Archive for the ‘Italiano’ Category

Tara-misu

September 23, 2017

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Everyone knows I love anything Italian. One of my favorite desserts to order at an Italian restaurant is Tiramisu. If you have never had it, it is a delicious combination of sponge cake soaked with coffee liqueur and a creamy custard like filling, sprinkled with shaved chocolate. It has bitter notes of coffee with sweet notes of chocolate and sugar and it is the perfect marriage of flavors that tingles your tastebuds. It represents Italy in dessert form and there are many versions of it, not all of which succeed. I have always wanted to make it but I was intimidated by it. My mom makes an amazing version and I have her recipe but I decided to use Gabriele Corcos’ version. I have been enjoying lots of his recipes for their simple and authentic Italian flavor. I have a great post about his eggplant incaciata I am going to post soon. So if you are a tiramisu lover and have never attempted it at home I recommend you try his version. It is simple and with impress your guests with its sophistication.

TIPS: I found the lady fingers in the refrigerated section of my grocery store bakery, but you can also use the ones in the cookie aisle. Also I used Marsala wine as he suggested for the liqueur, which surprisingly tasted great, I assumed you had to use something like Kahlua. I used one part Marsala and one part licor 43, a new liquor i found that has over 43 different flavors blended into it, like vanilla and citrus, among other things. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and choose something you like since it is such a small amount, it won’t hurt the flavor. I think even rum would be tasty, like a rum cake.

Tiramisu

Ingredients

  • 3 cups brewed coffee, cooled
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 14 ounces savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers)
  • 4 ounces sugar, plus 2 tablespoons or more, for the coffee
  • 2 shots rum or Italian Marsala, optional
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup shaved dark chocolate, to garnish’

Directions

First brew about 3 cups of coffee and pour it in a bowl and allow to cool off, add 2 tablespoons sugar or sweeten to taste. (I used espresso and watered it down a bit to make it three cups).

Mix the egg yolks with 2 ounces sugar, and mix until you obtain a creamy light mixture. Work the mascarpone in a bowl using a wooden spoon, making sure you eliminate any lumps, then add the mascarpone to the sugar-egg mixture and continue to mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites, pinch of salt, and the remaining 2 ounces sugar, until they reach a somewhat firm, but fluffy consistency, then add them to the mascarpone mixture. Stir in the rum, if using.

Dip the savoiardi cookies (firm ladyfingers) in the coffee, and one by one lay them flat into a 7 by 11 pyrex tray (I used 9×13), making sure you do not soak the cookies, as you want to make sure they maintain their firmness (refrigerated ones from bakery got soggy fast, so I might not use those again). Once the first layer of cookies has been laid out, spread a layer of the mascarpone cream on top, and dust with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

Now, again, prepare another layer of coffee-dipped cookies, cream and cocoa powder. Garnish the top of the cake with the shaved dark chocolate.

Cover the tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours so the flavors can marry and the tiramisu can settle.

then Manga!

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Pasta’s perfect Pal

February 25, 2014

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I hosted an Italian Family Sunday dinner recently and I made all sorts of yummy treats. My most famous dish is my carbonara, but that recipe remains secret! This time I wanted to make a homemade bread to serve with my carbonara. I had recently seen one of my favorite shows, Extra Virgin, on the cooking channel and remembered Gabriele making some delicious bread. The bread was called Schiacciata and it was an authentic Italian bread. I am so glad I tried this recipe out. The dough was the perfect pillowy texture. It was super easy to make and tasty with the fresh rosemary and cherry tomatoes. I think you could top it with all sorts of yummy combos, garlic and basil, thyme and shallots, whatever you like. It was crispy and the perfect paring to my homemade fettuicine carbonara. Cooks note: in a pinch I made this a second time with store bought pizza dough and it still turned out great!

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Schiacciata

Ingredients:

  • cup lukewarm water
  • package instant dry yeast
  • cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • cup cherry tomatoes
  • teaspoons sea salt
  • sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed

DIRECTIONS

Measure the water in a measuring cup, stir in the yeast and let develop for 10 minutes. It should look foamy when it’s ready. 

