April: Pizza Rustica

Pin It

Pizzagaina or Easter Pie

 

Pizza Rustica slice with script

Buon giorno!

Now if that doesn’t get your attention – you might want to check your pulse! One of the most traditional Italian dishes of the Easter season is PIZZA RUSTICA. This wonder of the Italian kitchen is also known as Pizzagaina or Easter Pie. No matter what you call it, this delicious layered delight is fabulous. Eat it for brunch, lunch, dinner or as a special course at your Easter dinner. No matter how you slice it, this will win the hearts of all at your Italian table. Many raised in Italian homes will remember it. Perhaps, their Nonnas prepared it for Easter. Others, not familiar, will find this a simple dish that will please everyone. It is the best “Italian sandwich” you will ever find with everything in it that you love!

This is an easy dish to make really. This recipe is especially simple I think. You can make your dough in advance and refrigerate. Your results will be better if you allow it to come up to room temperature before you work with it. I make the dough in the food processor. You can just throw the ingredients in and whirl away! My addition of fresh Rosemary Leaves gives the dough a more interesting essence and really adds flavor overall.

The fun with this is that you can use any combination of filling ingredients that you like. Choose your own meats and cheeses. Some like to chop up all the filling items and just throw them into the pie shell all at once. this is easier of course. But I like to layer my ingredients. I think it is more interesting and prettier when it is sliced to layer.

This is one great pie to have hanging around in the frig. It is a meal in itself. You need nothing more!

PIZZA RUSTICA

Pizza Rustica 6 with script

Makes: 1  9-10 inch pie

Prep:

Bake: 50-60 minutes depending on oven

Dough Ingredients

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 Sticks Butter – cold and cut into small pieces

1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves – chopped finely

2 Large Eggs

Dough Instructions

Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor bowl – and run the processor until the dough comes together.

Pizza Rustica 1

Pour it out onto a board and form into 2 balls.

Pizza Rustica 2

Rest the dough in the refrigerator about an hour.

When ready to use, set the dough out for about 20-30 minutes, letting it become warmer and easier to work with.

Roll out one ball and place into a 9-10 inch deep dish pie plate – or press it into the plate with your hands. Even out the edges.You can use a springform pan if you like.

Now you are ready to fill your Easter Pie.

Filling Ingredients

6 Hard Boiled Eggs sliced into about 4 slices

2 Links Italian Sausage taken out of the casings and browned in a fry pan.

1/2 lb. Fresh Mozzarella or Basket Cheese

1 Medium Onion sliced thinly and cooked in just a little olive oil until just tender and golden.

Choose your own sliced meats such as prosciutto, capicola, ham, soppresata, salami etc. I have used here:

1/2 lb. Sliced Ham

6 Oz. Sliced Capicola

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil (you can substitute parsley if you like.)

4 Raw Eggs beaten

1/3 C. Grated Cheese – Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino or Provolone are good for this

Salt and Pepper to taste

( You can also add ricotta, drained or some chopped roasted red peppers if you like)

1 beaten egg to brush the top of the pie

Instructions

After rolling out or pressing into the pie plate – one of the dough balls, begin to layer your ingredients inside it.

You can chop and mix the meats, cheese, hard boiled eggs, onions and basil together and pile it all in at once or layer the ingredients as I have done in the photos.

Start with the ham. Follow with the egg slices and then the sausage. Next spread the cooked onions over the top followed by the Basil and then the mozzarella. End with the capicola. You can do it as you like, but I like a layer of the sliced meat at the bottom and also at the top.

Pizza Rustica 3

Pizza Rustica 4

Next beat the 4 eggs and mix with the grated cheese and salt and pepper. Carefully pour this mixture over the pie. Watch that it doesn’t spill out.

Top the filling with the second ball of dough rolled out. Neaten, crimp, or flute your edges.

Beat an egg and brush the top of the pie with it.

Pizza Rustica 5

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 50-60 minutes until golden on top. Let cool completely.

I like to make it a day ahead. This gives it a chance to set well and to make beautiful slices.

You will truly enjoy making and eating this PIZZA RUSTICA, a sign of spring in any Italian kitchen! 

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

 

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

Follow Me on Pinterest

Chianti Short Ribs Hash

Pin It

Short Ribs finish with script

Buon giorno!

Everyone loves the ever popular hash and eggs. Well, here is an Italian twist on that popular brunch or lunch dish that so many of us crave – CHIANTI SHORT RIBS HASH! I am an old “hash slinger” from way back, and I can’t begin to describe how good this is. You absolutely MUST try it!

This dish is amazingly flavorful on its own or with the obligatory egg on top. Either way – it’s a hit! The Chianti permeates the meat and gives it deep flavor. It is very simple to make and can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

One nice thing about this dish is that you can prepare the short ribs ahead and put it together quickly and easily when you are ready to eat. The short ribs meat and sauce can even be frozen. This simplifies the whole preparation process.

Your choice: You can choose to braise them in a pan on top of the stove, or you can use your slow cooker! (about 4 hours at High or 6 hours at Low in the Slow Cooker – watch your liquid – add more if it becomes too dry)

A word about the sauce: These short ribs make a densely flavored sauce which enables you to get two meals from it for the price and work of one!  You use a small amount of the finished sauce in the hash which leaves plenty of sauce for another day – a perfect amount for a pound of your favorite pasta!

It is obvious that you would enjoy a good Chianti with this dish as it contains a good bit of it in the prep. I highly recommend a good Chianti Classico with this. Even a Riserva with its oaky essence would stand well with the ribs. However, the nice surprise is that a good full bodied beer is also a good pick to go along side of this delicious hash.

