Turin is in the northwest section of the Piedmont region between the Po River and the foothills of the Alps. The city is famous for the Shroud of Turin, Fiat auto plants, Baroque cafes and architecture and its shopping arcades, promenades and museums. Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics because the nearby mountains and valleys are ideal for winter sports.
The Piedmont region has some of the best food in Italy. Over 160 types of cheese and famous wines like Barolo and Barbaresco come from here as do truffles. The hilly region bordering France and Switzerland is perfect for growing grapes. Turin has some outstanding pastries, especially chocolate ones. Chocolate bars originated in Turin. The chocolate-hazelnut sauce, gianduja, is a specialty of Turin. In addition, an enormous array of artisanal cheeses, the white truffle of Alba, cured meats and a vast assortment of herb products are all part of the Piedmont table.
The cuisine of Turin is unlike the food you expect to find in Italy. Local dishes incorporate a much larger variety of savory sauces which are more traditional in French cuisine than in Italian. Chefs tend to cook with butter and lard rather than olive oil, which is also more French than Italian. Another difference is that appetizers play a much larger role on the menu in Turin than in other parts of Italy. The city’s signature dish is bollito misto, a mix of boiled meats served with three sauces: bagnet verd, a green sauce made from parsley, anchovies, garlic and olive oil; bagnet ross, a red sauce of crushed tomatoes, garlic and hot peppers and sausa d’avije, a yellow mustard sauce sweetened with honey and crushed nuts. Other classic dishes include brasato al Barolo, locally raised beef slowly braised in Barolo wine and finanziera, a stew of cock’s crests, chicken livers, veal, peas and porcini mushrooms. In the fall and winter you’ll find slices of reindeer meat, on some menus along with beef and veal, free range poultry and freshly caught fish.
The dinner menu below serves 4-6 and is inspired by the cuisine and regional foods of Turin, Italy.
Bagna Cauda is the Italian version of fondue. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoons, carrots, peppers, fennel, celery, cauliflower, artichokes and onions in the hot sauce. It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months and must be served hot, as the name suggests. Originally, the Bagna Càuda was placed in a big pan (peila) in the center of the table for communal sharing. Now, it is usually served in individual pots, called a fojòt, a type of fondue pot traditionally made of terra-cotta.
It helps to have a Bagna Cauda “pot”, but a fondue dish with the Sterno flame underneath works — as does an electric wok on low.
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 olive oil packed anchovy fillets, minced
- 6 large garlic cloves – peeled and minced
- Cubed raw vegetables for dipping: sweet peppers, fennel, cauliflower, endive and zucchini
- Italian bread – sliced
Place the olive oil, garlic and anchovies in a skillet over low heat. Stir until the anchovies have “melted” and the mixture looks thickened. Whisk in the butter until melted, then remove the skillet from the heat and whisk again until creamy looking. Pour into a dish that can stay heated at the table — like a fondue pot, Bagna Cauda pot, an electric skillet or a wok.
To serve: Dip vegetable pieces into the hot oil for a few minutes and use a bread slice to absorb the dripping oil on the way to your mouth.
Brasato Al Barolo
“Braised in Barolo”, a classic Italian beef dish from this region uses a simple slow cooking technique to tenderize the meat. In Italy, Piedmontese is a dual-purpose breed of cattle that are raised for their milk, which is used in the production of several traditional cheeses of the region, including Castelmagno, Bra, Raschera and Toma Piemontese; and are also raised for meat. Beef from Piedmontese cattle is seen as a premium product. The unique genetics of the breed combine to create cattle that is more muscled than conventional cattle, so the yield of lean meat is greater than with other breeds. All cuts of beef are lean because as they grow, the cattle add more muscle but less fat. In addition, Piedmontese cattle produce shorter muscle fibers and less connective tissue, so the meat remains tender in spite of its minimal fat.
Serve this dish the traditional way, with polenta, or if you prefer, mashed potatoes.
- 3 lb Piedmontese brisket flat
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 to 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 to 5 juniper berries
- 1 bottle Barolo red wine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- ½ cup dry Marsala wine
- 2 tablespoons flour
Put all the vegetables and spices in a bowl, add the beef and cover with the wine. Refrigerate overnight, or a minimum of 10 hours.
Heat a heavy-bottom pot, large enough to hold the beef and wine, over medium-high heat. Melt half of the butter with all of the oil. Take the beef out of the marinade, season it with salt and pepper, and brown it in the hot-pot on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, take out all the vegetables from the wine and add them to the beef, stirring until they color a bit.