Meanwhile, add the flour and kosher salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn on to whisk together and run for a minute or so to create a well. With the mixer running, add the water and yeast in a stream. Turn the mixer up to speed 2 and knead until the dough comes away from the bowl and it looks smooth and feels elastic but still sticky, 5 to 7 minutes. Flour your hands and knead the dough for a minute on the counter. 

Grease a large glass bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the dough, flip on both sides and cover with a clean tea towel. Place the dough in a warm spot to rise until it is double in size, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread a half sheet tray with the remaining olive oil. Lay the dough on top and stretch and pat out until it reaches 10-by-16-inches, an oval rough shape is ideal. Use your fingertips to press in small indentations. Sprinkle evenly with the cherry tomatoes, sea salt and rosemary leaves. Let rise again for 20 minutes.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice into wedges or squares for serving and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.

Cinnamon Bun Sundays

February 16, 2014

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My readers have seen my many posts on Sunday morning treats before. I recently saw a new recipe I just had to try. It was from a show that always has great recipes, the Chew. Also, these cinnamon rolls are from one of my favorite chefs, Mario Batali. Upon reading the ingredients I was a bit puzzled. The dough had white wine in it, hmm that sounds strange, I thought. I have never used wine in any doughs before, I wondered if it would come together. I have also never had a Mario Batali recipe that turned out bad so I figured what the heck. I had a nice bottle of chardonnay in fridge I use for cooking. The water and sugar amounts in the recipe were less than usual dough so I could see how the wine replaces those measurements.

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I have to tell you, when me and my gorgeous Italian sous chef mixed it together it smelled a bit funky. But after we added the flour and got the dough to come together it was the perfect texture and the smell of the wine and the yeast went away. After letting the dough rise, I knew this was going to be great, as the dough was so soft and fluffy. It was really easy to make it the recipe had one of my favorite criteria – I had all of the ingredients in the house (even before grocery day, and my cabinets were pretty bare).

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The only thing I tweaked was using my mom’s confectionary sugar glaze, instead of Mario’s version. So if you want to whip up some fresh cinnamon rolls for a sweet Sunday treat, these rolls are a great new version to try.

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Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup Light Red or White Wine
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast; 1/4 ounce envelope
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour; plus more for dusting

For Assembling the Rolls

  • 1/2 stick Melted Butter; plus more to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup Demerara or Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • Salt

Glaze

  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 2 Lemons; zested
  •  To Make the Dough: Combine the Wine, Water and Yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the Honey, Salt and the Olive Oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the Flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the Flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
    Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
  • For Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls: Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a small cake pan and set aside.
    On a clean floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin. When the dough is an 1/8 inch thick, pour the Melted Butter generously on top, spreading evenly. Evenly sprinkle the Sugar and Cinnamon over the Melted Butter.

    Carefully roll the dough, working away from you. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into even slices, about one to two inches thick. Arrange the slices in the cake pan to fill pan as much as possible, with the edges of the rolls in contact with each other. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

  • To Make the Glaze: While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing by placing Powdered Sugar in a bowl. Pour the warm water into the Sugar and whisk until smooth. Adjust the Sugar and Water until desired consistency has been reached. Add zest and stir to combine. Drizzle glaze over rolls to serve.

*Cooks note: My mom’s glaze is confectionary sugar, vanilla extract, milk and butter. I eyeball it but I would say it is: 2 Cups confectionary sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbs milk and 1 Tbs butter, can add more milk as needed to thin out frosting. I use this anytime I need a glaze.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

December 29, 2013

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There are many beautiful colors in the rainbow, but my favorite are red, white and green – the color of the Italian flag. I have been wanting to make this recipe for some time but did not have the specific ingredient (marzipan) or the time, as it takes a lot of steps. I went to the base commissary recently and saw they had marzipan on clearance and took it as a sign. Marzipan is an almond paste that is used in many dolce Italian treats. In Sicily they used it to make these gorgeous replicas of fruit that were hand painted and delicious. I knew of Marzipan before I lived in Sicily because my mom always sought out the marzipan chocolate in her belgian chocolate assortments, so I grew to love the flavor at a young age. My mom can be frugal at times but won’t blink when it comes to spending more on some great chocolate. But I digress…

