Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Healthy Summer Seafood Salads

 

My favorite seafood market on the Gulf Coast.

My favorite seafood market on the Gulf Coast.

It’s a great time of year to enjoy some fresh seafood. Whether you buy it fresh from the counter at your favorite market, catch your own or buy it frozen, seafood is a great addition to your summer menu. Make salad your main course by adding some grilled fish to it. Include lots of leafy greens (choose from spinach, arugula, romaine or mixed baby greens) and add tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber and diced onion. Top your salad with a tasty homemade dressing.

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Italian Marinated Seafood Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound sea scallops
  • 1/2 pound medium unpeeled shrimp
  • 1/2 pound fresh mussels
  • 1/4 pound calamari rings
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add scallops, shrimp, mussels and calamari to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain.

Peel the shrimp and remove the mussels from their shells.

Place cooked seafood and olives in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, chives and red pepper flakes. Chill for 1 hour.

Divide salad greens onto 6 plates or salad bowls. Spoon seafood over greens. Garnish with slices of lemon and red onions. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Lentil Salad with Grilled Salmon

You can use canned salmon but for really good flavor, grill extra salmon one night so that you have leftovers for this salad.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cucumber,seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • Two 15-ounce cans lentils, rinsed, or 3 cups cooked brown or green lentils (see cooking note below)
  • 12 oz leftover grilled salmon fillet or 1 ½ cups flaked canned salmon

Directions

Whisk lemon juice, dill, mustard, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add bell pepper, cucumber, onion, lentils  toss to coat. Let marinate for at least one hour or chill until ready to serve. Place leftover chilled salmon on top of the salad or flake and mix in with the lentils just before serving.

Cooking Note:

To cook the lentils: Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes for green lentils and 30 minutes for brown. Drain and rinse under cold water.

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Mediterranean Salad with Sardines

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into large chunks
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
  • Two 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil and drained (see cooking note below)

Directions

Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a large serving bowl until well combined. Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives; gently toss to combine. Let marinate for at least an hour.

At serving time, divide the salad among 4 plates and top with sardines.

Cooking Note:

Look for sardines with skin and bones (which are edible) as they have more than four times the amount of calcium as skinless, boneless sardines. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh sardines available in your market, try them in place of the canned sardines. Lightly dredge them in salt-and-pepper-seasoned flour and sauté them in a little olive oil.

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Grilled Fish Fillet Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (5-6 medium), scrubbed and halved
  • 1 1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound halibut or striped bass or your favorite fish fillet (see cooking note below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 large head tender lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted  Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions

To prepare the vinaigrette:

Using a fork, mash the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl to form a coarse paste. Whisk in 5 tablespoons oil. Add 6 tablespoons orange juice, vinegar and mustard; whisk until well blended. Taste and season with more salt, if desired. Set aside at room temperature.

To prepare the salad:

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander. When cool enough to handle, slice and place in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with 1/3 cup vinaigrette; set aside.

Add beans to the saucepan and  bring to a boil; cook until the beans are bright green and just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain well. Place in a medium bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Combine lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper in a sturdy ziplock plastic bag; shake until the salt dissolves. Add fish and marinate for up to 20 minutes.

Heat a grill to medium-high and preheat for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. (For a charcoal grill, wait until the flames subside and only coals and some ash remain—flames will cause the oil on the fish to burn.) Oil grill rack.

Grill the fish, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side for halibut; 3 to 4 minutes per side for bass.

Arrange lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. Arrange the fish (whole or flaked into large chunks), potatoes, green beans and tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Garnish with eggs, olives, parsley and pepper to taste.

Cooking Note:

Fish that flakes easily requires a delicate touch to flip on the grill. If you want to skip turning it over when grilling, measure a piece of foil large enough to hold the fish and coat it with cooking spray. Grill the fish on the foil (without turning) until it flakes easily and reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

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Shrimp & Arugula Salad

Grill extra corn to use in this salad.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover grilled fresh corn kernels, (from about 2 ears)
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails removed if desired
  • Homemade croutons made ahead and cooled, (see recipe below)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shaved

Directions

Sprinkle shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, turning from time to time, just until they turn pink and are opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. chill in the refrigerator.

Combine arugula, basil, corn and tomatoes in a large salad bowl.

Whisk 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

Add to the arugula mixture along with the croutons.

