Recipe of the Month October: Risotto With Seafood Sauce

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Risotto Seafood finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

There is nothing better than an Italian Seafood Sauce well prepared. It has so many uses – risotto, pasta etc. Today’s RISOTTO WITH SEAFOOD SAUCE is a great representation of the Italian Seafood Sauce at its very best – prepared with fresh clams, shrimp, and crab.

Often you will see this sauce as “alla scoglio” which means of the rocks or in the style of the rocks. This refers to the use of seafood which lives in the rocks of the Mediterranean – clams, shrimp, crab, and sometimes mussels, crab, or lobster. This sauce preparation is found throughout the coastal areas of Italy – claimed by the North and the South.

As always – good ingredients wins the day with this sauce – fresh clams, crab, and shrimp and fresh herbs!

The sauce captures the essence of the sea in the “creatures” you choose to put into it. The aroma is distinctively Mediterranean. When you prepare it, you may even want to play the songs of the coastal fishermen in the background for extra ambience. You know the ones – “Santa Lucia”, “Torna a Surriento”, “Vieni Sul Mar”…

My father, Attilio, would often sing as he cooked. He sang the traditional songs of Italy and seemed to choose them according to what he prepared. I can still hear him..

“Vide’o mare quant’ e bello, spira tantu sentimento…”

ITALIAN SEAFOOD SAUCE

Seafood sauce with script

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 28 oz. Can San Marzano Tomatoes ( this is a type of tomato, not a brand – the very best)

2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste

2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley Chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Basil

1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano

1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 Cup Clam juice

1/2 Cup Dry White Wine or Dry Vermouth

1 lb. Cleaned Shrimp, shells removed

2 Dozen Littleneck Clams, shells scrubbed

8 Oz. Lump Crabmeat (Lump or Jumbo Lump is best)

Instructions

Cook the garlic in the oil a minute – do not burn!

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, clam juice and wine.

Cook at medium to medium high bubbling until much of the liquid cooks off – about 30 minutes.

Add shrimp and clams  –  cook about 10 minutes or a couple of minutes more until all shells have opened. Discard any clams that do not open.

Risotto with Seafood Sauce

Seafood sauce

RISOTTO FOR SEAFOOD SAUCE

Risotto for seafood sauce

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 45 minutes approx.

Ingredients

2 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice

3 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Onion – chopped

1/2 Cup Dry White Wine

6 Cups Liquid: 5 Cups chicken broth, 1 cup Clam Juice

Pinch of Saffron Threads

2 Tbsp. Butter

1/4 C. Parmigiano-Reggiano Grated

Fresh Basil for garnish

Instructions

Warm your broth and clam juice and add the saffron threads to the liquid, crushing them with your fingers a little before adding.

Melt butter in oil, and add the onion and stir, cooking at medium high about 5 minutes.

Add rice to the pan. Stir the rice and coat well – cooking for about 5 minutes.

Now add the wine, stir and let it cook down.

Continuing at medium high heat, add about a cup of the warm broth and clam juice with the saffron to the pan and continue to stir. When most of the liquid is gone add another  1/2 cup and stir. Continue adding the liquid by the same amount until you use all of it, slowly stirring as you add. Once the liquid is gone and cooks into the rice, it should be done.

Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and then the cheese. The risotto is ready and should be a beautiful golden color from the saffron threads.

TO SERVE: Spoon some of the hot sauce over each bowl of risotto along with some clams and shrimp. Top with some of the Lump Crab and fresh basil.

There is no better pairing with RISOTTO WITH SEAFOOD SAUCE than a crisp Terradora di Paolo Falanghina from Campania – an Italian white wine that was just made for seafood! “Vieni sul mar…”

PARLA COME MANGI!

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

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September: Meatballs

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Don’t Mess With the Meatballs!

Meatball finish with script

Buon giorno!

So I am finally getting around to the simplest example of Italian cooking –  MEATBALLS. I like to call them the “Scarlet Pimpernell” of Italian cuisine – you remember: “ they seek him here, they seek him there… that damned elusive Pimpernell”. Meatballs are pretty much everywhere, but are rather elusive as it’s hard to find a really good one. Everyone has a recipe. People go to amazing lengths to jazz them up – complicate them – put their singular stamp on them. Truth is – there is no need to go to such lengths and most of them fail.

My trusty author-friend, Marcia Mayo (now Guiendon), a word wizard, and I were talking about meatballs at dinner the other night. I told her that for such a very simple thing, it was amazing how often they are bastardized especially by the American public in an effort to “get cute”  – be different – fill them full of things  etc. I said I should write about this. Agreeing, she recommended that I call my blog post “Don’t Mess With the Meatballs!”  So here we are – for all the folks who have asked for them.

In my life experience, the very finest meatballs were found right in my mother, Loretta’s, kitchen. If she were here, she would undoubtedly repeat one of her favorite lines, “Don’t be stupid!” She would not think the subject worthy of my time writing about it as they are so easy, so simple, that they couldn’t be such a big deal. Although, if she had any of the meatballs I have had lately, she might get it.

Loretta made her meatballs so simply and never by recipe. I watched her so many times, I have lost count. She always used the same few ingredients and counseled me in the same way on a couple of tips:

1. Always use an even mixture of ground beef chuck, pork, and veal.

2. Use your clean hands to mix the ingredients.

3.Don’t overwork the meat – don’t over mix as it toughens the meatball. Just pull the ingredients together gently and roll.

4. Always use fresh garlic and fresh Italian parsley.

5. Use fresh breadcrumbs – preferably from Italian bread at least a day old.

6. Wet your hands to roll the balls.

7. Fry them for best flavor and moistness.

I highly recommend the old KISS Method for meatballs. You know: “keep it simple stupid!” It just doesn’t get any easier.

If looking for a good Sunday Sauce for these meatballs – try my PORK RAGU!

Loretta, this one’s for you!

MEATBALLS

Makes: 14-15 Large meatballs

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients

2 lb. Ground beef, pork, and veal in fairly equal parts

2 C. Fresh Breadcrumbs

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic chopped finely

1/3 C. Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

2/3 C. Grated Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, or Aged Provolone

1 Tsp. Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Eggs

If you are Sicilian – 1/4 C. Currants – Loretta would NOT like this!

Olive Oil for frying

Instructions

See the meatball tips above in the text!!

If you can’t find the mix of ground meats, ask any butcher to grind it for you. It is traditionally the mixture for good meatloaf.