Since I had the marzipan in my pantry I decided to go for it. This year I was also making my mom’s black and white cookies for Santa, they are such a yummy confection. The recipe I was using was by an Italian chef I really admire, Lidia Bastianich. She has some amazing recipes on her site and a popular PBS show called Lidia’s Italy. I would have to say it was not a hard recipe to complete but it did take a lot of steps and over a couple of days to complete. I would not have been able to do it without the help of my fabulous Italian sous chef, Gianna. The end result was a Italian rainbow bar of decadence and scrumptiousness. Even my husband who is not a huge fan of marzipan or almond extracts, loved the cookies. The only thing we modified was to use strawberry jam instead of apricot to appease the little people in my house. I think this was a good marriage – think chocolate covered strawberries – so that flavor married well with the chocolate and almond. Also I used three 9×12 rimmed cookie sheets and barely had enough batter to fill those, so you might not need the bigger pans in the recipe. If you want to make some special treats for a holiday or event, let yourself be inspired by the Italian flag in this recipe.

Lidia’s Italian Rainbow Cookies:

Ingredients:

8 ounces almond paste
1 cup sugar
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
Two 15-ounce jars smooth (not chunky) apricot jam
1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans (I used 9×12 ones) , and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and pulse until well mixed. Plop in the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until the batter is smooth. Sprinkle in salt, and mix. Sift in flour, and mix until just combined.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until foamy. While whisking, slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Divide batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain, without any coloring. Add red food coloring to one bowl, stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with a spatula. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cakes cool completely on wire racks, then remove from pans.

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Trim each of the layers to even out the thickness of the cakes. Put the green cake layer back, cut side up, into one of the lined pans. Spread one jar of jam over the cake, almost all of the way to the edges. Place the plain layer of cake on top of the jam. Spread the remaining jar of jam almost all the way to the edges of the plain layer. Place the red layer on top of the ham, cut side up. Wrap the entire cake in plastic, and top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Unwrap the cake, and place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour and spread the chocolate over the top the cake, using a spatula to guide the chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake. If the kitchen is cool, let the chocolate harden that way; if it is warm, clear a space in the refrigerator to place the cake and let the chocolate harden. When the chocolate is about halfway set, gently rake the topping with the tines of a fork or a dough scraper with dentals, starting from the end of the chocolate covering all the way to the other end, slightly undulating the lines as you move along. Repeat until all of the chocolate has indented stripes. Let the chocolate set completely.

Using a serrated knife, cut the set and decorated layers into three dozen rectangles, using the outer sides to form perfectly cut rectangles.

Pizza Pie, that’s Amore!

May 18, 2013

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My readers all know I have a go to recipe for pizza dough. But I was feeling like trying something new and I have been inspired lately by my new favorite show from the cooking channel, Extra Virgin. This dough was amazing! The Pizzas came out so nice and thin and crisp. The texture and flavor reminded me of when I was in Italy. My hubby says I should only use this recipe from now on.

Gabriele said: “In Italy, pizza dough can be found at almost every grocery store. If you have a favorite bakery where you go to buy your bread, they might also give you some, if you know them. The recipe that I have is one I have been using since I started making pizzas with my father. One of his dear friends who was a famous pizza maker in Florence passed the recipe on to us, and now I share it with you. It’s simple and works great, but don’t forget to check your local stores because you don’t really need to go the extra length to make your own dough. If you do want to make your own dough, you can always freeze it for later.” Here is Gabriele’s recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (.25-ounce) package dry active yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 105 to 115 degrees F)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup bread flour. Mix well and let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Whisk together the remaining 3 1/2 cups bread flour and salt in another bowl so it will be evenly distributed.

Once the yeast mixture is nice and bubbly and looks like foamy beer, add 3/4 cup cold water and olive oil. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer on and add the flour in increments.

Mix the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough starts creeping up the dough hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Turn to coat all sides of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punchdough down, and let rise another hour.

Divide the dough into 4 equal disks. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands (and a rolling pin, if you prefer) stretch the disks out to a 10-inch round.