Whisk the dressing again and drizzle over the salad; toss to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Grind black pepper over the salads and sprinkle with cheese.

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients

  • 3 pieces of good quality Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

On a large baking sheet, spread out the bread cubes in one layer.

Evenly sprinkle the Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt over the bread cubes.

Then drizzle the olive oil over the top.

Using your hands, toss to combine thoroughly and then spread back into one even layer.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. The croutons will harden as they cool.

 

Quick Fix Dinners For Busy Nights

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The lazy days of summer have disappeared. Those days have gone by so quickly and here we are back into the busy after school activities routine!  Soccer, tee ball, baseball, dance, gymnastics, violin…no matter what we or our children are involved in, the usual time for these activities seems to fall right in the middle of dinner time.

Dinner doesn’t have to be eaten between 5-6 p.m., though. An early dinner, right after school, can work better on busy nights. Instead of eating an after school snack, serve dinner.  Or make smoothies which are quick to drink and easy to digest and have dinner after the activity. Bottom line, eat when it makes sense and don’t be ruled by tradition.

Many recipes can be doubled and freeze well. Making dinner for one night with a spare to freeze will save you time not only because you won’t have to cook on a busy night, but you also won’t have many dishes to wash late in the evening.

Slow Cookers can not only be used for cooking but also for keeping foods warm, so when you walk in the door, dinner is ready.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for quick and healthy meals for busy evenings.

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Shrimp and Tomato Piccata

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen medium shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces fresh thin string beans, trimmed
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 4 oz. dried linguine

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.

Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel shrimp if they have shells and devein, leaving tails intact, if desired. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and green beans to the skillet; cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute more.

For the sauce:

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon peel, lemon juice and capers. Pour shrimp mixture over the hot cooked pasta. Drizzle sauce over the shrimp and vegetables. Serve.

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Beef Sirloin Tips with Pepper Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds beef sirloin tip steak
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • One 12 ounce jar red and yellow sweet peppers and onions
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Quick cooking polenta or couscous

Directions

Trim meat and cut into 1- to 1-1/2-inch chunks; sprinkle with paprika.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

Add the jar of peppers and onions with the liquid and the tomato sauce to the skillet. Cook, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently until sauce is slightly thickened.

Return meat to the skillet; heat through. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with quick cooking polenta or couscous or mashed potatoes.

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Greens, Cannellini Beans and Italian Sausage

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces Italian sausage links, cut lengthwise into long slices
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges (1/2 cup)
  • One 15 ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 cups chopped kale or your favorite greens
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

In a very large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and  cook and until browned. Add onion and cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions are tender.

Remove mixture from the skillet to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add beans, thyme and garlic to the skillet. Stir and heat through. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, 3 to 4 minutes.

Gradually add kale, stirring until wilted before adding more. Cook and stir for 8 to 10 minutes or until all of the greens are slightly wilted and tender.

Add sausage mixture and vinegar to the skillet; heat through. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

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Crispy Fish Fillets with Apple-Celery Slaw

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 pound of your favorite fish fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Cut one lemon half into 4 wedges; set aside. Juice the remaining lemon half into a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise and honey and mix well. Remove 2 tablespoons of the mixture and set aside.

For the slaw:

Stir celery, apple and cabbage into the remaining mayonnaise mixture in the bowl and refrigerate while you prepare the fish.

For the fish:

Sprinkle fish fillets with salt and brush with the reserved 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixture. In a shallow dish combine cornmeal and chili powder; coat fish in the cornmeal mixture.

In a 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium heat. Cook fish in hot oil 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve fish with slaw and the lemon wedges.

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Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Simple Wine Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, (about 1 lb total)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables

Directions

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish; dip chicken in flour, turning and pressing to coat all sides of the chicken.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the skillet; swirl to lightly coat the skillet. Add chicken breasts, smooth sides down and cook about 5 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown.

Turn chicken over; cook for 4 to 5 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink (165 degrees F). Transfer chicken to a warm serving platter; set aside.

For the sauce:

Add the shallots to the hot skillet; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully add wine; cook about 1 minute stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of skillet.

Add chicken broth to the skillet; bring to a boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in chives. Return chicken to the skillet; heat through.

Serve the chicken and wine sauce with the veggies on the side.

For the veggies:

In a second skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove. Add about 2 cups of sliced seasonal vegetables (zucchini, peppers, asparagus, etc.). Saute just until barely tender and sprinkle with your favorite herb, salt and pepper to taste.