Make your own breadcrumbs by putting the bread in the food processor or blender and pulse to create the breadcrumbs.

Add to the meat mixture, the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper and mix together with your hands. ( Add the currants if using) Don’t over mix – just pull it together. Over mixing toughens the meat.

Meatballs 1

Crack two eggs and add to the mixture. Mix together gently with your clean hands – just to moisten.

Meatballs 2

Clean your hands and wet them to roll the meatballs. Repeat wetting them if needed. You can roll any size you need – large or small for soup or lasagna.

Meatballs 3

Now you can fry them in olive oil as I recommend or bake them at 350 degrees. If you fry – they will be more moist. If you bake, be careful not to over cook as they will be hard – not more than 12 minutes – then finish in sauce.

Meatballs 5

For frying – brown them on all sides. Keep them moving in the oil for just a few minutes (about 6 min. depending on the heat) and then place them in your sauce to cook completely. If you want to – after browning you can bake them at 350 for about 5 minutes but you don’t have to if using them in sauce. You can also freeze them.

MEATBALLS are the Italians’ gift to the world. If kept simple and unembellished, they are heavenly. Try my recipe for Pork Ragu – the Sunday Sauce for finishing your meatballs. Open a lovely Chianti Classico to enjoy with them.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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August: Pesto Potatoes

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Pesto Potatoes finish with script

Buon giorno!

They say that in the coastal areas of the region of Liguria, the aroma of pesto permeates the air. This is not the same pesto that you see in the jars at your grocer – far from it! Many who say they do not care for it, have only this rather pathetic version in the jar from which to draw reference. Instead, this is the real thing, made from fresh picked herbs, fresh garlic, nuts (more traditionally pignoli) and the best extra virgin olive oil.

Now THIS is pesto!

Pesto Potatoes 3 with script

Your kitchen will smell like Liguria when you make PESTO POTATOES. This delicious dish, charged with immense flavor, is a beautiful accompaniment to any grilled meat, poultry, or fish.

In Liguria, most people grow their own basil. These days many of us here in the US grow our own as well. Fortunately, in more recent times, it is now always available at our local markets. So we can enjoy this amazing aromatic fresh herb all year round. Pesto can be ours at any time, just as in Liguria, anytime we want to make it. The wonderful thing about it is that it is soooo easy. If you have a few fresh ingredients and a blender – you can make your own! Dine like a true Ligurian, and prepare their signature green sauce for your own “Italian table!”.

PESTO POTATOES are fun to serve. Not only do they taste great ,but also this potato dish makes a beautiful presentation on your table. The potatoes bathe in the beautiful green sauce and more color pops through with the addition of sun dried tomatoes. The sun dried tomatoes also contribute a touch of sweetness brightening this largely savory dish.

These potatoes will disappear quickly! Serve them at your next grilling extravaganza!

PESTO POTATOES

Makes: 1 1/2-2 lb. potatoes

Prep: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 lb. Small White Potatoes – skins on – cooked

2 C. Fresh Basil Leaves

1 Large Clove Fresh Garlic

3/4 C. Toasted Walnuts

1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

3/4 C. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

2/3 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 C. Sun Dried Tomatoes, packed in oil – chopped small

Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings for garnish

Instructions

Cook your potatoes and then slice them in half – or leave them whole if they are especially small.

Place the basil, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, grated cheese, salt and pepper in a blender.

Pesto Potatoes 1

Run your blender while adding all of your oil slowly through the top in a stream as the mixture becomes a smooth paste. It will become a beautiful green color.

Pesto Potatoes 2

If it seems too dry – add more oil.

Taste for seasoning. It is important to add enough salt and pepper to bring out the flavor of this sauce.

Pour this pesto sauce over the cooked potatoes and gently toss.

Add the sun dried tomatoes and toss again.

Pesto Potatoes 5

Garnish with shavings of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serve at room temperature.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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July: Mac and Cheese Italian Style

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Mac - finish with script

Buon giorno!

OK – Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t. Usually the opposite is the case – can’t get enough of it – want it every day – can’t resist it when it is served. This one will get the attention of the all who love the cheesy oozy comforting goodness of this classic dish. Only this time – we’re giving it that Italian “edge” with MAC AND CHEESE ITALIAN STYLE! If you can resist this one – Calabrisi does not end with an “I”!

 

We’re taking a slightly different turn with this though. It is not the orange colored mac and cheese we are so used to seeing from those… boxes. I make this with all kinds of short pastas – you choose! It is great with gnocchi as well. This recipe uses Fontina – the Italian melting cheese with the nutty flavor – that will take care of the OOZY. We add White Cheddar for the CHEESY. The Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago is there.. well, because why in the world wouldn’t we want it there??? The wine gives it that hint of loveliness, and we get touch of sweet from the butternut squash. You get the idea! We add one flavor level after another – until we hit the max… and then… we add (optional but incredible) seafood – lobster or shrimp. We have just cracked the ceiling of culinary heaven!

 

As if that is not enough – those who look for that something extra which makes this a truly distinctive and complex dish will finish with a “touch” of White Truffle Oil – oh YEAH!! Actually, I probably had you at Fontina – but gilding the lily is just, well, fun. So why not go for it. I think I can actually sense some palpitations here and with good reason. This is a VERY special dish!

MAC AND CHEESE ITALIAN STYLE

Serves: 6-8

Prep: 35 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb. Short pasta or gnocchi – cooked

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Butter

1 C. Chopped Pancetta – chops easier if partially frozen!

1 Medium Onion – chopped

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

2 Tbsp. Flour

3/4 C. White Wine or Dry Vermouth

2 C. Half and Half or heavy cream – warmed

1 C. Grated Fontina

1 C. Grated Sharp White Cheddar

1/2 C. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago Cheese

1/2 C. Sliced Black Olives

1/2 C. Chopped Fresh Basil

2 C. Chopped Fresh Butternut Squash

1/2 C. Sliced almonds

1 C. Fresh White Breadcrumbs (not dried)

Drizzle of White Truffle Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil

OPTIONAL BUT AMAZING: 1 lb. Cooked Lobster Meat or 1 lb. Cooked Shrimp

Instructions

Roast the Butternut Squash tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until fork tender. Set aside.

1 Roasted Butternut Squash

Cook pancetta in oil and butter until just crisp.

Add onion and cook until tender.

2 Mac and Cheese

Add garlic and cook another minute – do not burn garlic!!

Add the flour and, stirring, cook the rawness out for a couple of minutes.

3 Mac and Cheese

Add the wine – cook a couple of minutes at medium high. It will thicken.

