous drizzle of a beautiful Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Bake this in a 450 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

And now you have ZUCCHINI AND POTATO FLATBREAD!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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For Love of Crostini–The Book!

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Order Linda’s New Ebook!

Buon giorno!

Once upon a time, deep in the recesses of the Italian side of my brain, there lurked a little voice that said “you gotta write a book”. That little voice has actually “mushroomed” into more than one book over time – but I digress. The little voice has finally surfaced in the form of my new ebook, FOR LOVE OF CROSTINI.

It has been my labor of love for the last couple of years, and I can now proudly announce that it is real. (Kind of like the “Velveteen Rabbit” – if you love it enough, it becomes real – you know what I mean?)

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful friend  – really a wizard of sorts, in the design and photography genre – Doc Miles of Doc Miles Photography. Doc and I joined forces on a sometimes hilarious trek through often uncharted waters to put this book together in a form I know you will love. His design expertise has proved invaluable, along with some of his beautiful photos that you will surely enjoy in the book. You might also like his story of how we teamed up for the book in his post, “It’s Alive! It’s Alive”!”

Doc in the kitchen 2Doc in the kitchen

Crostini?? Crostini are those wonderful little Italian toast appetizers that delight the tongue and change form depending upon your choice of topping. Everyone seems to love and search for great appetizers that are heavenly to taste and gorgeous to serve. Well, here they are!

In truth – you MUST have this book. It’s a kind of forever book that never becomes trendy and is always a part of your “go to” library for just the right appetizers for your guests. Some of the recipes – lend themselves to entrees and other uses besides the Crostini – so you get a lot of “bang” here.

But don’t take my word for it – hear it from Barbara Nowak, one of the infamous Saucy Sisters someone who is already using this book in her kitchen:

This is the most beautiful, most delicious, most inspirational cookbook I’ve ever read.  I think, like “Julie and Julia,” I’m just going to work my way through the recipes one after the other.  Last night I started with the Crostini of Smoked Mozzarella and Prosciutto.  The orange zest and balsamic glaze took the dish to heavenly heights!  Paul was positively rapturous.  Every single recipe in the book is one I can’t wait to make.”

The book: FOR LOVE OF CROSTINI is full of other such “toasty” appetizers – easy to make –  and many are based on some Italian classic dishes. Along with the recipes for these amazing bites, you are treated to beautiful full color photographs of the dishes that make you want to nose-dive right into your computer screen, compliments of Tommy Hanks Photography. Each of these photos illustrates the serving and garnishing suggested by me along with an interesting description of the dish. Photography was also contributed by my father Attilio’s archives, from his hometown, Casale di Carinola. All of the photos of Italy that you will experience in this book take you on a magic carpet ride through towns, villages, country sides, and markets, lending color and personality to the text.

You are welcomed early in the pages, to take a peek into my personal journey that led to the creation of this book and a look at the family heritage behind it. I hope that this will give you some perspective in how I approach my recipes and my reverence for my Italian roots.

The recipes: Ahhh – you were wondering when I’d get to those! There is something for everyone in this book – some meat, some seafood, some all-vegetable and fruit, and there is even a surprise chapter at the end with sweeter recipes you won’t often see! I know, like Barbara Nowak, quoted above – you’ll want to cook your way through it.

The Pairings: If you follow my recipe blog, you know I’m “big” on serving just the right wine with some of my dishes. This book is no different. Instead of scratching your head wondering what to serve with all of these yummy appetizers, I have done the work for you in a list of “Pairings” for all of the Crostini recipes.

Here’s a peek!