Getting Ready For School

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Packing lunches can be a rushed chore for parents and unhealthy items might get mixed in. Children have particular tastes and often balk at new, healthy foods, so the key is to keep the foods interesting and not too different from what they usually get. If your child returns home with half of their lunch uneaten because they don’t like something then use a few ”tricks” in creating their lunches.

Chips are crunchy and a fun snack, but lack nutritional value. The beginning of the school year is also the start of apple season, so substitute apple chips.

Use Greek yogurt that is full of protein and sweeten it lightly with honey to make a parfait. Layer fruit and granola with the yogurt to make something delicious that your children will love.

Unless your child is training for the Olympics, chances are they don’t need a sports drink every day. Curb their cravings for this sugary beverage with colorful flavored water.

Chocolate treats are very tempting for lunches. They’re individually wrapped and easy to throw in a backpack. Instead of the high sugar option, try healthy chocolate cookies. They pack the same great chocolate taste, but also have fiber and fewer calories.

Stop older kids from wanting to eat out by packing them a delicious wrap. They hold up well without refrigeration and you can tuck in some vegetables without them knowing. Drizzle Caesar dressing (or your child’s favorite dressing) over chicken inside a wrap for a tasty lunch that won’t have your children heading off for fast food.

If kids help pack their lunch, they’re more likely to eat it! On nights you have a bit more time, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of bread they want and let them assemble their lunch.

Here are some ideas for healthy lunchbox snacks that most children like:

  • Single portion-sized cups of unsweetened applesauce or fruit without added sugar.
  • Trail mix made with cereals, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit or raisins, and a few chocolate chips.
  • Reduced-fat cream cheese spread on whole wheat crackers.
  • Individual serving-sized packages of low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or yogurt smoothies.
  • Carrots and celery sticks with dips made from yogurt or low-fat sour cream.
  • Whole grain bagels topped with cream cheese-vegetable spread.
  • Air-popped popcorn flavored with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
  • Cheese cubes or sticks and seedless grapes make a delicious side dish for sandwiches or wraps.
  • Cold strips of grilled chicken with a honey mustard dip.
  • Dried cranberries or cherries are a sweet alternative for kids bored with raisins.

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Baked Apple Chips

Makes about 50 chips

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large apples or 3 small ones (such as gala, braeburn or fuji)
  • Cinnamon, optional

You will also need:

baking sheets lined with parchment paper

a saucepan to make the simple syrup in

a mandoline or a sharp knife and a cutting board

tongs

the oven set to 250 degrees F

Directions

Make the simple syrup:

Pour the two cups of water and sugar into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir it once it comes to a boil to make sure there’s no sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan and it’s all dissolved.

Once the liquid is clear, turn off the heat and let it sit.

Set the oven to 250 degrees F.

Use a mandoline or a sharp knife. Start from the side of the apple and slice off the rounded side of the apple. Then cut the apples into 1/16 inch slices.

Keep going right through the center of the apple. At this stage don’t worry about coring them or the seeds.

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Use a paring knife or your fingernails to remove any seed fragments, stems or fuzzy bits from the apple. The core will soften in the warm syrup.

Place the apples in the simple syrup and soak for 10 minutes. Stir a few times during the soaking period.

Using tongs, lift the apples, one by one from the syrup, shake off the excess and place them on the parchment lined baking sheets.

Don’t overlap them, but try to get as many on the baking sheets as you can. Flatten them as you go  Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon is using.

Place one baking sheet in the middle of the oven and the other right below that.

Cook them for a half hour and then rotate the trays so the top one is on bottom. Cook for another half hour and check. Depending on your oven, both sheets might be done. If they’re done, they should be golden brown and crisp.

If they’re not, give them 10 or 15 more minutes and check again, continuing to do so until they’re done. Keep in mind that they will harden up a bit once you take them out of the oven.

Apple chips will last a few months, it they are around that long.

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Italian Focaccia Sandwiches

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 (8-ounce) round loaf of focaccia bread (6-8-inches in diameter)
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced turkey
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • Thinly sliced tomato

Directions

Cook the bacon in a heavy large frying pan until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Cut the focaccia bread in half and spread the pesto over both sides of the bread.

Cover the bottom halves of the focaccia with turkey, provolone, tomatoes and bacon, spreading equally.