5 Mac and Cheese

Reduce heat a little and add the cream, stirring until it thickens again.

6 Mac and Cheese

Add the cheeses and melt in, stirring. Taste for seasoning. I like freshly ground pepper and Kosher salt.

7 Mac and Cheese

Add the olives, basil, squash and seafood, if using. Stir in.

8 Mac and Cheese

Toss the pasta with this sauce fully incorporating it. Use ALL of the sauce as you want it very “saucy and cheesy”.

Pour into a buttered baking pan or individual baking dishes and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and sliced almonds.

9 Mac and Cheese

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted.

Pop under the broiler  for a minute if it is not golden brown on top from baking.

Drizzle with the white truffle oil – just a bit as a little goes a LONG way with this pretty amazing addition! — or drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Serve your MAC AND CHEESE ITALIAN STYLE as a main course or as a side at your next grilling event. Prepare for raves on this one!!! Take your bow and…

PARLA COME MANGI!

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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June: Cocoa Ribs

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Cocoa Ribs finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

Growing up in my Italian family, ribs were not part of the summer grilling repertoire. Spare ribs were reserved for making sauce and flavoring soups, beans, or minestra. After living in the South for more years than I lived as a “Yankee, ribs have crept into our barbeques over time – but not without a little Italian influence here and there from some special ingredients. We now look forward to ribs every summer – both beef and pork – but mostly pork. After making them for years, I think it’s time to share. Here they are – so good you’ll have trouble not biting into your fingers! The COCOA RIBS!

The best ribs: The best pork ribs I have used are from Circle B Ranch. They provide only the very best Heritage Pork products, humanely raised. OK – so that’s a good thing – but how do they taste? I wouldn’t be using their products again and again if they weren’t superior in flavor. Their ribs are terrific – lean and meaty with just the right amount of fat. I mean really! Just look at them! Visit their site, and give them a try!

What’s with the cocoa?? I can only say – you’ll see!! Remember these words – deep  – dark – rich – and mahogany…

These ribs can be made indoors or grilled outdoors – which means even if you don’t grill – you do not have to be deprived of them. I provide the instructions for cooking the ribs totally indoors, partially indoors with a quick char on the grill, and totally outdoors with smoke from wood chips. Although I prefer them cooked over the wood chips, I have made these all three ways, and they are still wonderful. If you use wood chips, apple, pecan, and cherry wood are good choices. But – if you like more pronounced flavor – you can always go with hickory.

For ease and convenience, you can prepare the rub and the sauce ahead, if you like, making the actual “rib day” an easy slide. I like to keep some of this rub in a sealed container in the pantry at all times, so I can quickly access some for grilling pork tenderloin, chicken, and brisket. Because it is a dry rub, it will last quite a while. I usually make the sauce a day or two ahead, although leftover sauce will serve you well for several days after you make it.

TIPRemember that these ribs are to be mostly cooked with the dry rub with the sauce reserved for the last few minutes of cooking – just to get that nice shine on them. Putting the sauce on too early causes them to burn and blacken. Then you serve the sauce on the side for dipping the ribs as you eat them. This is definitely the way to go!!

So andiamo – let’s fire up the grill and get that wood smoking.

COCOA RIBS

Makes: about 3-4 racks of ribs

(pork or beef – I prefer baby backs)

Prep: 40 minutes

The Rub:

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp. Chili Powder

4 Tbsp. Cocoa

1/3 c. Brown Sugar

¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

Salt and pepper

Instructions:

You can mix the rub ahead if you like.

Mix above ingredients together.

Cocoa Ribs 1

Rub the dry mixture all over your rib racks – both sides – a few hours before cooking.

Cocoa Ribs 3

Outdoor cooking: Cook the ribs on the grill over smoking wood chips until done, brushing them with the Sauce on both sides in the last few minutes of cooking. If you lather on the sauce early, the ribs will char too much. Just a a little sauce is necessary towards the end.The remaining sauce is used for dipping the ribs as you eat them. NOTE: These ribs are so much better grilled or smoked over wood chips!

OR

For Indoor Cooking: Tent with foil and bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Carefully open the foil and turn the rack over. Cover again with the foil and bake another 15 minutes at same temperature.

The ribs are now essentially cooked. Brush them with sauce on both sides. Now pop them under the broiler on both sides.

OR

For the Partial Indoor/Outdoor Combo Method: After the tent baking indoors, they just need a quick char on the grill. Brush them on both sides with the sauce, and place on the grill with cover down. Should take just about 3 minutes – check them – you don’t want them black. If they have the desired char – turn them over – close grill again for another 3 minutes or more if needed.

Cocoa Ribs finish 2 with script

OH YEAH!

Remove from grill – cut with scissors into individual ribs. Serve with a side of sauce for dipping the ribs.

The Sauce:

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Large Clove Garlic – finely chopped

2 c. Ketchup

1 c. Chicken Broth

4 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

1/3 c. Brown Sugar

3 Tbsp. Molasses

4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder (sift for fewer lumps)

1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Oregano

Instructions:

In a saucepan, cook chopped garlic in oil for a minute. Do not burn garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Make sure to crush the lumps of cocoa powder against the side of the pot with the back of spoon to be sure they are fully incorporated in the sauce. Sifting the cocoa powder helps with this.

Cocoa Ribs 2

Simmer all for about 15-20 minutes until sauce reduces and is thickened. You can make this a day or 2 ahead. Keep in refrigerator and reheat before serving. The sauce lasts several days and you can just keep using the leftovers.

Do not taste for seasoning until the sauce is completely cooked and thickened. The flavors will blend and change during the cooking.

This sauce is great leftover for grilling chicken, pork, or beef brisket!

When you serve COCOA RIBS, you’ll want to pray to the Guardian Angel of leftovers that he/she grants you some. They are amazing the next day. You need no reminders to get the cold beers ready –But for a vino rosso – perhaps a Syrah or Linda’s favorite with barbeque – a good BARBERA!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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

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May: Peperonata Steak

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Steak peperonata with script

Buon giorno!

So patio season ( my favorite time of year) begins again in most places, and our thoughts turn to outdoor dining, sometimes lighter foods, and grilling. One of the best and most economical of grilling options, in my view, is my PEPERONATA STEAK.

I love eating and serving this as it is so easy, doesn’t break the bank, and everyone thinks they are having something special—and they would be right! I use flatiron steak for this dish. After whacking it a little with a mallet, I let it sit in olive oil and rosemary for a few hours or over night, and it never disappoints. It turns a not so special cut of meat into a tender juicy grilled delight.

