Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Seasonings

sandwich

What makes for a great sandwich?

Is it the bread?

The meats?

The toppings, e.g. lettuce, tomato, sprouts, etc.?

The spread, e.g. mayo, mustard, dressing?

Well, of course it’s probably a combination of all (and probably some additional) factors.

But, the question is – What’s the most important thing to making a sandwich great?

For me – it is the quality of the bread – what is it for you?

sandwich 5

Mortadella, Cheese and Basil Panini

Mortadella is a large Italian sausage or cold cut made of finely ground, heat-cured pork sausage, which incorporates small cubes of pork fat. Mortadella is a staple product of Bologna, Italy.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf ciabatta, cut in half horizontally
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 8 ounces sliced mortadella 
  • 2 hot cherry peppers, sliced
  • 1 large plum tomato, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Brush the cut side of the bottom bread half with mustard; brush the cut side of the top half with vinegar. Top the bottom half with mozzarella, basil, mortadella, peppers and tomato. Top with remaining bread half.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add the sandwich to the pan; top with another heavy skillet. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Cut sandwich into 6 wedges. If the sandwich does not fit in your pan, cut it in half and cook in two batches.

sandwich 2

Family Style Hearty Steak Sandwich

6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups seeded and diced fresh plum tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons pitted, chopped kalamata olives
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank or sirloin steak
  • 1 (1-pound) Italian round bread loaf (boule) 
  • 4 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 2 ounces arugula

Directions

Heat an outdoor gas grill.

Combine tomatoes, olives, basil, red onion, vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl.

Place steaks on the grill over medium heat. Grill to desired temperature, turning once. Place on cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

Slice bread horizontally. Grill, cut side down, until crisp and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place cheese on the bottom half of the bread. Top with tomato mixture, steak and arugula. Top with remaining bread. Slice into wedges.

sandwich 1

Vegan Muffuletta

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white wine or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 (8-inch) Italian round bread loaf, halved horizontally
  • 1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1/3 cup sliced marinated artichoke hearts
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 12 basil leaves

Directions

Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard the black gills from each mushroom. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook just until it begins to turn light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Arrange mushrooms in the skillet in a single layer, then add wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning the mushrooms once, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes total. Set aside off of the heat to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine black and green olives, parsley, oregano, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and press the mixture with the back of a spoon until it’s roughly mashed; set aside.

Using your fingers, remove some of the bread from the inside of both halves of the bread loaf, making sure to keep a 1-inch border around the edge. (This will help to make room for the filling. Save the bread that you remove for another use, such as bread crumbs or croutons.)

Layer both halves of bread with olive mixture then arrange peppers, artichoke hearts, pine nuts and basil on the bottom half. Top with the cooked mushrooms, spreading them out to cover the entire width of the bread. Assemble the top and bottom halves of the loaf to form a sandwich.

Serve muffuletta right away or wrap it very tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, weighted down with a heavy object like a cast iron skillet filled with a few heavy canned goods. Cut into wedges before serving.

sandwich 3

Mediterranean Tilapia Sandwiches

Za’atar is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.

Ingredients

Fish:

  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Tzatziki:

  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Sandwich ingredients:

  • 4 Mediterranean wheat pitas or flatbread (such as Toufayan), heated
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

Directions

Preheat a broiler.

To prepare fish:

Brush fish with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar , 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with olive oil cooking spray. Broil 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

To prepare Tzatziki:

Combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth.

To prepare sandwiches:

Spread 2 tablespoons Tzatziki sauce in the center of each pita. Divide fish evenly among the pitas. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons onion, 2 tomato slices and about 6 cucumber slices; fold pita or flatbread in half.

sandwich 4
Grilled Chicken, Tomato and Onion Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pitted mixed olives (1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • 1 Vidalia onion (or any sweet onion), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 crusty Italian rolls, such as ciabatta
  • Salt
  • 1 3/4 pounds thin chicken cutlets

Directions

Light an outdoor grill.

In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper.

Brush the tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with olive oil. Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

Brush the chicken cutlets with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them over high heat, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut the chicken cutlets to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve.

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??????????Whether oven roasted, smoked, braised or cooked in a crock pot, pork shoulder is one of those cuts of meat that just gets better the longer it cooks. Pork shoulder is probably one of the cheapest cuts of meat around but smells so good when it cooks, it will make you want to hang out in the kitchen.

Both a pork shoulder and a pork butt come from the shoulder area. Cuts labeled “pork shoulder” or “picnic shoulder” are from the thinner, triangle-shaped end of the shoulder, whereas the “butt” is from the thicker, fatty end of the shoulder. As such, pork shoulder is better for cooking whole and slicing, whereas pork butt is perfect for making pulled pork and other recipes in which the meat is meant to fall apart. Yet both pork shoulder and pork butt benefit from long, slow cooking and are great cut up and used as stew meat and in chilis.

Pork Shoulder Cuts

Bone-in Pork Shoulder

Pork Butt

Boneless Pork Shoulder

How to Cook Pork Shoulder in the Oven

  • Let the pork shoulder sit and come to room temperature for half an hour prior to cooking.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  • Put the pork on a rack in a roasting pan, so it does not sit in its own juices. Place the pork fat side up so it will baste itself.
  • Pierce the pork with a knife in a few different spots. This will allow the juices to spill out and baste the meat.
  • Coat the pork with your favorite seasonings, marinade or rub.
  • Roast pork for about 3 hours. The skin should be crispy.
  • Check the pork with a meat thermometer to determine if it is done cooking. The internal temperature should reach at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius).
  • Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder in a Slow Cooker

  • Coat the pork with your favorite seasonings or rub. Let it sit for 30 minutes so the rub sticks to the meat.
  • Add other desired ingredients to the crock pot, such as vegetables or herbs for more flavor.
  • Place the pork shoulder into the crock pot on top of the other ingredients.
  • Cover 1/2 to 3/4 of the pork shoulder with liquids of your choice, such as water, unsweetened apple juice or stock. 
  • Place the cover on the crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until the pork is very tender.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder on the Grill

  • Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Use olive oil or nonstick cooking spray on the grill grates to prevent the meat from sticking.
  • Pierce the pork shoulder with a knife a few times over the surface.
  • Coat the pork with your favorite seasonings, rub or marinade.
  • Grill the pork shoulder for approximately 3 hours.
  • Check the pork with a meat thermometer to determine if it is done cooking. The internal temperature should reach 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).
  • Let the pork shoulder rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Storing Pork Roasts

Sealed, prepacked fresh pork cuts can be kept in the refrigerator 2 to 4 days. If you do plan on keeping the raw, fresh pork longer than 2 to 3 days before cooking it, store it well-wrapped in the freezer. Generally, fresh cuts of pork, like roasts, can be kept in the freezer up to 6 months.