Cover with the top half of the focaccia, pesto side down.

Cut the sandwich into 3-4 inch squares. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

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Chicken-Broccoli Cups

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light ranch salad dressing
  • 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Directions

In a small bowl combine yogurt and salad dressing.

In a medium bowl combine chicken, broccoli, carrot and, if desired, nuts. Pour yogurt mixture over the chicken mixture; toss to coat.

For individual lunches, divide chicken mixture among four plastic cups. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.

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Caprese Salad Pita Pockets

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
  • 3/4 cup mixed tender salad greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 large whole wheat pita bread rounds, halved crosswise

Directions

In a medium bowl toss together tomatoes, cheese cubes, cucumber, salad greens, basil, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

Spoon tomato mixture into pitas. Wrap each pita half in plastic wrap and chill.

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Chocolate Cookie Thins

Makes about 48 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (about 6 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, American-style or Dutch-process
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped slivered almonds

Directions

Line 3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Grind chocolate in a food processor using on/off pulses until coarsely ground. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and add cocoa, ½ cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt; stir until blended on a low setting.

Add eggs, honey, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined.

Beat in all-purpose and whole-wheat flours; then fold in cranberries and nuts until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be stiff.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into a 9-inch-long “log.” Divide the log into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.

Place on prepared cookie sheets and refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Place remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar on a small plate. One at a time, dip the top of each ball of dough into the sugar; place, sugar-side up, about 2 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Coat the bottom of a wide glass with cooking spray, then dip it into the sugar. Flatten the balls with the glass to make cookies about 2 1/4 inches in diameter, dipping the glass into the sugar between each cookie and spraying it as needed.

Bake the cookies on the center rack, one pan at a time, until just firm to the touch, 8 to 13 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining pans.

These cookies store well in the freezer.

What Else Can I Do With Grilled Chicken?

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Like burgers and hot dogs or a rack of ribs, grilled chicken is a regular during the summer months. Whether skewered, flattened, brined, spiced or upended on a beer can, there are lots and lots of ways to cook it. However, just putting a breast or leg on the grill and serving it with a couple of sides can get pretty boring. Having a few recipes for how to make that grilled chicken look like a special dish are good to have in your file. When it is hot or you are busy, you don’t want to have to do a lot of preparation, either. You can even grill extra chicken on the weekend and use it up in a number of different recipes during the week – and it won’t even look like the same grilled chicken.

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Panzanella Salad with Grilled Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • One quarter of an Italian loaf of bread, cut in 1’2 inch slices
  • 2 medium red peppers, sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 lb. plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves

Directions

Prepare outdoor gas or charcoal grill for covered, direct grilling on medium. Oil the grill grates.

Prepare vinaigrette:

In a large serving bowl, whisk together wine vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil until blended; set aside.

Place bread slices, sliced peppers and sliced onions on a baking pan, brush bread slices, red pepper and onion slices with 2 tablespoons olive oil to lightly coat both sides; sprinkle vegetables with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Brush chicken breasts with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

With tongs, place bread slices, red peppers, onion slices and chicken on the hot grill. Cover grill and cook bread about 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, turning over once. Cook peppers and onion about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and tender, turning over once. Cook chicken about 12 minutes or until chicken loses its pink color throughout, turning them over once. As the bread, vegetables and chicken finish cooking, transfer them to a cutting board. Cut bread slices, chicken, peppers, and onions into 1/2-inch pieces.

Add the diced tomatoes, basil, bread, peppers, onion and chicken to the bowl with the vinaigrette; toss to combine. Let rest about 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend and serve.

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Chicken, Sausage and Pepper Skewers

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2” pieces
  • 2 bell peppers (red and green), cut into 1 1/2″-wide strips
  • 1 1/2 lbs. fresh Italian sausage cut into 2” pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill to medium and oil the grates.

On low heat in a small saucepan, heat oil and the chopped rosemary leaves. Once oil and rosemary start to sizzle, remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. This can be done in advance.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of the rosemary oil and the vinegar; add the chicken pieces and marinate for 30 minutes. Reserve balance of oil for grilling.

Remove chicken pieces from the marinade and lightly season with salt and pepper. Alternate the chicken, peppers and sausage on the skewers. Discard the marinade.

