Why is buying a whole chicken better than buying one that is cut into serving pieces?
First, a whole chicken is cheaper per pound and is handled less along the way. It lends itself to a variety of cooking techniques and can be cut up at home exactly the way you want it: in half, quarters, eighths or tenths. Eating all of an animal not just the popular cuts, such as the breast, is the most sustainable way to eat. You get the added bonus of the back, neck, frame and gizzards, which can all be used to make broth for soup.
Second, you get several meals from one chicken. You can roast, braise or cook a chicken in the slow cooker. Once cooked, slice some of the chicken for the main meal and then use the leftovers in any number of dishes, such as risotto, chicken pie, a stir-fry, sandwiches or a salad, etc.
Simple Roast Chicken
- One 4-5 pound whole chicken
- Kosher salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Using a roasting rack set in the baking pan will help the chicken cook more evenly, since air can circulate freely. With a roasting rack, the chicken won’t be resting in its own drippings, so you get a crisper skin. For easier cleanup, you can line the pan with aluminum foil.
Remove the packet of giblets from the cavity of the chicken ( save for use in a stock, if you like — but don’t include the liver, which will make the stock bitter). Pull any loose fat from around the opening. Rinse the chicken inside and out, then dry the chicken very well with paper towels, inside and out.
Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird (simply tie the legs together and tuck the wings underneath the body or tie kitchen string around them).
Sprinkle a generous amount of salt (around a ½ tablespoon) over the outer skin of the bird so that it has a uniform coating that will result in a crisp, flavorful skin. Season to taste with pepper.
Put the chicken, breast side up, on a V-shaped or flat rack and set the rack in a roasting pan just larger than the rack. Roast for 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 375°F and continue roasting for about 45 -60 minutes more. The chicken is done when the leg wiggles freely in its joint and when the juices run clear from the thigh area. (I roast mine until the it registers 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer. The chicken will continue cooking a bit after you remove it from the oven).
Baste the chicken with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
Cook at 425 degrees F in a convection oven for about 50 minutes.
Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken
- 1 lemon
- Several sprigs of thyme and rosemary or a mixture of herbs you like
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Season liberally with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken. Put the herbs and garlic inside the cavity, together with the squeezed-out lemon halves—this will add a fragrant lemony flavor to the finished dish. Follow directions above for Simple Roast Chicken.
Roast Chicken and Vegetables
- 6 whole small yellow onions
- 4 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 cup chicken broth
Arrange the vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and the Italian seasoning; add chicken broth to the bottom of the pan. Place chicken on top of the vegetables and cover pan tightly with foil. Follow directions for Simple Roast Chicken and remove the foil when the oven is reduced to 375 degrees F. Turn the vegetables over occasionally while they are roasting to insure even browning.
Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion
- 1 large chicken (3-4 lbs)
Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
Chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
Cook for 4 – 5 hours on high (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone.
Leftovers are great for chicken casseroles.
- 1 (4-to 5-lb.) whole chicken
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
Remove neck and giblets from chicken and reserve for another use. Sprinkle chicken with salt, garlic powder and pepper.
Melt butter with oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add the whole chicken and cook, breast side down, 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken, breast side up, and reduce heat to medium-low.
Add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup wine (you can use all chicken broth, if you wish) to the Dutch oven.
Cover and cook 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 165 degrees F.
Cutting Up a Whole Chicken
1. Remove the legs
Place the chicken breast side up on a solid cutting board. Pull one leg away from the body and cut through the skin between the body and both sides of the thigh.
Bend the whole leg firmly away from the body until the ball of the thighbone pops from the hip socket. Cut between the ball and the socket to separate the leg. Repeat with the other leg.
2. Divide The Legs
Place the chicken leg skin side down on the cutting board.
Cut down firmly through the joint between the drumstick and the thigh.
3. Remove The Wings
With the chicken on it’s back, remove a wing by cutting on the inside of the wing just over joint. Pull wing away from the body and cut down through the skin and the joint. Repeat with the other wing.
4. Cut Carcass in Half
Cut through the cavity of the bird from the tail end and slice through the thin area around the shoulder joint. Cut parallel to the backbone and slice the bones of the rib cage. Repeat on the opposite side of the backbone.
5. Remove The Breast
Pull apart the breast and the back. Cut down through the shoulder bones to detach the breast from the back. Cut the back into two pieces by cutting across the backbone where the ribs end.
6. Cut Breast In Half
You may leave the breast whole if your recipe requires. To cut in half, use a strong, steady pressure and cut downward along the length of the breastbone to separate the breast into two pieces. If the breasts are large you may want to cut each half into two pieces.
Save the parts, such as the backbone and wings, to make broth. I keep a bag in the freezer and add to it until I have enough to make soup.
Chicken in Vinegar Sauce
- 1-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 shallots, peeled and minced
- 1 cup cider vinegar mixed with 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup Riesling or other dry but fruity white wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Rinse chicken pieces, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, skin side down, and brown, turning once, about 10 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Repeat the process with the remaining oil, butter and chicken.
Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly soft, about 5 minutes.
Deglaze the skillet with vinegar and wine, scraping brown bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Reduce vinegar mixture by about one-third, 3-5 minutes, then stir in tomato paste.
Return chicken to skillet, pour in the stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn chicken and continue cooking until juices from chicken run clear, about 15 minutes. (If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a small amount of chicken stock or water.)
Remove chicken from skillet with tongs to a deep serving bowl. Pour sauce from the skillet over the chicken and garnish with parsley.
Roasted Chicken with Bell Peppers and Potatoes
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into eighths
- 6 medium potatoes, quartered
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the chicken, onions, peppers and potatoes in a large baking pan. Make sure not to crowd the pieces together in the pan. Scatter the garlic slices over the mixture and drizzle some olive oil on top of the ingredients. Sprinkle with the parsley, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper.
Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and put in a preheated oven at 275 degrees F (135 C) for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the oven temperature up to 375 degrees F (190 C) and cook the casserole for 15-20 minutes more, until the chicken and potatoes brown and a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F.