Follow these steps to help keep your pork fresh in the freezer:

  • Use one of these freezer wrap materials: specially-coated freezer paper (place the waxed side against the meat); heavy-duty aluminum foil; heavy-duty polyethylene film; heavy-duty plastic bags.
  • Cover sharp bones with extra paper so the bones do not pierce the wrapping.
  • Wrap the meat tightly, pressing as much air out of the package as possible.
  • Label with the name of the pork cut and date.
  • Freeze at 0 degrees F or lower.

pulled pork sandwich

Family Favorite – Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I use a boneless pork shoulder for this recipe instead of a pork butt (or Boston butt) because it is leaner. For best flavor prep the meat one day ahead.

12 servings

Dry Rub:

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 (5 to 7 pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt

Mustard Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register at least 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it falls apart.

While the pork is roasting, make the mustard sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready for it.

When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 20 minutes. While the pork is still warm, you want to “pull” the meat. Use 2 forks: 1 to steady the meat and the other to “pull” shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour half of the sauce over. Stir well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.

To serve, spoon pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and top with some of the mustard sauce.

porketta

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

Porchetta, or roast suckling pig seasoned with garlic and herbs, is a traditional Italian dish. Here, the flavors of porchetta are used on a roasted pork shoulder. You’ll need to start this dish one day ahead, as the pork has to marinate overnight.

Makes 8 servings

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 5 1/2- to 6-pound boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

Directions

Stir fennel seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer seeds to a spice mill and cool. Add kosher salt, peppercorns and dried crushed red pepper. Grind to medium-fine consistency (not a powder).

Place pork in 13 x 9 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Rub garlic all over pork, then coat with spice mixture. Loosely cover pork with waxed paper. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush a large rimmed baking pan with oil. Place roast, fat side up, in the center of the baking pan. If any of the spice mixture has fallen off, return it to the meat and drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons oil. Roast pork 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Roast pork until very tender and a thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 190°F, after about 3 hours 15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board but do not clean the baking pan. Let pork rest 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour all pan juices from the baking pan into 2-cup measuring cup. Let sit for a few minutes and spoon off any fat that rises to top. Place reserved baking pan across 2 burners on the stove. Pour wine and broth onto the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until wine mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 4 minutes.

Add degreased pan juices and whisk to blend. Pour pan sauce into small bowl (sauce will be thin). Thinly slice roast and serve with the sauce.

 

Pork Ragu Over Pappardelle

Slow cooked pork shoulder adds much more flavor to the ragu than using ground pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic 
  • 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes (crushed red pepper)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups (one 28-ounce can) canned Italian plum tomatoes, crushed 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lb pappardelle (wide) pasta

Directions

Trim the fat from the exterior of the pork. Cut it into bite-sized pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes, trimming more fat as you divide the meat. Pat the pieces dry with paper towels.

Pour the olive oil into the big pan, set it over medium heat and add the pork. Spread the pieces in the pan and season with salt. Cook the pork slowly for 15 minutes or so, turning and moving the pieces occasionally as the meat releases its juices and they cook away.

When the pan is dry and the pork starts to sizzle and crackle, clear a spot on the bottom and add in the chopped garlic and peperoncino. Stir them for a minute or so in the pan until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, then stir and toss with the meat cubes.

Raise the heat a bit, pour in the white wine, stir and bring to a boil. Let the wine bubble until it is nearly evaporated and the pork is sizzling again. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, 1 cup of water and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir well.

Cover the pan, bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours until the pork is tender and falls apart under gentle pressure and the sauce has thickened. If the liquid is still thin toward the end of the cooking time, set the cover ajar and raise the heat a bit to reduce it rapidly.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Serve ragu over the cooked pappardelle.

pork shoulder

Mediterranean Braised Pork Shoulder

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut in 1/4″ wedges
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thin-skinned oranges, cut in eighths
  • 1/2 cup Cerignola or Kalamata olives
  • 2 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade or low-sodium if using canned)
  • Fennel fronds for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Secure each piece of pork with kitchen twine, so they will stay together while braising. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove meat from the pan and transfer to a rimmed plate.

Add the fennel wedges, onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pan and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken broth, oranges, thyme and bay leaf. Return the pork to the pan with add any accumulated juices on the plate.

Bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid and cook the pork for 2 hours longer, turning the meat over and adding the olives after the first hour. The pork should be very tender, if not, cook for another 30 minutes.

Transfer the pork, fennel, oranges, vegetables and olives with a slotted spoon or skimmer to a serving bowl. Remove the string from the pork and tent with foil.

Place the Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning.

Cut the pork into small chunks and spoon the sauce and vegetables over the pork, sprinkle with the fennel fronds. This dish is often served over polenta or couscous.

pork chili

Southern Style Pork Shoulder Black-Eyed Pea Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 pounds, fat trimmed pork shoulder cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 – 12 ounce bottle ale
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups canned whole Italian tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo, seeded and minced
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheddar and sour cream for serving

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the coriander, paprika and cumin and toss with the pork to coat in a large plastic ziplock bag. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add 1/3 of the pork and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and repeat the process twice with 2 more batches of pork. Transfer all the pork to the plate. Only add more oil, if necessary, to keep pork from sticking to the pot.

Add the onion, garlic, jalapenos and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Return the pork to the pot along with any accumulated juices from the plate. Add the ale, chicken stock, tomatoes, chipotles and black-eyed peas and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat until the meat and beans are tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Season the chili with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve the chili in bowls with cheddar and sour cream.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The benefits of giving homemade holiday food gifts are numerous. They are easy on the budget and ideal for those people on your holiday gift list who have everything. The receiver appreciates the personal touch and effort you’ve put into the gift and, for you, the creative act of putting together ahomemade gift is rewarding.

But what many people may not know about the benefits of homemade gifts is that they can actually be better for the planet than the standard store bought gifts. Many mass-produced gift items are things that your gift recipients actually do not need. How many times have you received an off-the-shelf Christmas gift that you simply tucked away in a corner of your closet? With homemade gifts, you get to customize your gifts to what your gift recipients might like or use. Homemade gifts can also be less energy-consuming to produce, since you get to cut out the shipping process.

Homemade gifts also have the benefit of giving materials, originally headed for the recycling or trash bin, a new lease of life. For example, a piece of leftover ribbon can now be reused as part of the gift-wrap for a homemade gift. The process of hand-making your gifts can help to contribute to less waste, especially if you seek to reuse materials as much as possible. In the process of making homemade gifts, you might have to purchase some materials. Try to minimize that if you can. Be innovative, find alternatives that already exist at home. Because you have a choice over the type of materials, you can choose the environmentally more friendly or biodegradable versions.

What could be easier than baking a batch of your favorite cookies or mixing mocha drink ingredients or making a container of pickles and giving it as a gift in a fancy jar, complete with recipe and instructions? It is best to use a recipe that has your own special ingredients. Give the recipient a gourmet food jar or container that they might not find anywhere else. The best part about this step is that you can use a variety of jars in different shapes and sizes, adding to the uniqueness of your homemade food gift. Print the recipe and attach it to the food gift. Be sure to include all of the directions and a list of the ingredients the gift recipient will need to finish the recipe.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Toffee

Yield: about 20 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 sleeve saltine crackers (about 4 oz.)
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in a shallow pan; bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes, shaking pan halfway through. Remove to a bowl to cool, then chop.