Repeat with the remaining 3 pizza dough disks. Cook the pizzas at 500 degrees (he said 550 on the site but I did not want to go that hot) for about 10-12 mins, or in a brick oven, if you have one, maybe in my dreams!

Pici pasta challenge

April 20, 2013

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I love to challenge myself to make new recipes. My BFF got me hooked on my new favorite cooking show on the cooking channel called Extra Virgin. If you haven’t seen this show yet I highly recommend it. Not only are the recipes amazing and authentic Italian family recipes, but the couple, Gabriele and Debi are so fun to watch. They inspire me to cook more with my hubby in the kitchen.

I recently saw an episode telling the story of pici pasta, hand rolled noodles that are a tradition in the Florence region. I googled and found a great rustic recipe that looked authentic like the Extra Virgin episode version. Last night we made the pici and I have to say they came out delicious. It was so fun making the noodles all together as a family, as I usually micromanage and kick everyone out of the kitchen. It was a bit of a time consuming process rolling each noodle by hand, but well worth it for the taste and the experience, if you like to challenge yourself as a cook, like I do. The tip in the recipe about rolling the pasta dough into grape sized balls really did help to make process go smoother.

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Pici Pasta with Spare Rib Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta (thinly sliced), finely diced
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs pork spare ribs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces by butcher
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce
  • 1 recipe pici pasta – posted below
  • Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for grating

Cooking Directions

In a 10 to 12 inch deep sauté pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta and basil, reduce the heat to medium high and cook until the pancetta has rendered its fat.

Season the ribs with salt and pepper and add it to the pan, cooking until they are browned on all sides.

Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer gently until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.

After you make the pici pasta dough as instructed below, shape small bits of the pasta dough into grape sized balls. One at a time, on a surface very lightly dusted with flour, roll each one into a rope 1/8 inch thick and 6-8 inches long and set aside on a baking sheet dusted with semolina. This is a time consuming process so plan ahead. If you don’t have extra time, this dish would be great served over orzo, fresh fettuicine or any of your favorite pasta.

Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Drop the pasta into the water and cook until tender, yet al dente, about 7-8 minutes.

Do not pour the pasta in a strainer, strain in small batches with a small strainer over the pot of water and toss right into the pan with the sauce and stir gently over medium high heat for 1 minute. By adding the pasta right from the water to the sauce you marry the two together.

Divide evenly among four warmed pasta bowls to serve. Top with freshly grated parmigiano (or Romano, you know I prefer that) and serve.

Pici Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups tepid water

Place both types of flour in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the water a little at a time, stirring with your hands until a dough is formed. You may need more or less water, depending on the humidity in your kitchen.

Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead it like bread until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover the dough and let it stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Shape small bits of the pasta dough into grape sized balls. One at a time, on a surface very lightly dusted with flour, roll each one into a rope 1/8 inch thick and 6-8 inches long. Place the pici on a sheet tray that has been dusted with semolina flour, cover the pasta with a clean dish towel, and set aside until ready to use. At this point, the pasta can be frozen for several months.

Gnocchi di’ Melanzane – Eggplant Gnocchi

April 8, 2013

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I love my usual go to gnocchi recipe I posted before but tonight I decided to branch out and challenge myself and make some eggplant gnocchi aka Gnocchi di’ Melanzane.  The secret is you puree roasted eggplant and put it in your gnocchi dough. The best part was that my kids ate it and I got eggplant into their tummies! I topped it with my favorite sauce, my leftover cacciatore sauce. After you make a big pot of cacciatore there is always leftover sauce.

According to my research, gnocchi are little dumplings that can be varied by adding cheese, vegetables, herbs, or even fruit to the basic dough. Just look for whatever is in season and blend it into the dough for a special treat.