- Roast Chicken (healthynotboring.wordpress.com)
- Basil, lemon and garlic roasted chicken (sim1eatspaleo.wordpress.com)
- http://ow.ly/i/4EAtZ Dinner tonight… M (skinnyfibergurl.wordpress.com)
- Chicken Soup to Soothe the Savage Sniffles, Part 1 (cherielanglois.wordpress.com)
- Grilled Island Chicken (rsmarketingblog.wordpress.com)
Crostini is just another name for slices of bread that have been brushed with oil and baked until golden brown. Crostini make for an endless variety of near-instant hors d’oeuvres. Just spoon on your pick of toppings and watch the crostini disappear!
Crostini is the Italian word for “little toasts”. Crostini are believed to be a kind of Italian peasant food that originated in medieval times. The Italians, too poor to possess ceramic plates, preferred to eat their food by keeping it on the surface of slices of bread. The Italians, not a group to waste anything, often ate stale bread which had to be soaked in juices or wine in order to chew it properly.
Bruschetta and crostini are both bread preparations used in antipasti – but what is the difference?
The difference between bruschettas and crostini is the type of bread used. Bruschetta, from the Italian word “bruscare” meaning “to roast over coals”, is made by toasting whole, wide slices of a rustic Italian or sourdough type bread. Crostini are sliced from a smaller, round, finer-textured bread, more like a white bread baguette. In Italy you might find yourself offered an antipasto of four or five different crostini, no more than a couple of mouthfuls each, accompanied by some olives, but only one or two of the larger bruschetta would be plenty.
Some do’s and don’t I picked up from the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen to ensure successful crostini.
Not starting with good bread
The bread you use should be high quality; look for fresh baguettes, boules and hearty country bread, preferably from a local bakery (as opposed to supermarket brands). Texture is very important–it shouldn’t be too dense.
Slicing the bread too thick or thin
The bread needs to be thin enough to bite, but thick enough to support toppings -1/2-inch thick is just right.
Skipping the oil
Brush olive oil on each piece before toasting it. Why? It makes the surface of the bread less dry. And it just tastes better.
Over-toasting the bread
If the crostini are too hard, they will hurt your guests’ mouths and flake all over their clothes. The ideal texture: crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. To achieve it, bake, grill or broil bread over high heat, making sure to toast both sides. (If you cook on too low a heat, the bread will dehydrate and crumble upon first bite.) You’ll know it’s finished when the edges are browned but the center is lighter in color and still has a little spring to it.
Forgetting the flavor
Flavor your crostini right after toasting. Things you can rub on the bread: a raw garlic clove, a tomato half – cut side-down or a whole lemon or orange–rind. The crispy bread will pick up the fruit’s essential oils.
Going overboard with your topping
If you pile on the topping, it’s going to fall off when you bite into the crostini. You should be able to take bites without worrying about staining your shirt or dress.
Overdressing your topping
Wet topping = soggy bread. Use a slotted spoon when working with a wet topping (tomatoes, etc.) so that extra liquid is left behind. If using greens, dress them lightly.
How To Make Crostini Toasts
Using a serrated knife, cut one 8 ounce baguette diagonally into ½ inch slices. Makes about 20 slices.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the bread on 2 large baking sheets and brush each slice on both sides with olive oil. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are golden brown. Turn the slices over half way through the baking time. Let cool completely. Store at room temperature.
Grill or Broil
Brush bread slices lightly on both sides with olive oil.
Grill for 15 to 20 seconds on each side, until lightly brown, then remove with tongs and set aside.
For broiling, position the rack so the slices are 2 inches from the flame and turn them over when the crostini start to brown at the edges.
Here are some of my favorite combinations. They are easy to prepare and are always a big hit when I entertain. The recipes are based on 20 slices of crostini.
Shrimp and Pesto
Cut 10 medium peeled and deveined shrimp in half lengthwise.
In a skillet saute 1 minced garlic clove and the shrimp in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the shrimp turn pink.
Spread each crostini with homemade or store bought basil pesto. Place one shrimp half on each crostini and sprinkle each with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Drain two 6 ounce jars of marinated artichoke hearts, reserving 2 tablespoons of the marinade.
Finely chop the artichokes and place in a mixing bowl with the reserved marinade.
Stir in ½ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil and drained, 2 tablespoons pitted and chopped Kalamata olives and 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley.
Mix well and spread mixture on the crostini slices and sprinkle the top with feta cheese.
Rub crostini with a garlic clove or two as soon as they come out of the oven. Sprinkle each with a little balsamic vinegar.
Top each with the following
- 1 slice of plum (Roma) tomato
- 1 thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 fresh basil leaf
Grind fresh black pepper over each crostini.
Olive Orange Spread
In a food processor combine:
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Pulse until coarsely chopped.
Spread on the crostini, top each with an orange segment and a small piece of arugula.
Roasted Red Pepper and Prosciutto
In a food processor combine one 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained, with a large pinch of cayenne pepper. Process until almost smooth.
Spread pepper mixture on the crostini.
Top with a piece of prosciutto and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake crostini until the cheese melts. Serve warm.
Cannellini Bean Spread
In a food processor coarsely process one drained 15 oz. can cannellini beans. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Stir in ¼ cup shredded zucchini, 2 tablespoons chopped green onions, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and ½ teaspoon coarse grained mustard.
Spread on crostini slices. Top each with a half of a grape tomato and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
Cremini Mushroom Spread
Thinly slice 12 oz cremini mushrooms. In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook 3 minced garlic cloves for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
Stir in 1/3 cup white wine. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until wine evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread crostini with a thin layer of mascarpone cheese. Top with mushrooms and sprinkle with chopped fresh chives.
Caramelized Sweet Onions and Gorgonzola
Halve and thinly slice 3 sweet onions. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter. Add onions and cook, covered, on medium low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the onions turn golden. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon onions on the crostini and sprinkle with crumbled gorgonzola cheese.
Lemon Ricotta with Fruit and Honey
Stir together 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon shredded lemon peel and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spread mixture on crostini.
Top each with thinly sliced fresh strawberries or figs.
Drizzle with honey and top each with a mint leaf.
What Are Your Favorite Toppings For Crostini?
