About Beth

Beth
Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene
Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah
Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug
Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy
Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi
Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan
Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry
Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma
Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim
Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

Main

5. Friday - Sandi/Jan Archives

April 2, 2010

Carciofi alla Romana (Artichokes, Roman style)

I am Sandi, blogging fromthe WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. This is my first recipe from our Pomodori e Vino cooking challenge, and luckily it is one of my favorites when eating at a Roman trattoria. Carciofi alla Romana~ or Artichokes, Roman style.

The first of many weekly challenges... to find the right kind of ingredients here in Alabama. I managed to find the large globe artichokes, which are not exactly the stout, tender artichokes found in Italy. Allora. These will just have to work.
Most of the essentials of Italian cooking involve the 'process' of cooking. Marcella goes into details about the proper way to clean and prepare the artichokes... which is essential for most dishes using the fresh artichoke.

First~ remove the outer leaves. If at first this seems wasteful, she says it is more wasteful to cook something that can't be eaten. (I like her thinking!)
Continue until you reach the tender inner leaves. Cut the tips of the inner leaves off.Rub all of the cut surfaces with lemon to prevent browning.Mean while, mince some mint, parsley, garlic and mix with salt and pepper.Rub the chokes well with the herbs and place tops down in a pot and cook until tender~ the smell is amazing! I served mine with some nice mint and fennel risotto.
Remember~ a new recipe everyday!
Buon Appetito y'all,
Sandi

April 9, 2010

Insalata Russa--Shrimp Salad with Assorted Vegetables

I'm so excited to post my first entry on the blog dedicated to Marcella Hazan.
I'm Jan from Tallahassee, Florida.
The recipe is called "Russian Salad" and Marcella says that the only thing Russian about it is that it includes beets. In my travels in Piemonte, I remember eating insalata russa in some restaurants and it being simple potato salad. This was far from a simple potato salad. It was fantastic!

First, I had to boil the shrimp, in their shells, with salt and a little vinegar in the water. We are lucky enough to get fabulous, fresh, wild Gulf of Mexico shrimp here and they lived up to their reputation.

Then I had to make the mayonnaise. I had done it before in the food processor but not in the stand mixer; it worked out fine. I used extra virgin olive oil and the resulting color was a beautiful light greenish shade. The flavor was really powerful when it was first finished; I was afraid it would be overwhelming but it worked beautifully in the salad. (My first lesson in trusting Marcella)


DSCN5517.JPG

Then I cooked all the various veggies before cutting them into little cubes.
It made a very colorful mise in place.

DSCN5518.JPG

Then the real fun began. After folding everything together, you form the salad into a dome shape and basically "ice" it with the remaining mayo. I didn't have quite enough for a thinck layer but I thought the effect was pretty enough. After covering the dome, you get to play--decorating the surface and plate with the reserved vegetables and shrimp.

DSCN5523.JPG

The best part is that the salad tastes devine! The flavors of each vegetable are there but they meld, with the help of the assertive mayonnaise, to a wonderful, complex harmony. We really enjoyed this seasonal offering.
I can't wait to try the next recipe in the book!

April 16, 2010

Bagna Caoda

I first saw that I was making a Bagna Caoda, I had no clue what it was.
None.
This was a learning experience for me (one of many I am sure!)
Marcella describes the flavors and sensations of the Piedmontese table being celebrated through the bagna caoda. The cold simple vegetables accompanied by the heat of the bagna caoda~ caoda being the word for hot. She recommends vegetables such as cardoons, artichokes, radishes, carrots, peppers and assorted greens for dipping.

Bagna Caoda is a dip of olive oil, butter, garlic and fresh anchovy fillets. The anchovies melt as the oil is warmed over a small flame. It is served with the freshest raw vegetables. You dip the vegetables into the hot oil.

Of course, I had a heck of a time finding Italian vegetables in Alabama. This must not have been the week for a shipper of fresh artichokes. No fresh anchovies as Marcella prefers, I just used the tiny fillets in a glass jar at Whole Funds.

The sensation of the cool and crisp vegetables with the hot thickened oil is amazing. The anchovies melt into a paste and all but disappear, leaving a warm salty flavor.

We enjoyed it with friends who are leaving for Italy in just a few days~ the perfect appetizer! We drank wine and talked bella Italia!
Ciao y'all~

April 23, 2010

Spring Vegetable Soup

This is a very simple soup. There are just three main ingredients: potatoes, peas and artichokes. I was lucky to see fresh, local, sweet green peas at our farmer's market but there are no artichokes grown anywhere near here so I had to settle for buying them in the super market.
Marcella gives easy-to-follow instructions on trimming the artichokes. Doing it reminded me of watching a vendor at the Rialto Market in Venice, trimming the outer leaves, turning the artichoke, at lightning speed, and tossing the hearts into a bucket of (probably acidulated, since they stayed white) water. He did several with a paring knife, in just the few minutes while I observed.

Here's my bowl filled with the cleaned and sliced artichoke centers:

DSCN5531.JPG

It took me less time than I anticipated with only three artichokes--no big deal.

The recipe asks for one pound of boiling potatoes. I use two large Yukon Golds and afterwards I thought they may have been too big because there seemed to be a little bit too many.

The artichoke flavor was fully present but so were the other vegetable tastes.
Just for an experiment, the next night, I pureed the leftovers but I didn't think it was as nice as the chunky original.

DSCN5535.JPG

April 30, 2010

Pomodori e Vino ~Potato and Green Pea Soup

If you saw me post earlier in the week, y'all saw my big goof. I made the wrong soup!
As a part of the Pomodori e Vino Challenge we have divided the cookbook, Essentials of Italian Cooking, into 7 different daily recipes. We each have a day and a new recipe.
Somehow I confused the Potato and Split Pea Soup with Potato and Green Pea Soup. So tonight I whipped up another pot of potato soup. I can say both were great!
Potato with Green Pea Soup
The thing I love most about The Queen of Italian cooking is the way she describes the details of each recipe. It is the process that brings out each flavor. This soup is a very simple soup with onions, potatoes, and green peas. In her cookbook, Marcella has a beautiful way of describing the process~
'put in the butter, oil, sliced onion, and a large pinch of salt. ... cook the onion, turning it occasionally, until it becomes very soft and has shed all it's liquid. Then uncover the pan, turn up the heat to medium and cook, stirring once or twice, until all the liquid has bubbled away and the onion has become colored a tawny gold.'
I used more of the meat broth that I had frozen to provide a flavorful base.pom-soup.jpg
I may not have cooked the potatoes until they were soft enough to get the right texture. I used frozen petite peas, to me they have the best fresh flavor. The combination of potatoes with peas and caramelized onions was a fantastic flavor.
Y'all don't forget to Follow Along on facebook... everyday a new adventure!
Ciao y'all,
Sandi

May 7, 2010

La Jota--Beans and Sauerkraut Soup

La Jota soup is a recipe from Trieste and reflects as Marcella says "the earthy accent of its Slavic origins." I really didn't expect to like it but in the end it was a very satisfying, hearty and flavorful supper.

Making it took me 2 days; there are lots of easy steps but long simmering periods between them. What took me the longest, however was finding the fresh pork hock. After calling several butchers in town and only finding smoked jowls or hocks, a friend suggested I try "Harvey's", a grocery store on the south side, in the African American community. Victory! The kind butcher there cut a hock off a larger piece for me.

In additions to the hock, the soup used beans; I used dried, red kidney beans. But, the most interesting addition was sauerkraut which cooked first separately with the bacon.

And then there was the final step called a pesta (with an accent over the "a"). It involves finely chopped onion, garlic and salt pork, sauteed with flour--like a very savory roux. Here it is, turning golden:

DSCN5548.jpg

This soup would be perfect for a cold winter night but even though we are in the midst of a beautiful spring, we loved it!