Round up your family and friends and have a go at this one! You will LOVE it!

CHIANTI SHORT RIBS HASH

Serves: 6

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 3 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients for Ribs

2 Tbsp. Oil

2 lb. Short Ribs

Salt and Pepper

1/4 C. Chopped Pancetta

1 Onion – chopped

8 Baby Carrots – chopped

2 Stalks Celery – chopped

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped

2 Cups Chianti

3 Cups Water

2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste (dissolved in the wine or water)

1 Slice Orange Peel (cut off the pith or white portion)

1 Bay Leaf

1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves

3 Fresh Sage Leaves

1/4 Tsp. Allspice

1/2 Tsp. Sugar

Instructions for Ribs

Salt and pepper your short ribs and brown them in the oil. Remove the browned ribs to a plate and proceed in the same pan.

Short Ribs 2

Cook the chopped pancetta in the pan for about 3 minutes.

Short Ribs 3

Then add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook about 5 minutes more at medium high.

Short Ribs 4

At this point if you decide to use your slow cooker, you can pour the ingredients in the cooker and finish the cooking there.

Add the wine, water, tomato paste dissolved in the wine or water, orange peel, bay leaf, herbs, allspice, and sugar.

Short Ribs 5

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a good simmer and slowly cook the ribs, uncovered for about 3 hours or until the meat is very tender and almost falling off the bones. Remove and discard the bay leaf and orange peel.

Remove the ribs to a platter and remove the meat using 2 forks to shred it like you would do for pork barbeque. You can also use a knife and fork and cut it in little pieces. Discard the bones. Skim extra fat off the top of the remaining sauce.

Short Ribs 6

Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor – your choice – blend the sauce liquid. You will see that it almost immediately thickens and changes to a “bronzey” orange color as you see in the photo. Add Salt and Pepper to taste, and reserve your sauce and your meat separately until ready to make your hash. You can make the ribs and sauce ahead or freeze them if you like.

Short Ribs 7

Ingredients for the hash

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Large peeled Potato cooked to firm but fork tender and diced

1 Medium Sweet Potato peeled and cooked to firm but fork tender and diced

1/2 Large Onion – chopped

1/2 Green Pepper chopped

1/2 Red Pepper chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 Cup Reserved Sauce from the Short Ribs

All of the shredded or chopped Short Ribs meat

A fried egg for each dish and grated cheese to serve

Instructions for the hash

In a non-stick pan cook the onion and peppers in the oil until tender – about 8 minutes.

Short Ribs 8

Add the chopped potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Salt and pepper to taste and toss a minute in the pan.

Then add the meat and the sauce and toss gently until combined and heated through. You can add more sauce if you like, but you don’t want to make this “saucy”. The sauce basically just adds flavor to the hash.

Short Ribs 10

Short Ribs 11

Top each portion with a fried egg and serve with grated cheese.

This dish is obviously great served with a lovely Chianti Classico or Riserva – but try it with a good beer as well!

Enjoy your remaining sauce from the CHIANTI SHORT RIBS HASH with pasta on another day! You’ll thank me later!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

 

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

Follow Me on Pinterest

Shrimp and Polenta -

Pin It

Shrimp and Grits – a Southern cousin?

Shrimp Polenta-1

Buon giorno!

There is something about spring that makes me think brunch! Folks are starting to entertain again after the winter doldrums. They are looking for lighter dishes. They even begin to think of – dare I say it? – eating outside!

Shrimp and Grits is one of the traditional dishes of the American South. It is always on brunch menus and there are a gazillion ways to make it. It is the “southern cousin” to Italian SHRIMP AND POLENTA. And yes – if your weather permits, by all means, get thee to the patio with this one!

Living in the South, we have come to know grits as a staple. They eat grits with everything. Likewise, Italians regard their polenta just as highly and serve it so many different ways. To learn more about polenta visit my posts: Serving Polenta and Polenta – It’s So Corny.  You can find Italian polenta at many grocers and markets now. It is easy to make and “instant “, unlike the old days when you had to stir it for hours. You can just follow your package directions, and your resulting polenta should be very good. In the posts I recommended, you’ll see that I like to add a special ingredient, near the end of preparation, to my polenta – mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese). No matter which brand or package of polenta you choose, you can add the mascarpone right before serving. It definitely makes a difference. Your polenta will be richer and creamier, if you add this lovely creamy cheese. (And YOU will be happy you did!)

This is one dish that cooks up very quickly. You can make it ahead if you like, but it is so easy and quick to make that I never mind preparing it just before I need it. It is better, I think, freshly prepared.

Get those Bellinis and Proseccos poured – here it comes!

SHRIMP AND POLENTA

Serves: 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes approx.

Ingredients

Polenta – any type or package you prefer – prepared according to package instructions or as described here.

1/4 C. Mascarpone Cheese stirred into the polenta – recommended

1/3 C. Pancetta – chopped

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Bulb Fennel – cleaned and sliced

1 – 1 1/4 lb. Large Fresh Shrimp – cleaned and shells removed

1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste

1/2 C. Dry Vermouth

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

3 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Tarragon

Juice of 1/2 Fresh Orange

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. Butter

Garnish with Fresh Tarragon and some grated Orange Zest

Instructions

Prepare your shrimp before your polenta. Instant polenta cooks quickly – I like mine made just before serving.

Cook your chopped pancetta in the olive oil in a large fry pan for 3-4 minutes.

Add the fennel and cook a couple of minutes more.

Shrimp and Polenta 1

Add your tomato paste to the vermouth and dissolve.