- Apple Havarti Crostini (missmacgyverdotcom.wordpress.com)
- Recipe: Tomato Cheese Crostini (mmurphy65.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Crostini for your Holiday Parties (confessionsofanover-workedmom.com)
- White Bean and Sage Crostini (veganfoodaddict.wordpress.com)
- Asparagus and vegan cream cheese on crostini (fairfoods.wordpress.com)
- Blueberry Crostini (inspiredhealthyorganized.wordpress.com)
- Four Wheat-free Crostini (wonderfultips.wordpress.com)
- Easy Toaster Oven Garlic Crostini (toasterovenliving.wordpress.com)
- Salami Crostini (ericasrecipes.wordpress.com)
It seems that nearly every nation has some form of dumpling and it’s easy to see why. They are tasty, versatile and make excellent use of leftover ingredients. In Italy, dumplings are collectively known as gnocchi and are made in several different styles. In the family run trattorias of Rome, you can sample some of the best gnocchi every Thursday night in a citywide tradition. Just like most Italian cooking, these delicious lumps do not just vary from region to region, but from household to household as well, depending upon what is available. The most common way to prepare gnocchi is to combine potatoes (boiled, peeled or mashed) with flour to form soft bite-size lumps of dough. Each gnocco is then ridged along one side like a seashell. Gnocchi also come in different sizes, with gnocchetti being the smallest version.
Other types of gnocchi are made with semolina flour, milk and cheese – also known as Gnocchi alla Romana. Some versions are made with regular flour and other kinds can be made with leftover bread. Florence’s strozzapreti are gnocchi made from a combination of spinach and ricotta. Another spinach/ricotta gnocchi is from Lombardy called malfatti, meaning “malformed”, since these gnocchi are made from leftover ravioli filling and do not have a uniform shape. What makes gnocchi so popular is its versatility – simple ingredients like potatoes and semolina flour, vegetables, mushrooms and cheeses can be combined to make endless variations.
See two of my previous posts on the different types of gnocchi and how to make them:
In early writings, gnocco (singular for gnocchi) is sometimes replaced by maccherone, a generic term for pasta. The Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita tells us that gnocchi is one of the earliest pastas and is originally a Germanic word describing the distinctive shape of gnocchi. Gnocchi was originally from the Middle East, but when the Romans explored the area, they took back with them the recipe for gnocchi. Thus, it was brought with them when they settled European land, in particular, Italy. Here, gnocchi most strongly rooted itself. Various regions began to invent their own form of the dish and introduce them to other neighboring countries. When Italians immigrated into South America by way of Argentina and North America, the recipe for gnocchi went with them.
Recipes for gnocchi have been documented back to the 1300′s. In some parts of Italy, gnocchi was made of fine durum wheat. Elsewhere, it was chestnut, rye, rice or barley flour. When poverty struck, gnocchi might mean leftovers bound with breadcrumbs. We do know that potatoes came in very late as an ingredient and were slow to gain a following. An early recipe for potato gnocchi, circa 1834, calls for just one part potato to three parts flour. It takes another century for modern gnocchi to emerge—where the potato is the main ingredient, with only enough flour to bind it into a workable dough.
Commercial gnocchi is readily available, but it’s worth the effort to make your own. Essentially, you mix cooked, riced potatoes with egg, then knead in some flour. There’s no special equipment required; the familiar grooved pattern is made with a table fork. Gnocchi’s delicate flavor pairs well with robust sauces, from tomato to pesto to gorgonzola. Because they cook more quickly than traditional pasta, gnocchi are a great meal idea for weeknights. Just keep an eye on them, because as soon as they float to the top, they’re ready to sauce and serve!
While gnocchi are simple enough to make from scratch, there are several varieties that can be found pre-made in supermarkets or in Italian specialty stores. Pre-packaged gnocchi, depending upon ingredients, can be found fresh (refrigerated) or frozen. Pre-packaged gnocchi should not be avoided since there are several very good brands. When buying gnocchi in the store, look for the “fresh” looking kind in the refrigerated section (usually next to the fresh pasta), preferably in a well-sealed or vacuum container. The package should be heavy for its size, as dense gnocchi will be less likely to fall apart when cooking. There are also several brands of frozen gnocchi that cook up well, so long as they remain frozen before dropping them in the boiling water, otherwise they will turn into soggy mashed potatoes if allowed to thaw.
Gnocchi in the dried pasta section is usually of the semolina variety, but you may also find vacuum-sealed potato gnocchi as well. Dried semolina gnocchi are convenient and can be tasty, but its taste and texture resembles more of a pasta than fresh semolina gnocchi. With dried potato gnocchi, there just does not seem to be enough moisture left in the dumplings, making them lighter than other varieties. Because of this lack of moisture, the gnocchi tend to fall apart somewhat and often loose their shape. The rule of thumb for buying gnocchi is: get the closest thing to making it yourself – fresh/refrigerated or frozen.
Making Homemade Gnocchi
- 2 1/2 lbs potatoes
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup or more for the work surface
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
A General Rule of Thumb: 1 medium-sized potato per serving or person. For every potato, you want to use approximately 1/2 cup of flour.
First, clean and peel potatoes. Remove any brown spots. Cut potatoes into 1” cubes; be sure to cut them into cubes consistent in size so that they cook evenly. Place cut potatoes in a medium-sized pot; fill with water just to cover. Add salt and cover with a lid. Stirring occasionally, boil potatoes for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.
Drain the potatoes well. Allow them to cool in a colander. Rice potatoes using a potato ricer into a kitchen towel to remove excess water.
Combine potatoes, 2 ½ cups flour, egg and salt in the work bowl of a processor. Pulse just until the dough comes together.
Once the dough come together, turn out onto a floured board (using as much of the ½ cup flour as needed) and knead into a wide rectangle shape.
Cut the dough into about 8 pieces, 4 inches long.
For shorter, heavy gnocchi, roll dough into thick ropes and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Use a fork to make ridges on the side of each gnocchi.
For thinner gnocchi, roll long ropes. Cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces and place on a floured tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Note: While you are shaping gnocchi, finished gnocchi should be kept on a heavily floured tray as to prevent sticking together. Also, keep them in a cool place until ready to cook for no longer than 45 minutes or else place them in the freezer.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt and then gnocchi. Gnocchi are finished once they float to the top, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and toss in a saucepan with your favorite sauce.