Line a 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with foil; mist with cooking spray. Arrange crackers in a single layer on sheet, breaking crackers as necessary to fit.

Bring butter and sugar to a boil in a small pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Spread mixture evenly over crackers. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven; add peanut butter in dollops. Return to oven until peanut butter begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack.

Spread peanut butter evenly. Sprinkle both types of chocolate chips over the mixture on the baking sheet; let stand until chips soften, about 1 minute. Spread chips over peanut butter. Sprinkle with almonds. Let stand for 30 minutes. Place sheet in the refrigerator; chill until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. Break into approximately 20 pieces. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

As A Gift: Fill a decorative coffee mug with toffee pieces.

Peppery Peach Sauce

Yield: 8 half-pint jars

Ingredients

  • Three 16-ounce packages frozen unsweetened peach slices
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 1/2 ounce can peach or apricot nectar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 fresh hot red chile pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed and chopped

Directions

Place half of the frozen peaches in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until peaches are very finely chopped. Transfer chopped peaches to a 6-quart pot. Repeat with remaining peaches. (You should have 5 cups pureed peaches.)

Add sugar, nectar, vinegar, lemon juice, chile pepper, salt and garlic to the pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in raspberries.

Immediately ladle peach sauce into hot, clean half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars from canner; cool on racks.

As A Gift: Tie a ribbon around a filled jar, then slide a basting brush underneath the ribbon. Add a sprig of rosemary to the top of the jar for a festive touch.

Sweet Potato Loaf

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light dairy sour cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed cooked peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In one bowl, combine flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, sugar, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir in sweet potatoes. Add sour cream mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fold in dates and nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

As A Gift: Wrap the loaf in cellophane or a pretty dish towel and tie with ribbon.

Parmesan Grissini

Yields: 25 to 30 grissini

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) finely grated Parmesan

Directions

In a bowl combine bread flour, yeast, sea salt, fennel seeds and red pepper; make a well in the middle.

Pour olive oil and warmed milk into the well. Stir until dough comes together. Add Parmesan and mix until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. (You can prepare the dough in a mixer with a dough hook, if desired.)

Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; set in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Lightly flour work surface again, then turn dough out and knead lightly for 1 minute.

Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12- by 15-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Using a sharp knife, cut dough into strips just under 1/2 inch wide. Lightly flour hands, then quickly roll strips until they’re slightly rounded.

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving space between each strip. Set aside to rise again, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle shelf until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, turning bread sticks halfway through. Let cool completely.

As A Gift: Bundle in wax paper or parchment and seal with gold stickers.

Homemade Spice Mixes

Combine the individual mixtures and package in decorative containers. You can purchase decorative tins or spice jars from any kitchen supply company or use some of your empty spice jars.

Poultry Seasoning

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt free chicken bouillon granules

Fish Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Steak Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons coarse-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dill seed
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

Italian Seasoning

  • 4 tablespoons dried basil
  • 4 tablespoons dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage

Gluten Free Flour Blend

If you have friends with gluten intolerance, they will appreciate having this baking mix handy.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely ground rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Directions

Combine all ingredients in large bowl; stir very well. Store mixture in a container with tight-fitting lid in the freezer; stir before using.


Cosenza

TOWN CENTER

Cosenza is one of the most highly populated provinces of Italy and occupies about 44% of the Calabrian region, basically the whole northern and central parts of the area. The landscape is unique and characterized by mountains,  hills, plains and deep valleys bounded by the Busento and the Crathis rivers. Cosenza is one of the most ancient cities in Calabria and is situated on seven hills in the valley of Crati. The area in and around Cosenza exhibits signs of historic transitions since the prehistoric period with sites in the area attesting to human presence during those prehistoric times.

The fortress, Rocca Imperiale, overlooks the Ionian Sea, and was built by Frederick II.

Important water travel routes have existed here since the Magna Graecia and Roman periods. In 204 BC, the region was conquered by the Romans, and became an important route along the Via Popilia, connecting Rome to Sicily. In the Middle Ages this land was conquered by the Byzantines, who brought economic benefits to the territory with the introduction of new agricultural techniques and architectural design. Byzantine influences are still present in the elegant architecture of the city, as well as the influences of the Normans, the Angevins, the Aragonese and the Spaniards, who all left their traces in the centuries that followed.

Cosenza Church of San Domenico

CHURCH OF SAN DOMENICO, COSENZA

Due to its cultural past, it was known as the Athens of Italy and today it houses the largest university campus of the nation. The city of Cosenza is rich in art and culture and officially recognized as a “City of Art” in the Calabria region. Cosenza is also called the capital of the Bruzi. The Bruzi were an ancient population who lived in southern Italy and they settled in the area of land that lies between the woods of the Sila plateau and the Crati Rivers. They took economic and social control of these areas following the decline of the Greek dominance and, in the 4th. century BC, they attained independence forming their capital Cosenza, formerly called Cosentia.

The old city is characterized by steep and narrow alleys and, during the few last years, this area has experienced a renewed vibrancy. This section is one of the most beautiful and ancient city centers in Italy, where one can find historical buildings, manor houses, an urban plan, and a labyrinth of streets around the old buildings and churches that have existed for centuries.

The cultural activity of the city centers around theater and opera events held in the Rendano Theater, the historical Cinemateatro Italia and the Teatro Stabile d’Innovazione of Calabria. The Accademia Cosentina promotes culture, artists and scientists.The Brettii Museum, officially opened in 2009, in the 15th. century complex of St. Agostino and is located in the center of the city. The Museum of the Rimembranze and the Open-Air Museum Bilotti can also be found there.

RENDANO THEATER

The variety in the landscape here makes the province of Cosenza an ideal place for long outdoor excursions. The trekking routes will lead you to the discovery of small churches and a beautiful countryside that you can admire from charming wooden bridges. The flat, hilly areas are usually used for horse riding. Photography enthusiasts will draw plenty of inspiration for their picture taking. During wintertime, organized snowshoe excursions in the mountains are popular, while ski establishments can be found in the highest areas of the Sila Mountains.

COUNTRYSIDE

The National Park of Pollino offers opportunities to practice rafting and canoeing, especially on the river Lao, among the canyons and gorges. During recent years, Nordic walking has become more widespread, as it is a gentle sport, suitable for everybody. Water parks can be found along the coast, like Odissea 2000, in Zolfara. The area is well equipped for water sports, from windsurfing to water skiing, as well as beach volleyball.

Inland, many fairs and festivals offer opportunities to taste local dishes and discover local traditions.The culinary specialties of Cosenza are based on local, simple foods. Such specialities, as the Cuddrurieddri, are salted doughnuts prepared for the Immacolata Feast or for Christmas time. The Turididdri are fried Christmas pastries covered with figs and honey, while the Scaliddre are sugar-glazed.