Add the wine to the pan, turn the heat down and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and turning the beef.
Pour the Marsala into the stew and let cook a few more minutes. Take the beef out of the pan and set it on a carving board.
Remove and discard the bay leaves and juniper berries.
To make the sauce:
Put the wine and vegetables in a food mill or pour through a fine mesh sieve, applying pressure to the vegetables to extract all the juice. Reserve the juice and the vegetable puree.
In a saucepan, melt the remaining butter. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to brown the mixture. Add the wine and vegetable puree and cook for a bit longer, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Slice the meat against the grain, arrange it on a serving plate and pour the very hot wine sauce on top.
Cardoons are closely related to the artichoke. They look like very large hearts of celery and have thorns in the stalks. The stalks are not solid like celery, but are semi-hollow and stringy.
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 lb. cardoons
- 1 cup grated Italian fontina cheese
Place cream, stock and bay leaf in a large saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Wash cardoons, then remove and discard tough outer stalks. Cut away thorns and pull off stringy fibers. Cut cardoons into 1½”–2″ pieces, placing them immediately into the cream mixture as you go, to prevent them from discoloring.
Bring cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cardoons are tender, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cardoon pieces to a 1-quart baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Reduce cream mixture to about ¾ cup over medium heat, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf and pour the sauce over the cardoons in the baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
- 12 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from the heat and add sugar and vanilla, stirring until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add flour and mix together using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Press the dough into an ungreased, 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Freeze crust for 15 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes. Set crust aside to cool.
- ½ cup hazelnuts (also called filberts)
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
Boil 2 cups water; add baking soda. The water will foam up a bit. Add the nuts to the boiling soda water and boil for 3 minutes. Strain the nuts and rinse with cold water. Peel the skins away from the nuts and place on a kitchen towel to dry.
When the nuts are dry, toast them on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for about 7 to 10 minutes.
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 7 1/2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella
Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate pieces, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the chocolate-hazelnut spread and whisk until smooth.
Pour filling into the cooled crust and sprinkle toasted hazelnuts on top. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set. When ready to serve, cut into small wedges and garnish with fresh fruit.
There is nothing quite so good as a fresh, crusty loaf of bread. If you do not have a great bakery down the street, as I do not, then making your own bread is what I do. Homemade bread is always a hit when I entertain, so I make loaves of bread in advance, wrap them tightly in heavy-duty foil and freeze them for when I will be entertaining. This method works for me and allows me to have the bread available for an antipasto or a first course without having to do this preparation last-minute when there are other foods to prepare. Simply place the frozen bread on the kitchen counter overnight in its wrapping. Just before serving time, heat the oven to 375°F, remove the wrapping and place the bread directly on the oven rack. Immediately spritz water on the bread and the oven walls and heat for 5-10 minutes for a crispy, crusty loaf of bread. Slice and serve.
I also like to bake bread in a clay cloche pan because the results are so professional. The cloche mimics a brick oven and turns out loaves of bread with a tender and moist interior and a crispy golden crust. The unglazed clay absorbs heat to ensure even baking on all sides, while the porous surface absorbs moisture to create a crispy crust.
Here are some of my favorite appetizer breads.
Rosemary Olive Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
- 1 cup chopped Kalamata olives or dry cured Italian olives
Combine all of the ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth dough in an electric mixer.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover the bowl and allow it to rise until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
Shape the dough into a round loaf in a floured board. Place the loaf on the bottom part of a cloche pan. Put the cover on and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the bread with the cover on for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F to 200°F. Remove the bread from the oven and carefully turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Semolina Cheese Bread
Semolina is the hard grain left after milling the flour and it is used in making puddings, pasta and bread.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Provolone cheese
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
Combine everything but the three cheeses and beat on medium speed of an electric mixer to make a soft, smooth dough.
Add the three cheeses and mix until well combined.
Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 2 hours, until very puffy.
Shape the dough into a round or oval loaf. Place the loaf on the bottom part of a round or long loaf cloche pan. Put the cover on and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake the bread with the cover on for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F to 200°F.
Remove the bread from the oven and carefully turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Garlic And Herb Wheat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large electric mixer bowl add the water, yeast, salt and honey and mix well. Then add the oil, herbs and garlic.
Add half of the whole wheat and half of the all-purpose flour to the yeast mixture. Mix by hand or with the electric mixer’s paddle attachment. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until all of it is incorporated. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Continue kneading until the dough is no longer sticky; this should take about 7 to 8 minutes. The dough should be a little tacky but not sticky.