For best taste and texture, allow gnocchi to “sit” in their sauce once cooked for about 5 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6
Fresh Peas with Lettuce and Gnocchi
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen potato gnocchi or homemade
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 1 head Boston or other loose-leaf lettuce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 4 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook gnocchi until they float to the top; drain and keep warm.
Place butter in a large, heavy pan; heat over medium heat until melted. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Wash lettuce and trim away the stalk end. Shake water off lettuce (it’s OK if some water remains) and add to the pan. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and the peas. Cook about 3 minutes or until the peas are warm.
Remove pea mixture from the pan and keep warm. Add cream to the pan and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Return pea mixture to the pan, add gnocchi and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Gnocchi with Italian Sausage
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 teaspoon loose saffron threads
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- 26-28 oz container of Italian diced tomatoes
- 1 (1-pound) package potato gnocchi or homemade
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-heat. Add the garlic and sausage. Saute, stirring frequently, until the sausage is cooked through. Add the saffron threads, basil and diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and continue simmering for about 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi to the boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float to the top. Once finished, drain and toss with the sauce in the saucepan for about 2 minutes to coat. Serve topped with Pecorino Romano cheese.
Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 quart milk
- 1 (14-ounce) can low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup finely shredded carrots
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup diced cooked chicken breast
- 1 (16-ounce) package gnocchi or homemade
Melt the butter into the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth followed by the milk. Simmer until thickened.
Stir in a 1/2 teaspoon salt, the thyme, nutmeg, carrots, spinach, chicken and gnocchi. Simmer until the soup is heated through.
Like other art forms that aim to attract a mass audience (movies, television, Broadway shows), pop music has been and continues to be a melting pot that borrows and assimilates elements and ideas from a wide range of musical styles. Rock, r&b, country, disco, punk, Latin and hip hop are all specific genres of music that have influenced and been incorporated into pop music in various ways over the past 5 decades. Italian Americans have helped shape American popular music as composers and performers.
Louis Prima (1910-1978)
a trumpeter, composer and bandleader, who successfully crossed the line from jazz to swing, then to R&B and finally to rock n’ roll. Some of his famous compositions are “Brooklyn Boogie” and “Oh Babe.” His greatest achievement was his 1936 composition “Sing, Sing, Sing” which was later recorded by Benny Goodman and stands as the most powerful big band/ jazz hit of all time.
Prima was from a musical family in New Orleans. His father, Anthony Prima, was the son of Leonardo Di Prima, a Sicilian immigrant from Salaparuta, while his mother, Angelina Caravella, had immigrated from Ustica as a baby. Louis was the second child of Angelina Caravella and Anthony Prima. His older brother, Leon, was born in 1907. He had two younger sisters: Elizabeth and Marguerite. Louis’s mother, Angelina made sure that each child played an instrument. Louis was assigned the violin and started out playing at his church. He became interested in jazz when he heard the black musicians playing at Italian owned and operated clubs, such as Matranga’s, Joe Segretta’s, Tonti’s Social Club and Lala’s, where Blacks and Italians played together.
According to author, Garry Boulard, in his book, Louis Prima, Prima paid attention to the music coming from the clubs and watched his older brother, Leon, play the cornet. After dropping out of high school, Prima had a few unsuccessful gigs and he got a temporary job playing on the steamship, Capital, that docked on Canal Street. From 1931 to 1932 Louis occupied his time by performing in the Avalon Club owned by his brother Leon. His first break was when Lou Forbes hired him for daily afternoon and early evening shows at The Saenger.
New York was an attraction for hungry musicians during the Great Depression. Prima headed to New York City next to further his music career. While there he met Guy Lombardo, who was a positive influence on Prima’s career. In 1934, Prima was offered a contract with Brunswick label and recorded the songs: “That’s Where the South Begins,” “Long About Midnight,” “Jamaica Shout” and “Star Dust.” Prima generated positive responses from growing fans and critics alike with his records and formed his band called, The New Orleans Gang, which consisted of Frank Pinero on piano, Jack Ryan on bass, Garrett McAdams on guitar and Pee Wee Russell on clarinet. The band played gigs in and around New York and Prima’s stage presence became an attraction to the band’s live shows.
Prima’s style fused Dixieland and swing by the late 1930s. By 1935 Prima relocated to Los Angeles, where he found moderate success. Due to a knee injury, Proma was not drafted during WWII and continued to perform and build up a following. By the mid-1940s, Prima’s music was a huge success with the general public. When the war was over, the music industry had been affected and big bands were becoming a thing of the past as the 1950s emerge.
1954 saw Prima embark on the Vegas circuit with singer Keely Smith. The duo enlisted the legendary saxophonist, Sam Butera to perform with them. They also recorded “Old Black Magic,” which earned them a Grammy Award.
Harry Warren (1893-1981)
was born Salvatore Guaragna in Brooklyn and was the son of a Calabrian boot maker. One of Hollywood’s most successful and prolific composers during the 30s, 40s and 50s, he wrote “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “A Love Affair to Remember” and “That’s Amore,” among many other songs. Between 1935 and 1950, he wrote more hit songs than Cole Porter, Irving Berlin or George Gershwin, three of which earned him Academy Awards: “Lullaby of Broadway,” “You’ll Never Know” and “Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”
Warren was one of eleven children of Italian immigrants Antonio (a bootmaker) and Rachel De Luca Guaragn and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His father changed the family name to Warren when Harry was a child. Although his parents could not afford music lessons, Warren had an early interest in music and taught himself to play his father’s accordion. He also sang in the church choir and learned to play the drums. He played the drums professionally at age 14 and dropped out of high school at 16 to play with his godfather’s band in a traveling carnival. Soon he taught himself to play the piano and by 1915, he was working at the Vitagraph Motion Picture Studios, where he did a variety of administrative jobs, such as props man, played mood music on the piano for the actors, acted in bit parts and eventually was promoted to assistant director. He also played the piano in cafés and silent-movie houses.
Warren wrote over 800 songs between 1918 and 1981, publishing over 500 of them. They were written mainly for feature films. His songs eventually appeared in over 300 films and 112 of Warner Brothers, “Looney Tunes” cartoons. 42 of his songs were on the top ten list of the radio program “Your Hit Parade”, a measure of a song’s popularity. 21 of these reached #1 on “Your Hit Parade”. “You’ll Never Know” appeared 24 times. His song, “I Only Have Eyes for You”, is listed as one of the 25 most-performed songs of the 20th Century, as compiled by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Warren was the director of ASCAP from 1929 to 1932.