DSCN5550.jpg

May 14, 2010

Stuffed Lettuce Soup

We just missed this dish for Easter~ Stuffed Lettuce Soup is the traditional Easter dish on the Italian Riviera. I can't imagine the Mac's kitchen if I had announced I was bringing lettuce soup stuffed with a baby lamb. It is probably just as well...

Luckily, Marcella's version is made with veal and chicken, blended with fresh ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano ~ rolled into tender lettuce leaves.
The chicken and veal are cooked in butter then minced.
The minced meat is added to a bowl with tender veggies, herbs and ricotta.
The tender lettuce leaves are blanched to soften them, then stuffed with the meat mixture.
The lettuce rolls are tightly packed into a large saucepan then covered with meat stock (that I had made ahead and frozen).
The whole pot simmers for 30 minutes.
The lettuce rolls are served over a slice of toasted bread and covered with the thickened broth. Next time I will be a little more patient and reduce the broth after removing the tender lettuce rolls.
As lovely as this is... I think next Easter we will still have to have sugar ham and sweet potato souffle for Easter. Marcella and Victor are invited to a southern feast!
Ciao y'all,
Sandi

May 21, 2010

Tomato Sauce with Vegetables and Olive Oil

This tomato sauce is perfect. Simple, fresh tasting and perfect.
Since we are not yet in local tomato season, I opted for canned San Marzano tomatoes.
The vegetables are onions, celery and carrots--sounds like the beginnings of a French sauce but no--the flavor is clearly Italy.

DSCN5552.jpg

I wish I had cut the tomatoes into a little smaller pieces. I only cut them into rough quarters. Other than that, I loved the sauce.
Usually we eat a long noodle at our house, like fettuccine, because it's my husband's preference but for this I cooked (according to Marcella's suggestion) rigatoni which is my favorite.
I had some friends over for dinner and we all loved it!

DSCN5559.jpg

May 28, 2010

Eggplant and Ricotta Sauce ~Sicilian Style

Ricotta and Eggplant Sauce~ Sicilian Style This recipe, like all the others in 'The Essentials of Italian Cooking', takes simple ingredients and layers them into a mouthful of flavors. Marcella says she likes using cartwheel pasta 'route di carro'~ it is the perfect way to carry the flavors. (you know 'carry' as in "I'm going to carry y'all to the store")

She suggests you use the fresh young eggplant. Dice the eggplant. Place the cubes in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. This will draw off the bitter juices. After an hour rinse and squeeze out the excess moisture.

The eggplant is fried until tender and drained. It is then then combined with onion, garlic, and tomatoes that have been sautéd.

Combine all this with the freshly cooked pasta. Ricotta and parmigiano-reggiano are stirred in to add another layer of flavor.
Serve at once~ Mangia tutto!
Simple, with lots of flavor. Another winner!

Ciao y'all,
Sandi


June 4, 2010

Smothered Onions Sauce

Pasta with caramelized onions. A fantastic idea! Totally rich, sensual in the mouth and delicious.
Because I am in Venice, I bought some beautiful flat white onions—cipolle.
I used butter to slowly stew a whole bunch of onions (about 6 cups sliced) for about and hour.

DSCN5614onions.jpg


After that I raised the heat the temperature to get them a perfect golden brown, added some wine, black pepper chopped parsley and freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and there it is. A fantastic dish!

DSCN5616pi.jpg


I just have to add a personal note. It is really a thrill to feel the connection to Marcella, here in this beautiful city. I can so easily imagine her walking these streets and shopping in the stalls. Thank you again, Marcella, for enriching an already wonderful experience.

June 11, 2010

Pesto~ by the motar method

Don't y'all just love it when timing is just perfect? It doesn't happen often in life.

This week's recipe from 'Essentials of Italian Cooking' came at the perfect time. I was in Montisi with a garden FULL of fresh Italian basil, cooking in a Tuscan kitchen and my 'chore' was to make Pesto, by the Motar Method.
Perfetto!

Marcella has a beautiful page in her cookbook on the true origins of pesto, and the art of creating pesto by using a mortar with a pestle. If you have ever had truly fresh, perfectly prepared pesto on fresh pasta... It will make your heart sing. This is not the pesto-boyRdee, or even what they make in the authentic Olive Gardens across the country. We are talking honest-to-goodness-hallelujah-chorus flavors.

Start with 2 generous cups of fresh basil, that have been rinsed in cold water and dried. Combine in a mortar with sea salt, pine nuts, and mashed garlic. Using the pestle, mash against the sides until a thick paste if formed. (stop here and just take a deep breath~ y'all will be transported to my Tuscan kitchen for a moment) Add grated cheese and continue until it is a smooth paste. Add olive oil in a very thin stream, beating with a wooden spoon. Finally, add a few tablespoons of softened butter. This pesto can be used so many ways. We enjoyed ours on thin slices of bread drizzled with olive oil. We were lucky enough to be a few short miles from Pienza~ known for its pecorino cheese, and I was able to find some 'fiore sardo'.

Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Ciao y'all~
Sandi


June 18, 2010

Sardinian Botarga Sauce

This recipe had a really special aspect to it. Early on, I realized that, not only would I be in Venice to make it(I would never have been able to find Botarga in Tallahassee) but that Sandi would be there, too. It was travel magic meets Marcella magic!
We went to the Rialto market to buy the special dried fish roe, Botarga. The first place only had tuna and I knew that was wrong but the woman in there told me to go to the store around the block. It seemed like she may have meant the Casa del Parmigiano, so we went in and they did have it there. Botarga purchased, Sandi and I got the other ingredients for the simple sauce, at the market and headed home.
Onions, butter. lemon zest and parsley join the botarga to make a lovely compliment for the pasta.
Here is the botarga in the package:

DSCN5738pack.jpg


And here it is, looking very much like caviar, on the plate:

DSCN5742bot.jpg


We were both skeptical about the outcome of this dish—too fishy, maybe but, the finished dish was lovely—a perfect lunch with a green salad and a glass of crisp, chilled Soave.
An amazing, charmed, culinary moment for Sandi and me.

piatto.jpg

June 25, 2010

Borro Oro e Salvia

This week's challenge for Pomodori e Vino is 'Borro Oro e Salvia' ~Golden Butter and Sage~ Doesn't that just sound like a pinch of heaven?


I have some lovely sage in the garden. This recipe couldn't be simpler. First you brown the butter until golden and add the fresh sage leaves, turning after a few minutes to get them crispy.

Marcella says that this is best eaten with fresh pasta... so here we go! I put on my pasta apron and made some fresh tortolloni. (thanks to my Bluone cooking classes)

The pasta was light and fresh. The browned butter and sage sauce fabulous. Topped with a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Perfetto!
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

July 2, 2010

Sausage and Cream Sauce

To taste Bologna in a bowl, make this simple recipe.
Marcella calls for sausage out of the casings without any fennel or strong spices. If you’ve been following the blog, you know that it’s not that easy to find. Instead of buying sausage, I just bought a half pound of pork shoulder, had it ground and added about a half teaspoon of kosher salt.
The interesting thing to me was using the small sauce pan instead of a skillet. Of course, it worked perfectly.

Here’s the pork cooking, after the onions:

DSCF7003pork.jpg


And the sauce, after adding the cream:

DSCF7006sauce.jpg


And the finished dish:

DSCF7007diah.jpg


We took this dish to share with our neighbors, who had also been to Bologna recently and they agreed. It’s totally authentic and delicious with the perfect balance of flavors.
Thanks again, Marcella!

July 9, 2010

Tortellini with Fish Stuffing

Making fresh pasta was not daunting to me (I've done it many times) but the prospect of forming about 144 tortellini was. I solved the problem by inviting my friend, Cecelia and my daughter, Kathryn to play, too. The recipe was very straight forward. Make the filling from a piece of poached fish (I used halibut), a little parmigiano cheese, egg yolks and a few seasonings. Then make the pasta, in sheets, cut into squares and stuff and shape into tortellini. It was surprising how quickly we felt competent making them. We were very proud of the beautiful results:

DSCF7018tort.jpg

We ate them with the tomato sauce with cream it was delicious!
I can't say this is my favorite kind of tortellini but it was great fun.