Then add the shrimp, garlic, tarragon, orange juice. Toss a little while your heat is medium high.

Shrimp and Polenta 2

Add the wine with the paste dissolved in it. Stir and let the shrimp cook through and the liquid cook down by about 1/2. This should take just a few minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to taste for seasoning.

Shrimp and Polenta 3

At the end, add the butter and let it melt in, stirring into the sauce.

Shrimp and Polenta 4

Prepare your polenta according to package directions with the addition of the Mascarpone at the end.

Spoon the polenta on each plate and top with shrimp and sauce.

Garnish with fresh tarragon and grated orange zest.

 

I recommend serving your SHRIMP AND POLENTA with a crisp dry white wine like Falanghina! (Terradora di Paolo is a good one!) Prosecco is always nice as well.

PARLA COME MANGI!

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

Follow Me on Pinterest

April: Asparagus Frittata with Leeks and Ricotta

Pin It

 

Asparagus-Frittata

Buon giorno!

Frittatas are funny little “creatures”. You can adapt them to serve at almost any time of day or likewise for almost any need at your table. This ASPARAGUS FRITTATA WITH LEEKS & RICOTTA is no different in this regard and will definitely be a crowd pleaser. It is just as simple to prepare as any frittata – but this one is a little bit different in its buttery and creamy flavor. The addition of buttery leeks and creamy ricotta is responsible for this.

The resulting frittata is a delicious spring delight, bursting with goodness and flavor, largely from the vegetables themselves. It is a first choice, for sure, for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. However, it is a great selection as an appetizer cut into smaller pieces and served cold or room temperature as a finger food.

A word about the ingredients:

 I suggest using good whole milk ricotta for this, as you are entrusting the ricotta to make this a rich and creamy frittata. You might want to mash it with a fork first.

As for the asparagus I usually like to trim my asparagus, but it is optional. It’s probably a good idea if it is especially thick and fibrous.

The leeks in this dish are an amazing addition.

Leeks

There aren’t many things in life more tasty than a buttered leek! However, when cooking with leeks, it is important to clean them properly and thoroughly. This is not a difficult thing. It just takes an extra moment or two. Cut off the root end and also trim off the leek where it begins to go bright green. For this dish, you’ll want to slice them up and drop them all in a bowl of cold water. Swish them around with your hands until any sand is loosened from them. Drain them and rinse again if needed. That’s it!

So simple – you just won’t believe it!

ASPARAGUS FRITTATA WITH LEEKS & RICOTTA

Serves: 6 (definitely more if used as an appetizer)

Prep: 40 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus – trim the ends and peel if needed. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees until tender – about 10-12 min. depending on the thickness of your asparagus.Set aside.

asparagus

3 Leeks (About 2 1/2 c. sliced) rinsed and cleaned of any sand

2 Tbsp. Butter melted

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Whole shallot chopped (that means use the whole bulb with the multiple cloves)

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

12 Large Eggs – beaten

1/4 c. Heavy Cream

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 c. Grated or shredded Pecorino Cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Rosemary

1 c. Whole Milk Ricotta – mashed a little with a fork to soften

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling

Instructions

After roasting the asparagus, cut off the ends leaving the spear at about 3-4 inches long. Chop the ends into pieces about an inch long. Keep the spears and the chopped ends separate.

Leeks: slice off and discard the root. Cut the bright green part off and discard. Cut the remaining leek in sliced rounds, drop in a bowl with cold water and swish around to clean the sand from the rounds. Rinse again if needed and drain off the water. Pat the leeks dry.

Leeks (2)

Toss the leeks in the melted butter and oil, add salt and pepper and roast at 400 or saute, if preferred until tender.

Roasted leeks

Put butter and oil in a saute pan, heat and add chopped shallots. Cook until tender – about 5 minutes.

shallots

Add the cream, salt, pepper, cheese, and Rosemary to the beaten eggs and mix together and pour into a large oiled fry pan.

Distribute the cooked leeks and chopped roasted asparagus throughout the eggs in the pan and press them in a little to make them sink.

frittata

Spoon dollops of ricotta into the eggs all around. Do not mix together. Just let the dollops sit there.

Place the roasted asparagus spears around the surface of the frittata in a decorative manner that suits you.

frittata 2

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the frittata on the top of the stove at medium to medium high until partially set. The bottom and sides should be set with the middle runny.

Place the fry pan in the preheated oven and bake until set in the middle – about 10 minutes.

Slide the frittata out of the pan onto a plate. It should come right out with a little nudge from a spatula. Drizzle your best Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top before serving.

Enjoy this ASPARAGUS FRITTATA WITH LEEKS & RICOTTA with a crisp white wine, like Donna Anita Langhe Arneis (my new favorite Italian white) or a Sauvignon Blanc, or as an appetizer, with almost any cocktail. And yes – it is one of those dishes that will make you want to race for a seat “On the Patio” to fully enjoy its fresh spring goodness. See you there!

PARLA COME MANGI!

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

Follow Me on Pinterest

Spinach with Eggs

Pin It

Spinaci Con Uova

Spinach-n-eggs_09

 

 

Buon giorno!

I’m not usually a believer in coincidences – but this is a coincidence. It must appear that I have been preoccupied with working on recipes containing eggs lately. The truth is, I haven’t been. It is a coincidence. Really!  No joke!  You’ll understand when you take a closer look at this one: SPINACH WITH EGGS or SPINACI CON UOVA. This is my version of this classic dish from the Emilia-Romagna region.