First courses offer fresh fusilli pasta with potatoes, sauteed potatoes, onions and peppers, broccoli with sausages, thick tagliatelle pasta with chickpeas and fresh pasta with mushrooms. Among the fish dishes, the most famous are fried cod and spaghetti with anchovies and breadcrumbs.

Pitta ‘mpigliata, a traditional Christmas dessert pastry,  Mostaccioli, pastries prepared for the Feast of Saint Joseph and focaccia bread made with honey or figs, mulled wine, flour and almonds and formed into different religious shapes are popular desserts. The area is well known for its anise liqueur.

Make Some Cosenza Inspired Recipes At Home:

First Course

Italian Peppers, Onions and Potatoes

Serve with Italian bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon. salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 lbs. sweet long Italian frying peppers or red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips 
  • 1 lb. long hot Italian peppers, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet and add garlic, onion, potatoes, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Add sweet and hot peppers, crushed red pepper and oregano.

Cook until peppers and potatoes are tender, stirring often. Stir in vinegar.

Second Course

Simmered Tuna Steaks

Ingredients:                                                                                                                               

  • 1 ½ lbs. fresh tuna cut into 4 even sized steaks
  • 2 oz pancetta
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 boned anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 1 1/4 cups Pomi chopped tomatoes or equivalent fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 hot dried red chilli pepper, chopped or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop the pancetta finely and set aside.
  2. Chop the garlic and onion together and set aside.
  3. Pat the tuna dry with paper towels.
  4. Season the dry tuna steaks thoroughly on both sides with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the oil in a wide skillet.
  6. Coat the tuna lightly on either side in flour and cook the steaks for 3 minutes on either side in the hot oil.
  7. Sprinkle with the wine and allow the alcohol to boil off for 1 minute.
  8. Remove the fish to a plate.
  9. Put the pancetta, garlic and onion and half the parsley in the skillet.
  10. Saute gently for about 5 minutes, then add the anchovy fillets and mash them into the ingredients in the skillet with a fork.
  11. After a minute or so, add the tomatoes and stir together thoroughly.
  12. Add the chilli and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, then slide in the fish. Heat through thoroughly for about 8 minutes, turning them over gently once.
  13. Arrange the tuna on a warmed serving dish, cover with the sauce and sprinkle with remaining parsley just before serving.

Dessert Course

Chocolate-Dipped Figs with Almonds                                                                                                                           

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup chopped unsalted toasted almonds
  • 24 plump dried figs, such as Calimyrna

Directions

Line a large baking sheet or tray with parchment paper.

Place almonds into a wide, shallow dish.

Put chocolate into a small pot and heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Working with one at a time, hold a fig by the stem and carefully dip it into the chocolate, coating it about halfway up. Shake off any excess chocolate, roll the bottom in almonds and transfer to the paper lined tray.

(If chocolate becomes too stiff, reheat it briefly over medium low heat.)

Set figs aside in a cool spot until chocolate is set, about 2 hours. Alternately, chill the figs in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden, and then return them to room temperature.


Homemade Christmas gifts are a great way to add a very personal touch to your gift giving during the holiday season. We have all heard this sentiment that “the best present is a homemade, personalized gift”. With homemade gifts, you don’t have to pay for the advertising, packaging and transportation costs of items you purchase from stores or online. Instead, you have better control of the gift budget, since you can readily choose materials or components for making gifts that are well within your budget.

Many of the mass-produced gift items are things that your gift recipients actually do not need. How many times have you received off-the-shelf Christmas gifts that you simply stash away in a corner of your closet after the festive season is over? With homemade Christmas gifts, you get to customize your gifts to what your gift recipients might like or use. Though it may sound troublesome, it is actually this preparation that makes the gift really special, and it helps build up the excitement to Christmas when the gift is ready.

Another great item you can find in your garden or at the farmer’s market for homemade Christmas gift ideas is dried herbs. Such herbs gifts are especially great for those who love to cook. You can reuse a small or medium fancy jar, or buy one anytime throughout the year when they are on sale, and prepare this unique gift for your loved ones as Christmas gifts. Include tags that suggest a recipe for each herb on the jar. You could even include personalized labels on the jars, such as a reminder to give thanks, smell the roses and smile. These personalized messages are bound to help bring smiles to your gift recipient as he or she cooks.

I really appreciate the gift container of pancake or cocoa mix on a busy morning, so I have put together some suggestions for gifts from your kitchen. I am sure you can think of many more.  Happy Gift Giving.

1. Marinated Olives With Rosemary And Orange Peel                                                                              

Makes 1 pint

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to fill as many pint jars as needed. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Package for gift giving.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (5.3 ounces) jars black or green olives, with pits (scant 2 cups)
  • 1 large sprig rosemary, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Zest of 1/2 orange, removed in thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, toss together olives, rosemary, zest and pepper flakes, and then pack mixture into a 1-pint glass jar. Pour in enough oil to just cover the olives (about 1/2 cup), and then seal tightly and chill for 1 to 3 days.

2. Homemade Mustard Sauce                                                                            

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 ounces yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay wine
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 the lemons, juice and zest of
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black peppercorns, to taste
  •  2 pint sized jars

Using a coffee grinder, grind the yellow mustard seeds until they are powdery and resemble coarse meal.

Place in a food processor and add the remaining ingredients.

Process until very smooth. Spoon into 2 pint sized, sterilized jars. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: This mustard improves dramatically over time. Its flavors will mellow, becoming milder and less sharp.

3. Pickled Peppers with Shallots and Thyme                                                                                           

These pickled peppers are great as a pizza topping or served with bread and cheese.

MAKES 1 QUART

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet or mild mini bell peppers, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, seeded
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced, separated into rings
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt

Directions:

Place peppers and shallots in medium bowl.

Mix vinegar and next 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove brine from heat; carefully pour over peppers and shallots. Cover bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Uncover; cool to room temperature. Transfer to pint-sized jars, pressing peppers into brine. Cover; chill at least 4 hours and up to 10 days.

4. Wild Mushroom, Bean and Barley Soup Mix                                                                                  

This mix makes 6 (1-pint) jars or 12 (1/2 pint-1-cup) jars.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
  • 6 whole bay leaves
  • 3 cups pearled barley
  • 1 1/2 cups dried porcini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas
  • 3/4 cup mixed dried vegetables for soup, such as Just Veggies
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill weed

Place ½ teaspoon black pepper in the bottom of 6 (1-pint) jars. (If making in 8-ounce jars, half all ingredients.) Pour ¼ cup red lentils into each jar.

Place one bay leaf in each jar, vertically against the inside of the glass, anchoring the tip in the lentils. Pour ½ cup barley into each jar, holding bay leaf against jar until the barley keeps it in place.

Place ¼ cup mushrooms in each jar. Press down to eliminate air pockets.

Pour ¼ cup split yellow peas in each jar, followed by a heaping 2 tablespoons of vegetables in each jar (see picture of dried vegetables).