DSCF7021.jpg

July 16, 2010

Lasagne with Artichokes

This is most certainly NOT a Rachel Ray recipe but it is as rich and wonderful as it is time consuming. Luckily for me I had my trusty, well-trained assistant, Kathryn, to help me out.
I trimmed and cooked the artichokes; Kathryn made the béchamel. We made the pasta and did the assembly together. I loved pulling the cold lasagne out of the water to wash them gently “like lingerie” as Marcella directs.

We did all of this on Wednesday morning because I had a busy day planned on Thursday and one of Kathryn’s good friends from college was coming to visit. I preheated the oven and put in the pan, after leaving it out of the refrigerator for about an hour. That’s when disaster struck. We had a big thunderstorm and lost power. “Disastro!!!” The oven stayed hot enough to heat the lasange through but I wasn’t able to get a nice crust on the top. We ate it with a salad and candlelight. It was hot but I am not sure it was really fully cooked. Still, it was silky smooth and delicious.

I took a photo before I put it into the oven but didn’t try later, since the light was literally non existent

las.jpg

A few little notes--we got seven layers out of the recipe but we didn't really need the two inch high sides on the pan. It would have worked fine in a regular,
Pyrex 9X13 inch dish.

July 23, 2010

Risotto with parmigiano

Are y'all ready for an essential recipe?
This week's challenge for Pomodori e Vino is Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Luckily I was able to carry some real Parmigiano -Reggiano back from Italy. FYI~you can bring back cheese that is wrapped and vacuum sealed. I ended up with the cheese in my carry-on. I sweated like a shoe-bomber everytime I went through security... But made it home with my precious cargo.
Y'all know I love Risotto and make it all the time. I was very excited to see Marcella's technique for making the risotto. She is in the 'stir constantly' school of risotto. (who am I to disagree with the master?)
"Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and cook the rice, stirring constantly with a long wooden spoon, wiping the sides and bottom of the pot clean as you stir, until all the liquid is gone. You must never stop stirring and you must be sure to wipe the bottom of the pot completely clean frequently or the rice will stick to it."
This process is repeated with every 1/2 cup ladle of simmering broth. Until the risotto is tender, but not mushy. In the end... stir in butter and that fabulous parmigiano-reggiano.
The result is a beautifully flavorful risotto. I didn't have fresh truffle to shave over the top, but I did have a little white truffle sauce that was also tucked into my suitcase. How special is that?
Another brilliant adventure in The Essentials of Italian Cooking.

Ciao y'all,
Sandi

July 31, 2010

Risotto with Clams

Thinking of the clam risotto, I am so happy because I know I can get beautiful, fresh, local clams, easily. They are actually farmed in the bay by a friend of ours and don’t need very much scrubbing at all. Watching them open in the pan, one by one, is such a treat.

DSCF7068clams.jpg


It was quick work to remove then from the shells, chop and reserve.

Onion, garlic and parsley go into the rice as a flavor base.

rice.jpg


The liquid is water and the juice from cooking the clams.

I used the delicious olive oil, from Lake Garda, which I brought home from Italy, to finish the risotto. It wasn’t as runny as I had hoped but the flavor was perfetto!

finris.jpg

August 6, 2010

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola

I knew I needed help for my challenge with Pomodori e Vino this week. We are making Gnocchi! ~So I called my chef-to-be son in for support.

We are starting into a new chapter with several kinds of gnocchi... who knew there was more than one kind? The only gnocchi I have ever had were thick and heavy. Marcella says clearly that the essential characteristic of well-made gnocchi is that they be fluffy and light.

I was about to try some well-made gnocchi (hopefully!)
Basically Gnocchi is a little lump of potato and flour. The potato needed for good gnocchi is a 'boiling' type. The potatoes are boiled and peeled, then passed through a food mill. The warm smished potatoes are blended with flour until smooth.

The potato dough is then rolled into 1 inch rolls, then these rolls are cut into 3/4 inch pieces.
Now the tricky part~ the pieces of dough are lightly pressed against the prongs of a fork to form indentions.
These indentions are important when the gnocchi is covered with sauce~ I used a flavorful gorgonzola sauce (also in this cookbook).
Potatoes and gorgonzola... (and my son spending the day with me in the kitchen) I'm in heaven!

Ciao y'all,
Sandi

August 13, 2010

Layered Crespelle with Tomato, Prosciutto and Cheese

This was an enjoyable process. I love making crepes and crespelle—pouring in the batter and twirling the pan. They cook very quickly so making 8 or 9, as the recipe calls for, takes no time at all. I stacked them with wax paper because I made them in the morning, and kept them refrigerated during the day.

DSCF7125cresp.jpg


I wished I had doubled the tomato sauce recipe because it was fabulous by itself.

The recipe involves layering the crespelle with the sauce, cheeses (fresh mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano) and shredded prosciutto, then baking the stack in a cake pan.

DSCF7126in.jpg


The result was a fantastic combination of salty, creamy, tangy and rich flavors. It was the perfect “primo” for 4 heavy eaters and could have easily served 6.

DSCF7134sl.jpg

August 20, 2010

Frittata with Tomatoes, Onion and Basil

Here in Alabama, we might be in the middle of the hot and sticky dog days of summer... but the tomatoes and basil are perfect. This is just the time for a Frittata with Tomatoes, Onion and Basil; the challenge for Pomodori e Vino this week. If y'all have ever made a frittata... it is really simple. It is an open-faced Italian omelet. It is a base of eggs and whatever~ cooked slowly in a skillet, then finished under a broiler until it is firm.
This is a Frittata that is packed full of flavor. In this recipe, 3 cups of onion are cooked until caramelized, and combined with tomatoes. Just before serving combine 5 eggs with tomato mixture, basil and cheese.
The result is a beautiful skilletfull of tomato and basil. It is best served warm out of the oven, and sliced into wedges. With some cantelope this makes a perfect brunch.
Ciao y'all,
Sandi

August 27, 2010

Grilled Swordfish Steaks, Sicilian Salamoriglio Style

If you love swordfish you will love this recipe. At the local fish store they said they have wild-caught swordfish from the Gulf of Mexico so that's what I got. Oil spill be damned!

The swordfish is simply grilled (you have to get the grill really hot) and sauced with a combination of salt, lemon juice, olive oil and fresh oregano. I have a ton of fresh oregano in the garden!

DSCF7143sf.jpg

This is a great summer recipe--using the grill and light flavors.

September 3, 2010

Sauteed Snapper with Finocchio

I am going to just sneak this one in. I thought for a minute I was going to be told to 'pack my knives', or that I was 'chopped', at the very least that my 'show is canceled' , 'Auf Wiedersehen'...
I missed my recipe/week for Pomodori e Vino.
I don't know if it was the lumpectomy I'd had (all's well) or the excitement over planning a wedding. I just over looked it! So I'm sneaking this one in a little late.
Marcella's recipe for Sauteed Snapper with Finocchio is wonderful. Once again, showing that fresh indredients, are the key to Italian cooking. I found a beautiful wild caught red snapper at Whole Foods, luckily already filleted. (I had to look that one up... it doesn't seem like that should be the past tense of fillet)
This recipe is as simple as it can get...fresh fennel, sliced and cooked in olive oil and water. Reduce the liquid away, and then cook the snapper in the same pan.
Beautiful!
Ciao y'all,
Sandi

Opps

I've . . .

gone%20to%20the%20beach.jpg
. . . and I forgot to cook!

I'll post when I return.

Loving%2520Signature.jpg

September 10, 2010

Baked Bluefish Fillets with Potatoes, Garlic and Olive oil, Genoese Style

DSCF7211.jpg


I almost never bake fish so this was a great opportunity to try it. And I had a beautiful piece of halibut, sent from Alaska, to use. Marcella says you can use any firm-fleshed fish but she prefers Atlantic bluefish.
First off, the fun began by slicing the potatoes on Cecelia’s mandolin, at the 1/16th inch setting.