Where? The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is located South of the Po River extending to Tuscany. This is the area considered to be the heart of Italy in terms of many ingredients that we associate with the finest in Italian cooking: pasta fresca, Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella, Balsamico Invecchiato, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Some of the most studied of Italian chefs earn their stripes at the cooking schools in this region. I salivate just thinking about this region and all that it offers. I offer a cooking class on this region, and I am always excited to bring the very special dishes and ingredients of the area to students. Some are seeing and tasting them for the first time. JOY!

Back to the egg thing: So yes, this dish contains a poached or fried egg, and you’ll be glad it did. It lends the protein to the dish and makes it heartier- not to mention rich and delicious.

Brunch! This dish can be dinner for sure. However, it offers an option for a splendid brunch. The fresh baby spinach, besides being iron-rich, remains the brightest green in this recipe and combines with the grated cheese and spices to produce a gorgeous sight on the plate and an impressive gastronomic experience in your mouth. When you break the yolk and let the beautiful yellow velvet flow “like the Po” into the spinach, you won’t be able to resist diving into this little nest. It is sooo delicious – incredibly quick and easy, and tastes like so much more than the time you spent making it.

To pancetta or not to pancetta… The pancetta (Italian bacon) is optional. It does present tremendous flavor, a lovely crunch, and looks really cute accessorizing the top of this little pyramid – BUT – if you prefer to keep this a vegetarian experience, it will not cause an international incident! There is enough flavor in the dish without the pancetta to offer you a memorable experience – though not celestial. My preference is always to go with the pancetta or pork ingredient in any dish, as it really adds tremendous flavor like no other.

A note on finding pancetta for those who are less familiar – These days, it is commonly sold in the deli meat section of your grocer. You can ask to have it sliced for you just like you do for ham, turkey, roast beef etc.

The dish! This is how it goes…

SPINACH WITH EGGS

(SPINACI CON UOVA)

Serves: 2

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Slices Pancetta (optional)

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 lb. Baby Spinach

1/8 Tsp. Kosher Salt

Some Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of Fresh Nutmeg

1/8 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Quick squeeze of fresh lemon

4 Tbsp. Heavy Cream

1/4 c. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + a little extra to sprinkle at the end

2 Poached or Fried Eggs

Instructions:

Fry pancetta in the olive oil until crisp and remove it and reserve for later.

Spinach n eggs_01

In the same pan – melt the butter and add the spinach in thirds.

Spinach n eggs_02

It will look like a lot of spinach – but it shrinks as it wilts and will reduce in bulk.

Spinach n eggs_03

Cook until water evaporates.

Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and hot pepper.

Spinach n eggs_04

Cook on medium for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Spinach n eggs_05

During the cooking, give the spinach just a quick squeeze of a fresh lemon.

Spinach n eggs_06

Add the cream and stir.

Spinach n eggs_07

Add the Parmigiano and cook a couple more minutes, stirring.

Spinach n eggs_08

Cook the eggs.

Plate the spinach. Add an egg on the top and a piece of the reserved crispy pancetta. Sprinkle the egg with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano.

OK! Now you are ready for an incredibly tasty dish of SPINACH WITH EGGS for two. Add a chilled New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and you have yourself a BRUNCH! (A beautiful breakfast in bed option for Valentine’s Day, maybe?) Yeah!

PARLA COME MANGI!

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

Follow Me on Pinterest

Baked Cauliflower and Eggs

Pin It

Pasticcio di Cavolfiore e Uova

Cauliflower-eggs_0027

Buon giorno!

What?? Cauliflower? Eggs? Down boys and girls! This Pasticcio di Cavolfiore e Uova  or Baked Cauliflower with Eggs is one heck of a dish. Italians use eggs in all sorts of ways – some of which might sound a little unconventional at first. Sometimes you will see eggs added on top or on the side of a very hot dish and then mixed in quickly so as to cook them, making the dish very rich with a velvety texture i.e. Carbonara. In others, like this one, the egg is fried or poached with a soft yolk and then added to a vegetable or meat dish when served, encouraging you to break the yolk and eat it along with the rest. In both cases, the egg is significant and adds considerable flavor and interest without which the dish would be lacking in interest and flavor.

The egg: This egg thing, my friends, is a very rustic and very Italian use of the ingredient. Uovo is egg in Italian and uova is the plural. No matter what language you are speaking, if you are making this dish, this is the time to go all out for the egg. The better the egg, the more rich and enjoyable the dish. The egg is the star, and this is the time to to let ‘er shine. Get the freshest, large egg you can find. You’ll want a beautiful vivid yolk that will impart the richest flavor when it oozes into each serving. If you are lucky enough to be in Italy, you’ll probably want to find a nice warm egg that was just laid and when cracked will startle the eye with its orange -  yes orange – hue. This would be an egg not soon forgotten.

Pasticcio: Depending on your way of thinking, this means either mess or pie in Italian. This dish is neither! It is obviously not a pie in the sense to which we are accustomed.  It is hardly a mess, as part of its heavenly allure is that OMG factor which appears at first bite. Yup! From first bite, you’ll be wondering – what is this wonderful thing?  However, this is one of the traditional names the dish is given. Often Italians will give something a name for which there is no reasonable translation or relation. You just have to go with it. It reminds me of one of the long funny stories my mother and father, Loretta and Attilio, would tell and then try to translate. In English often it made no sense. It was then that one of them would say “It’s better in Italian.” Probably so!

My experience: When I was growing up, my mother often added an egg,  sometimes cooked and sometimes uncooked, to a dish when she served it. Often, it was a soup – even a chicken soup.  Just as often, it was a meatless dish which, with the added protein and richness of the egg, became a more substantial meal. Many times, in the early days, it was a Friday meal when we weren’t allowed meat. Whatever the occasion, I always loved the addition of the egg. I liked to break it and watch the yolk permeate the food and sauce underneath. The flavor was always so much better with it.