Divide the dough in half and form into two free-form oval loaves or place them in two oiled 9″ X 5″ X 3″ loaf pans . Let rise until double in size, about 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the loaves in the center of the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of each loaf and, if it comes out clean, the bread is ready. Remove the pans from the oven, take the bread out of the pans and place on a rack to cool before slicing.
Cut the bread into ½ inch thick slices and cut in half again to serve on the antipasto tray.
This bread will keep 3 to 4 days in an air-tight container and it freezes well for 2 months.
As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the local communities and later for Americans nationwide.
Italians were some of the first European explorers and settlers of California. Italians first came to the state in large numbers with the Gold Rush. While most found little gold, they did find success in farming, fishing, commerce and making wine. Though we often associate Italians in California with San Francisco, the initial Italian settlers established themselves in such diverse communities as Monterey, Stockton and San Diego. Italian fishermen established themselves in fishing villages along the coast.
Across the state, the Italians also settled the farmlands and played a prominent role in developing today’s fruit, vegetable and dairy industries. By the 1880’s, Italians dominated the industry in the great Central Valley of California. Italian immigrants also left their mark on the California food processing industry. Marco Fontana arrived in the United States in 1859 and along with another Ligurian, Antonio Cerruti, established a chain of canneries under the “Del Monte” label. Most of their workers were Italian and their cannery soon became the largest in the world.
Another enterprising Italian was Domenico Ghirardelli, who traveled through the gold mines in the 1850’s, selling chocolates and hard candies. He settled in San Francisco after the Goldrush and founded the Ghirardelli chocolate empire.
One of the most inspiring of California’s Italians was Amadeo Pietro Giannini who was born in 1870 to immigrant Italian parents from Genoa. He started the first statewide system of branch banks in the nation by opening branches of his Bank of Italy, in the Italian neighborhoods, across the state. He later changed the name of his bank to Bank of America.
Many Italian families have made their living from cattle ranching in the Mother Lode foothills at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. One can still find many Italian family ranches in the region.
The Italians also played an important role in developing the olive oil industry in the foothills. The rolling hills of the Gold Country, which resemble the Mediterranean hills of Liguria, are dotted with the remnants of early Italian olive tree orchards and with newly planted trees similar to those found in Italy.
The California wine industry also owes much to its Italian founders. Italians have been planting vineyards and making wine in America since the early colonial days when Filippo Mazzei planted vineyards with Thomas Jefferson.
Drive down the California vineyard roads and you may think you are in Italy. The Italian winery names that are seen throughout the area stand as a reminder of the contribution of Italian-Americans in the growth of the California wine industry. Some of the most famous names in American wine got their start during the four decades leading up to Prohibition in 1919. Seghesio, Simi, Sebastiani and Foppiano all started in the late 1800s and are still operating today. Giuseppe Magliavacca’s Napa winery was by then a thriving business, Secondo Guasti had established the Italian Vineyard Company and Andrea Sbarbaro had founded Italian Swiss Colony.
Italian-Americans in California kept their vines in the ground and healthy throughout the Prohibition era. When Prohibition ended, they were rewarded but, more importantly, the families that had struggled to maintain their vineyards gave America a jump start in resuming the wine industry. Without the vineyards and the fully equipped wineries, America would have had to rebuild the industry from scratch, an industry that is synonymous with longevity and tradition.
Today, the California wine industry is dotted with Italian names. The Trinchero family name is hidden behind its non-Italian winery name: Sutter Home. Robert Mondavi, Ferrari-Carano, Geyser Peak (owned by the Trione family), Viansa, Cosentino, Atlas Peak (owned by Antinori), Dalla Valle, Delicato, Valley of the Moon, Parducci, Signorello, Sattui, Rochioli, Rafanelli and Mazzocco are all thriving wineries in America.
Recipes From California’s Wineries
Chilled California Garden Gazpacho
Recipe by Vicki Sebastiani from Viansa Winery.
Serve this course with Barbera, a wine flavored with plum, black cherry, wild berry and oak spice.
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 large zucchini, diced
- 6 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (about 6 cups)
- 1/4 cup Italian white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Dash Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup minced fresh chives
- 1/2 cup croutons, preferably homemade
Set aside 1/2 cup each of the chopped cucumber, red onion, red pepper and zucchini. In a blender or food processor combine the rest of the vegetables with the remaining ingredients. Puree slightly, so the vegetables are left a little chunky.