DSCF7197man.jpg


The potatoes are baked for about 15 minutes with a mixture of olive oil, parsley and garlic.

DSCF7209.jpg


Here, I made a big mistake. I set the oven at 400° instead of 450° but it all came out delicious—maybe not as brown as the potatoes could have been.

After the initial 15 minutes, the fish is added with the same olive oil mixture. Because of the wrong temperature, the fish was done and the potatoes weren’t, so I took the fish out of the oven and let it rest while I, finally realizing my mistake, cranked up the oven and let the potatoes finish.

Both the fish and the potatoes had great Ligurian flavor which is to say, wonderful!

September 17, 2010

Fried Calamari

Y'all know, I have said before that the most exciting thing about Pomodori e Vino is the challenge. This week the challenge was quite an adventure. It is my week to make Fried Calamari~ no problem! We Southerners are good at frying things!
The true challenge was to find a fresh squid in Birmingham. When Jan and I were cooking up our Bottarga in Venice... I wish we had bought some of these babies at the Rialto Fish Market and fried them up right then and there.

'Allora'~ I was on a search. My first stop was Snapper Grabber's in Vestavia~ the best place for fresh seafood in this area. (one word of advise... don't go on monday because they are closed) I ended up at Whole Foods... and paid a whole paycheck for a bag of frozen squid. The best part about these squid are that they are already cleaned!

This vision played in my mind as I was prepping my little squids for frying~ If you can't see it... it's a you tube video of the Pescheria from Venice Travel Blog. The sights and sounds are perfect~ the smells are undefinable!

The process of frying the calamari rings is very simple. Pat the rings dry, lightly coat with flour and shake off the excess. Fry in vegetable oil without crowding, drain and sprinkle with salt.

Once again, Marcella has provided us with the taste of fresh Italian cooking: one that swells with memories of the Pescheria in Venice.
Priceless!
Ciao y'all~
Sandi


September 24, 2010

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Rosemary, Garlic and White Wine

The recipe is classic comfort food, Marcella style. It calls for a whole chicken cut into quarters, browned in a combination of oil and butter and then slow cooked on the stove top with the wine, garlic and rosemary.

Here is the chicken browning in the pan:

DSCF7226br.jpg

I really didn't expect to develop this much flavor with the minimal ingredients just sitting in the pan with the chicken. The garlic and rosemary were left in the liquid, whole. But the result was a rich comforting dish like you would get from a braise.
For sure, I will make this again in the winter. If you live somewhere that has the seasons already changing, go for it soon.

DSCF7230.jpg

Chicken with Rosemary and White Wine

Hallelujah!
We are through the fishy squid section. Now we get to move on to bigger and better things... Like Chicken! Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog ... because this section is going to be great.

There are some beautiful roasted chicken recipes in The Essentials of Italian cooking. Simple ingredients that can make an old bird fabulous. (remember that ladies... in cooking and in fashion)

This recipe includes a cut up chicken (skin on), sprigs of fresh rosemary, cloves of garlic, butter and oil. Pan fry the chicken in the butter and oil until the skin is crispy. Add garlic and herbs, 1/2 cup of white wine, and generous salt and pepper.Allow the chicken to cook in it's broth until done. Serve it with some good bread to sop up the juices... You'll thank me later!

(for the recipe and the fashion advise)
Ciao y'all,
Sandi

October 1, 2010

Grilled Chicken alla Diavola

Marcella says "In Rome they call this the devil's chicken because of the diabolical quantitiy of the crushed black peppercorns that are used."
I just call it delightful!
Grilled Chicken alla Diavola ~ Roman Style is a wonderful way to grill a chicken. Marcella goes into detail about getting a whole chicken and having it flattened to cook it on the grill. I was in a bit of a 'workin' full time, cook it in a hurry' bind (y'all never find yourself in that situation do you?) I used chicken breasts... and they were great! The chicken is well coated with coarsly ground black peppercorn and then marinated for 2 hours in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. The freshness of the lemons and the bite of the pepper makes this a recipe I will do again and again! I can only imagine this aroma with grilled salmon or pork chops. The daibolically perfect recipe.
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

October 8, 2010

Pan-Roasted Veal with Garlic, Rosemary and White Wine

I gotta say, I'm liking this pan-roasting technique ... a lot. Maybe that's why so many Italian vacation rentals don't have ovens? Who needs them!

This is a great way to prep small birds (see the squab post) or roasts. Really, especially in the summer, when I don't want to heat up the entire house by lighting the big oven. Anyway, the recipe...

The hardest part of this recipe - finding the cut of meat. Marcella suggests a rolled shoulder (boneless) of veal but here in suburbia, where unfortunately, most butchers have fallen away, and even the supermarkets get their meat pre-cut, finding this cut of meat was difficult at best. I guess if I hadn't waited until the last minute, I could have ordered it online but time was of the essence, so I needed to find it the old-fashioned, in an actual store.

I called Whole Foods, and though they claimed to get it in, it seemed each time I spoke with the butcher, the meat, though ordered didn't arrive. I made Chris ask the "butcher" in our local supermarket. Of course he knew little about veal shoulder, how to get it or offered any assistance. Finally, I called the meat department for the Shop Rite in East Brunswick, where a most helpful man said he would order it for me and have it in the store the next day. He told me to come after 11:00 or even a bit later, because the meat delivery people sometimes ran late.

I arrived at the store at 12:50 as they were just unloading the truck. My meat man went out back and had them rush to get my order unloaded and then, because it came in an 8 lb roast (yikes) he sliced it down for me giving me a roast bigger than the 2 pounds Marcella suggested, something more like 3.25 to 3.5 pounds - no worries though I had the meat!

Pan Roasted Veal with Garlic, Rosemary and White Wine
Raw meet with a bit of garlic popping out, and rosemary atop

After that it was simple, mine was a huge chunk (not a roll), so I did as the directions suggested and made slits in the roast into which I stuffed the garlic. I got some fresh rosemary from the garden and sprinkled that liberally around the meet, browned, salt and pepper, and some wine, and boom about 2.5 hours later (took longer because mine was a larger cut), we had our roast. Chris, Becky and Fala approved.

Pan Roasted Veal with Garlic, Rosemary and White Wine
Roast out from the pan

Pan Roasted Veal with Garlic, Rosemary and White Wine
Sliced Roast with Juices

October 15, 2010

Veal Scaloppine with Marsala and Cream

This chapter of Essential's of Italian cooking has been a challenge... VEAL. It is not something that we eat often. Ok... the truth... I have never cooked veal, but I do order it whenever I get the chance.
Now I have the reason to cook veal in my own kitchen.

Classic Veal with Marsala and Cream is a beautiful combination of flavors. The scaloppine is first dredged in flour then browned in butter and vegetable oil. Once the veal is lightly browned, remove it from the pan. Using the same pan, add marsalla and cook down the little bits in the pan. Add cream and cook to a thickened sauce.This is a simple and a beautiful blend of flavors. Essentially Marcella Hazan~ Essentials of Italian Cooking.

Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog ...Much more Veal to come!
Ciao Y'all,
Sandi

October 22, 2010

Veal Rolls with Pancetta and Parmesean

DSCF7281done.jpg

This was a very interesting recipe for me. I had never cooked veal before!
I first had to pound out the pieces to a proper thinness. Marcella wants the pieces to be about 5 inches by 4 inches and after cutting each piece in half they were pretty close.
Here are the before and after photos of the veal pounding process:

Before:

DSCF7267before.jpg

after:

DSCF7268after.jpg


Each piece is covered with a thin slice of pancetta and grated parmesan cheese:

DSCF7270before%20rolling.jpg

And then rolled up:

DSCF7273raw%20rolls.jpg


They are browned “deeply” in a combination of oil and butter:

DSCF7275pan.jpg


Then the pan is deglazed with wine and tomatoes are added, to make a fantastic sauce.