Uses: Aside from its amazing flavor and ease of preparation, this dish is also notable for its versatility. It can, of course, be a meatless dinner dish – which was what I think it was originally meant to be. Also, it can be a brilliant brunch dish – lovely to look at and easy to make. The baked cauliflower can be prepared ahead with the fried eggs made and added just before serving. A fun touch – is to make individual ones in ramekins or small baking dishes – each topped with the egg.  BUT – for an amazing side dish, I highly recommend this one with or without the eggs. It is definitely flavorful and attractive enough to be served alongside grilled or roasted meats and fish.

So—there you have it: 3 in one! The main course, a brunch dish, a side dish. Could this get any better?

Let’s get to the tick tock!

PASTICCIO DI CAVOLFIORE E UOVA

(Baked) Cauliflower with Eggs

Serves: 6

Prep: 40 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 Large Head Cauliflower

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Cloves Fresh garlic – chopped finely

2 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves + a couple of sprigs

1 c. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

2 c. Fresh Breadcrumbs

1/4 c. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

6 eggs Fried “Sunnyside Up”

Like Us On Facebook!

Instructions:

Cut the cauliflower into pieces. Add the garlic and thyme and toss to coat completely with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the fresh thyme sprigs on the top.

Roast cauliflower at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until tender and slightly browned at edges.

Cauliflower - eggs_0004

Place the roasted cauliflower in an oiled baking dish.

Sprinkle Parmigiano over the top.

Mix the breadcrumbs and parsley together and drizzle with some Olive oil – add salt and pepper.

Cauliflower - eggs_0002

Spread the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.

Cauliflower - eggs_0010

Remove from oven. Top with fried eggs and serve!

Cauliflower-eggs_0018

BAKED CAULIFLOWER AND EGGS or PASTICCIO DI CAVALFIORE E UOVA is a uniquely Italian dish. Despite its simplicity in both preparation and ingredients, it is surprisingly satisfying and richly flavorful. It is one of my husband’s favorites and hopefully will be one of yours.

PARLA COME MANGI!

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

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

TO PRINT – USE THE PRINT BUTTON AT THE END OF EACH POST ON THE WEBSITE

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

Follow Me on Pinterest

July: Frittata Margherita

Pin It

Frittata-Margerita_05

 

FRITTATA MARGHERITA, the July Recipe of the Month, has a little history. Sometimes you wonder how things get started. There are very few pizza lovers who are not aware of the famed Pizza Margherita. One might ask was there a real person for whom this pizza was named? Who was Margherita? Why does a pizza bear her name?

Well, she was indeed real. She even has a Facebook page! All of this “Margherita” hoopla honors Margherita of Savoy, Queen consort of Italy. She was the wife of Umberto of Piedmont, her first cousin…ahem! Her only child was Umberto, Prince of Naples, who became Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. It is believed that she deserves much credit for the unification of Italy with her enthusiastic promotion of things Italian and thus conducting her life in the traditional Italian style of the time including mode of dress, jewelry etc.

She was particularly beloved in Naples, and they named a pizza after her, the Pizza Margherita, which consists of a traditional thin crust with a topping of sliced fresh tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella cheese.

FRITTATA MARGHERITA is similar in ingredients to its famous “pizza cousin”. It is a simple, healthy recipe, with a beautiful blend of fresh ingredients creating a versatile dish, lovely in its presentation of the vibrant colors of the Italian flag. It says “summertime” with its freshness, and, yes, it is one of those dishes that calls me to the patio again and again for brunch, lunch, or as a before dinner appetizer. It is best made in these summer months when tomatoes “talk back to you” with sweetness and flavor. The FRITTATA MARGHERITA is also my husband, Tom’s, favorite frittata!

FRITTATA MARGHERITA

Frittata-Margerita_01

 

Serves: 6 as an appetizer

4 as a brunch or lunch dish

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Olive Oil

2 cloves fresh garlic – chopped finely

9 eggs beaten together

1/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Grana Padano Cheese

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

2 Large Fresh Tomatoes –  sliced

1-1 1/2 cups Whole Fresh Basil Leaves

8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella – sliced

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Rub a 10 inch fry pan with a little olive oil.

You are going to build this frittata in layers.

Sprinkle a  third of the chopped garlic on the bottom of the pan and saute lightly a minute.

Lay some of the tomato slices on the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

Then add half of the basil leaves over the top.

Sprinkle half of the mozzarella slices over the basil.

Follow with another layer of tomato slices – salt and pepper and chopped garlic.

Add another layer of basil leaves and mozzarella slices.

Gently beat the heavy cream and cheese into the beaten eggs, and add some Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – mix together.

Then pour the egg mixture over the layers in the pan.

Put in on the stove at medium high. It will puff up a little. When the sides firm up and just the center is still liquid (about 10 minutes) – put the fry pan in the oven at 350 degrees until the frittata is firm in the middle – about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and invert onto a plate.

Serve warm or cold, slicing in wedges for brunch or lunch and squares for appetizers. If serving straight from the oven, let it sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.

For wine: A lovely Pinot Noir would suit if you would like to serve red. For white wine, I would enjoy a crisp cold Pinot Grigio or Soave.

PARLA COME MANGI!

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

 

Also: See the RECIPE OF THE MONTH on

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

Follow Me on Pinterest

April: Easter Frittata

Pin It

 

Buon giorno!