He collaborated on some of his most famous songs with lyricists Al Dubin, Billy Rose, Mack Gordon, Leo Robin, Ira Gershwin and Johnny Mercer. In 1942 the Gordon-Warren song, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”, performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, became the first gold record in history. It was No.1 for 9 weeks on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1941–1942, selling 1.2 million copies. Among his biggest hits were “There Will Never Be Another You”, “I Only Have Eyes for You”, “Forty-Second Street”, “The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re in the Money)”, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “Serenade In Blue”, “At Last”, “Jeepers Creepers”, “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me”, “That’s Amore” and “Young and Healthy”.
Guy Lombardo (1929-1977)
was born in London, Ontario, to Italian-Canadian immigrants, Gaetano Sr. and Lena Lombardo. His father, who had immigrated to Canada from Italy and worked as a tailor, was an amateur singer with a baritone voice and had four of his five sons learn to play instruments, so they could accompany him. Lombardo and his brothers formed their first orchestra while still in grammar school and rehearsed in the back of their father’s tailor shop. Lombardo first performed in public with his brother, Carmen, at a church lawn party in 1914. Forming “The Royal Canadians” in 1924 with his brothers Carmen, Lebert and Victor and other musicians from his hometown, Lombardo led the group to international success, billing themselves as creating “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven.” The Lombardos are believed to have sold between 100 and 300 million phonograph records during their lifetimes.
In early 1932, the band signed with Brunswick records and continued their success through 1934, until they signed with Decca (1934–1935). They then signed with Victor in 1935 and stayed until mid 1938, when again they signed with Decca. In 1938, Lombardo became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Although Lombardo’s “sweet” big-band music was viewed by some in the jazz and big-band community of the day as “corny”, trumpeter Louis Armstrong famously enjoyed Lombardo’s music.
Guy Lombardo is best known for his New Year’s Eve big band performances, first on radio and then on television. Lombardo’s orchestra played at the “Roosevelt Grill” in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 to 1959 on New Year’s Eve and continued at the Waldorf Astoria until 1976. Broadcasts (and later telecasts) of their performances were a major part of New Year’s celebrations across North America; millions of people watched the show with friends at house parties. Because of this popularity, Lombardo was calleed, “Mr. New Year’s Eve.”
On December 31, 1956, the Lombardo band did their first New Year’s TV special on CBS; the program (and Lombardo’s 20 subsequent New Year’s Eve TV shows) would include a live segment from Times Square (long the focal point of America’s New Year’s Eve celebrations) showcasing the arrival of the New Year. While CBS carried most of the Lombardo New Year’s specials, there were a few years in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the special was syndicated live to individual TV stations instead of being broadcast on a network. By the middle 1970′s, the Lombardo TV show was facing competition, especially for younger viewers, from Dick Clark’s, “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”, but Lombardo remained popular among viewers, especially older ones. The Royal Canadians were noted for playing the traditional song, “Auld Lang Syne” as part of the celebrations. Their recording of the song still plays as the first song of the new year in Times Square.
Al Caiola (1920-)
was born Alexander Emil Caiola in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is a guitarist who plays jazz, country, rock, western and pop music. He has been both a studio musician and a stage performer. He has recorded over fifty albums and has worked with some of the biggest stars of the 20th century, including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Percy Faith, Buddy Holly, Mitch Miller and Tony Bennett.
Caiola was an active studio musician in the 1950s centered in the New York City area. He released some minor records under his own name during that decade. In 1960 he became a recording star on the United Artists (UA) label for over least ten years. He had prominent pop hits in 1961 with “The Magnificent Seven” and “Bonanza”. His style was inspired by Duane Eddy’s twangy bass guitar sound. The arrangements were typically by Don Costa, using a large orchestral backing. Caiola continuously released singles and albums throughout the 1960s and beyond, though no others appeared on the charts except for an entry in 1964 with “From Russia with Love”. UA used him to make commercial recordings for many movie and television themes. His popular and sought-after album was 1961′s, “Hit Instrumentals From Western TV Themes”, which included “Wagon Train (Wagons Ho)”, “Paladin”, “The Rebel” and “Gunslinger”. Solid Gold Guitar, probably his most impressive album, contained the popular songs of “Jezebel”, “Two Guitars”, “Big Guitar”, “I Walk the Line” and “Guitar Boogie”.
The Magnificent Seven album, other than the title track, consisted of a variety of pop songs with a jazzy bent. Guitars Guitars Guitars was similar. There was a wide variety to his albums — soft pop, Italian, Hawaiian, country and jazz. In the early 1970s he continued with the Avalanche Records label, producing similar work including the album, Theme From the ‘Magnificent 7 Ride’ ’73. Later, on other labels, came some ethnic-themed instrumental albums, such as Spanish Mood in 1982 and other Italian instrumentals. In 1976, Al Caiola accompanied Sergio Franchi, Dana Valery and Wayne J. Kirby on a concert tour to Johannesburg, South Africa.
During World War II Caiola played with the United States Marine Corps 5th Marine Division Band and also served in the Battle of Iwo Jima as a stretcher bearer.
William “Bill” Conti (1942-)
is an American film music composer, who is frequently the conductor at the Academy Awards ceremony. Conti, an Italian American, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Lucetta and William Conti. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University and also studied at the Juilliard School of Music.
His big break into celebrity came in 1976, when he was hired to compose the music for a small United Artists film called, “Rocky”. The film became a phenomenon and Conti’s training song, “Gonna Fly Now” topped the Billboard singles chart in 1977. He also composed music for the sequels “Rocky II” (1979), “Rocky II”I (1982), “Rocky V” (1990) and “Rocky Balboa” (2006). Conti also worked on some other films and, eventually, for television. In 1981, he wrote the music for the James Bond film, “For Your Eyes Only” and provided the score for playwright Jason Miller’s film version of his Pulitzer Prize winning play, “That Championship Season”, the following year.