We absolutely LOVED the result! I reminded me of veal rolls I ate at Osteria Orto dei Mori, in Venice, which were one of my favorite things I ate on that whole trip.

Not having cooked veal (or any beef, for that matter) I was really surprised at how rich the sauce was with the simple addition of a little butter and the ingredients remaining in the pan (fond, wine, tomatoes).

Would I ever make this again? YES! It’s a beautiful special occasion dish.

October 29, 2010

Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Peas

Luckily, it has turned into a beautiful fall here in Alabama. I know I am biased... but the season's change is wonderful here. The oranges and reds of the maple trees looks like a picture. If it could just stay this way all year!

A pot of veal stew is just the ticket on a cool fall evening. Marcella's recipe is thick and flavorful... as always.
My recipe for veal stew includes tomatoes and peas. Simple ingredients, layers of flavor; once again the perfect example of 'Essentials of Italian Cooking'.
The veal is browned in butter and olive oil, then the onions are browned in the same pan. Add the best canned Italian tomatoes and cook over a low heat for about 50 minutes . Add the peas and cook until they are done. The stew will be thick and flavorful.
I served it over baked polenta, which is a lot like a grits casserole... comfort food at it's best!

Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog. Marcella has followed us along and leaves encouraging comments!

Ciao Y'all,
Sandi

November 5, 2010

Pan-Fried Beef Steaks, Cacciatora Style

Can you believe we are more than half way through our cooking adventure? We started in March of 2009 and have been cooking our way through 'The Essentials of Italian Cooking'. If you are looking for a Christmas gift... this cookbook is it!


My recipe this week is Beef Cacciatora with wonderful Porcini mushrooms. Start with the dried porcini mushrooms, and soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes... the perfect time for a nice glass of wine on the patio.
Back to the kitchen... Thinly slice an onion and cook in Olive Oil until they are translucent. Flour both sides of the beef steaks and brown them in the same pan. After about one minute on each side, remove from the pan and set them on a warm plate.

After the mushrooms have softened, cut them up and add to the onions. Add the 'broth' that the mushrooms soaked in. Cook at medium heat until the liquid is reduced. Add wine (another glass at this point is a good idea) Tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Just before serving, return the thin steaks to the pan and turn several times to coat well.
I have served this with some creamy polenta.
Another wonderful recipe from Marcella!
Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog ...
Ciao Y'all,
Sandi

November 12, 2010

Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine

This is a special recipe from 'The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking'... at first I thought it didn't sound like anything special, but once we sat down to dinner~ we realized how really special it was.

The secret ingredient is a fine Italian red wine. Marcella and Victor suggest a Barolo~ My heart was fluttering as I poured this beautiful wine into the saute pan. And then an equal amount into our glasses :-).
Once again... simple ingredients, layers of flavors, and an incredible result. Simply... butter and oil, garlic and beef filets dipped in flour. Once the steaks are browned on each side they are set aside. The wine is then reduced in the same pan with the garlic and bits on flour. The steaks are returned to the pan just before serving.
I stirred up a quick pan of polenta with gorgonzola for the perfect side dish.
Allora~ Special!
Ciao y'all,
Sandi

November 19, 2010

Roast Easter Lamb with White Wine

Marcella herself says this recipe is simple—simple and delicious, I say! It reiterates to me how the simplicity of technique can make big flavors.

I found a 2 and a half pound, organic lamb shoulder through our local Golden Acres Ranch
http://www.goldenacresranchflorida.com/

DSCF7393raw.jpg


All I had to do was brown it nicely and cook it on the stove top until it was done. The garlic and rosemary lent earthy notes to the meat.

DSCF7395brown.jpg

The sauce was the best part—just water added to the pan drippings. Nothing fancy but full of flavor.
We ate it with roasted potatoes and a mix of kale and collards, sauteed with a little garlic.

DSCF7399piatto.jpg

November 26, 2010

Pork Loin Braised in Milk, Bolognese Style

Some of my Pomodori e Vino recipes are best kept in the kitchen... by that, I mean it is probably best that Bill doesn't know what's happening until he gets to eat the finished product. Pork loin braised in Milk would be a good example of that.

"why are you going to ruin a perfectly good butt by putting milk in the pot?"

~Because Marcella said so!
Now...Southerners know how to handle a Boston butt.
I have always thought it ironic that in the south it is a Boston butt, in the north it is called a pork shoulder (those yankees missed a good chance there to rename it)
Marcella actually calls for a pork rib roast... which would make a beautiful presentation. This was a night for home cookin'... a butt it is.
The recipe is very simple. A beautiful cut of pork, a little fat to brown the roast, and milk. The pork and the milk slowly cook together, adding a cup full of milk at a time once it cooks down. This cooking process is slowly repeated over 3 hours. The result is a beautifully tender roast with a nutty brown sauce.

Bill pronounced it perfection.
So... maybe I didn't ruin that butt after all :-)
Ciao y'all~
Sandi


December 3, 2010

Spareribs Pan-Roasted with Sage and White wine, Treviso style

Another keeper from Essentials!

DSCF7429.jpg


I am coming to appreciate the proper browning of the meat to develop the fond and the flavor it gives you in the resulting pan juices.

The pork ribs are first browned in a large skillet. Mine just fit—I almost had to take one out.

DSCF7406.jpg

DSCF7417browned.jpg


After they are nice and brown you add white wine, fresh sage and garlic. Then you simply let them “pan-roast” on top of the stove.

DSCF7413winegarlic.jpg


I had more juice left in the pan during cooking and never had to add any water. At the end, I did add water to make a gravy/sauce which was perfect with the ribs over polenta.

DSCF7420sauce.jpg

Now I really want to go to Treviso!

December 10, 2010

Cotechino with Lentils

We are getting into the really 'good stuff' on Pomodori e Vino. Y'all might think that the pasta section was good... but we are coming into the 'Variety Meats'. Hold on folks~ this is going to get good.

This week is the perfect example.

Cotechino sausage with Lentils.
What the heck is a cotechino? I wasn't sure... but spent days looking in Birmingham and even in Atlanta. No luck.

With a little help from Marcella and Victor, I was able to order it online. Only a Pomodori e Vino'ette' would be willing to go to the ends of the earth to find that one special ingredient. Cotechino is a specialty sausage typically from Modena Italy. (why oh why didn't we make this while we were in Bologna??)
This recipe calls for the elusive cotichino sausage, served with lentils. The perfect good luck meal for the new year. It had a good flavor combinatin of pork sausage and beans. We enjoyed it very much... hopefully our good luck will carry through to 2011. In the mean time... Liver, Sweet breads, Brains and Tripe.

Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog ...

Ciao Y'all,
Sandi

December 17, 2010

Sauteed Sweetbreads with Tomatoes and Peas

OK everyone knows that Sweetbread are the Thymus gland. Just had to clear that up first.

First I had to find sweetbreads in our less than sophisticated Tallahassee market. Clusters & Hops was the place. They were frozen in plastic and pricey but I was committed.

DSCF7445in%20plastic.jpg


After defrosting them in a pot of cold water, I worked to remove the membrane. Marcella says, “It takes a little patience”, which is not my strong suit but I managed. They poach for about 5 minutes and then you can remove the rest of the membrane.

I cooked some onion in the butter and oil mixture and then added the chopped sweetbreads. They were supposed to “become a light colored brown all over but that didn’t happen. I’m not sure where I mad a mistake but the brown was all going onto the pan and the sweetbreads remained beige.

DSCF7449brnd.jpg


I added salt and (canned) chopped tomatoes with their juice and let it all simmer.

DSCF7455pan.jpg


Finally I added the peas.
The dish was very pretty—actually Christmassy looking with the green peas playing off the red tomatoes.

DSCF7459done.jpg


BUT I really discovered that I don’t like sweetbreads. The texture just was off putting to me. My mom always orders them in high-end restaurants and I remember tasting them once at Michy’s in Miami.
Even Marcella could not make me warm up to the mushy-soft, livery, organ meat.


