Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

ESCAROLE - Also know as Scarola and Endive

If you enjoy Italian food, you might have already encountered escarole — a leafy, bitter green that looks a lot like lettuce.  There are two types of escarole, narrow-leaved escarole called curly escarole and a broad-leaved escarole. The outside leaves of an escarole head are green and bitter.
Broad leaved escarole

Curly escarole
The darker outer leaves are ideal for braising or steaming.  Prepared with olive oil, garlic, red pepper is great alone or as a side dish to meat or fish.

Braised escarole

Sausage and potatoes with braised escarole

Roasted baccala' with a side of braised escarole

Escarole can be used in vegetable soups as in escarole and bean soup.


Escarole adds a nice touch in egg drop soup.



Mix steamed escarole with egg and cheese and add to chicken broth.


Escarole calzone:  Simply roll out half of the dough into an oiled baking tray. Fill with the pre-cooked escarole then cover with the second half of the dough or roll out the dough, spread the pre-cooked escarole over the dough and fold over.  Press the edges and bake.


In my opinion, between the added taste, the versatility of use in various dishes and the nutrients provided in each serving, escarole is an excellent food choice.



Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BAKED LASAGNA: A classic della cucina Italiana!

Lasagna: our family favorite!

I make it just on special holidays (Christmas, Easter and Carnevale) as it requires a lot of work and it's too rich of a dish to eat weekly.

Firstly, let me say that my lasagna is not Americanized. I start with thin layers of fresh egg pasta, mozzarella or scamorza, a little Parmigiano Reggiano, small meatballs and, of course a simple sauce (sugo semplice) with tiny meatballs.  I do not overload it with too many ingredients.  I want to taste the pasta.

Fresh Egg Pasta:

1 lb. all purpose flour (unbleached)
4 eggs

Pinch of salt



There is one thing I will not compromise on---the pasta.  To me, real lasagna should be made from scratch.  Dried pasta is too thick.

     



Prepare the dough by placing the flour on a cutting board and make a well. 

Add whole eggs and salt into the well. Keep stirring this way until you have formed a sticky dough ball. Dump the dough ball onto a floured surface and knead, incorporating more flour into the dough as needed, until the dough is smooth, elastic, even in color and no longer sticky.
Once you have finished kneading, cover with a dish and let rest at room temperature for 60 minutes or more.  Once the dough has rested, divide into balls. At this point, you may flatten each ball using a rolling pin and feed pasta dough through the pasta machine until the dough is as thin as you like. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta sheets for 2 minutes.

Photo from web

Drain and run the pasta sheets under cold running water.  You may lay the pasta sheet over kitchen towels.

Photo from web


For the Meatballs:
·         1 pound ground beef
·         2 large eggs
·         1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
·         1/2 cup grated Parmigiano reggiano cheese
·         3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
·         3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Form the meatballs small and sauté them in a pan with olive oil and brown them.  Add the meatballs to the sauce.



Assembly:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread some of the sauce at the bottom of a large deep baking pan. 
  • Arrange a layer of pasta sheets.
  • Spread some sauce with little meatballs over the pasta sheets 
  •  Next add a nice amount of grated mozzarella and some grated cheese.
  • Repeat 2 more times. Top the final layer of pasta sheets with sauce and the remaining grated cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Add the remaining mozzarella and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Remove the foil covering on the lasagna for the last 15-20 minutes of cook time.  As you know, a browned top with cheese is tastier.


Let the lasagna rest uncovered for 15 minutes or so to avoid a sloppy serving.

Pure perfection!





Thursday, March 7, 2019

Baked Fish with Potatoes - Pesce Arrosto al Forno con Patate

Baked Fish with potatoes is a light dish but tasty at the same time.

Any firm-fleshed fish such as fresh cod, red snapper or thick flounder will do.  
We prefer Fresh Cod.  While it's rich in vitamins and minerals, the calorie count remains low.