About the meat: The flatiron steak is similar in appearance to flank steak, but I think is generally more tender. It is a shoulder cut as opposed to a stomach cut like flank steak which in my experience has been hit or miss. This steak does not take much cooking but when grilled properly produces a very tender result especially when sliced thinly across the grain. This dish makes a great presentation and steak lovers will be very happy with it. It also makes great leftover sandwiches, paninis, or steak salad the next day.! As with most beef – the flavor comes with what you do with it in the way of other ingredients. In this case, it is the peppers!

About peperonata: This is mainly Sicilian, but you will find some form of it in other areas of Italy. It is the brightest, most beautiful, array of peppers you will ever serve. The colors are so vivid and the flavor packs an amazing punch. It has many uses. Did I say easy?  Yes it is easy. No roasting involved. It is mainly a mixture of onions and peppers cooked on top of the stove. I usually make it earlier in the day and cover it until just before serving when all it will need is a warming. Pour this stuff over your meat and WOW! For Italians who may remember – it is perfect for those pepper and scrambled egg sandwiches we all remember from growing up. All in all, so much flavor – so much visual – you can’t lose!

PEPERONATA STEAK

Serves 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 20-25 minutes total

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. Flatiron steak (sizes vary – this is approximate)

Olive Oil – enough to coat both sides of steak

2 Fresh Garlic Cloves – sliced

3 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 Whole Peppers – one of each color: green, yellow, orange, and red – sliced and cleaned of seeds and pith

1 Whole Sweet Onion – sliced

Splash of water

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Kosher Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Pound both sides of the steak with the sharp pointed side of a meat mallet. If you don’t have one, just take a steak knife and pierce the steak in several places on both sides.

Marinate several hours or overnight in olive oil to coat the steak – sliced fresh garlic – Rosemary Leaves – and sprinkle both sides with Kosher Salt and black pepper.

You can cook the peppers a few hours ahead if you like.

Slice the peppers thinly and remove seeds and pith. Place them in a large pan with the sliced onion, water, olive oil, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook covered about 6 minutes at medium high. Remove cover and continue to cook at same heat, stirring occasionally until the peppers and onions are tender – takes about 10-15 minutes total cooking time.

You can be the judge of how tender you like them. Set them aside, covered, until ready to serve. Then heat through before serving.

For the steak – you’ll want a VERY hot grill. Sear both sides well for about 3 minutes on each side or until you get some good grill marks –  then cook for just a few more minutes on low – until desired doneness.

When your steak is ready – let it sit about 10 minutes at least without cutting into it so that the meat juices reabsorb.

Slice the meat very thinly against the grain with a sharp knife or electric knife. Arrange on platter and pour your peppers over the top or down the middle.

PEPERONATA STEAK is worthy of a great Cabernet Sauvignon – or your favorite full bodied vino rosso. If you are feeling especially fancy – get out that beautiful Barolo you have been saving! Meet you on the patio!

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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

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April: Pizza Rustica

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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!

 

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March: Ricotta Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom Sauce

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Cousin Bebe’s Ricotta Gnocchi-

Ricotta Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce - finish 1 with script

   Buon giorno!

I have this Cousin Bebe, who is an amazing mother, wife, and friend. She also cooks like a dream and is into hunting for the very best ingredients. You can already tell that we are sympatico in the ingredients department. Although – I must admit that she would walk farther for good baking chocolate than I would! Mostly, I love her because she makes me laugh on a regular basis – for that alone I would be ever grateful!

During one of our marathon conversations recently, she shared a dish with me that she loves with ricotta gnocchi and mushrooms that really sparked my interest. She said that a chef- friend of hers turned her on to it, and she was passing the idea on to me. I loved the idea immediately and ran with it! I tweaked it a little adding my own twist here and there, and my version of RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH WILD MUSHROOMS was born. Bebe will find many changes to the original recipe. I hope she enjoys the new “take” on this dish!

About 5 star dishes at our house: I have a tough crowd in my kitchen with not only me critiquing dishes, but also my family. My husband, who has been gained a more discerning palate over time, has ranked this dish among his “5 star” picks! He just loves it. It was kind of surprising, as he is not a big gnocchi fan – but these gnocchi changed all that. He simply loves this!

Some thoughts on this dish: It can be vegetarian although chicken broth is called for in my recipe. Change to vegetable broth if you like. I prefer the chicken – but no harm – no foul. One suggestion is that I like the gnocchi ingredients to be room temperature before making them. Also – and the Italians from birth in the crowd can appreciate this distinction – often gnocchi are fashioned ,after cutting, into “cavatelli- like” shapes by using the two finger method. In this case, I stop after cutting, leaving them in the little pillow shapes. I just like them that way in this dish – a better visual – and I think they remain light, not acquiring more flour. I find than Ricotta Gnocchi are a little lighter than potato, and weighting them down with more flour does them an injustice, I think. Believe me on this one – you can’t mess these up!

About the mushrooms: It is no surprise that I elected to use Wild Mushrooms for the sauce, as I run with any opportunity to use them. It is a love affair with me and these wild ones as many of you know having followed my recipes. I roast them first to give them a deeper flavor and added a surprise ingredient – a little Balsamic Vinegar before roasting which is subtly detectable in the finished sauce and offers another level of flavor that is only achieved by the caramelization. This addition makes the difference between just a mushroom sauce and one that immediately piques interest when it hits the palate.

Wild-mushrooms_thumb

I think of this dish as in the Northern Italian style, especially with the use of butter and mascarpone as the cooks of the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia might suggest. In Lombardia, they would probably use the wonderful Porcini mushrooms, plentiful in the lake area.

This dish requires a little time in the making of the gnocchi. The sauce – on the other hand – comes together quickly.

The gnocchi may be made ahead and frozen by spreading them out on a sheet pan – freezing them in a single layer. Then you can transfer them, once frozen, to a ziploc bag until ready to cook. Do not defrost before cooking. Drop them into the boiling water straight from the freezer.

My enthusiasm for this dish runneth over!! These gnocchi simply rock! I can’t wait for you to try them!

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Serves: 4

Prep: 40 minutes

Cook: 3 minutes

Ingredients

2 Cups Flour +  Flour for the board

2 Large Eggs

2 Cups Ricotta Cheese – Whole Milk please

Instructions

You can start the old fashioned way by pouring the flour onto a board – making a well and placing the eggs and ricotta in the middle. Proceed by mixing the dough with clean hands.