December 24, 2010

Artichokes and Leeks

Hallelujah~
We are out of the Variety meats section of Pomodori e Vino. I don't know how many of you actually looked... but the posts on sweetbreads, kidney's and calf brains were awesome. Marcella's comments really showed her Italian passion for food! I count myself lucky that all I had to cook was the Cotechino Sausage with lentils! Job well done my Pomodori!

Now we have moved on to vegetables... What's not to like?
My recipe was for artichokes with leeks. The biggest problem for me was the quality of the artichokes in the market. Not like the beautiful artichokes growing in the garden in Montisi.
The recipe itself was simple... cook the artichokes and leeks until tender, adjust for salt and pepper and serve. When adjusting for salt and pepper... I am loving the phrase used by David Rocco in his cookbook. 'Quanto Basta' ~as much as you need.
What a beautiful thought during this holiday season. Quanto Basta! No more, no less. Only as much as you need.
In cooking and in life.
Blessed Holidays to each and every one of you.
Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog ... Ciao Y'all, Sandi

December 31, 2010

Sauteed Sunchokes


Sunchokes were called Jerusalem Artichokes. We used to slice them thinly and add them to salads in the 70’s but I haven’t given them much thought lately. My loss! These were so tasty and a perfect addition to any protein on a plate.

They were a little bit difficult to find here in Tallahassee but a new supermarket is in town, Earth Fare, and lucky me, they had them; they came from California.

First Marcella wants you to peel the knobby tubers. It’s a little bit time consuming but not at all hard to accomplish.

DSCF7670raw.jpg


Then they are blanched in boiling salted water and sliced.

After warming some chopped garlic in olive oil, the sliced sunchokes are added and cooked, with salt and chopped parsley, until they’re soft enough—like a potato.

cookingch.jpg


They developed a definite nutty, artichoke-like flavor which, combined with the good olive oil, salt and garlic, was an unexpected treat.

I can really see why Marcella has included several sunchokes recipes in this chapter.

DSCF7680done.jpg

January 7, 2011

Fava Beans

I just love it when I am smart enough to do a little planning ahead. Last year in May, y'all may remember my fabulous trip to Italy. I spent a month watching sunsets and soaking up the dolce vita. (If you need a little taste of Italy This Link will take you there)

Back to my brilliant planning... I knew I would have to be making fava beans in the dead of winter. Fava beans are freshest in the spring... so, I actually made these then.

As Marcella says, "there is no magic in the making a dish of plain boiled beans" The magic is in the freshness of the fava bean and the quality of the olive oil.
This dish is made with fresh just snapped beans, finely chopped onion, and Pancetta. The secret to the brightness of the beans is adding salt to the boiling water before adding the beans. They should cook to a nutty, sweet flavor~ the time will depend on the freshness of the beans.

Remember to follow us along daily on Facebook or on the Pomodori e Vino Blog ...
Ciao Y'all,
Sandi

January 14, 2011

Fried Broccoli Florets

Simple and tasty fried tidbits with healthy broccoli as the center.
A total “win/win.”

We actually used these as a little antipasto with some wine while I made the rest of the dinner and they were perfect.

The recipe is very straightforward. The florets are blanched,

DSCF7734blanched.jpg

cooled, dipped in egg and breaded with fine dry breadcrumbs. I actually used Progresso (unflavored, of course) because the fresh ones I tried to make weren’t fine enough.

DSCF7738eggdip.jpg


They are fried in very hot vegetable oil.

DSCF7740fry.jpg


I added a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and served them right away.

DSCF7743done.jpg

January 21, 2011

Fried Cauliflower with Parmigiano Cheese Batter

The star in Fried Cauliflower with Parmesan Cheese Batter is the tender and flavorful crust. Real Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese makes the perfect batter because it melts without the stringyness of most cheeses. The flavor is so unique~ and of course brings a smile to my face as I remember our tour at the cheese factory last may near Bologna. Here's the link to that favorite trip! We stood between the walls of maturing Parmigiano-Reggiano, as the wheels wait for the day to crack them open. This is a beautiful cheese with a nutty, salty flavor all it's own... that I must say, bears NO resemblance to the stuff in the green shaker!
The batter for these fried cauliflower is a mixture of water and beaten egg with grated parmigiano and flour. The cauliflower is first cooked in a large pot of water and cooled. Once cooled, break the cauliflower in to bite-sized florets. These are dipped in the egg batter and fried in vegetable oil until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve at once.
These are wonderful little bite-sized pieces that are filled with the flavor of fresh Parmigiano.
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

January 28, 2011

Fried Eggplant

What could be simpler than frying a single vegetable in lovely, hot olive oil.
Marcella actually says "vegetable oil" but an olive is a vegetable isn't it?

I actually made this dish in August when I got a perfect couple of eggplants in my CSA bag. Following Marcella's instructions for steeping them in salt was easy. I dried them on paper towels after the process:

DSCF7216pt.jpg

I got the oil nice and hot using the test in the recipe of dipping one end of the eggplant slice into the oil and checking for the sizzle. I could fit 3 slices at a time into my skillet.

DSCF7218fr.jpg

I almost never fry anything so I found this process very entertaining. It was beautiful to watch the white eggplant slices turn the perfect golden color. And the flavor was amazing. I have never enjoyed eggplant this much; it was so sweet and not greasy at all.

pl%20ep.jpg

February 4, 2011

Braised Finocchio

Fennel has always been my 'most' favorite. Well... the truth? It's been my favorite since Ive been old enough to know what it was. Marcella describes Finocchio as related to anise, but with a cool, mild aroma. I love it raw in a fresh salad, on pizza, or roasted with olive oil.
This is Marcella's rendition of Braised Fennel with olive oil. The fennel stalk is sliced and then cooked in water and olive oil. Turn the slices until it becomes lightly browned. When done, the fennel will be tender and the liquid is gone.
Beautiful!
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

February 11, 2011

Fried Breaded Mushrooms, Tuscan Style

Easy and yummy.
This is basically the same process I used with the fried broccoli--dip into beaten egg, bread crumbs and fry in vegetable oil. I made the bread crumbs from ciabatta bread. By toasting them after the first go round in the food processor, I could reprocess and get a finer crumb.

I used "Baby Bella" or crimini mushrooms. Marcella's cleaning method worked well. They're washed briefly under cold running water and dried on a soft towel.

DSCF7762shrooms.jpg

Then the assembly line:

DSCF7778line.jpg

Add salt after frying and eat em' up.

DSCF7789done.jpg


February 18, 2011

Potato and Ham Croquettes, Romagna Style

What's better than mashed potatoes?

Well, fried mashed potatoes of course!
Potato and Ham Croquettes, Romagna Style, call for a bowl full Marcella's light and fluffy Parmiggiano mashed potatoes. The secret ingredient in the mashed potatoes is nutmeg and (of course) lots of fresh parmiggiano cheese.
To make croquettes; the potatoes are combined with finely chopped proscuitto and egg. Then made into 2 inch patties, lightly floured and fried in vegetable oil.
There is a crispy outside and a lovely creamy inside.
Another Essential success!

Ciao y'all~
Sandi

February 25, 2011

Baked Radicchio

Radicchio is such a beautiful vegetable. I love looking at it through the camera lens.
However, I neglected to taste it before I cooked it and at $8.99/ pound, this felt like a total flop. In general, I like bitter vegetables, but the radicchio I bought was so extremely bitter (Marcella says "astringent") that it was barely edible. I feel sure it would be a delicious preparation with a nicer sample of radicchio.

Here are the photos:
In the beginning:

DSCF7821.jpg

Cut in half to reveal beautiful color and patterns:

DSCF7826half.jpg

Placed in baking dish with olive oil:

DSCF7831with%20oil.jpg


Brown and still beautiful:

DSCF7834done.jpg


The smells from the oven were wonderful but, like I said above, the flavor was just way too strong.