Combine soup with the reserved vegetables, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 2 to 3 hours. To serve, top with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of minced chives and several croutons.
Makes 8 cups.
From the kitchen of Ed Seghesio.
Serve this course with Arneis, which is both the name of the wine and the grape from which it is made. The name means “little rascal” in the Piedmontese dialect, so named because it can be difficult to grow. Arneis has a delicate aroma and flavor of pears, with a hint of almonds. The grape seems to have more acidity in California than in Italy, yielding a crisper wine.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup Seghesio Arneis
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3-1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Simmer chicken stock in a separate pan.
Sauté onions in olive oil and butter until onions are clear in a large saucepan. Add the rice to the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the wine and garlic to the mixture and allow the liquid to cook down. Then add 1/2 cup of warm stock and the rehydrated porcini mushrooms with their liquid. Allow the liquid to cook down, stirring constantly.
As the liquid simmers, continue adding 1/2 cup of the warm stock. Repeat this process until the rice is tender, approximately 30 minutes.
With the last 1/2 cup of stock, add the saffron. When the rice is tender, stir in the Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish.
Grilled Chicken with Tapenade
Recipe courtesy of Louis M. Martini Winery.
Serve with Sangiovese, a Chianti-style wine.
- 1 chicken, about 3-1/2 pounds
- 1/4 cup tapenade, store-bought or homemade (recipe below)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- Salt and pepper
Remove the chicken’s backbone (or have the butcher do it). Lay the chicken out flat. With your fingers, gently separate the chicken skin from the breast and thighs but do not detach it completely.
Rub oil all over chicken skin. Spread the tapenade evenly over the breast and thighs and underneath the skin. Season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Arrange coals in a ring around the perimeter of the grill and set an aluminum foil drip pan in the center. Grill the chicken over the drip pan for about 20 minutes skin side down, with the grill covered; then turn, cover again and cook until done, about another 10 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into serving pieces. Serves 4.
- 1/2 pound Greek or Italian black olives, pitted
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons brandy
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until nearly but not completely smooth. Tapenade should have a slightly coarse texture.
Recipe courtesy of the Mosby Winery.
Serve with Tocai Friulano, a slightly sweet wine with aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom along with the flavors of citrus and tropical fruit.
- 1-1/2 cups whole hazelnuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of hazelnut flour (finely ground hazelnuts, measured after grinding)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 2 teaspoons anise seed
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease 2 baking sheets.
Combine flour, baking powder, hazelnut flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend the ingredients.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar and beat well.
Stir in the flour mixture, the coarsely chopped hazelnuts, espresso powder, vanilla and anise seed. Cover the dough and chill for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into four pieces and shape each into a 9-inch log. Place the logs on the baking sheets and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
Remove the loaves to a cutting board, cool and cut the pieces crosswise into 3/4” thick slices.
Return the slices, cut side down, to the baking sheets and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until dry and firm. Let the biscotti cool before serving. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks.
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Tuscany is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and its influence on culture, yet, simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine. Legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are used. Olive oil is made from Moraiolo, Leccino and Frantoio olives. White truffles from San Miniato appear in October and November. Beef of the highest quality comes from the Chiana Valley, specifically a breed known as Chianina used for Florentine steak. Pork is also produced for the region’s many excellent cured meats. Tuscany’s climate provides the ideal soil for the grapes grown to create the region’s world-renowned Chianti wine.
A soffritto can be considered the Italian version of a mirepoix and is a combination of olive oil and minced browned vegetables (usually onion, carrot and celery) that are used to create a base for a variety of slow-cooked dishes. Herbs (sage and rosemary) are used in many Tuscan dishes and seasonings can be added to the soffritto, as needed, to bring out the unique flavors of each different recipe.
Stracotto (braised beef) is a well-known favorite of the area, as are finocchiona (a rustic salami with fennel seeds), cacciucco (a delicate fish stew), pollo al mattone (chicken roasted under heated bricks) and biscotti di prato (hard almond cookies made for dipping in the local dessert wine, vin santo). Borlotti beans provide a savory flavor to meatless dishes and cannellini beans form the basis for many a pot of slowly simmered soup. Breads are many and varied in the Tuscan cuisine, with varieties including, donzelle (a bread fried in olive oil), filone (an unsalted traditional Tuscan bread) and the sweet schiacciata con l’uva with grapes and sugar on top. Pastas are not heavily relied upon in Tuscan cooking but pappardelle (a wide egg noodle) is one of the region’s few traditional cuts.