Reduce grill temperature to low and cook the skewers over low heat, turning frequently to avoid burning, about 5 minutes on each side.  Brush with the remaining rosemary oil during cooking.

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Pizza with Grilled Chicken, Kalamata Olives and Fresh Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 1 portion pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup quick tomato basil sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives , thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces leftover grilled chicken breast, cut in julienne strips
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Quick Tomato Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
  • 8 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons basil , chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Press pizza dough out in a pizza pan. Lightly spread some of the tomato sauce over the dough. Arrange mozzarella slices, olives and chicken on top.

Bake at 450°F for 15 – 20  minutes or until the dough is crispy.

Quick Tomato Basil Sauce

(Makes about 3 cups)

Heat a medium saucepan and the oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion with garlic until the onion is golden, 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Carefully ladle tomato mixture in a blender or use a hand blender and process until smooth. Season sauce with basil, salt, pepper and sugar.

Store any remaining sauce in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or freeze for about 1 month.

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Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for grilling
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cups fresh baby (small) spinach leaves

Directions

Prepare an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. Oil the grill grates.

Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 8 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 10 minutes and thinly slice.

Cook the pasta al dente. Drain well; keep warm.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add flour and garlic; cook until garlic is browned (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly.

Slowly, add milk and broth, stirring with a whisk; bring to a simmer, and cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and spinach; stir until spinach is barely wilted. Add pasta and chicken; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

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Warm Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 cups salad greens
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered

Directions

Prepare an outdoor gas or charcoal grill for covered, direct grilling on medium. Oil the grill grates.

In a serving bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and black pepper. Remove 2 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside.

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus but leave the rest of the stalk whole for grilling.

Brush the chicken and asparagus with the reserved 2 tablespoons of dressing.

Grill the chicken about 12 minutes and the asparagus for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the asparagus are tender.

Cut the chicken into ½ inch slices. cut the asparagus into thirds.

Add dill and honey to the remaining lemon dressing in the serving bowl..Add the tomatoes, sliced chicken and asparagus. Mix well.

To serve:

Line each plate with 2 cups of salad greens. Equally divide the chicken mixture over the greens. Top with quartered hard-cooked eggs and serve.

Italian Desserts For The Summertime

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In my area of the world, it is often too hot at this time of year to spend a great deal of time baking when guests are coming for dinner. So during the cooler months, I like to make a few simple sponge cakes to keep in the freezer. That way I can make a refreshing dessert for company in the summer without a lot of fuss.

During the summer months, ice cream desserts can really “hit the spot”. It is easy to pull together a really great tasting dessert when it is hot with just a few simple ingredients. Here are a few ideas.

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Simple Sponge Cake

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup cake flour

Directions

Cut parchment or wax paper to fit two 9″ round cake pans.

Separate eggs, putting whites in large mixer bowl and yolks in small mixer bowl.

Add 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt to the whites and beat until very stiff.

Add 1/2 cup sugar to the yolks and beat until very thick and light yellow in color.

Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites.

Fold flour in using 1//3 cup each time until well mixed.

Do not over-mix.

Divide the cake batter and pour into the prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and remove paper.

Cool completely.

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Tiramisu Ice Cream Parfaits

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
  • 4 cups (1-inch) cubed sponge cake (you could also use angel food cake or pound cake)
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 (3-ounce) dark chocolate bar, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half

Directions

In a bowl mix the cake cubes with 2/3 of the coffee until well soaked.

Stir ice cream in a second bowl until spoonable, then layer cake cubes and ice cream in parfait glasses. Top each with a drizzle of coffee, a generous amount of chocolate shavings and a few cherries. Serve immediately.

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Pineapple Ice Cream Sandwiches

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 (1/4-inch thick) fresh pineapple slices, cut in circles
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Toasted flaked sweetened coconut

Directions

Grill pineapple slices over low to medium heat for 90 seconds on each side. Allow to cool briefly.

Sandwich the softened ice cream between the 2 grilled slices of pineapple. Coat sides in toasted coconut. Slice in half and serve immediately.

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Vanilla Affogato

Affogato is an Italian drink that makes a wonderful alternative to iced coffee on a hot summer day.  Affogato literally means “drowned”.  It generally consists of  gelato (Italian ice cream) that is topped with hot espresso or a liqueur. You can use freshly brewed espresso or instant or decaffeinated espresso, if you prefer. You may also top your drink with a liqueur such as Kahlua, Grand Marnier or Frangelico.  You can also add a little powdered chocolate milk mix to the coffee for a mocha flavor. Traditionally, affogato is served with a biscotti on the side.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 pint vanilla gelato or ice cream
  • Shaved chocolate

Directions

Beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

Cover and refrigerate.