Top each jar with 1 teaspoon dill weed, and place lids tightly on jars. Makes 6 (1-pint) jars, each jar serves 8.

Attach to jars: Directions for making the soup:

Combine 1 pint soup mix, 4 cups water and 2 cups vegetable broth in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Stir well, cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in 2 more cups vegetable broth and 1 teaspoon salt.

Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 40 to 50 minutes, until barley and peas are tender.

5. Holiday Trail Mix                                                        

Makes 8 cups, enough for about 16 servings

This healthful, colorful trail mix is ideal for gift giving. You can use raw green pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) or choose roasted salted nuts for a light salty note in your mix.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cup cinnamon cereal squares (such as Puffins) or other cereal
  • 1 1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup date pieces
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Divide mixture between gift bags or jars and package for gift giving.

6. Cranberry and Orange Granola                                                                      

Makes 4 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut or grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup candied orange peel, sliced into long, thin strips

Note: Candied orange peel can be found seasonally at most supermarkets and purchased year-round online.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F.  Spread oats on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl; add almonds and let cool slightly. Coat same baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk maple syrup, butter, and hazelnut oil in a small bowl to blend. Pour syrup mixture over oats; stir thoroughly to coat. Spread mixture on prepared sheet.

Bake granola, stirring occasionally, until light golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and raisins; bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove granola from oven and let cool slightly. Stir in the orange peel. Let cool completely, then break into pieces.

DO AHEAD: Store airtight at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

7. Better Than Nutella (Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread)                                

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (heaping) hazelnuts, preferably skinned (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Four clean 8-ounce jars

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet or in an ovenproof skillet. Roast, shaking sheet once for even toasting, until deep brown, 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely. (If nuts have skins, rub them in a kitchen towel to remove.)

Grind hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a fairly smooth, buttery paste forms, about 1 minute.

Place chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water; stir often until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over saucepan; add butter and whisk until completely incorporated. Whisk in cream and salt, then hazelnut paste. You can also use a double boiler.

Pour sauce (called gianduja in Italian) into jars, dividing equally. Let cool. (Gianduja will thicken and become soft and peanut butter-like as it cools.) Screw on lids.

DO AHEAD Gianduja can be made up to 4 weeks ahead; keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours to soften. Can stand at room temperature up to 4 days.

8. Candied Espresso Walnuts                                                                                             

Serve dinner with coffee.

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground espresso coffee beans
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 cups walnut halves (about 12 ounces)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk sugar and next 4 ingredients in small bowl. Whisk egg white in a separate large bowl until frothy. Add walnuts; toss to coat. Sprinkle walnuts with espresso mixture and toss to coat. Spread coated walnuts on prepared sheet in single layer.

Bake 5 minutes. Slide spatula under walnuts to loosen from baking sheet and stir, rearranging in single layer. Bake until walnuts are dry to touch, about 5 minutes longer. Loosen walnuts from sheet again; cool on sheet.

DO AHEAD Candied walnuts can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

9. Chocolate Sauce                                                                           

About 2 cups 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Whisk brown sugar and cocoa powder in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk until a smooth paste forms. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking constantly, for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate; stir until melted. Stir in vanilla. Pour into pint or half pint sterilized jars. Let cool. Store in the refrigerator. Should be heated before serving.

10. Chocolate-Walnut Cookie Mix                                                                 

Yield: 36 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 wide-mouth Mason jar (1 quart)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Dry Mix:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. Spoon flour mixture into bottom of the jar and press down hard to compact (a small spice jar works well for compacting). It needs to be at about the 1-1/4-cup mark on the jar to insure that there is enough room for all ingredients. Continue layering with cocoa powder and granulated sugar compacting each layer. Add chips and nuts. Close jar tightly. Store up to 2 weeks at room temperature.

3. Write the following recipe on a gift card and attach it to the jar with ribbon.

4. Decorate lid of jar with fabric and tie with ribbon and bows. Makes 36 cookies.

Chocolate-Walnut Cookies Directions

In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup cooled, melted butter with 3 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in contents of this jar until just mixed. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Drop by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

11. Cinnamon Pancake Mix In A Jar                                     

Makes enough for 2 or 3 gifts

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a whisk to incorporate the ingredients evenly. Divide in half or thirds and package for gift giving.

Directions for Making Pancakes

  • 1 cup Cinnamon Pancake Mix
  • 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large egg whites or egg substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Whisk pancake mix with cottage cheese, milk, eggs, almond extract and butter. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush lightly with oil. Drop 1/4 cup batter onto skillet. Cook until pancakes until bubbles appear. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter.

12. Hot-Chocolate Mix                                                                                             cup of hot chocolate with peppermint stir stick

  • 3/4 cups Quality Unsweetened Cocoa, such as Valrhona
  • 6 ounces Quality Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoons Ground Clove

Make the mix:

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process just until mixture is powdery — about 30 seconds. Be careful not to over process. Store in an airtight container.

Directions for a gift: Fill jars with the mixture, cover the lids with a festive swath of fabric, and include peppermint “stirring” sticks for added flavor and color.

To make hot chocolate, combine 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of this mix in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is incorporated and mixture is warmed through. Serve immediately.

 


Ancona is Italy’s largest ferry port on the mid-Adriatic

The Marche region (also known as the Marches in English) forms the eastern seaboard of central Italy with the regions of Emilia-Romagna to the north and Abruzzo to the south. From the narrow coastal plains the land rises sharply to the peaks of the Appennines, which form a natural boundary with Umbria and Tuscany to the west. While the coastal areas are heavily populated, the beautiful inland countryside is sparsely inhabited . The inland mountainous zones are mostly limestone and are noted for bare peaks, rushing torrents, dramatic gorges and many caves. In contrast, the areas nearer the coastal plain are known for their fertile rounded hills topped by ancient fortified towns. The highest point is Monte Vettore in the Sibillini mountains. The coast itself boasts long sandy areas and, apart from the limestone Conero peninsula, the land is virtually all flat. Economically, the region is mostly reliant on medium and small scale industries, often family run. Shoes, clothing and furniture manufacturing are some of the most successful businesses. The relatively poor soil and the general movement away from the land has meant that agriculture now plays a minor role, apart from the production of Verdicchio, the Marche’s famous white wine. By the coast, fishing remains an important activity.

Ancona is on the top of a cliff and has a city center rich in history, monuments and well preserved semi-urban parks. The historical districts overlook the port arch, as if they were surrounding a stage. From its port every year, about one million travelers sail to Greece and Croatia. The weather in Ancona is typically mild throughout the year, with summer temperatures in the high seventies and winters that rarely dip below thirty-five. The city of Ancona stands on an elbow shaped promontory, protecting the widest natural port of the middle Adriatic Sea. The name of the town means its geographical position: Αγκων, in Greek means “elbow”, and this is what the Greek people called it when they settled in the area in 387 B.C.