March 4, 2011

Zucchini with Oregano

The weather here in Alabama has been awesome. We've had warm sunny days and cool clear nights. Spring-time is here!

When I saw that my recipe for this week was Zucchini with oregano... I rushed off to buy my herbs. To the garden center! It was the perfect afternoon to play in the dirt. I was able to get my pots planted with rosemary, basil and oregano.

I made a quick stop at the market to pick up some fresh zucchini~ never fresh enough to have the blossoms attached as you would see in Italy. It is as fresh as I could find locally. I am going to have to grow my own, or find a friendly neighbor with a garden if I want zucchini blossoms. I don't know why we haven't been on the fried blossom band wagon. I can look forward to some when I am in Italy in May.

Marcella's recipe for Sauteed Zucchini rounds with Oregano is just that. The simple layering of olive oil and garlic, with thinly sliced squash and fresh oregano. Fresh flavors that are so perfect together.

This is something that we will be able to enjoy all summer long!

Ciao y'all~

Sandi

March 11, 2011

Charcoal-Grilled Vegetables

DSCF7846raw.jpg


I grill vegetables all the time so it was particularly interesting to me to closely follow Marcella’s instructions and notice the differences. She asks for zucchini, onion, bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and Belgian Endive (which I had never grilled before). Scoring the eggplant was a technique I hadn’t tried and I found it very effective.

DSCF7852grill.jpg

The tomatoes are topped with a simple bread crumb mixture while all the others are brushed with olive oil—some during and some after grilling.

My platter wasn’t big enough to hold all of these so I made a separate plate for just the zucchini.

DSCF7860.jpg

Impressive dinner party fare or just every day. I love grilled veggies!

March 18, 2011

Romaine Lettuce Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese and Walnuts

Fresh and simple salads... just in time for Spring!
This is a salad that is so simple and so full of flavor. It goes with almost any dish.
Romaine Lettuce Salad with Gorgonzla Cheese and Walnuts
Use the tender crunchy leaves of a head of Romaine Lettuce. The dressing is made with Olive Oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Bits of the Gorgonzola are blended into the oil and vinegar.
The salad is then assembled by tossing in the dressing~ then topped with walnuts and more cheese.
Next time I make it I am also going to include some slices of pear.
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

March 25, 2011

Green Bean Salad

So simple. So delicious. So Marcella.

All you do is find some nice fresh green beans, snap them and soak them in water for about 10 minutes.

DSCF7959soak.jpg

Boil them in salted water until tender but not crunchy.
Toss them with some nice olive oil, salt and a squirt of lemon juice. (Be sure to stop and smell the olive oil as it hits the hot beans.)
Eat the salad while it's still a bit warm.


DSCF7962done.jpg

April 1, 2011

Insalatone

My challenge this week was to build an Insalatone. In Marcella's own words this is a 'magnificent cooked salad'.
It can be served at room temperature or still warm, with a light toss of good olive oil and rich red wine vinegar, a little coarse salt and ground black pepper... Quanto basta. All of the vegetables need to be cooked according to it's needs. Peppers are roasted over a flame for easy peeling. Beets are roasted until sweet and tender, then peeled. (For some unknown reason I could only find golden beets, even though two days ago they had plenty of red beets!)The onions are roasted in their skins then quartered. Potatoes and green beans are cooked until tender.You can see that this is a beautiful plate of vegetables; with the perfect seasonings to let the flavors shine
Ciao Y'all~
Sandi

April 8, 2011

Glazed Semolina Pudding

I was afraid this recipe was a bit too complicated so Cecelia came over to help me out and I was glad she did. It's always fun to cook with a good friend.

Because I didn’t have a nice 6-cup metal mold, I used an 8” cake pan. It worked fine although the pudding was a bit shallow.

Making the caramel was easy. Here’s the initial syrup followed by the color at which I took the pan off the stove.

DSCF8005syrup.jpg

DSCF8006color.jpg


We cooked the semolina in the milk for a long time and Cecelia really came in handy with the whisking. Marcella says it will come off the sides of the pan and it never really did but we decided, finally, that it was “done.”

DSCF8008sem.jpg

We added the eggs, raisins and candied fruit and baked it off.

DSCF8011batter.jpg


After being refrigerated over night and the caramel re warmed a bit, it turned out onto the serving plate very easily.

For me, the pudding was a bit too sweet but my Italian friend, from Bergamo, loved it and said it reminded him of something he’d eaten with rice. I considered that a success.

DSCF8017.jpg


April 15, 2011

Monte Bianco

This has been a fun dish... one that comes with a story. Where should I begin?

Actually, I think this story begins in Italy... In Ferarra. In This Old Post you could see where Jerry and I spent a day taking photos of Bicycles in that beautiful Italian town. I conceeded bragging rights to Jerry for our little photo competition, based on a few well timed photos. I think he has felt a tad guilty over that ever since.


So... when I was desperate for Chestnuts to make my Monte Bianco, guess who came to my rescue? Jerry did! Not only did he find the chestnuts in Canada, he also made the recipe and sent me photos. What a champ!



Apparently fresh chestnuts are only available in Alabama during the one small week of Christmas; fresh chestnuts are essential to this dessert. "Monte Biano is a pyramid of dark chocolate and pureed fresh chestnuts, topped by a snowy peak of whipped cream" Marcella says that the aroma is a consolation for the approach of winter. And indeed resembles the white snow covered summit of Mont Blanc.


This is one recipe I can't wait to make ... next Christmas.


In the mean time, I hope that y'all will all take a second and go to Thoughts, Musings, and Rants and tell Jerry how much we appreciate his generosity.


Ciao y'all~ Sandi

April 22, 2011

Pisciotta--Olive Oil Cake

Marcella tells us that this cake originates in the hills above Verona so I knew my fruity and delicious Garda Olive Oil would be perfect for it and it was. Actually it became the star of the dish:

DSCF8038oli.jpg


The recipe is very straight forward--Beat the eggs with the sugar:

DSCF8022mix.jpg

Add lemon zest, Marsala wine and dry ingredients and put into a tube pan:

DSCF8032batter.jpg

This cake smells divine while baking!

I actually baked it a bit too long, so the crust was a little dark but the interior was quite moist and the flavors were all there. I loved the levels of the subtle lemon and Marsala and the beautiful fruit of the gorgeous oil. This cake was absolutely fantastic!

DSCF8043.jpg

April 29, 2011

Zabaglione

I decided to make my Zabaglione when I had a little help in the kitchen. Little did I know that this dessert recipe would bring on criticism from my son, the Chef-to-be.
To be honest... my son is right. (this time and this time only)
The criticism has nothing to do with Marcella's recipe for Zabaglione, but the fact that I don't have a legit double boiler. I have made countless egg custards, chocolate sauces, and lemon curds; my 'ghetto' system of steel bowl in a pot of boiling water has served me well.

Until now.
We took the time to make the Zabaglione together. This recipe is really very simple... warmed egg yolks and sugar, whipped to a frenzy. Add a nice Marsala wine and whip to a froth. This is served over fruit and has the most unique sweet warm spiced wine flavor. It is something I would make again.


And maybe I'll be getting a real double boiler for Mother's Day.
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

May 6, 2011

Chilled Black Grape Pudding

DSCF8159.jpg


Finding black grapes was a little challenging but I got some from Chile. Fortunately, they were seedless.

I used the food processor to puree the pound of grapes, resulting in an absolutely beautiful color.

DSCF8165.jpg

The color got even prettier after adding flour and sugar to the raw puree.

DSCF8167.jpg

With cooking, the color became a rich, dark eggplant hue.

DSCF8173.jpg

I have these lovely old-fashioned champagne glasses so I decided to use them instead of little bowls.

DSCF8179tre.jpg


Garnished with unsweetened, whipped cream the pudding is complete, refreshing and delicious. Some people stirred their cream into the pudding, which made it like a mousse but I liked the clear flavor of the grape undiluted.