Marinated Olives and Mushrooms
- 1 cup mixed Italian olives
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, (flat-leaf parsley basil, and oregano)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. whole cremini mushrooms, stemmed
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel stalk (with some chopped fronds)
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To prepare olives:
Combine ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 1 hour. Serve at room temperature or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To prepare mushrooms:
Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are just soft, 6–8 minutes.
Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Mushrooms will keep in refrigerator for 1 week. Serve at room temperature.
Tuscan White Bean Salad
- 1 pound cannellini beans
- 4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Soak the beans in water to cover overnight.
Drain the beans and simmer in water to cover until tender (about 45-60 minutes).
Combine the remaining ingredients and toss with the warm beans.
Correct seasoning to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Stracotto translates literally from the Italian as “overcooked,” but the term has come to refer to beef stews and braises – especially in northern Italy. There are as many versions of this dish as there are cooks. The important part of the recipe is the slow cooking of the meat at a very low temperature to tenderize even the toughest cut of beef. The recipe starts with a soffritto and continues with the addition of red wine, beef broth, tomatoes and tomato paste.
Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 lb chuck roast
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons sage leaves, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup beef stock
- One 26-28 oz. container Italian crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Polenta, recipe below
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Salt and pepper the roast, then brown it on both sides. Put the roast on a plate and set aside.
Sauté the vegetables in the oil that remains until they’re soft and a little browned.
Add the wine to stir up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes.
Add the herbs, tomato paste, tomatoes and beef stock. Put the roast back in the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer and keep at just a simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours. If the liquid begins to boil, you may need to place the lid ajar. You don’t want a rapid boil, just a few lazy bubbles or the meat will get tough.
When the meat is tender, remove it from the sauce and cut into thin slices. To thicken the sauce, boil for a few minutes to reduce it. Remove the bay leaf.
Serve the sliced beef with the creamy polenta. An Italian red wine, like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or Chianti, will be great to use in the recipe and to drink with dinner.
Quick Creamy Polenta
- 3 cups beef broth or water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, if using water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup quick cooking polenta
Bring the broth to a boil. Add salt and butter, then while stirring, slowly pour in the polenta. Stir until there are no lumps, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and cover the pan until ready to serve.
Fresh Fall Fruit
- 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks and reserve one egg white
- 2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
- 1 tablespoon anise seed
- 6 cups whole almonds, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two heavy cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until light, about 2 minutes; the mixture will look somewhat curdled.
Beat in the vanilla, amaretto and anise seed. Beat in the dry ingredients, then the chopped nuts.
Divide the dough into four portions. On a lightly floured board, shape each portion into a flat log, just about the length the cookie sheet. Place two rolls on each cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until frothy. With a pastry brush, glaze each log with some egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the logs are lightly golden brown, firm to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly.
Allow the logs to cool on the cookie sheet about 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F. With a serrated knife slice the biscotti on the bias into ½-inch slices. Lay the slices on the cookie sheets in a single layer; Return the biscotti to the oven and cook for 20 more minutes, turning over halfway through the baking time or until the biscotti are toasted and crisp
Store the biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep for 2-3 weeks.
There are three categories of symbolic foods for Rosh Hashanah and each has its own meaning. The first is sweet tasting foods, such as apple and honey, which are symbolic of the wish for a sweet year. The second, which includes pomegranates and fish, are foods that allude to abundance and to the wish to be fruitful and multiply. The third category, which includes foods such as carrots, beets, leeks and cabbage, allude to the destruction and eradication of sin. The combination of sweet and sour is also prominent in Jewish cooking because it correlates with times that are hopeful and happy while also remembering the challenges of Jewish history.
What makes these basic food categories particularly fascinating is how their preparations can vary as we move from country to country and culture to culture.
Since 1442, when the Kingdom of Naples came under Spanish rule, considerable numbers of Sephardi Jews came to live in Southern Italy. Following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, from Portugal in 1495 and from the Kingdom of Naples in 1533, many moved to central and northern Italy. In addition to Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Italy has been host to many Sephardi Jews from the eastern Mediterranean, Dalmatia and many of the Greek islands, where there were large Jewish communities and for several centuries they were part of the Venetian Republic. As such, they have greatly influenced the cuisine of Italy.