This gnocchi was relatively easy to make. I loved the technique of piping the gnocchi out of a pastry bag and cutting them with pastry scissors, this was much easier than hand rolling them.  I would say if I made them again I would probably add a bit more flour to make the dough a little thicker, as it did not hold together as well as usual gnocchi dough does, but it still came out good. So if you want to add an extra Italian flavor to your gnocchi, try this eggplant version

Gnocchi di’ Melanzane – Eggplant Gnocchi

2 pounds of firm eggplant

coarse salt

olive oil

1 pound of Idaho potatoes

1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan or romano (I prefer)

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

12 leaves of fresh basil, minced

2 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, halve eggplant lengthwise and brush olive oil on, then put cut side down on foil lined baking sheet and bake about 40 mins, till tender (or less if you are using several small eggplants). While eggplant is cooking boil potatoes in salted water for about 30 mins till tender. When it is cool enough to handle peel eggplant and puree in food processor. Allow puree to cool completely. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes and use potato ricer to squeeze them into a large bowl. Add the eggplant puree and the cheese and mix well. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and basil and mix to blend. Add flour and mix to incorporate, but do not overmix.


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Bring large pot of salted water, about 6-8qts, to boil. Fill pastry bag with eggplant mixture and when the water boils, pipe 1/2 inch long pieces, cutting using pastry scissors, dropping them into the boiling water. Work rapidly until all the dough is used up. Allow gnocchi to cook until they float to top and then drain on a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Butter lightly and keep warm. Top with your favorite pesto, alfredo (my pistachio alfredo would be great), red sauce and freshly grated cheese and manga!

A great fresh tomato sauce from scratch is featured here, by one of my cooking idols, Lidia Bastianich

Gnocchi Alfredo Amore

March 2, 2013

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I have posted my gnocchi adventures before but this time I used a new technique, using the back of a fork to hand press your gnocchi shape. (See video update below) It is not a requirement to roll it like this, as you can just simply hand cut your gnocchi and be done, but the fork tines do make a nice traditional gnocchi indentation.

Making gnocchi is hard work but it is well worth the delicious result, especially paired with my pistachio alfredo concoction. Pistachio alfredo is a yummy treat we ate when we lived in Sicily, they used what they grew around them at the little farm agiturismos we went to, so pistachio was a plentiful ingredient in many dishes. Something about the rich soil from the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Etna made the vegetation grow like crazy in Sicily. I usually double the gnocchi recipe to feed my family of four, the gnocchi is not a large serving even with it doubled, but it is very rich and filling so you don’t eat a giant bowl.

Update: here is my video of my technique to hand roll your own gnocchi: http://youtu.be/HW5t2WbbPlg

Gnocchi

  • 1 pound baking potatoes, preferably Russet
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

alfredo

  • 2 T of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups grated pecorino Romano, or more if you like
  • 1 cup of shelled pistachios grinded to powder in a spice grinder or nutribullet
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

1) To make the gnocchi: Bake or microwave the potatoes until soft (do not boil as the potatoes absorb too much water). Peel the warm potatoes and press them through a ricer, or mash them; measure out 1 ¼ cups potato; enjoy the rest as you see fit.

2) Mix the baking powder with the flour, and sprinkle over the potatoes.

3) Add the cheese, yolks, salt, and nutmeg, mixing just until everything comes together in a smooth ball.

4) Place the dough on a floured work surface, cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

5) Take about a third of the dough, and roll it into a rope about the thickness of a finger.

6) Cut ¾”-long pieces. Using a gnocchi board, or the back of a fork, roll the individual gnocchi to create ridges on one side, and a little space in the middle.

7) Place the gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking sheet dusted with flour, cover lightly, and chill until ready to cook. Gnocchi may be stored in the refrigerator up to a day, and in the freezer for several months.

8) To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow boil, and add the gnocchi.

9) Once gnocchi float to the surface, cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain cooked gnocchi, and toss with sauce.

10) For the Alfredo,  melt butter and add minced garlic, then add cream over medium heat until it starts to slowly bubble and thicken. Then stir and keep simmering until the sauce is reduced in volume by about a a third. Add the cheese and stir until all the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth, add salt and pepper to taste (I don’t need salt usually because butter and cheese have salt) then add ground up pistachios and stir it in to thicken sauce.

12) Toss with pasta and sprinkle servings with pepper and more cheese if you like.