Stir the espresso powder into the boiling water until dissolved.

Place one scoop of gelato into 4 tall glasses or large coffee mugs.

Pour 2 to 4 tablespoons hot espresso over each.

Top each with a dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Serve immediately.

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Sicilian Granita

Tip: If you don’t have an espresso maker, use instant espresso powder and water; store the powder in your freezer after opening. Instant coffee will also work in a pinch, it just won’t be as full-flavored.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups freshly brewed espresso
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions

Stir hot espresso and sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Place on a level surface in your freezer and freeze for 2 hours, stirring and scraping with a fork every 20 minutes to break up the ice crystals. Cover and freeze for at least 1 hour more.

Beat cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high-speed until medium peaks form, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Scrape the frozen granita into ice crystals using a sturdy fork.

To serve, layer the granita in dessert goblets and top each with a tablespoon of whipped cream.

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Italian Coconut-Coffee Bites

24 bites

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder or 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 ½ tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 ¼ cups finely crushed biscotti crumbs
  • 5 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Line twenty-four mini muffin cups with paper baking cups; set aside.

Dissolve espresso powder in the boiling water; set aside.

For the crust:

In a medium nonstick skillet melt butter over medium-low heat. When butter is bubbling, add coconut. Cook and stir until coconut is toasted and golden brown. Stir in finely crushed biscotti crumbs. Remove pan from heat.

Spoon 1 teaspoon of the crumb mixture into each prepared muffin cup; press firmly to pack down. Place the muffin cup pan in the freezer. Keep remaining crumb mixture at room temperature to use for topping.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl beat mascarpone cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy, Beat in the sugar, cinnamon and salt until smooth and well mixed. Beat in vanilla and espresso.

Divide filling among the crumb-lined muffin cups. Top each cup with the reserved crumb mixture. With a fingertip, gently press topping into filling.

Freeze until firm, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Recipes From America’s Italian Communities – Part 11

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The Northwest

As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the local communities and later for Americans nationwide.

Idaho

Pocatello, Idaho

Pocatello, Idaho

Italians came to Idaho, mostly during the years 1890 to 1920, to mine, farm, ranch, construct railroads, and start businesses. In 1910, 2,627 Italians in Idaho lived in enclaves in Kellogg and Wallace, Bonners Ferry, Naples, Lava Hot Springs, Roston in Minidoka County and Mullan and east of Priest River. The largest concentration was in Pocatello, where as many as 400 families were supported by railroad jobs.

Portrait of an Italian Immigrant in Idaho:

Giacomo Manfredo was born 18 June 1875 in Casamassima, Bari Province, Italy. He immigrated from Monopoli, Bari province, Italy arriving on the Hamburg at Ellis Island 25 June 1911. (My grandfather also came across the ocean on the S.S. Hamburg but in 1914.)

Giacomo’s daughter, Christina, remembers that he immigrated with Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Elio, friends from Bari province. Giacomo worked for the Pennsylvania RR, then, and migrated through Winnipeg, Canada to Las Vegas and, eventually, arrived in Pocatello, Idaho, where he worked freight for the Union Pacific. The Elio’s, also, settled in Pocatello.

Giovanna, Giacomo and friends. Back yard of Fifth Street house about 1950

Giovanna, Giacomo and friends. Backyard of Fifth Street house about 1950.

Mount Carmel Parish had an Italian priest and sermons were delivered in Italian. It was at Mount Carmel where Giacomao met Giovanna Palombo, a young woman from Vicalvi, Italy with a 2-year-old daughter, Filomena. They married in 1917. Giovanna and Giacomo raised Filomena along with two more children, Dominic and Christina (Crissy). A second son, Ralph, born in 1922, died in 1923 due to complications from measles.

Giacomo prided himself as the winemaker for the local Catholic parish. He ordered grapes from California every year, pressed the grapes and made wine in the cellar of their home. He insisted that the children help stomp the grapes and once spent Giovanna’s kitchen money to purchase a pair of rubber boots for the wine production. When told that he needed a license to produce the wine, he dutifully purchased one and proudly directed the local authorities to the certificate several years later. Unfortunately, it was an annual license and the moment was rather tense until the officials decided that if he agreed to purchase a current permit, they would not arrest him for his past crime. The family purchased their first wine-press from Sears in 1944.