In 1983, he composed the score for HBO’s first film, “The Terry Fox Story”. Conti composed music for the films “Bad Boys” and “Mass Appeal”. Then in 1984, he received an Academy Award for composing the score to 1983′s “The Right Stuff” followed by composing music for the TV series, “North and South” in 1985. He also composed the score for “The Karate Kid”, as well as, “Masters of the Universe”. Another Conti score was the 1987 film “Happy New Year”.
In 1991, he composed the score for” Necessary Roughness”, a college football movie starring Scott Bakula, Sinbad and Héctor Elizondo. In 1993, he composed and wrote the music for “The Adventures of Huck Finn” starring Elijah Wood. In 1999, he composed the score for “The Thomas Crown Affair” remake, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo and, in the same year, he composed the original music of “Inferno”, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. He also composed the classic themes to television’s “Dynasty” as well as, writng the score for “The Cosby”s, “Falcon Crest”, “Cagney & Lacey” and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. Conti also composed the theme song to the original version of “American Gladiators” and the themes for “Inside Edition” and “Primetime Live” for ABC News. Bill Conti was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Classic Italian American Recipes
Stuffed Calamari in Gravy
Serves 6 – 8
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh oregano, basil, and marjoram
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomato
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup mixture of parmesan cheese and romano cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2–3 lbs. small squid bodies (3″–4″), cleaned
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy pot and cook the onions and 6 cloves garlic over medium heat until soft. Add oregano, basil, marjoram and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and 2 cups water. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, adding half the parsley when the sauce is cooked.
Combine bread crumbs, cheese mixture, remaining garlic, 1/3 cup parsley, eggs and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl. Stuff squid with bread-crumb mixture and the secure tops with toothpicks.
Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet and sauté squid in small batches until browned on all sides, about 2–4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Place the squid in the tomato sauce and cook for 15 minutes longer. Garnish with remaining parsley.
- 4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 eggs, beaten with a little water
- 1 1/2 cups dried Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce
- 4 slices provolone cheese (about 3-4 oz.)
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat oven to broil and place a rack 10″ from the heating element. Season chicken cutlets lightly with salt and pepper.
Place flour, eggs and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge in flour, eggs and bread crumbs and transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 pieces of breaded chicken and cook, turning once with tongs, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to an
aluminum foil–lined baking sheet. Wipe out skillet and repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.
Top each piece of chicken with 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce, 1 slice provolone cheese and 1 1/2 tablespoons parmesan. Broil until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups Marinara Sauce
- 1 8-oz. box dried manicotti shells (about 14)
- 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cups whole-milk ricotta
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 7 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs, beaten
Coat a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray and spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce across the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the manicotti and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain manicotti and set aside on kitchen towels.
Heat oven to 450°F. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer garlic to a medium bowl along with the ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 5 tablespoons chopped parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs and stir to combine.
Spoon some of the filling into both openings of each manicotti shell. (Alternatively, transfer the ricotta mixture to a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, snip off a bottom corner of the bag, and pipe filling into pasta.) Repeat with remaining manicotti shells.
Transfer stuffed manicotti to prepared baking dish, making 2 rows. Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Lightly dredge shrimp in flour and set aside on a plate.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, sauté shrimp until just pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel–lined plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat process until all shrimp have been sautéed.
Wipe excess oil from the skillet, then stir in wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon juice and stock. Heat over high heat to boiling and whisk in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium low and add shrimp to reheat, tossing to coat well with the sauce, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Serve with linguine, if you like.
- Italian American Culture – The Art Of Writing(jovinacooksitalian.com)
There are approximately 350 different dried pastas produced in Italy that are made from durum wheat and semolina flour. Penne is a tube-shaped pasta that originated in Campania, a region in Southern Italy, and comes in two main varieties: penne lisce and penne rigate, with the rigate having ridges on each noodle. The name “penne” comes from the Italian word for “pen” (penna), a reference to the angled ends of the tube, which resemble the tip of a quill pen.
This pasta can be used in a wide assortment of dishes, from casseroles to soups. The tubes are relatively short, around the length and width of a pinkie finger. Cooks may also hear penne pasta referred to as mostaccioli, in a reference to an Italian dish that traditionally features this pasta.
And, there is also ziti, which are hollow long wands, with a smooth texture and square-cut edges. When they are cut into shorter tubes, they are called cut ziti. Telling the difference between penne variants can be difficult, especially in countries outside of Italy, because there is a tendency to name ridged and smooth penne subtypes the same. Basically, the difference is penne is cut on the diagonal and is longer and thinner than ziti.
Penne is probably one of the more well-known pasta shapes, available in most markets and grocery stores that stock pasta. Dishes made with it are frequently on the menu at Italian restaurants, especially in the United States, where consumers have a fondness for this shape.
Whole wheat and multigrain versions are available, along with gluten-free pastas made from rice, corn or other ingredients. Many producers also make flavored varieties by adding ingredients, such as spinach or sun dried tomatoes. The best tasting penne is made with durum wheat because it will remain chewy and resilient throughout the cooking process.
Ridged penne pasta pairs very well with many pasta sauces, because the ridges can be used to hold thin sauces or to support thick, chunky sauces. Its hollow nature also helps distribute the sauce, ensuring that pasta dishes are evenly and appealingly sauced.
Penne is traditionally cooked al dente and served with pasta sauces such as pesto, marinara or arrabbiata. In addition to being plated with sauce, penne holds up well when baked in a casserole. You will also find penne used cold in salads, added to soups or used as a side dish.
Dried pasta is essentially indestructible as long as it is stored in a cool, dry place. This makes it a useful staple to keep around the house, because as long as the pasta is not exposed to moisture, it will be perfectly usable.
Healthy Penne Dinners
Whole-grain Penne with Onions and Walnuts
Ricotta salata (also called “hard ricotta”) is a firm white Italian cheese made by salting, pressing and drying sheep’s-milk ricotta. In flavor, it’s like a very mild, less tangy feta, which makes it a good addition to pastas and salads (it can be grated). Look for ricotta salata in specialty stores, Italian markets or any supermarket with a good cheese department.