In Roman times it kept its own coinage and continued the use of the Greek language. When it became a Roman colony is not exactly known but Ancona was occupied as a naval station during the Illyrian War. Julius Caesar took possession of it immediately after crossing the Rubicon and the harbor was considered an important defensive location for the Romans. After the fall of the Roman empire, Ancona was attacked by the Goths, Lombards and Saracens. In 1532 it lost its freedom and came under the control of Pope Clement VII. After the French took over in 1797, Ancona’s harbor frequently appears in history as an important fortress.

The Italian Jewish Community

The Jewish community of Ancona dates back to around 1300. In 1427 the Franciscan friars tried to force the Jews of Ancona to wear a badge and live on a single street, but apparently this attempt was unsuccessful. After the expulsion of the Jews from the Spanish dominions in 1492, refugees began to arrive in Ancona, to be joined later by others from the Kingdom of Naples.

As Ancona was about to be declared a free port, Pope Paul III invited merchants from the Levant to settle in Ancona regardless of their religion. (The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Cyprus, Turkey’s Hatay Province and some regions of Iraq or the Sinai Peninsula.) Promising protection against the Inquisition, he encouraged the settlement of Jews. Many Jewish merchants took advantage of the harbor facilities and settled in town to trade with the Levant. The size of the community and its widespread connections attracted many noted rabbis and scholars throughout the centuries, including Judah Messer Leon (15th century), Amatus Lusitanus, Moses Basola (16th century), Mahalalel Hallelyja of Civitanova, Hezekiah Manoach Provenzal, Joseph Fermi (17th century), Samson Morpurgo, Joseph Fiammetta (18th century), Jacob Shabbetai Sinigaglia, Isaiah Raphael Azulai, David Abraham Vivanti, Isaac Raphael Tedeschi (19th century), and H. Rosenberg who published several monographs on local history.

During World War II, the Germans and the Italian Fascists demanded tributes to allow the Jews to live there. After the war, 400 Jews were left in town, and by 1969 the number dropped to 300. There are two synagogues, a Mikveh and two Jewish cemeteries: Monte Cardeto, the old one, and Tavernelle, the new cemetery.

In his book, La Cucina Veneziana, Giuseppe Maffioli writes that Jewish cooking had a great impact on the local cuisine and, despite their forbidden foods, the Jews had a more varied diet than the Christians. He cites that among the Jewish dishes adopted in Italy there were many vegetables ‘alla giudia’, meaning Jewish style, salt cod dishes, almond pastries, and puff pastry.

Precipizi, an Italian Jewish Hanukkah treat

Precipizi, an Italian Jewish Hanukkah treat

Today, most Italian Jews live in the large cities of Rome, Milan, and Turin. Many of the old historic communities that were once scattered throughout Italy have disappeared or have lost their identity, but the old Jewish recipes remain as a testimony to their existence. Looking at the alphabetical index of recipes in a book entitled, La Cucina Nella Tradizione Ebraica, a collection of recipes from members of the Jewish women’s ADEI WIZO organization: there are arancini canditi di Padova, baccald e spinaci all’uso fiorentino, biscotti di Ancona, biscotti senza burro; brassadel di Purim; buricchi di pasta frolla, budino di zucca gialla Veneto; cacciucco alla livornese and cuscusszi livornese; cefali in umido di Modena. Such recipes are a witness to once famous and thriving Jewish communities in Italy.

Carciofa alla Romana at Ba"Ghetto

Artichoke Hearts, Jewish style

What was it that made a dish Jewish?

Adaptations of local produce and recipes to comply with religious dietary laws meant that oil or goose fat were used instead of butter or pork fat for cooking. For the same reason, many dairy and vegetable dishes were developed to provide substantial meatless meals. The need to find substitutes for forbidden foods like pork and seafood resulted in the creation of such specialties as, goose prosciutto and salami and a white-fish soup. In the days when cooking revolved around the Sabbath and religious holidays, dishes that were chosen to celebrate these occasions acquired embellishments, such as coloring with saffron or sprinkling with raisins and pine nuts. The laws of the Sabbath, which prohibit any work on that day, gave rise to complex meals in one-pot to be prepared on Friday afternoon and left to cook overnight for Saturday. An example is the hamin toscano or polpettone difagioli—a veal loaf cooked with white beans, beef sausages, hard boiled eggs, and tomatoes. Centuries before Americans popularized pasta salads, Jews were the only Italians to eat cold pasta.

For Passover, ground almonds, potato flour, matzo meal, and matzos were used to make all kinds of pizzas, cakes, pies, dumplings, pancakes, and fritters. Numerous desserts are found in the Jewish Italian cuisine, like amaretti, marzapane, moscardini, mucchietti, scodelline, zuccherini, ciambellette, mustaccioni—to name a few. Certain foods became symbolic dishes to celebrate festivals, like Pollo Fritto, chicken dipped in batter and fried in oil, for Hanukkah.

Some of the Sites in Ancona

The marble Arch of Trajan, at the entrance to the causeway atop the harbor wall, in honor of the emperor who had built the harbor, is one of the finest Roman historical monuments in the Marche. However, most of its original bronze decorations have disappeared. It stands on a high podium with wide, steep steps and is flanked by pairs of fluted Corinthian columns on pedestals. It is a replica of the Arch of Titus in Rome, but taller, so that the bronze figures, Trajan, his wife Plotina and his sister Marciana, stand out as a landmark for ships approaching this Adriatic port.

The Lazzaretto (Laemocomium or “Mole Vanvitelliana”), planned by architect Luigi Vanvitelli in 1732, is a pentagonal building, built to protect the military defensive authorities from the risk of contagious diseases by incoming ships. Later it was used as a military hospital, then as a barracks. It is currently used for cultural exhibits.

The Food of Ancona

lts style of cooking is defined by fish and seafood along the coast, and vegetables, chicken, rabbit, snails, and truffles and other wild fungi in the hills and mountains. The coastal brodetto, or seafood stew, is seasoned with saffron and traditionally made with thirteen kinds of fish. 

Ancona is one of the biggest stockfish (dried salt cod) importers and Stoccafisso all’ Anconetana has a special place in the heart of Ancona people and in the history and tradition of this town.

This traditional Le Marche recipe involves soaking the fish for at least 24 hours and cooking it over bamboo canes to prevent the fish from sticking to the pan.

Seafood dishes are prominent in Ancona cuisine.

Creamy sauces made from chicken giblets are used liberally in Marche cooking. Pork recipes rely on generous chunks instead of the traditional thin prosciutto style servings. Since pork is so readily available, there are many types of sausages made in the Marche region. A hearty favorite local smoked sausage is ciauscolo, made with half pork, half pork fat and well seasoned with salt, pepper, orange peel and fennel seed. Olives grow well in this region and are served both on their own or stuffed with savory meat fillings. Grapes, grains, mushrooms and a wide variety of vegetables are found throughout the region.