This dessert is very easy and truly a show piece.
Thanks again, Marcella.

May 13, 2011

Prune Gelato

Marcella's gelato recipe is the perfect time to show off my Cuisinart hand mixer. After all~ I'm trying to save face after the 'no double boiler' incident.
Let me say though... Marcella commented that it was years before she had a proper double boiler :-) We know that didn't cause any problems in her kitchen. This smart stick is a clever kitchen tool. It is a mini food processor, a hand-held immersion blender, and a whisk stick.
Which is all that is needed to make a batch of fresh gelato... well, that and an ice cream machine. As a good southerner~ of course I have one of those.
Prune gelato. Of all the gelatos in the' Essentials of Italian Cooking' to make... my luck to draw prune gelato. It is simply not my favorite. It's a good thing there is also a recipe for Banana Rum, Egg custard, Lemon and Strawberry. Those are all my favorites!
I bet I will be eating my share of gelato in Italy next week too.
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

May 20, 2011

Focaccia (with onions, Genoese style)

DSCF8222done.jpg


I really love focaccia and Marcella’s recipe in Essentials has been my “go to” choice for years. She gives us a few variations and I’ve done some others on my own but this is the classic, onion focaccia of Genoa.

First you proof the yeast for about 10 minutes:

DSCF8184yeast.jpg


I used my mixer with a dough hook for the initial mixing of flour, yeast, olive oil, salt and water.

DSCF8187mix.jpg


And finished with the gratifying kneading by hand.

DSCF8196hands.jpg


The dough is left to rise--first in a ball on the baking sheet and then pressed into the rectangle shape of the pan.

Because I don’t have the 18 by 14 inch pan, I divided it into a large and small ball for two pans.

Before you put the focaccia into the oven you make dimples all over the dough using your fingers. (I have longish nails so I use my knuckles.) Then a mixture of olive oil, water and salt is brushed on, pooling into the dimples.

DSCF8215dimples.jpg


The onion topping is simply olive oil and onions briefly sautéed.

DSCF8218small.jpg


For the small pan, I just used a bit of fresh rosemary.

DSCF8220rsmry.jpg


They’re baked in a hot oven and best eaten when still warm. I had to give some away to my neighbors so I didn’t eat the whole pan of it myself.

Like I said—I really love focaccia!

DSCF8223done.jpg

May 27, 2011

Sfinciuni

What the heck is a Sfinciuni?
and I am stuffing it with a tomato anchovy Conza?
I have been trying to learn more Italian for my trip... these are not words I thing I'd ever heard. The things we have done on our way through 'The Essential's of Italian Cooking~ Learning Italian is one of them.
So, in Southernism~ This is similar to a deep dish pizza with a top. You can just call it yummy! The pizza dough is a simple yeast dough, made ahead and allowed to rise for 2-3 hours. You will need enough dough to make 2-10 inch rounds.
The Conza is a thick sauce of thinly sliced onions, good tomatoes, and chopped anchovies. The sauce is seasoned with oregano and pepper. The anchovies will 'melt' and add a unique salty flavor~ don't be tempted to skip them.
The first layer is pressed out to a large 10 inch circle. The conza is spread to within an inch of the edge. Bread crumbs are sprinkled on top.
The top layer is pressed to a slightly smaller circle. the edges from the bottom are brought up to seal the top.
It is baked in a hot oven, then allowed to sit and rest for 30minutes. The result is a thick and hearty pizza with a light crust.
Another Marcella Hazan success!
Y'all enjoy~
Sandi

June 3, 2011

Consum--Griddle Dumplings

Marcella says you will not find this word or the dumpling itself outside of Romagna. I certainly had never heard of it before. I would love to try it next time I'm in Italy.

It starts out with preparing the greens, a ratio of 2 pounds swiss chard and 1 pound rapini—washing, boiling and sautéing in olive oil and garlic.

greens.jpg


(These turned out to be the best greens I’ve ever cooked! Eating the leftovers the next day was a real prize.)

Step two is making the piadina dough. (You can read Cindy’s post from the day before for more details on piadina.) Using the well method, it gets kneaded on the counter top.

DSCF8254pour.jpg

DSCF8285knead.jpg


Mine was very stiff and it took a good amount of energy to get it to be nice and elastic. We used the pasta maker to make thin sheets of the dough and cut it into squares.

DSCF8310squares.jpg


Each square is stuffed with a layer of the greens; then it’s folded over to make a triangle shape.

DSCF8316spreadgreens.jpg

foldand%20seal.jpg


The stuffed dumplings are browned on the griddle for about 5 minutes.

DSCF8328ongriddle.jpg


I thought we had made a lot but they were gone quickly. Perfect with a nice bottle of wine!

DSCF8330done.jpg

June 10, 2011

Friday's final thoughts~

In March of 2010, at the encouragment of Deborah, several friends from several countries decided to embark on an adventure. We decided to cook our way through Marcella Hazan's 'Essentials of Italian Cooking'. Everyday a new recipe, everyday a new adventure. We posted on Facebook and on our blog Pomodori e Vino. The rules were very simple . . . If it was your turn you made it. It didn't matter if it was tripe, cotechino, or prune gelato. We would work our way through pasta and variety meats.
In this adventure, I was very smart to pair up with a partner. Jan and I took on Fridays; then we split the recipes. I think Jan and I will agree we were lucky with the recipe draw! We spent the next 15 months cooking Italian.
The recipes were only a part of the challenge. In 15 months . . . I have worked 2 jobs, traveled to London and Italy twice, had breast surgery, buried my father and my father-in-law, planned a beautiful wedding and watched my daughter get married, and waved my son off to cook in the wilds of Michigan. L-I-F-E in a nutshell. Though it all, we have faithfully followed Marcella's recipes and posted our attempts.
The other Huge part of the challenge was finding the ingredients. I live in Alabama, where Italian is chef-boy-r-dee with a southern accent. It is near impossible to find young artichokes, whole chestnuts, or fresh ricotta cheese. My weekly trips to Piggly Wiggly were more interesting because of this challenge; I carried Marcella with me every time.
I feel that I feel like I can call her Marcella, because through this process she and Victor have been in my kitchen every week. They have followed along our journey, and commented on our progress. She has been kind and generous... and very absolute in her recipes. I cherish each comment she has made along the process. I was rightfully chastised for implying Tuscany was Italy, using chicken breasts once again, the thickness of my veal. . . but, more than once she refered to me as her talented southern cook.


Sandi, who could have imagined an Alabama belle making such deft tortelloni! You've proven that if one really loves pasta one doesn't have to settle for second-rate store bought stuff. It has to do with whether eating well is worth making an effort or not. And that, I understand, is what Southern cooks know something about.

I have not one, but two favorite memories, through out this process. The first, of course would be when Jan and I were in Venice at the same time. We were able to find Victor's favorite little shop at the Rialto market. With Jan's excellent Italian, we purchased the ingredients we needed for our recipe. We made our Botarga together in Jan's little apartment overlooking a canal... we drank a toast to the Hazan's and our fearless Pomodori. This is a moment that we will both cherish for the rest of our lives.
My second memory is my son and I in the kitchen together, making Gnocchi. Flour and potatoes everywhere, laughter, with a little wine and some gorgonzola~ We experimented together until 'allora'... we had the perfect gnocchi. I am a firm believer that making memories in the kitchen are treasures you can't replace.
More than once, Marcella commented that she wished we were neighbors. I would love nothing more than to share my polenta, and a glass of wine as I stir the risotto and listen to her stories. She has left with each of us the treasure of 'Essentials of Italian Cooking'. It is up to us to share these treasures with others.

Jan, Marcella, and Victor~ Thank you for the journey!
Ciao y'all~
Sandi

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Pomodori e Vino in the 5. Friday - Sandi/Jan category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Thursday - Cindy is the previous category.

Saturday - Jerry/Palma is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33
© 2010 - 2012 Slow Travel