Ricotta-Gnocchi-with-Mushroom-Sauce-1_thumb.jpg

BUT

It is much faster and easier to put the flour, eggs, and ricotta into your food processor and with a few turns, the dough comes together almost immediately! It will be sticky. Put some flour on your hands and place some flour on your board or surface. Take some of the dough out of the processor bowl with your floured hands – make a ball and roll into a 1/2-3/4 inch thick rope on your floured surface.

rope

With a sharp knife, cut the rope into small 3/4 inch sections or “pillows”. (They will look like little pillow shapes)

finished gnocchi

Continue with all of the balls until you use all the dough. Sprinkle the gnocchi with flour. (I like the gnocchi for this dish to remain in pillow shape. Often we roll the pillows each more time through flour with two fingers to roll them or over the tines of a fork. If you prefer to do this you can.)

You can make the gnocchi ahead and freeze them which makes this a very easy dish to prepare for guests. To freeze: lay the gnocchi in a single layer on a sheet and put them into the freezer. When frozen, put the gnocchi in a ziploc bag, seal and place in freezer until ready to use them. Do NOT defrost them before using.

Drop the gnocchi into rapidly boiling water (straight from the freezer if frozen). I like to boil them in 1/3’s giving them a stir after dropping them in. Remove them to a serving dish when they rise to float at the top of the water – about 3-4 minutes. Very quick!

WILD MUSHROOM SAUCE

Serves: 4

Prep: 20-25 minutes total

Ingredients

1 lb. Assorted cleaned wild mushrooms of your choosing (Regular button mushrooms can be used, but the wild ones offer a more earthy flavor to the dish.)

Olive oil to drizzle mushrooms for roasting

Balsamic Vinegar to drizzle mushrooms for roasting

Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – finely chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves

1 Tbsp. Porcini Powder  – Optional (sometimes hard to find)

3/4 C. Dry White Wine or Dry Vermouth

3/4 C. Chicken Broth

1/3 Cup Mascarpone Cheese (optional)

Grated Asiago Cheese to serve

Instructions

Spread the cleaned mushrooms on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and then follow with a light drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce 4

Remove from oven – slice or leave whole and set them aside along with any juices that flowed during roasting.

Put olive oil and butter in a large fry pan, melting the butter.

Add the mushrooms, juices, garlic, rosemary, porcini powder if using, wine, and broth to the pan. At medium high heat, rapidly bubble for 6-8 minutes or until the liquid is reduced down to 1/2 and slightly concentrated. The liquid will thicken slightly.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce 5

Turn off the heat. At this point, if you are using the mascarpone,which I recommend because the sauce becomes so velvety and rich – add it, stirring, and melting into the hot sauce. If you choose not to use the mascarpone – the sauce is still lovely though not as rich.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Mushroom Sauce 6

Pour the sauce and mushrooms over the cooked gnocchi. Garnish with a little Rosemary and serve with grated Asiago.

RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH WILD MUSHROOM SAUCE is such a beautiful dish to serve.It is one of those dishes you dream about later. Yeah, it’s THAT good! Although the preparation is simple, the flavors are complex. I have to agree with my husband when he says “this is a 5 star dish!”

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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February: Dark Chocolate Torta Caprese Style

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Torta Caprese Al Cioccolato-

Torta finish B with script 2

Buon giorno!

One of the interesting facts about Italian regional cooking is that there are different names for the same or similar dish as you move from region to region. The recipes may vary slightly, but they are essentially the same. An example of this is the simple Chocolate Torte. The one we look at here is the Neapolitan version of this torte –  DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA CAPRESE STYLE  or Torta Caprese Al Cioccolato. This torta is representative of the Caprese style version or the type made in the region of Campania.

Campania, the region of Naples, Capri, and Sorrento  – is boastful of its history, music, and soul – and with good reason. The people of this region live life out loud with drama and spontaneity at the foot of an active volcano. Life to the people of Campania is best lived with abandon and painted with love in the bold colors of its people and spirit.

Their torte or torta is not only dense, but also rich, gooey, moist and  – everything you want in a dark dramatic chocolate dessert that is seductive and sexy. This is it! It lacks a lot of flour, and instead, calls for ground almonds as is the way of many Italian cakes. It contains several eggs and may almost appear to be underdone when finished. It is best when it sits a while or is refrigerated and then presented several hours later or allowed to sit overnight. Then the slices are firm.

This DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA is the dessert you must seek for romantic dinners, Valentine’s Day or a treat for chocolate lovers. This is your dark, handsome paramour or inamorata, waiting to be summoned!

When love calls…beckon forth…

DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA CAPRESE STYLE

 

Makes: One 9 inch cake

Ingredients

1 ½ sticks butter – cut into pieces

8 oz. Good dark chocolate – I like 60-70% cocoa – broken into pieces

½ c. sugar

¾ c. brown sugar

6 large eggs

1 tsp. Almond Extract

1 c. ground almonds (grind in food processor)

1 Tbsp. Flour

1 ½ Tbsp. Cocoa

Powdered sugar and cocoa for dusting

Instructions

Grease a 9 inch spring form pan.

Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in a bowl over boiling water. Mix well & cool down.

Torta Caprese 2

In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and almond extract.

Torta Caprese 1

Add the chocolate butter mixture, and incorporate well.

Add ground almonds, flour, and cocoa.

Torta Caprese 3

Mix together and pour into prepared pan.

Torta Caprese 4

Bake in a 350 degree oven until firm in the center – about 40 minutes. Time will depend on how hot your oven is. This is a very moist cake! Do not over cook it!

Remove sides of spring form and let cool.

Sift powdered sugar mixed with cocoa over the top of the cake.

Serve with whipped cream or berries.

Here is another serving idea – cut into squares.

Torta Capresa with script 1

DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA CAPRESE STYLE says love in every language!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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January: Novecento Cake

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Novecento finish with script

Buon giorno!

I am about to share my favorite cake recipe with you! This one is a keeper folks! It is called NOVECENTO CAKE! This cake has so many ingredients in it that I love – hazelnuts, mascarpone, Nutella, whipped cream, and Frangelico liqueur. It just spells L-O-V-E. This cake also has kind of an interesting story…

I receive a lot of email from folks who enjoy Italian food, sharing memories and stories, etc. I truly treasure these emails – the fuel that keeps me going. Sometimes I receive inquiries about specific recipes. Some of these recipes have me completely stumped – in other words – I have never heard of them!  There was one not long ago that both stumped me and captured my full attention.