Easter-Frittata_03-Slice

The Easter Frittata was always a much anticipated part of our Easter meal – served and eaten cold, usually the second course behind the antipasto – and after the blessing always offered by my father. Every year, he told an old tale that cautioned us not to eat the Frittata until it was blessed lest a serpent might emerge. As a child, just in case I might have wanted to sneak a bite – I heeded this warning with great trepidation!

Tradition: My parents, Loretta and Attilio, made the Frittata, a day ahead – a huge ritual – using a cast iron frying pan. The ingredients for the Easter Frittata were always the same and reflected some of the freshness of spring. They always included my father’s homemade sausage – the best I ever had or will probably ever have again. My memory is still vivid, picturing us all gathered round, hoping a crumb would drop for us to catch. We watched them prepare the ingredients and create the finished product together. This process involved much drama in the flipping and turning of this giant omelet in the very heavy pan with all the appropriate Bravo’s and gasps at the finish.

Today: For today’s kitchen, it is surprisingly easy to make, can be made a day in advance, and chilled. Besides the Easter presentation, this Frittata has many “anytime” uses: as a preliminary course to a meal, a meal in itself, a brunch dish, or as a delicious appetizer cut into small pieces and served with cocktails. It is a perfect selection for serving On the Patio – making it a great “go-to” dish for my favorite place to dine.

With the holiday and spring fast approaching – let’s get to work! Andiamo!

EASTER FRITTATA

This recipe makes one large frittata. For a smaller version – just cut the ingredients in half!

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: About 20 minutes

1 dozen eggs

¼ c. heavy cream

Salt, pepper

¾ c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

1 bunch fresh asparagus

Olive oil to drizzle asparagus

Salt, pepper

1 ¼ lb Italian Sausage -out of casings – broken up into bits (combination of hot and mild is always good)

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Butter

4 Cloves fresh garlic – chopped finely

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil

1 bunch of green spring onions – with green tops – coarsely chopped

¾ lb-1 lb Basket Cheese or Fresh Mozzarella – cubed

(Basket Cheese is a bland and very moist cheese made from cow’s milk and very traditional to this dish. It is very difficult to find in Atlanta and some other areas. Fresh Mozzarella is a perfectly good substitute.)

Instructions:

Whisk the eggs together with ¼ cup heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste, and ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano – Set aside.

Roast the bunch of asparagus – I like the flavor provided by roasting the asparagus. Cut off the ends and bake drizzled with a little olive oil and a little salt and pepper at 400 degrees for about 12-15 min. til just fork tender – do not over cook! Cut the roasted asparagus into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large non-stick fry pan, saute 1 ¼ lb Italian Sausage in 2 tbsp. Olive oil til no longer pink. Remove sausage from pan with slotted spoon and set aside. Take the fry pan and swirl the drippings around so that the sides are coated. Now add 1 tbsp butter – melt in pan and swirl around the sides again.

Place this fry pan over medium high heat, and add the garlic and green onions. Saute a couple of min. til just tender.

To this pan over medium high heat, now add the parsley and basil – mix together – followed by the eggs. Give it a quick stir. Add the asparagus, sausage and cubed cheese – stir just a little to distribute.

Continue to cook over medium high heat being careful not to burn. After a bit –it should be set on the sides and bottom and be just a little runny in the middle – peek at the bottom – it should appear golden brown. At this point, place it in a 400 degree oven until completely set and firm in the middle.I always tap it with a knife in the middle. If it shakes – it is not yet set. Do not over cook or it will be dry. It should be just set throughout – takes just a few minutes depending on your oven. Check it after about 10.

Two ways: There are two ways to serve this:

1. You can either pop it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top and then gently slide it onto a plate (use your spatula to coax if needed). OR -

2. You can invert it onto a plate. In this case you don’t need to use the broiler step as it will appear browned on the top when you invert it.

Easter-Frittata_01-whole

This Easter Frittata a very easy dish to make – just takes a few steps, and it can and should be made a day ahead and served cold! How can you beat that?

BUONA PASQUA!

Subscribe to my free newsletter

Subscribe to my free blog

 

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum

Follow Me on Pinterest

SMITTEN WITH ZEPPOLE!

Pin It

Making Zeppole

Buon giorno!

Zeppole_51

Move over, “Dunkin”! We’re through, “Krispy Crème”! It’s over, “Mr. Do-nut!” I’m finished with the cheap imitations! My wandering eye, longing  for the real thing, has found a new love. His name is ZEPPOLE! (zay-po-lay) He is Italian, and he’s gorgeous! He knows what makes my bells ring each time we meet. That golden, tanned,  and kind of crusty exterior – but he’s such a sweet sentimental softy on the inside. Yes, I’m smitten!  Gone! Over the moon and in love!

Trust me, taste Zeppole (zay-po-lay), and you will join me. Your love affair with the local doughnut haunts will be over for good! Guaranteed! For those not familiar with Zeppole, they are the Italian version of what we know as doughnuts, but that’s where the similarity ends. There is something about Zeppole that sets them apart. They are generally not as sweet as the American “Dunkin” variety, and there are all sorts of recipes for them dependent upon what region of Italy you are from or might be visiting. Some are made with yeast, some not, and some with ricotta. You will find recipes with wine or brandy in them or bits of dried fruit.