Yield: 4 appetizer portions, 2 main course portions. Double gnocchi recipe to feed family of 4, sauce makes enough in one batch…

Easy Peasy Marsala

December 22, 2012

marsala

I can’t tell you how many times I have been to a restaurant that promises great chicken marsala and they have not followed through with that promise. I have even found places that make it great for the cost of an arm and a leg. If you are a fan of this delicious simple dish you should attempt to make it at home because it will be 10 times better than any restaurant and it won’t break your bank. Marsala is picatta’s sister, not quite as tangy as the capers and lemon in picatta but more of a sweeter dish. Traditionally it is made with veal cutlets but I like it with chicken just fine. The key is the pounding of the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer to make extra tender cutlets and also just the right marsala wine.

Though most stores sell a marsala cooking wine the real deal wine label marsala is much better, something I just discovered. I had been buying the store brand for a while when my mom found this California label marsala for me and what a difference it made. The sauce just tasted even more succulent and not so cheap. I think she found it at an Italian grocer, though I am sure you can find it anywhere with an extensive wine selection and it is not too much more than the store knockoff.

Another thing I love about this dish is the mushrooms, as I am a mushroom lover. They absorb the sauce perfectly and make the chicken nice and juicy. I served mine with some quick homemade risotto I whipped up and it was delish. I used the recipe from the Giada cookbook I always go to for authentic dinners. Her cutlet chapter is filled with good stuff. So if you want to take a trip to Italy for dinner, skip the Olive Garden and whip up this Chicken Marsala in your own kitchen and your family will think you are a pro chef!

Chicken Marsala

6-8 veal or chicken cutlets, about 3 oz each

1 1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 TBS of unsalted butter

2 TBS olive oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

4-8 oz of any kind of mushrooms you like, sliced

1/2 C of sweet marsala wine

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

3/4 C reduced-sodium chicken broth

Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper, I also toss a bit of flour in there to coat the cutlets. Melt 1 TBS butter and 1 TBS oil in skillet over Med-High heat. Add half of cutlets and cook till golden brown, about 2 mins each side. Transfer veal to plate and then cook remaining cutlets in 1TBS butter and 1 TBS oil. Set cutlets aside.  In same skillet, melt 1 TBS more of butter and add shallots and garlic, saute till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and saute till mushrooms are tender and juices evaporate, about 3 mins. Add marsala wine and rosemary spring and simmer till marsala reduces by half, about 2 mins. Add broth and simmer till it reduces by half, about 4 mins. Working in batches, return cutlets to skillet and cook just till heated through, turning to coat, for about 1 min. Discard rosemary sprig and stir remaining 1 TBS butter into the sauce, season with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer cutlets to plate and spoon sauce over them and dig in!

 

Meat + Potatoes = <3, the perfect equation

August 28, 2012

Who doesn’t love good old meat an potatoes? Typically this makes you think of steak and a baked potato or meatloaf and mashed potatoes but I took it in another direction. I am all about one pot wonders – dinners that can be made on your stovetop and save you time and dishes. As I mentioned previously, I love my Quick from Scratch Italian cookbook. I had the recipe page for Sausage, Potatoes and Artichokes dog eared for some time now, and I decided to give it a try. Boy am I glad I did as it was delicious and a big hit with the whole family.

The italian sausage flavors the potatoes with such a great taste and the wine really added to the tomato rich broth. The artichokes hearts are also a nice surprise to bite into, as they are one of my favorite ingredients for anything from pasta dishes, to pizza to my favorite artichoke and mushroom bruschetta (will have to post that one). Thyme pairs so well with potatoes, I love it in my grilled potato with olive oil, dijon and vidalia recipe, So if you want a quick and easy dinner that will win you major points with your meat and potatoes eater, check this pot of love out!

Sausages, Potatoes and Artichokes in a Tomato Broth

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 1/2 pounds mild Italian sausages
  3. 3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
  4. 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5), cut into 1-inch chunks
  5. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  6. 1/3 cup dry white wine
  7. 1 1/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  8. 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  9. 1 1/2 cups drained and rinsed halved canned artichoke hearts (one 14-ounce can)
  10. 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  1. In a large stainless-steel pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausages and brown well, about 10 minutes. Remove. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, leave that in the pan.
  2. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the garlic, potatoes, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced to approximately 3 tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the salt, and the sausages. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the pepper.
Substitutes:• Rosemary for the thyme

• Red wine for the white wine

• Hot Italian sausage for the mild

– Mushrooms for the artichokes