Recently, I received an email from Terry, a friend of my website, inquiring about a cake he sampled in Italy that he absolutely could not forget. Terry visited Piemonte, a region in the North of Italy known for its amazing food and its wine country. While touring the town of Ivrea, he encountered the NOVECENTO CAKE and became determined to find or recreate it. 

The history: The cake was the brainchild of Ottavio Bertinotti, a pastry chef of reknown, in the town of Ivrea in Piemonte in the late 1800’s to herald the coming of a brand new century. This is how he arrived upon the name “novecento”. The recipe was a secret then and the secret is held closely even today – virtually impossible to obtain.Today it is made by a pasticcieria  called “Balla”. Unfortunately, Balla guards the secret recipe tightly and will not reveal it. The whole idea of secrecy intrigued me, so I spent some time researching the cake. Several have tried to duplicate it, and I have now joined this group of obsessed individuals.

After some time pondering this thing – I decided to come up with my own version – based loosely on what little I could find in research. As luck would have it, I saw that sponge cake or Pane di Spagna was used for the cake itself. Now this just happened to be a favorite and often made cake by my mother, Loretta. She loved sponge cake so we had it a lot at home, and she had a lovely recipe for it. I tweaked that lovely recipe especially for this cake by adding a bit of cocoa. She would, I think, be proud of this new creation especially since her sponge cake became the foundation on which to build it.

I also happen to love the flavor of hazelnuts which I added to the filling in the form of Nutella.

One nice thing about sponge cake is that it will hold liquid without becoming soggy. Maybe that’s why they call it sponge cake? Your call! As with many Italian desserts, this cake just begged to be brushed with “something potent.” I brushed the layers generously with Frangelico which is a hazelnut liqueur.

The resulting cake – not difficult to make – is a very typically Italian tasting pastry delight which has become my favorite dessert. It deserves the honor of the title: RECIPE OF THE MONTH!

NOVECENTO CAKE

Makes: One 3 layer cake

Prep: 1 hour 30 minutes

For Sponge Cake (Pane di Spagna):

Ingredients

8 egg yolks

8 egg whites

2 tsp. almond extract

1 1/3 C. Flour

1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

1 1/4 C. sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. Water

1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

( I like to make the sponge cake layers a day ahead of assembly and then make filling and assemble and let sit several hours or preferably overnight.)

Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt 3 times into a bowl.

Novecento 1

In mixer – mix egg yolks, sugar, water, and extract until light colored.

Novecento 2

Add flour mixture to the yolk mixture gradually making a batter.

Novecento 4

Beat egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the batter with a spatula. Add a little of the whites at first and beat them in with a spatula to lighten the batter. Then fold the rest in.

Novecento 5

Novecento 6

Pour into 3 greased and floured 9 “ cake pans.

Novecento 7

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and turn out of pans to cool completely. Refrigerate the layers overnight and fill the next day.

Filling:

Ingredients

8 oz. Mascarpone Cheese

1 Cup Whipped Heavy Cream

dash salt

3 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 C. Nutella

2 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur (hazelnut)

Instructions

Mix the Frangelico and Nutella together until smooth.

Novecento 8

Beat the Nutella mixture together with the mascarpone until blended.

Novecento 9

Whip the cream with the sugar and salt.

Novecento 10

Add a little of the whipped cream to the Nutella and Mascarpone mixture and mix in to lighten. Then fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

Assembly:

Ingredients

Filling

3/4 C. Frangelico for brushing

1/2 C. Toasted Coarsely Chopped Hazelnuts

1/4 C. Powdered sugar

1/2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

Instructions:

Brush the tops of all sponge cake layers generously with Frangelico liqueur. It requires about 3/4 C. of liqueur for this.

Novecento 11

Spread 1/2 of the filling over the first layer.

Top with the second layer – press down a little on it –  and spread with the remaining filling.

Novecento 12

Top with the third layer. Press down again to firmly plant the layers and filling together.

Novecento 13

Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on the top layer.

Novecento 14

Mix the powdered sugar and cocoa together and sift over the top of the cake.

Novecento 15

Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Slice your NOVECENTO CAKE  and serve with Frangelico, espresso or coffee. A dollop of whipped cream on the side of each slice is nice! Enjoy this one!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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December: Peppermint Gelato with Dark Chocolate

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Pepp gelato finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

Think of the creamiest, mintiest, crunchiest Peppermint Gelato you can imagine. This is it! PEPPERMINT GELATO WITH DARK CHOCOLATE! I do not need another thing this holiday season. I would be content with just this. Well, maybe this and …something else?

Not only is this gelato the best ever and so easy to make – an added benefit is that it makes your kitchen smell of mint while you make it!

For those sensitive to food coloring – the red food coloring is optional. I just like using it at holiday time – seems to make the gelato more festive. It’s up to you! Merry Merry!

PEPPERMINT GELATO WITH DARK CHOCOLATE

Makes: about a quart

Prep: 30 minutes + time required in the ice cream maker

Ingredients

1 1/2 C. Whole Milk

1 1/2 C. Heavy Cream

8 Egg Yolks

1 C. Sugar

Dash Salt

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Tsp. Peppermint Extract

3-4 Drops Red Food Coloring (optional but nice for holidays)

3/4 C. Crushed or Chopped Peppermint candy ( I use candy canes) – chill in refrigerator until ready to use

3/4 C. Coarsely Chopped Dark Chocolate – chill in refrigerator until ready to use

Instructions

Heat the milk and cream in a pan until bubbles form on the edges. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Peppermint Gelato 1

In a bowl, beat the Egg Yolks with the sugar and salt until light colored and thickened.

Peppermint Gelato 2

Add a little of the hot milk and cream mixture to the yolks while whisking constantly. Gradually add a little more – whisking.

Then add all of the yolk mixture to the pot.

Peppermint Gelato 3

Heat and stir constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. Do not overheat or it will separate. This takes just a few minutes. It is done when it coats the back of the wooden spoon.

Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. This is your custard which will thicken more when chilled.

Add the extracts and food coloring – stir in.

Peppermint Gelato 4

Peppermint Gelato 5

Cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic sits directly on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to make gelato, pour into your ice cream maker and proceed according to your machine directions.

Peppermint Gelato 6

When finished quickly add the chilled peppermint candy and chopped chocolate and fold in or add as directed to your ice cream maker.

Peppermint Gelato 7

Place in freezer to freeze to desired consistency.