- 7 medium onions (about 4 lbs.), peeled and thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cups walnuts
- 10 ounces whole-grain penne pasta
- 1 pound ricotta salata, crumbled
- 2/3 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet over high heat, cook onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil with the sugar and 2 teaspoons salt, stirring and turning often, until onions begin to release their juices and turn golden, 10 to 13 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions turn a caramel color and become quite sweet, 35 to 40 minutes more. If onions begin to stick to the pan or char during cooking, reduce heat.
Meanwhile, in a dry small frying pan over medium-low heat, toast walnuts, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour walnuts into a zip-lock plastic bag and lightly crush with a rolling pin. Set aside.
When onions are nearly done, cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender to the bite, 9 to 12 minutes or according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
Mix caramelized onions with pasta, walnuts, ricotta salata, parsley, reserved cooking water, lemon juice, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt.
Sirloin Steak Over Penne and Vegetables
- 2 cups uncooked penne
- 1/4 pound green beans, trimmed
- 3/4-pound boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon salt-free garlic-pepper blend
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese, optional
While the broiler preheats, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 5 1/2 minutes. Add beans and cook 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain well.
Sprinkle steak with the garlic-pepper blend. Place on a broiler pan; broil 3 inches from heat for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
Combine onion and next 8 ingredients (onion through black pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Place steak slices on top. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.
Penne with Spinach and Shrimp
- 12 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 1/2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onions
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté 2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside.
While you make the pasta sauce, cook penne according to package directions. Drain well; return to pan. Stir in spinach; toss well until spinach wilts.
Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring often. Stir in broth, vermouth and lemon zest. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 8 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium. Add cream cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg and pepper; remove from heat. Stir in shrimp to rewarm. Add mixture to pasta and spinach; toss to combine.
Penne with Sausage and Eggplant
- 4 1/2 cups cubed, peeled eggplant (about 1 pound)
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 6 cups hot cooked penne (about 10 ounces uncooked)
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely diced mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Cook eggplant, sausage and garlic in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and eggplant is tender. Be sure to stir often to keep eggplant from sticking to the pan.
Add tomato paste and the next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add tomato mixture, cheese and parsley; toss well.
Penne with Greens, Almonds and Raisins
- 8 ounces uncooked penne
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups coarsely chopped, trimmed greens of choice (kale, swiss chard, escarole, etc.)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Cracked black pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Retain 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain.
While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.
While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender.
Stir in pasta, raisins, almonds, salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Moisten with pasta cooking water. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper according to taste.
- Baked Ziti (cozycuisineblog.com)
- Braised Short Ribs with Penne Pasta (prep2eat.wordpress.com)
- Crockpot Pesto Ranch Chicken with Whole Wheat Penne (ginamartin93.wordpress.com)
- Pasta alla Norma (saltnchili.com)
- Hearty Italian Baked Ziti: The Ultimate Comfort Food (hardlyperfectmom.wordpress.com)
- Pasta with Walnut Sauce Gluten Free – Forget What You Know About Wheat(c) 2014 (kitchenwisdomglutenfree.com)
La Lingua Della Cucina
The passion that Italians bring to the kitchen is reflected in the language that they use to describe techniques and individual ingredients or recipes. Since Americans first started cooking spaghetti and tomato sauce in their homes in the early part of the twentieth century, they have expanded their preparation of Italian foods within the home. Lasagna, risotto, chicken cacciatore, minestrone, tiramisu – just to name a few; all came to be commonly prepared in the homes of Americans over the last century.
At the time when Julia Child caused a sensation by convincing American cooks that they could create the wonders of classic French cuisine in their own kitchens, Italian food was already a loved and accepted mainstay of the American diet. Today, it seems more popular than ever. America’s steady love of Italian food, in recent years fueled by a host of cookbooks and television shows, has thrust Italian home cooking once again into the spotlight. Attracted to “authentic” Italian food’s simplicity and affordability, Americans have taken to cooking Italian food at home.
Here are some of the culinary terms, you will most often come in contact with in your Italian cooking.
Aioli – A garlic mayonnaise is a delicious accompaniment to cold or hot grilled vegetables, steamed or boiled artichokes, boiled potatoes and grilled or baked fish and shellfish.
Al dente – “To the teeth.” The expression is used to describe pasta that is still firm and chewy when bitten into. When pasta is al dente, it is considered fully cooked and ready to eat.
Al forno - an expression used for baked or roasted in the forno (oven). Pasta al forno is a layered pasta, much like lasagna, but made with a shorter shaped pasta, such as penne or ziti.
Antipasto – Translates as before the meal, i.e. pasto, and not before the pasta, as some mistakenly believe. A selection of antipasti can be modest or extravagant, but in all aspects of Italian food, quality is always more important than quantity.
Arancine – ‘little oranges” are rice croquettes, perhaps stuffed with veal or a soft cheese such as caciocavallo or a cow’s milk mozzarella. Their orange hue originates from the addition of saffron to the rice and the subsequent frying in vegetable oil.
Arrabbiata – “Angry.” A tomato-based pasta sauce spiced with chilis and Amatriciano is a similar spicy sauce with the addition of pancetta.
Bagna Cauda - a warm anchovy–olive oil sauce served as a dip for vegetables.
Battuto – The action of the knife striking ingredients against the cutting board, in short, the first stage of the preparation of any dish, which requires basic and efficient skills with a sharp blade.
Besciamella - More commonly referred to in the French form, béchamel, this cooked sauce of butter, flour, milk and some nutmeg is often used in baked pasta dishes and as a sauce for vegetable side dishes, such as cauliflower.
Bolognese – A pasta sauce native to the Bologna area of Italy. It traditionally features finely chopped meats and a soffrito of onions, celery and carrots with a small amount of tomato paste.
Bufala – The water buffalo of the southern region of Campania produce the milk for the softest, creamiest form of mozzarella cheese. So very delicate in flavor that it is better used in a salad (Caprese Salad) instead of on a cooked dish, such as pizza.
Burro – Butter is traditionally viewed as the favored fat in northern italy where it is used for sautéing.
Capelli d’agelo – “Angel hair.” Long, thin strands of pasta that are thinner than capellini.
Carbonara – a spaghetti sauce based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (guanciale or pancetta) and black pepper.