Cheese-wise, Marche holds its own in the steep competition for great Italian dairy products. Casciotta d’Urbino is a sheep and cow milk cheese, hand-pressed into rounds that are then salted and cured in a moist environment, producing a velvety texture. Ambra di Talamello is made from goat or sheep or cow’s milk and is cured in a pit lined with straw, resulting in an earthy flavor. Cacio La Forma di Limone is a sheep’s milk cheese made with lemons, then formed into small balls (that look a bit like lemons). It is rubbed with a salt and lemon mixture and has a light lemon tang. Some excellent Pecorino cheeses can be found in the region as well.

Pasta in the Marche region is rich with eggs, with wide noodles being the most popular, such as, lasagna and pappardelle. The region’s signature dish, a pasta casserole with meat sauce, showcases flat pastas and savory meats. Other pastas like spaghetti alla chitarra, spaghettini, tagliatelle and maccheroncini have also found their way into Marche dishes.

Brodetto all’anconetana (Fish Soup Ancona Style)

Regional Specialties

Olive all’ascolana, green olives stuffed with ground meat, breaded, and fried until golden and crisp.

Ciauscolo, a rich, soft smoked salami, meant to be spread, not sliced.

Vincisgrassi, lasagna layered with prosciutto, chicken livers, sweetbreads, and white sauce.

Rabbit, cooked porchetta style (roasted in the style of porchetta) with fennel and salt.

Frustingolo, a dense fruit cake made with nuts and dried figs.

One of the most famous dishes from the La Marche region of Italy, Vincisgrassi, a type of lasagna, is very rich – some versions being even richer with the addition of sweetbreads and a pasta dough made with vin santo or marsala.

Make Some Ancona Inspired Recipes At Home

First Course

Tagliatelle with Shrimp

Servings 4

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb fresh tagliatelle
  • 1/2 onion, finely choped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

Directions:

Soften the onion over low heat in the olive oil and then add the finely chopped garlic without letting it brown.

Pour in the white wine and allow to evaporate. Blend in the marinara sauce.

Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3 minutes.

Cook the tagliatelle al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and add to the shrimp mixture. Stir in pasta water and combine. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Second Course

Wine & Tomato Braised Italian Chicken

Serves 4

 Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 –  3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cups diced white onion
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups peeled, seeded, diced plum tomatoes or equivalent canned
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

In a heavy ovenproof pan with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until hot.

Pat the chicken dry and add 2 pieces to the pan. Do not crowd the chicken. Cook until the chicken has browned on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Repeat with another tablespoon of olive oil and the remainder of the chicken.

Add the onions to the same pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, marjoram, and sage and stir. Add the wine and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When tender, transfer the chicken to a warm platter, cover with foil, and set aside.

Skim off the excess fat from the braising liquid and reduce the sauce over high heat to a sauce-like consistency.

Taste and correct the seasoning, if necessary. Serve the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the parsley.

Dessert Course

Orange Cake, Ancona Style

Ouzo is an anise-flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus, and a symbol of Greek culture.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups and 2 tablespoons flour, plus flour for dusting the pan
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oranges and the peels, grated (no pith)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar or sugar alternative
  • 2 tablespoons ouzo
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups orange juice, mixed with 3 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a tube pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

Put flour, eggs, grated orange peel, butter, sugar and ouzo in a food processor and process until all ingredients are incorporated.

Add milk and baking powder and process again to incorporate.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and place in upper, middle level of the preheated oven.

Bake for at least 45 minutes and the top of cake is golden.

Place pan over a wine bottle or other receptacle to cool slightly.

Loosen the edges of the cake with a sharp knife.

Invert onto a plate.

While cake is still warm, poke holes into it, using the end of a wooden spoon or similar implement.

Pour the sweetened orange juice into the holes, filling them to the brim.

Within an hour, the cake will have absorbed the juice.

Serve at room temperature.

Note: The cake will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, fully covered by plastic wrap.


To parody the song from the Broadway show, Annie Get Your Gun, “Anything you can do with veal, I can do better with turkey”

Menu 1

Roman-Style Saltimbocca

This traditional Roman dish is classically made with veal but can also be made with turkey.

Serves 4

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  • 4 boneless turkey cutlets (about 4 ounces each)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto
  • 8 sage leaves, more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

Sprinkle each cutlet lightly with salt and pepper. Top with a slice of prosciutto and a sage leaf.
Place cutlets between 2 sheets of parchment, waxed paper or plastic wrap. With a mallet or rolling pin, gently pound cutlets to an even 1/4-inch thickness, pounding the prosciutto and sage into the cutlets.

Spread the flour on a shallow plate and dip the cutlets in it, lightly coating both sides.
Heat a tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large pan. When the butter begins to foam, add the cutlets to the pan, prosciutto side down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.
Add wine to the hot pan and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine reduce by half, then add the chicken broth and reduce again.
Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in remaining tablespoon of butter. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, then pour over the reserved cutlets. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes; reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Ladle 3⁄4 cup pasta water into skillet; bring to a boil. Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet; spread it evenly.

Sprinkle the Pecorino Romano cheese over pasta; toss vigorously to combine until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta without clumping, about 2 minutes, adding some pasta water if necessary. Transfer to serving bowl.

Garlic Green Beans

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) toasted almonds,
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the green beans. Boil for four minutes, then drain and dry on a kitchen towel.

Mix together the parsley, lemon zest and almonds in a small bowl. Heat the oil over medium heat in the same pan used for the green beans and add the garlic. As soon as it begins to sizzle, stir in the beans. Toss for about a minute until the beans are coated with oil and cooked garlic, then stir in the parsley mixture. Stir for a minute, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the beans to a platter or serving dish, scrape the almond mixture remaining in the pan over the top and serve.

Menu 2

Sautéed Scaloppine with Tomato Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless turkey cutlets, about 6 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • 1 cup Tomato Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Directions:

1. Prepare the Tomato Vinaigrette. Keep the vinaigrette warm.
2. Lay the turkey between two pieces of waxed paper, and flatten each cutlet with the flat end of a mallet until thin.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet until hot. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge it in flour. Sauté the turkey over high heat, about 1 minute on each side. Remove to a warm platter and serve, topped with the vinaigrette.


Tomato Vinaigrette                                                                                                                                                                   

Makes 2 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz.)Pomi strained tomatoes 
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil or dill
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Place the tomatoes, vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the mixture to a thick consistency, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, place the sauce in a glass container and cool over ice.
2. Place the mustard and lemon juice in a food processor. With the machine running, add the basil and olive oil. Add the cooled tomato mixture and puree until smooth.
3. The vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Fennel Layered with Potatoes and Bread Crumbs

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed (3/4 to 1 lb. after trimming)
  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano  or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as possible, about an 1/8 inch thick. Put the sliced potatoes in a large bowl of cold water to keep them from browning.

Cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Slice the fennel crosswise as thinly as possible, about an 1/8 inch thick. You should have about 4 cups.

In a another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and garlic. Mix well with your hands, making sure the garlic is evenly distributed.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Without draining the potatoes, use your hands to lift out about one-third of the slices and arrange them in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them slightly. (The water clinging to them will generate steam as they bake and you will need less oil in this dish.)

Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a couple of grinds of the pepper. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Top the potatoes with half of the sliced fennel, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the fennel with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture, and 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Repeat this layering process, ending with a top layer of potatoes. Season the top layer with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and some more pepper. Mix the remaining breadcrumb mixture with the final 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes (be sure the aluminum foil is sealed tightly all around the baking dish, or there won’t be enough steam to cook the potatoes).

Uncover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.

Quick Broiled Asparagus

While the fennel potato casserole is resting, cook the asparagus in the broiler as described below.

Directions:

Take 1 bunch of asparagus and cut off the tough ends. Wash lightly and let dry completely.

Place asparagus on a cookie sheet or the bottom of a broiler pan.

Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Move oven rack to the top and turn broiler on low. Cook for 5-10 minutes depending on thickness.

Menu 3

Turkey Cutlets with Mozzarella and Roasted Red Peppers

Servings: 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Turkey Cutlets with Roasted Peppers and Mozzarella Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) turkey breast cutlets (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 3/4 pound Fettuccine

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Season turkey with chopped sage, salt, and pepper. Cook turkey in pan 2 1/2 minutes per side. Arrange peppers and cheese on top of turkey and pour Marsala and broth to pan. Place the lid on the pan and cook 45 seconds or until cheese is melted. Using a slotted spoon, remove turkey cutlets to a plate and keep warm.

Let Marsala mixture boil about 1 1/2 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup. Take pan off of heat and whisk in butter.  Place turkey cutlets over pasta on serving plates and spoon sauce over turkey.  Sprinkle with chopped sage.

Tip: to roast pepper:

Seed red bell pepper and cut into quarters. Lay pepper quarters, flesh side down on a foil covered baking sheet; broil 10 minutes or until skin is black. Put peppers in a plastic bag and let rest, sealed for 10 minutes; peel off skin.

Crispy Parmesan Broccoli

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound broccoli, rinsed, dried, and cut into flat sided small pieces
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup Panko Lemon Pepper Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and cheese.
  3. Put the broccoli in a large bowl, add the egg substitute and toss with your hands to coat.
  4. Sprinkle in the bread crumb and cheese mixture and toss to combine.
  5. Transfer to a baking sheet, flat side down,  and roast for 12 minutes.

Menu 4

Turkey Osso Bucco

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 turkey thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2  celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Pat the turkey with paper towels to dry and ensure even browning. Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Dredge the turkey in the flour to coat.
In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the turkey thighs in a single layer, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook until brown on both sides, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the turkey to a bowl and reserve.
In the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season vegetables with salt. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Return the turkey to the pan. Add enough chicken broth to come 2/3 up the sides of the turkey. Add the herb sprigs and bay leaves to the broth mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Braise until the turkey is fork-tender about 2 hours, turning the turkey after 1 hour.

Easy Parmesan Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and finely diced 
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat the broth and water ( total 6 cups) in a pot and keep warm.
In a heavy Dutch oven pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil and cook the shallot over medium heat until it is translucent.
Add the rice and stir to coat.
Add the wine, and cook over medium heat until the wine is almost absorbed.
Reduce the heat to medium low, and add 5 cups of the hot liquid.
Cook for 18 minutes stirring just twice during this period or until the rice is just al dente.
Add 1/2 cup of broth and stir constantly for 3 minutes until the rice is creamy, adding remaining broth if risotto isn’t loose enough.
To finish the dish add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, remaining butter and  salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.

Green Peas

Defrost 1 package of frozen green peas but leave them in the plastic bag that encloses them.  Heat in the microwave on high in the bag for 3 minutes.  Pour into a serving bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and fresh cracked black pepper.

Menu 5

Braised Turkey Roulade with Pancetta, Shallots, and Porcini Sauce

Serves 8    This recipe can be cut in half to make 4 servings.  However, this is a good choice for an entree when entertaining an would want to make the full amount.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 1/2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (about 9 slices), divided
  • 2 cups chopped shallots (about 10 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 (1 1/4-pound) skinless, boneless turkey breast halves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (Wondra flour works well for sauces)

Directions:

Combine 2 cups boiling water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl; cover and let stand for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Drain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving soaking liquid. Chop the porcini mushrooms.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Coarsely chop 1 pancetta slice. Add chopped pancetta to pan; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 3/4 cups shallots, 2 teaspoons rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook for 7 minutes or until shallots are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in reserved mushrooms. Cool slightly.

Slice 1 turkey breast half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open halves, laying turkey breast flat (like a book).
Place plastic wrap over turkey breast; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Spread half of shallot mixture over turkey breast; roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting with long sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange 4 pancetta slices evenly on top of turkey roll. Secure at 2-inch intervals with twine.
Repeat procedure with remaining turkey breast half, shallot mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 4 pancetta slices.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add turkey rolls to the pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, turning after 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots, carrot, celery, and wine to pan. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Stir in reserved porcini liquid and remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons rosemary. Cover and bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 160°. Remove turkey rolls from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Cut each roll crosswise into 12 slices.

Strain cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Combine 1/4 cup water and flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Return remaining cooking liquid to pan; add flour mixture and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly. Serve sauce with turkey slices.

Rice With Cheese

 4 servings.

Ingredients: 

  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly coarsely ground cracked black pepper.

 Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt, just as you would to cook pasta. Add rice and stir. When water returns to a boil, lower heat and cook rice until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain in a fine mesh colander or line your colander with cheesecloth if the wholes in your colander are large enough for the rice to fit through.

2. Put butter in the same pan and turn heat to medium. When butter melts and just begins to turn brown, add rice and toss together. Stir in Fontina cheese, the Parmesan, along with freshly ground cracked pepper.

Parmesan Broiled Tomatoes

8 servings

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat the broiler.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Halve the tomatoes crosswise (through the equator, not from stem to bottom). Place the tomatoes flesh-side up on the prepared pan and brush the tops with the olive oil. Season the top of each tomato with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine the Parmesan cheese and garlic and mix well to combine. Sprinkle the mixture on the top of each tomato.

Broil 5 to 7 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and tomatoes soften. Sprinkle the parsley over top just before serving.



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mycookinglifebypatty

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Things My Belly Likes

Where eating to live and living to eat are not mutually exclusive

Our Growing Paynes

A journey about gardening, cooking, and knitting.

gotta get baked

musings of a baking fiend

thewhitedish

Let's talk recipes, great food and FITNESS!

on the road with Animalcouriers

pet transport through Europe and beyond

jittery cook

recipes worth sharing

soulofspice

delicious nourishing energizing spice

pattytmitchell

site for Patricia Mitchell, author

Something Sweet Something Savoury

Family friendly recipes from a chaotic kitchen

Simply Sophisticated Cooking

Effortless home cooking recipes, tips and methods for busy lives to encourage fine eating in instead of out.

FARMINISTA'S FEAST with Karen Pavone

Farm to Table Adventures in California's Beautiful North Bay

Blue Heron Writes

Sharing to Inspire through Words and Pictures www.wendiedonabie.com

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