Peppermint Gelato 8

If frozen hard, let stand a few minutes before serving as gelato is  served a little softer than ice cream.

Enter Stage Left: PEPPERMINT GELATO WITH DARK CHOCOLATE  as Sugarplums making ready to dance in head!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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November: Pumpkin Sauce

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Salsa di Zucca-

Penne 2 with script 

Buon giorno!

Have you hugged a pumpkin today? If not, you should. Technically speaking a fruit, but often referred to as a vegetable, these wonderful fall squashes provide an endless source of delicious and nutritious dishes for our Italian tables. In planning your fall dishes, PUMPKIN SAUCE or Salsa di Zucca is one sauce that you must have in your cooking arsenal. It is so easy to make and one of the most flavorful sauces I can offer or imagine.

Serving ideas: PUMPKIN SAUCE is a beautiful and velvety sauce for pasta or gnocchi. You’ll see it here with both. I recommend some sort of chunky pasta for this dish such as Penne pasta pictured above (with chestnuts). It is so delicious topped with crumbled Amaretti Cookies (available in bags at Italian markets and others such as Fresh Market) or crumbled roasted Chestnuts. If you can’t find Amaretti Cookies  – any crispy spice snap or even Biscoff Cookies available at most grocers are fine. The light sweetness of these items truly enhances your enjoyment of this dish. Another serving idea, though more savory, is crumbled Pancetta or even bacon, as a topping.

This sauce is also lovely  to use in Risotto along with some fresh sage and maybe some peas or mushrooms.

Buona Fortuna! It is your good fortune that this recipe makes enough sauce for 2 lb. of pasta or gnocchi. It freezes so beautifully! Just think, not only is it easy to make for one meal – but you can freeze the rest and have an amazing sauce to serve another night without doing a thing except defrosting! Mama mia!

Pumpkin Sauce finish 2 with script

With Gnocchi and Amaretti Cookies

A word about the pumpkin: Fresh pumpkin puree is always, of course, the best idea. However, in this case, I will say that canned pumpkin is a really great alternative to use in this dish. Fact: In case you didn’t know – canned pumpkin loses that “canned” flavor, we sometimes don’t appreciate, when it is cooked. This is true of its use in many cooked dishes. So do not dispair if you don’t have time to carve, peel, chop, and puree your pumpkin. No one will know – and your dish will still be SUPERB!

A note: Take a look at the prep and cooking time in the recipe below. Uh huh!! Just became a lot more interesting, didn’t it? Slave all day in the kitchen—NOT!

I love this sauce and always look forward to serving it!

PUMPKIN SAUCE

(Salsa di Zucca)

Makes: sauce for 2 lb. pasta or gnocchi (freeze some)

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Butter

2 Medium Shallots chopped

1/2 C. Dry Vermouth (or another dry white wine – the dry Vermouth is great though in this)

1 3/4 C. Pumpkin Puree (fresh or canned – NOT pumpkin pie filling!)

1 C. Chicken Broth

1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg

1 Tbsp. Finely chopped fresh Sage

1 Tsp. Orange Zest

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 C. Heavy Cream

1 Tbsp. Butter

Fresh Sage for garnish

Crumbled Amaretti Cookies ( or spicy snaps or Biscoff cookies) for topping

OR

Crumbled Roasted Chestnuts for topping

OR

Cooked Crisp Crumbled Pancetta or Bacon

Grated Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Instructions:

Melt butter in a shallow pan.

Add shallots and cook a minute or two over medium high heat.

Pumpkin Sauce 1

Add the Vermouth and cook a couple of minutes more until it reduces down a little and cooks off the alcohol.

Pumpkin Sauce 2

Add the pumpkin puree, stir and cook 1-2 minutes more.

Pumpkin Sauce 3

Throw in the sage and orange zest.

Then follow with the chicken broth, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

Cook 7-8 minutes, stirring, on medium.

Pumpkin Sauce 4

Reduce heat to low and when it stops bubbling – add the cream.

Pumpkin Sauce 5

Warm the sauce through while stirring.

At the end, add 1 Tbsp Butter and melt in – creating a velvety smooth sauce. Stir.

Pour over pasta and toss. Garnish and serve!

To serve your PUMPKIN SAUCE : Offer some Grated Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese and a lovely dry white wine or a light red!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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October: Butternut Squash Bread With Orange Glaze

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Pane di Zucca –

Bread finish 5

Buon giorno!

Don’t you just love the smell of fall in your kitchen? Does it bring on those childhood memories? You know what I mean  – the aroma of spices baked into something you know will be special, warm, and comforting. When those spices combine with the flavor of orange, fennel seed, and roasted squash – it is heavenly. The Recipe of the Month for October, BUTTERNUT SQUASH BREAD or as the Italians say it, Pane di Zucca,  is your ticket to creating that memory in your cucina – the one that brings smiles when your dearest ones come running to the kitchen to see what has created such sweet spicy sensation. Throw in dark juicy cherries and some nuts to crunch and hearts will be won.

Cherries

This is easy to make. You actually SHOULD make it ahead. Those who can’t resist and eat it right away will miss a special surprising transformation. You must make it a day ahead – the bread slices better but more important – a miracle occurs overnight! The flavors of this lovely nut bread intensify as the hours pass and become incredibly wonderful during this time. The next day you have a sweet bread that will be difficult to resist and one that definitely won’t last long! “ Good things come to those who wait.”

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE

(Pane di zucca)

Makes:  1 loaf

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 lb. Butternut Squash Puree (about 2 1/2 C. cubed peeled butternut squash – Roasted at 400 degrees for 15 minutes – then pureed in processor or blender)

1/2 C. Butter

2 Eggs

1/3 C. Orange Juice

Grated Zest of 1 Orange

3/4 C. Coarsely Chopped Walnuts

1/3 C. Sliced Dark Red Cherries – leave them chunky (fresh preferred, but dried or even canned may be used if drained and dried) Throw in a few more if you like.)

DRY INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 C. Flour

1 1/4 C. Sugar

1 tsp. Baking Soda

3/4 tsp. Baking Powder

3/4 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1 Tbsp. Fennel Seed

ORANGE GLAZE:

1 C. Powdered Sugar

1/2 tsp. orange extract

1/8 C. Orange Juice

Grated Orange Zest for garnish

Instructions

Roast the cubed butternut squash, spread on a pan and sprinkled with a little oil, at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Puree in blender or processor. Makes about a cup.

Cream the butter in a mixer and add the pureed squash, eggs, orange juice, and orange zest.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then add to the squash mixture in the mixer. Mix until combined and remove bowl from mixer.