Crostini Scallops Mango-8-2-Edit

Crostini with Scallops and Mango

Crostini Peach Goat Cheese

Spicy Peach Crostini

Crostini Pork09

Crostini with Rubbed Pork and Asiago

How to get this book: FOR LOVE OF CROSTINI is available and affordable now for everyone! To get all of the great recipes – Visit the LINDA’S NEW EBOOK PAGE to easily purchase the PDF, eBook, or Apple iBook. There are links on this page to take you straight to order processing for all three. You’ll want to serve these Crostini recipes to your guests all summer long on the patio and into the fall for fireside entertaining.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Zucchini Flowers Fried and Stuffed

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Buon giorno!

It’s that time again! Time to start harvesting those early jewels from the garden – the Zucchini Flowers. Some call them Zucchini Blossoms  or Fiori di Zucca– one and the same. For those familiar, ZUCCHINI FLOWERS, FRIED AND STUFFED are an experience one always remembers. For those who haven’t tried them – now is the time – whether from your garden or in a local farm to table restaurant, they are a must when in season. The season is not a long one, so don’t wait.
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These made my “favorites list” a long time ago, when my mother Loretta first introduced me to them after plucking them from our vegetable garden in my hometown of Binghamton, NY. They are a traditional dish served in the region of Lazio where my mother’s family came from. Now that I am doing my own cooking and creating in the kitchen, I have taken her fried blossoms – fritter-like with a heavier batter than most – one step further and stuffed them with goat cheese. Oh my!
Those who have ever tasted a fried zucchini or squash flower will tell you how delicious they are. Anyone can have these flowers, as zucchini is easy to grow and will grow in pots if you don’t have a garden. The zucchini plants just pump these lovelies out like crazy. Caution though – if you want to actually harvest  zucchinis, you must only pick the male flowers to eat. Differentiating is easy – the male flowers grow on regular little green stems. Female flowers which should remain in the garden have a swollen little zucchini growing and attached to them. It is best to clip the flowers in the morning as that is when they are open and ready. Just place them in a glass of water, and prepare your little feast. Remember to remove the little center pistil inside each flower. The flowers are often available at Farmer’s Markets, but keep in mind that they are among the first things to go. Plan to go early if you seriously want to find any. Prepare them ASAP after you get home!

zucchini-in-garden-300x225 - Copy

zucchini in the garden
ZUCCHINI FLOWERS, FRIED AND STUFFED
              (WITH LINDA’S STUFFING AND LORETTA’S BATTER!)
LINDA’S STUFFING
Makes: approx 8

Prep: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Ricotta cheese

4 Tbsp. Goat Cheese

3 Tsp. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 Tbsp. Chopped Golden Raisins or 2 tsp. Anchovies

1 Tbsp. Chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Instructions:

Mix together above ingredients. Use Golden Raisins for an unexpected sweet burst in your mouth or the Anchovies if you prefer a savory flavor. Place a little ball inside each flower. Gently gather the petals around the ball and twist the top a little. This kind of seals it.

Stuffed blossoms

Then dip each “little package” into the batter described below and fry!

LORETTA’S BATTER

Makes: 8-12

Prep: 5-7 minutes

Cook: Less than 1 minute

(If you don’t have that many flowers, you can fry other vegetables or even banana slices using the batter or make little blinis or pancakes which are delicious!)

Ingredients:

8-12 zucchini or squash flowers – center Pistils removed -again you can do fewer and use the remaining batter for other goodies

Olive Oil for frying

½ c. milk

1 beaten egg

¼ tsp. salt

½ Tbsp. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Black Pepper

1 tsp. Baking Soda

½ c. Flour

1 Tbsp. Chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Instructions:

Whisk above ingredients together and dip each flower – stuffed or not stuffed depending on your preference.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan – you don’t need much- you are not deep frying.

Dip each flower in batter, covering completely. I like to use tongs. Drop in hot oil. Sides should bubble up and sizzle if oil is hot enough.

Flip with a spatula.

Takes just several seconds for each side.

Lay each one on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Best to eat right away while warm and slightly crisp. Do not let them sit around.

There you have it! ZUCCHINI FLOWERS, FRIED AND STUFFED with Linda’s Stuffing and Loretta’s Batter. How can you miss?