Contorni - Accompaniment to the meat or fish course of the meal, usually consisting of prepared vegetables such, as green beans, spinach or braised fennel.
Crostini – toasted bread, but usually topped with chopped tomatoes or porcini mushrooms or roasted peppers or chicken livers – called crostini in Tuscany and bruschetta in Rome.
Dolce -or the plural form, i dolci, on restaurant menus, refers to the sweet or dessert course of the meal, such as zabaglione, tiramisu and gelato (ice cream).
Fiorentina -a substantial slab of meat roughly equating to an American T bone steak. Not to be tackled without a hearty appetite.
Formaggio - cheese.
Insalata – The salad course, usually positioned between the main (meat or fish) course and the dessert, can consist of a simple bowl of greens or something more elaborate. Olive oil combined with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little seasoning, or perhaps balsamic vinegar used sparingly, is all that is required to make the perfect dressing.
Polpette – meatballs.
Pomodoro – a meatless tomato sauce. The name means “golden apple” and refers to tomatoes that are yellow in color. Yes, I know – tomatoes are red. Here is the story:
David Gentilcore, professor of early modern history at the University of Leicester, writes, “ When explorers first brought tomatoes to Europe from the New World, they also brought over tomatillos. Tomatoes and tomatillos were considered interchangeable (they are botanical and culinary cousins) and many tomatillos are yellow. Italy and most of the rest of Europe soon took a pass on the tomatillo, but the name stuck. “Pomodoro” it was.”
Primavera – “Spring.” A pasta sauce traditionally made in the spring that features fresh vegetables as the main ingredient.
Primo - The first course (after the antipasto), hence the name, it usually involves a risotto or pasta dish.
Puttanesca - (literally “a la whore” in Italian) is a tangy, somewhat salty pasta sauce containing tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic.
Saltimbocca -( literally “jump into the mouth”). In Rome this dish is prepared with veal and prosciutto crudo, or cured meat, and sage, all held together by a skewer in a sauce of white wine or marsala. Chicken and pork cutlets work just as well.
Secondo – the main dish of the menu that usually consists of meat or fish.
Semolina – A coarse flour made from durum wheat: a hard wheat with a high protein/low moisture content and a long shelf life.
Soffritto – the foundation of many Italian recipes, especially a pasta sauce or a braise of beef or lamb. It consists of finely diced carrots, onion, garlic and celery, or any combination of them depending on the recipe.
Below are a few sample courses to get you started.
Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Favas Beans
- 2 cups canned fava beans (Progresso is a good brand), rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 16 grilled baguette slices
- 1/4 pound buffalo mozzarella, torn into thin strips
- Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
Transfer the favas to a food processor and add the oil, lemon juice and zest and pulse to a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the fava-bean puree on the toasts and top with the mozzarella strips. Drizzle the toasts with the balsamic vinegar and scatter the basil on top.
- 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 red or orange bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 pound thin spaghetti or linguine
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Shaved Parmesan
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and green beans; cook 4 minutes. Add peppers and cook 1 more minute. Scoop out vegetables with a large slotted spoon and place in a colander.
Add pasta to boiling water and cook to the al dente stage, about 7-8 minutes. Drain; return to the pot.
In a mixing bowl, combine half-and-half, chicken broth, cornstarch, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the half-and-half mixture and simmer for a few minutes, stirring until slightly thickened.
Add cooked vegetables and tomatoes. Cook, stirring a few times, for about 2 minutes.
Pour into the pot with the pasta and stir gently. Add grated Parmesan and parsley. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Serve in pasta bowls with shaved Parmesan on top.
- 8 small skinless, boneless chicken thighs (2 pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise and lightly smashed
- 4 large rosemary sprigs, broken into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup spicy Italian pickled peppers, sliced
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and crusty on both sides, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a platter, leaving the rosemary and garlic in the skillet.
Add the stock to the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and butter and swirl until emulsified.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add the peppers and cook, turning the chicken until coated in the sauce, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the chicken and sauce to a platter and serve.
Spinach Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 anchovies, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
- 3 thyme sprigs
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs (see tip below)
- 10 ounces baby spinach
- Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat until foaming. Add the anchovies and cook until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Add the thyme sprigs and let steep for 20 minutes. Discard the thyme and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet, toast the bread crumbs over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 4 minutes. Let the bread crumbs cool.
In a large bowl, toss the spinach with half of the dressing and half of the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the salad to plates or a platter and top with the remaining bread crumbs and the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Pass the remaining dressing at the table and serve with lemon wedges.
The bagna cauda dressing can be refrigerated overnight. Warm gently before using.
To make bread crumbs, tear 2 slices of day-old white bread into pieces, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 300°F oven until dried but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until coarse crumbs form.
Almond Crusted Limoncello Pound Cake
- 3/4 cups sliced almonds
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- Grated zest & juice of 2 large lemons, divided
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons Limoncello
- Oil for coating the pan
- 1/4 cup Limoncello
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Use a pastry brush to thoroughly oil a 12 cup bundt pan, then sprinkle almonds evenly in the pan and set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest, reserving the lemon juice for later use, with the mixer on low speed until creamy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.
Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 cup of cake flour, blending well, then add the salt and remaining eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add the remaining flour with 3 tablespoons Limoncello, beating just until mixture is well blended.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, gently tapping the filled pan on the counter a few times.
Bake in the preheated oven until a wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.
Just before the cake is done, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, blend Limoncello, reserved lemon juice, sugar and butter. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 2 minutes.
Remove cake from oven after it tests done, then pour the glaze mixture over the top of the hot cake while still in the pan.
Let cake cool in the pan, placed on a wire rack. The glaze will be absorbed into the cake as it cools.
When the cake is cooled, invert it onto a serving plate and serve.
- 6 Tips for Eating Healthy at Italian Restaurants (stacyknows.com)
- Peeking into an Italian American’s Kitchen (thegratefultraveler.com)
- A Healthier Indulgence…Baked Ziti! (newlyfedblog.com)
- Recipe Rescue: Spicy Pasta Bake (k99.com)
- Waitrose gluten free pasta : review. (mumblingsontheverge.wordpress.com)
- Healthy Meat Sauce (scrumptiousbiteshappylife.com)
- Non-Tomato Pasta (fatherjerabek.wordpress.com)