Add the nuts and cherries and toss with a spoon or spatula.

Butternut Squash Bread 2

Pour into a greased loaf pan.

Butternut Squash Bread 3

Bake at 350 for about an hour and 15 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Cool in pan about 20 minutes – then remove the bread.

When Bread is cool. Mix the powdered sugar with the extract and orange juice. You should have a thick glaze.

Orange Icing - 4

Drizzle the glaze over the bread and sprinkle top with more orange zest.

Bread - sliced 6

Refrigerate overnight before cutting and eating. The bread will slice better than when warm and the flavors will intensify!

Bread - 2 slices 8

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BREAD or Pane di Zucca  is a spicy and zesty fall nut bread. Better make two, as it disappears fast!!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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September: Mezzi Rigatoni Con Salsiccia e Olive

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Contest - T

Buon giorno!

It must be that Sicilian Thing. No not the one you’re probably thinking of – the one where Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone contemplates his next power play for the family business . I’m talking about the “other one” – the great Sicilian way of cooking great dishes with their traditional ingredients. Many of these ingredients were introduced over centuries of conquering by the Moors and others who influenced their cuisine in a very distinctive way. When I saw the mezzi rigatoni in the mix of possible pasta choices for the Delverde “Dish Your Blog” contest – I thought of nothing else but Sicily and the mix of these ingredients. Thus – the creation of MEZZI RIGATONI CON SALSICCIA E OLIVE seemed inevitable.

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“This recipe is posted as an entry in the Delverde DISH YOUR BLOG recipe contest to try to win a trip to NYC. Some entrants may have received free sample products in addition to the opportunity to compete for the prize.”

A word about the pasta: The delicious and different mezzi rigatoni ( half rigatoni) are the perfect choice for an olive oil based sauce – Sicilian Style – using the traditional ingredients in many dishes from this island of culinary bounty. They were the perfect size, shape, and texture to coexist with the colorful and tasty choices of ingredients I chose. The Delverde Mezzi Rigatoni offer a superior texture – so well cut that you can actually taste the “ribs” on each little tube.

Beginning with the expected olive oil and fresh garlic, good Italian sausage anchors this dish as in many Sicilian recipes. For color and further interest, a combination of Kalamata and the famous intensely bright Castelvetrano olives of Western Sicily offered a touch of the bitter with the sweet and meaty.

Olives

The basic flavors were now set! I included sun dried tomatoes to add balance with brightness and sweetness– with color as an added benefit. The fresh Sage, thought in ancient times to have medicinal qualities, spiked the dish with a subtle injection of aromatic spice. Rounding out with toasted pignoli, often the Sicilian choice of nut, gave this mouth watering heap of mezzi rigatoni a hint of roasting while adding texture.

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Shall we add a dash of red pepper flakes for a tiny jolt of heightened pleasure? You’ve got the idea! That Sicilian Thing has made a statement here especially when a bold grated Pecorino is passed among the guests for a final finish to a dish of mighty flavors.

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MEZZI RIGATONI CON SALSICCIA E OLIVE

(Mezzi Rigatoni with Sausage and Olives)

Serves: 4

Prep: about 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb. Delverde Mezzi Rigatoni

1/3 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Fresh Garlic Cloves – chopped finely

3 Links Italian Sausage ( about 3/4 lb.) – crumbled with casings removed

1 C. Chopped Pitted Castelvetrano and Kalamata Olives

1/2 C. Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes, packed in oil (oil drained)

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Sage

1/4 C. Toasted Pignoli (pine nuts)

Dash of Red Pepper Flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

Grated Pecorino Cheese for serving

Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Place the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a pan.

Add the sausage and brown in the oil.

Add the olives, sun dried tomatoes, fresh sage, pignoli, and red pepper. If needed, add salt and pepper.

Cook just a few minutes until heated through and flavors combine.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir in.

Drizzle generously with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Serve with grated Pecorino.

Your MEZZI RIGATONI CON SALSICCIA E OLIVE  is ready to be enjoyed with your favorite vino rosso!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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August: Garlic Cream Sauce With Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Garlic Cream Dream – 

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Buon giorno!

There are not too many Italian cream sauces that will make you want to add an extra hour to your exercise routine – but this is one of them! GARLIC CREAM SAUCE  WITH PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO is truly a cream dream. It is the perfect sauce for those luscious homemade pastas (pasta fresca) especially those made with vegetables where you don’t want to overwhelm with other heavy flavors. This is also the perfect sauce for that Roasted Red Pepper Pasta that you have “squirreled” away in your freezer.

It has many other uses as well, such as in sauce for vegetables or fish. Even though it is made with cream, it retains a lightness offering a lovely flavor and velvety texture when you want to add another level of flavor but you don’t want it to over shadow what is underneath.

An ingredient of major importance here is the roasted garlic – very easy to make and once you try it, you’ll be making this part of your cooking  repertoire. I use it in so many of my recipes. Roasted garlic is wonderful. When roasted, the garlic loses the strong and sharp taste that many do not enjoy and leaves instead a nutty mild paste that adds subtle flavor to so many dishes. To roast your garlic  – get instructions: HERE 

This is a very simple sauce and very easy to make. Yet it has complex flavors and has a quite delicate nature.

Too easy – but too good to miss!

GARLIC CREAM SAUCE WITH PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

(especially recommended for use with Roasted Red Pepper Pasta)

Makes: enough for a pound of pasta

Prep: about 45 minutes

Cook: 6-8 minutes

Ingredients

1 Bulb Roasted Garlic – Instructions for roasting: HERE

2 Tbsp. Olive oil

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 2/3 c. Heavy Cream – warmed

1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Fresh Parsley for garnish

Grated Parmigiano to serve with dish

Ingredients

1 Large Bulb Roasted Garlic ( Instructions linked above)

Squeeze cloves out of roasted garlic bulb into a pan and mash, adding butter and oil. Cook a little to combine.

Garlic Cream Sauce 1

Add warm cream and grated cheese.

Garlic Cream Sauce 2

Cook until heated through – about 6-8 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly.

Add salt and pepper to taste. (Salt is important here as it will bring out the flavors.)

Garnish with fresh parsley.

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If serving with pasta – offer grated Parmigiano-Reggiano along with it.

GARLIC CREAM SAUCE WITH PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO is a gorgeous sauce which requires an equally appealing white wine to go with it. For me, it would be a Donna Anita Langhe Arneis or a Chardonnay.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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