Baking dish large enough to accommodate both the fish and the potatoes in one layer
1-1/2 pound fish fillet
3 red potatoes, peeled, and cut into very thin slices
1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
4 or 5 fresh parsley sprigs (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
Sea salt
Black pepper



Preparation
    1. 1. Turn on the oven to 400°F. 
    1. 2. Wash the fish fillet, and pat it dry with paper towels.
    2. 3. Place the fish fillet in the center of the baking dish, pour half of the olive oil over it.  Scatter half of the parsley and garlic cloves, salt, and pepper over the fish.
    1. 4. Add the thin slices of potatoes around the fish fillet.  Sprinkle the remaining parsley and garlic over them.  Add the remaining oil over the potatoes.  With a fork, toss the potatoes gently.
    1. 5.  Bake for 30 minutes or so.
    1. 6.  If you like crisp potatoes like we do, place the baking dish under the broiler for few minutes.
    1. Buon Appetito!

    1.  


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Chicken Sausages with Peppers and Parsley - Salsiccie di Pollo con Peperoni e Prezzemolo

After eating the bland chicken sausages from the grocery store, I decided to make my own.


Chicken meat is very lean, and there has to be something added to the sausage to ensure good taste and texture.
I prefer using chicken thighs over chicken breasts.   The breasts are far to dry and bland.



Chicken has a very mild flavor, but sausages made with chicken do not need to be bland. Its mildness makes poultry ideal for mixing with spices, herbs, and other flavors.




Recipe:

3 lbs. chicken thighs
2 cups chopped parsley
1 clove of chopped garlic
1 small chopped red onion
1 cup chopped fresh peppers (I prefer chiles)
Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:
Grind the chicken thighs
Add the spices and herbs and mix well
Stuff immediately into casings.










Saturday, March 2, 2019

Patate con buccia al Forno e Peperoni Arrostiti - Baked Potatoes with skins and Roasted Peppers

Baked potatoes with golden peel, crispy outside and soft inside for a side dish that goes well with everything.
Start with roasted peppers. This can be done ahead.


I use both russet and red potatoes. Allow 1 russet and one red potato per person.
  1. Preheat oven at 425 degrees.
  2. Scrub the potatoes and dry the skin.
  3.  Cut potatoes in half.
  4. Place each half directly on oven rack.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork-tender. Remove from oven and place directly into a large bowl.
  6.  Roughly cut the baked potatoes with the help of a fork and knife.
  7. Combine the potatoes with roasted peppers.  Add fresh parsley and garlic, salt and pepper and a good amount of olive oil.
  8. Mix well and serve immediately.










Saturday, January 26, 2019

FRITTATA aka OMELET

No time to cook, make a frittata, Italian version of an omelet. It is very healthy, tasty and quick to make too.

They are delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner!   They are super-versatile, one can add fresh vegetables,  meats or cheeses – the choice is yours!

A good frittata is perfect steaming hot, or at room temperature the next day.  We take for lunch, at a picnic, to the beach or on the road.



Asparagus Frittata For Two:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

8 oz. asparagus – woody ends trimmed off and cut into 2-3 inch pieces

4 eggs – beaten (season with salt and pepper)

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese – grated

In an 8 inch non-stick pan add olive oil.  Add asparagus and gently saute' over medium heat until just starting to soften.  About 15 minutes.
Pour beaten eggs over asparagus and let cook till set around the edges.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Flip once and continue to cook few more minutes. 


Onions and Pepper Frittata
Onions and Pepper Frittata
Frittata for One

2 eggs
1 red hot pepper chopped (friers - frying peppers)
1 green sweet pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper

In a small, non-stick pan, add olive oil, chopped peppers and onion, saute' over medium flame about 10 minutes turning often not to burn. Lightly beat eggs, add to peppers and onions. When egg mixture firms up, flip over once, cook few more minutes and serve.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

CHIACCHIERE (small talk) What's the Gossip About?

During Carnevale delightful, sweet, crispy strips known as chiacchiere are seen throughout bakeries in Italy.  They are fried treats that go by many names: 
Cenci, Crostoli, Frappe, Cioffe


They are also made in different shapes: squares, sheets, strips, diamonds, knots and twisted ribbon. 

Recipe

3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup whisky or sambuca
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Confectioner's sugar

In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar, salt and whisky until well blended.  Sift flour with baking powder and add gradually to batter until a stiff dough forms.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  Divide dough in half; roll each half as thin as possible (noodle thickness).  Cut into strips (5" x1") with a scalloped pastry wheel.

Preheat oil to 375 degrees.  Fry cookies few at a time for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Dust with confectioner's sugar.  Yields about 4 or more dozens.

What makes this timeless pastry truly heavenly and addictive is their light and crisp texture, which pairs beautifully with a coffee and dessert wine.