Italian Jewish cuisine for Rosh Hashanah often includes chestnut turnovers, goose or veal, spinach or swiss chard, artichokes, caponata and fennel. The seder often begins with figs (fichi). Figs are in season in Italy in the fall and they represent renewal for a good and sweet year (Shanah Tovah Umetukah). It is also full of tiny seeds (like the pomegranate) representing abundance and rebirth.
Fish in Tomato Garlic Sauce
- 1 ½ lbs. fish fillets, such as halibut, grouper, cod or tilapia
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons dry white wine, vegetable broth or water
- 4 medium-size tomatoes, diced small
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons. chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, basil)
Check fish carefully and remove any bones. Rinse fish and thoroughly pat dry. Cut it in 8 pieces.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick. Add fish, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and sauté over medium to medium-high heat 1 minute per side. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Added remaining oil to the pan and add the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring. Add tomatoes and heat for about 1 minute. Returned fish to the pan, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 or 3 minutes or until its color has changed from translucent to opaque. Add pepper flakes and herbs. Serve fish in the sauce.
Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean favor their challah seasoned with caraway and anise. Many challahs are braided, but this one is twisted into a round, turban-shaped loaf.
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons anise seeds
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 5 cups bread flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Cornmeal for dusting
- 2 large egg yolks
In a skillet, toast the sesame, caraway and anise seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 2 tablespoons of the water and let stand until thoroughly moistened, about 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour with the olive oil, the honey and the remaining water and mix at low-speed until a very soft dough forms. Add the kosher salt, yeast mixture and all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds and mix at medium-low speed until the dough is supple and smooth, 10 minutes. Using oiled hands, transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free spot until the dough is risen, 1 hour.
Lightly oil 2 small cookie sheets and dust them with cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope and let rest for 5 minutes longer, then roll each rope into a 32-inch rope. Beginning at the center and working outwards, form each rope into a coil and tuck the ends under the coils.
Transfer each coil to a baking sheet and cover each loaf with a large, inverted bowl. Let stand for 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more and sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon of seeds.
Bake the loaves side-by-side in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until they’re golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the loaves to racks and let cool completely before slicing.
Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 2/3 cup bottled pomegranate juice (100% pure juice)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- About ½ cup white flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt to taste
- About ½ cup pomegranate seeds
Add the honey to the pomegranate juice and stir to combine; set aside.
If using chicken breasts cut each in half and remove any fat; pat dry with paper towels.
Pour the flour into a shallow bowl and lightly dust each piece of chicken with the flour.
Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large nonstick frying pan. When hot, add the chicken and sprinkle with salt. Turn the heat up and let them cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
Add the pomegranate and honey mixture and reduce the flame. Let cook for another few minutes, adding more salt and turning each piece so it absorbs the sauce well.
Arrange on a large serving platter, pouring the sauce on top and sprinkling with the fresh pomegranate seeds to garnish.
- Pinch of saffron
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Stir the saffron into 2 tablespoons hot water in a bowl, and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pan. Add the onion and nuts; cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the nuts are fragrant and beginning to change color.
Lower the heat, and stir in the rice. Add the saffron water, the bay leaf, the salt, freshly ground pepper to taste and 2 cups water.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff the rice with a fork and remove the bay leaf.
Sephardic Spinach Patties
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for cooking
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed, cooked, chopped, and squeezed dry, or 20 ounces thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
- About 1 cup matzo meal
- About 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Lemon wedges for serving
In a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the spinach, matzo meal, salt and cayenne. Stir in the eggs. If the mixture is too loose, add a little more matzo meal. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.
Shape the spinach mixture into 3 inch patties. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. In batches, saute the patties, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm, accompanied with lemon wedges.
The cake can be made a day ahead; just wrap it tightly in plastic, store it at room temperature, and glaze it just before serving.
- 2 3⁄4 cups flour, plus more for the pan
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup vegetable oil, plus for greasing the pan
- 1 cup honey
- 1⁄4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Heat oven to 325°F. Oil and flour a 4-qt. Bundt pan; set aside.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder and soda and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Beat 3⁄4 cup sugar and egg yolks in a bowl on medium-high speed of a mixer until tripled in volume, about 4 minutes. Stir in oil, honey, 2 tablespoons orange juice, zest and liqueur.
Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Beat egg whites in a bowl on high-speed of a mixer until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into batter.
Pour into the prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
Let cool and invert onto a serving plate. Whisk remaining juice with confectioners’ sugar; drizzle over cake.