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Breadsticks Appetizer with Capicola –

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Grissini Con Capicola – 

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Buon giorno!

Let’s face it – naked breadsticks will never win a beauty contest. No matter how good they are – even homemade – they are just sort of a snore and are easily overlooked. The trick to serving breadsticks as a successful appetizer is to make them irresistible. Well here’s your new favorite appetizer – BREADSTICKS WITH CAPICOLA!

I guarantee that these are winners – not only appealing to the eye – but also knock down drag out  – well.. ambrosial!  Serve these as an appetizer or first course and you need nothing else. These will do it all.

They are incredibly easy to make using my pizza dough recipe at this post: Pizza – That’s Amore.This dough is very simple. You can make it ahead and freeze it. The recipe recommends dividing the finished dough into 2 larger loaves or 4 small ones. One of the smaller loaves will make 6 breadsticks. Doesn’t sound like a lot? Each one of these breadstick appetizers is very filling. You can make extra for bigger eaters, but one should satisfy most people.

What is Capicola? If you were a “Sopranos” fan – you heard it pronounced “gabah-gool”. It is often referred to as “Coppa”. This is a dry cured type of Italian salume made from pork. Unlike ham, capicola comes from the upper body of the pig – neck or shoulder area. It is rich, spicy, salted, and made with red pepper. It is a VERY flavorful cold cut and is the perfect choice to dress up these “naked” sticks! (You’ll see it spelled a number of different ways.)

As to serving these appetizers, I suggest offering small plates and a fork just in case it is needed.

You will WOW your guests with these, and they will beg for more. They are perfect with wine – vino rosso ,in particular. However, they will compliment almost any cocktail.

BREADSTICKS WITH CAPICOLA

Makes: 6 breadsticks

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: about 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 Ball Pizza Dough from recipe: Pizza – That’s Amore.

2-3 Thin Slices Capicola  per breadstick (spicy Italian dry cured pork cold cut)

Long strips of roasted red pepper – one per stick

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – make it a good one!

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for sprinkling

Plenty of Fresh Chopped Basil for garnish

Large shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

A couple of pinches of Sea Salt

Instructions

Using one of the 4 balls of pizza dough made from my recipe mentioned above, defrost if frozen. Sprinkle some flour on a board and divide the dough into 6 small balls about 2-2 1/2 inches wide.

Breadsticks 1

Breadsticks 2

Roll each ball into a rod or rope about 12” long. To roll, use the palms of your hands and press with the thumbs – stretching the dough outward from the middle. Keep at it until you get the desired length.

Breadsticks 3

Place the dough ropes on a greased or oiled baking sheet.

Breadsticks 4

Bake at 400 degrees on the upper shelf of your oven for about 25 minutes. The time will be more or less depending on your oven. Remove when golden. They will be browner on the bottom.

Cool completely.

Breadsticks 5

Wrap 2-3 slices of capicola around each stick as tightly as you can.

Breadsticks 6

Then slip a pepper strip underneath and around the middle of the meat and overlap.

Drizzle all of the sticks with a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with grated cheese, Sea Salt, and chopped Basil. Then add some large shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Breadsticks 8

Serve at room temperature with small plates and forks if desired.

You will love these BREADSTICKS WITH CAPICOLABreak out a lovely dry red for these. The always perfect choice would be a dry (NOT sweet) Lambrusco that folks in Emila-Romagna, where many of the dry cured meats are made, might select. For cured meats though , I always immediately think  Barbera – a beautiful red from the north. You also can’t go wrong with a nice rosé – like Negroamaro.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Mozzarella in Carrozza

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Buon giorno!

I have so many great memories of my childhood that all seem to revolve around food. This is one that is very special to me as it was truly a family experience. Saturday nights were usually pizza nights at my house. Of course, we were always happy about that. However, pizza night usually meant something more than just pizza! My mother and father often had leftover dough. This meant – oh boy—MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA!! This was the stuff of “foodie dreams”.