You will find Zeppole in a rustic free form as we will prepare them today, and you will also find them fancy: piped, fluted, filled with pastry cream and even cherries in some of the finest pastry shops. Once again, the form, appearance, and recipe will vary and change according to region in Italy. A savory form filled with anchovies is common in some areas. The American state of Rhode Island, claiming a large Italian population, heralds some of the most beautiful and artistic of examples in their local bakeries.  Take a look at these. Lovelies

It always fascinates me as to how things get started – where they came from. It is kind of the way I roll in the kitchen as well. I need to know the how and the why and the origin. It always makes the cooking experience richer for me. My fixation with Zeppole is no different in that regard. Just like so many other Italian dishes, the history can often date back centuries. According to Roman Catholic theology, Italians, observing the lessons of their faith, celebrate St. Joseph’s Day on March 19th of every year honoring the step-father of Jesus of Nazareth. It is seen on Western calendars dating back to the 10th century. This feast day which has become synonymous with Zeppole, is of huge importance in Italy – especially in the south and Sicily. It is said that during a famine in Sicily, the poor prayed to St. Joseph. They felt their prayers were answered, in particular, with the appearance of a good crop of fava beans. In return, the people promised to always give thanks to him with food. This is so typical of Italian tradition – when celebrating anything – no matter what – there is always food involved.

The story waxes further that Neapolitans are responsible for creating Zeppole in a convent (of course – and I’m sure those nuns all took a vow of silence), Santa Patrizia, in Naples. It must be true, as according to my father, Attilio, Napoli is the land “ from whence all good food cometh”. The custom we know today of Zeppole as “street food” did, however, begin in Naples in the 1800’s with a pastry chef named Pintauro who first made them in the street outside his little shop. This tradition caught on quickly and still exists today. Neapolitans are positively devoted to this feast day as is seen in their excitement all over the city during this time.

Today, in Italy, there are festivals and parades held in honor of the day. In addition, there are “St. Joseph Tables” – tables heavy  and crowded with foods of all kinds – often without meat because of Lent – the presence of fava beans for luck and, happily, many forms of dolci, including Zeppole, also known as St. Joseph’s cakes. Whether or not you celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, making Zeppole one of your new favorites will not disappoint. Any day is a good one for Zeppole!

Now, you are in for a treat!  Just like the street vendors who whip them up before your eyes as you stroll by, this is one Napoletana chick who promises that Making Zeppole today will be easy, fun, and quick. You’ll love this! Those with “baking with yeast phobias” will cheer as I do not use it in my recipe. I use ricotta and very few ingredients. My Zeppole are simple with just a touch of sweetness in the soft  “inside” and a crispy golden “outside”. They are dotted with currants for another texture and level of flavor.

Hurry! Put on your red dress – as is the custom on this day! Andiamo!

ZEPPOLE

Makes: 30-40

Prep: 10 min.

Cook: fry about 15 min.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 qts. oil

1 1/2 c. flour

1/8 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

1/4 c. sugar

3 Large Eggs – previously beaten

1 1/2 c. Ricotta Cheese

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 c. currants

Cinnamon Sugar: 3 tsp cinnamon to 1 c. sugar – mix together set aside.

Instructions:

First put oil in large pot  on stove and begin to heat. Oil must reach approx. 375 degrees – good and hot so Zeppole will fry quickly and won’t be greasy.

Meanwhile – In a large saucepan, mix the following: flour, salt, baking powder, sugar.

 

Add beaten eggs.

 

Add Ricotta cheese and vanilla.

 

Stir all together in pan.

 

Add the currants.

 

Now, stir together on a low heat until thoroughly mixed and remove from heat.

 

When oil is hot enough, drop by the tablespoonful into the hot oil – about golf ball size. Use 2 tablespoons for this. I like to spray them with Pam first. The dough falls off easier into the oil that way.

 

Watch the following video on the frying process.


Frying Zeppole

Frying a few at a time, pop them over if they don’t turn by themselves. They cook VERY quickly – just a couple of minutes. As they turn golden on both sides, remove them with a spider or slotted spoon.

 

Place them on paper towels.

 

Zeppole_35

Dust with cinnamon sugar quickly after removing from oil.

You can also drizzle your Zeppole with honey instead of the cinnamon sugar. Either is traditional. Or use powdered sugar, if you like. They are best when just cooked and still warm , but on the outside chance you have them leftover the next day, you’ll be just as excited to pop one into your mouth for a déjà vu moment and find they are still amazing. They are delicious for breakfast with coffee or espresso – with maybe a little sauce puddle of pureed strawberries on the side.. They also make a dreamy dessert served with a light, sweet Moscato or Vin Santo. My daughter likes them with a scoop of gelato!  Any way you eat Zeppole, it will be heavenly!

PARLA COME MANGI!

Also: See the RECIPE OF THE MONTH

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

***Our new Classes and Services have been added to the website. Visit today! Classes will begin as soon as they fill. Sign up today!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Serving Polenta

Pin It

Polenta Gets its Groove On

Buon giorno!

So I left you with your Polenta stretched lazily out on a board, platter, or pan – waiting patiently to be dressed and ready for the party. It’s kind of like having everything on but your earrings. “Whatever shall I do?”- pined Scarlett. What next? It is in Serving Polenta that the dish comes to life!

Polenta_3011

No one I know just eats Polenta. You kind of need to dress it up a little. It is the stage  – not the performance. However, it is such a key menu item so as to totally transform any dish that includes it. By virtue of its existence on the plate, it takes any stew, sauce, meat or fish recipe to a new level. Besides that, it simply tastes great with anything you decide to serve with it. Even Broccoli Rabe or a simple fried egg shine a little brighter when paired with Polenta. All that and you can make it a day ahead if you like, and also its one of the easiest things to make. One of my readers, Grace, who resides in Denmark, loves to prepare her Polenta, porridge-style, with chicken bouillon, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese and a drizzle of Truffle Oil and snipped chives. I can think of nothing better – heavenly – so simple, yet such a perfect combination of flavors.