I loved to be around for this – yes for the pizza – but especially for this wonderful creation that came from the leftover dough. MOZZARELLA IN CAROZZA is likened to a cheese sandwich. In fact, most often it is fashioned from a couple of slices of bread with mozzarella in the middle – dipped and fried in oil. It’s the Italian answer to the French Croque Monsieur. My mother and father, Attilio and Loretta, made theirs a little differently. In a family where nothing was wasted, they would roll the leftover dough into little balls and sometimes other shapes, and then stuff a chunk of mozzarella inside, closing the dough around the cheese. When dropped into hot oil, these balls puffed up and quickly became golden (sometimes taking just a minute). At this point, they removed them from the oil and rolled them immediately in SUGAR! Ohhhhh myyyy!

We ate them hot. Upon biting into these little balls of heaven, the melted cheese in the center became long and stringy, making it possible to stretch the delicious goo sometimes a foot or more. Great fun for a kid! (or a kid at heart!) Biting into one of these little heart attacks was an amazing and wonderful experience. I guess you could call them stuffed doughnuts – soft and savory inside – crisp and sweet on the outside. Soooo delicious! Take a look at this:

Mozzarella in Carozza08

Where did they come from? Actually, carrozza means carriage. So, literally translated: mozzarella in a carriage! As Italians like to say, “It sounds better in Italian”. These delightful nuggets are quintessential Napoletana creations. Famous for being the birthplace of good pizza, it is no wonder that Napoli should be credited for another wonderful use for the dough. Also, on occasion, you might hear of them stuffed with other items than the cheese – like anchovies or even prosciutto.

In this post, I will present them two ways:

The first: rolled in sugar as the ones of my childhood

The second: served with Marinara Sauce – a great idea for appetizers or a first course

Obviously, these babies throw caution to the wind in terms of health – But then – not everything in life needs to be healthy and perfect for us every time. Sometimes – you just need to enjoy a little!

MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA

Ingredients

For pizza dough – ingredients can be found in the dough recipe. Follow the link below:

I suggest using my recipe for pizza dough for this. You can make the dough ahead – and even freeze it for later use which is what I like to do. It provides for 2 larger loaves or 4 smaller ones. For the recipe, go : HERE

1 8 0z. ball Fresh Mozzarella Cheese for 1 large loaf of dough. Use more if desired.

Granulated sugar for rolling balls

Marinara Sauce – ingredients found in link to recipe: HERE

Grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese

Instructions

For Sugared Balls:

Mozzarella-in-Carozza06

Follow instructions above for dough

Roll dough into small balls.

Mozzarella in Carozza01

Pop a small piece of mozzarella into the center of each ball and seal with fingers and roll into smooth ball shape. Repeat for as many as you want to make. Don’t make too big – they puff up and enlarge as they cook.

Mozzarella in Carozza02

Heat oil in pan until very hot. Being careful not to splatter, carefully place a few balls at a time into the oil and move about with a slotted spoon or instrument. Move them about, turning over quickly. They turn golden in just a minute.

Mozzarella in Carozza03

Remove them to paper towels.

Mozzarella in Carozza05

Sprinkle with or roll in sugar.

Enjoy while still warm.

For Savory Balls:

Follow instructions above for dough.

Roll dough into small balls. See photo above.

Place small piece of mozzarella into center of each ball. See above photo.

Follow same instructions for frying above.

Serve in a pool of Marinara Sauce (recipe link above) or with Marinara Sauce on the side.

Top with Parmigiana –Reggiano if desired – or serve on the side.

For a different twist – stuff them with anchovies, prosciutto, salami, or roasted red peppers!

MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA is a simple rustic appetizer or start to any meal. They make a lovely first course – Consider about 2 per person for this. They are especially good with beer or vino rosso.

PARLA COME MANGI!

Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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