Of course, the traditional serving method in the South of Italy is the Polenta with Sauce and Meatballs!

Traditional Polenta with sauce and meatballs  with script

My “Nawthern” Italian friend, Tony, tells a story about the “Triestini” (as he calls them) members of his family up near the northern border in Italy, making their Polenta in the very traditional copper pot. At the end of the process, a solid crust is left inside the pot that they call a “helmet”. The children run around the house after the cooking is finished wearing this “helmet” on their heads. The last time he visited them, they prepared their Polenta with rabbit. Tony, misunderstanding the dialect for a moment, thought the ragu contained buckshot. After many hands flying and gesturing, and finally taking to the kitchen, Tony figured out they were referring to Juniper Berries! I so love this story!

One of the most interesting and unique ways to serve Polenta, in a dome shape, is offered by the “godmother” of Italian cooking and someone I think of as a mentor, the great Marcella Hazan. She instructs: when your Polenta has just finished cooking, wet a large bowl or individual ramekins for individual servings with some cold water and swirl it around. Then pour in your polenta.

Polenta_13

Smooth the top and put it aside for 10 or 15 minutes and then voila! Just invert it onto your serving plate or individual plates.

Polenta_15

But wait! It gets better! Take a spoon and gently scoop out a well in the top of your dome.

Polenta_17

You get it now don’t you? Serving Polenta this way makes the perfect little nest for your stew, sauce or whatever. It also lasts for days in the refrigerator.

Polenta_18

Hold on—get ready to see later in this post how we’ll fill this thing.

Let’s make a very simple and rustic dish with sausage and wild mushrooms and maybe a little Madeira for a touch of sweet drama. This promises to be a delicious little something that is easy and quick to make.  You can substitute slices of beef – preferably tenderloin – for the sausage if you like.  Prepare it the same way as for the sausage only leave your beef a little on the medium rare side. It can be a dinner, lunch, or a GREAT brunch dish – definitely provocative served in the dome shape but just as lovely served on squares of Polenta that are fried or grilled.

SALSICCIA E FUNGHI

(Sausage and Mushrooms)

Serves about 4

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 –1 1/2 lb. Sausage pieces removed from casings ( mixture of mild and hot)

6-8 oz  Wild mushrooms – mixed (or Creminis or Baby Bellas) and sliced

1/2 Large onion

1 Clove Garlic – chopped finely

1/2 c. Madeira or Sherry

1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary

1/2 c. Golden raisins (Soaked first in a cup of boiling water to plump for about 1/2 hour)

1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley

Instructions:

Saute the sausage until just browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and reserve.

Polenta_21

To the same pan, add the onion and garlic – Saute until tender.

Polenta_22

Add the wild mushrooms and cook stirring about 3-4 minutes.

Polenta_23

Add the sausage back to the pan & add the Madeira or Sherry.

Polenta_24

Add in the Rosemary and cook down until the sauce reduces a little.

Then add the raisins. Mix together and cook for just a couple of minutes to heat through.

Polenta_26

When finished add the chopped fresh parsley.

That’s it! Easy enough?

OK! Let’s change things slightly. So let’s say you made your Polenta yesterday. It has set in the pan and you are scratching your head wondering what to do with it.

Take out your pan and cut the Polenta into squares. Now you have a choice: 1. You can heat the squares and serve;  2. You can fry them;  3.You can grill them.

FRIED:

Polenta_00491

GRILLED:

Polenta_00521

Last, but with more than a little drama, we have the DOME with the Sausage and Mushrooms. Troppo Bella!

Polenta_302

Now you have to admit – this was NOT difficult.  There are not too many ingredients to juggle. You can make your Polenta a day ahead if you like. You can also make the Sausage and Wild Mushroom dish, Salsiccia e Funghi a few hours ahead as well. So plan your Carnevale party or any party or brunch and dazzle your family and friends by Serving Polenta!

PARLA COME MANGI!

Also: See the NEW RECIPE OF THE MONTH for March on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE!

LIT_logo_trademarked_blogbottom_thum[1]

Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

Follow Me on Pinterest

POLENTA–It’s so corny

Pin It

Buon giorno!

Since the annual pandemonium and pageantry of Carnevale has begun in Venice, Viareggio, Rio, Portugal, and… my house, I thought it might be fitting to chat about the food most representative of this celebration in Italy – Polenta. Because there is so much to say about Polenta – where it came from, how to prepare it, how to serve it, I will discuss it in two posts beginning today with its origins, use, and preparation. This post will be followed later in the week with some great ways to serve it. So don your mask and costume and yank last year’s parade float out of the garage and  – Andiamo!

What is Polenta anyway? Polenta, a simple cornmeal mush, dates back centuries. Those Nawthern Italians insist on laying claim to it, but you’ll find it in many of the other regions in Italy – though not quite as much in Tuscany. Its origins actually date back to the ancient Romans making theirs as a kind of porridge-like mush which was called pulmentum. When corn came on the scene in the 1600’s, Polenta became more like what we are used to seeing now. It is likened in consistency and appearance to the grits of the American South.

Polenta_01

The source ingredient of Polenta can be found as several different types of flour or cornmeal throughout Italy.  The most common polenta flour is Bramata Fioretto which is very fine and makes a softer polenta. In Venice, the home of Carnevale, cooks most often use polenta bianca or white cornmeal. Along the Piedmont, you will sometimes even find it made with potatoes.  Some areas of Italy use buckwheat or chestnut flour. [Read more...]

Follow Me on Pinterest