Giacomo and Giovanna purchased a substantial brick house at 529 N. 5th street from Charlie Busco, another Italian immigrant and they were very proud of their purchase. They rented out the main floor for several years until the payments became more affordable. Giovanna crocheted lace for St. Anthony’s altar and, at times, cleaned Pullman cars in addition to her full-time housewife duties.

Giacomo had a brother, Giuseppe, who lived with them in Pocatello. He worked with Giacomo for the Union Pacific and lost a leg in a railroad accident. After the accident he moved to Denver where he opened a bar. Giovanna’s brother, Dominic Palombo, lived in Pocatello with them for a while and worked for the railroad until his brother, Angelo, talked him into moving back to Pennsylvania, Unfortunately, he was killed in a steel mill accident there.

Both Giacomo and Giovanna were illiterate. Their daughter, Filomena remembers that Giacomo’s surname was spelled incorrectly on his paycheck. It did not seem to make any difference to him, though, as long as he got the money. Giacomo’s pronunciation was interpreted as Manfredi at Ellis Island and family friends in Pocatello wrote it in this manner. Other spellings, on such documents as their immigration registration forms and paychecks, include Monfreda, Manfredi, Monfredi, Monfredo, Maffreda and Moffreda. One of the railroad paycheck versions was Montfraid. The spelling became consistent only after Filomena entered first grade, when Manfredo became the family name. When Giacomo died in 1959 at the age of 84, his name was legally designated Manfredo.

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Potato Pizza Margherita Style

Ingredients

  • 3 large Idaho russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper, ground, to taste
  • 2 eggs, large, beaten
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the baking sheet
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 3 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/4 cup Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Oil a 15 x 10-inch cookie sheet.

Cook the unpeeled potatoes in boiling water until they are easily pierced with a knife but not falling apart, no more than 20 minutes. Allow the cooked potatoes to steam dry slightly in a strainer, then peel and press through a ricer or pass through a fine strainer onto a sheet pan to cool completely.

Scrape the potatoes into a bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in the eggs and make a smooth dough.

Add the minced garlic to a quarter cup of olive oil; set aside.

Slice the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Brush with a little garlic olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the dried oregano. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Side aside.

Cut the woody ends off the asparagus spears. Cut stalks in half. Brush with a little garlic olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Lay a piece of parchment paper, the size of the baking sheet, on the counter and dust with flour. Shape the dough into a rectangle and place it on the floured parchment. Dust the top of the dough with a little more all-purpose flour. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and roll the dough out evenly, so that the dough is about the size of the cookie sheet.

Remove the top parchment paper and flip the dough onto the oiled cookie sheet. Remove the parchment paper. Push the crust into the edges of the pan.

Brush the dough generously with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon dried oregano.

Par-bake the crust in the preheated oven for 9-10 minutes until the crust begins to turn a light, golden brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven and top the crust evenly with alternating slices of mozzarella cheese, Roma tomato slices and halved asparagus spears, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges.

Drizzle the top of the pizza with 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon of dried oregano and the freshly grated Grana Padano cheese.

Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown on the bottom, about 10 more minutes. Allow the pizza to cool slightly on the baking sheet. Top the pizza with the fresh basil and cut into squares.

Washington

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The first Italian immigrants reached Seattle a hundred years ago, exactly four centuries after Columbus discovered the Americas and Amerigo Vespucci gave them his name. Most Italians, settled into cities on the eastern seaboard and only a small fraction of the Italian immigrants made it to Washington in 1900. However, Seattle in the decade following the Klondike rush enjoyed the greatest growth in its history, tripling its population from 80,000 to 240,000 between 1900-1910.  Italians, along with other immigrants and native-born Americans, shaped much of the Seattle we know today. They built buildings, constructed water mains and sewer lines.  They made Elliott Bay uniform by placing dirt from the nearby hills which transformed Seattle into a world-class waterfront.

Italian immigrants working on the railroad.

Italian immigrants working on the railroad.

Most of Seattle’s Italians were unskilled laborers and some were illiterate. Yet nearly all of them were able to become successful and a remarkable number would become very well-to-do. Rocco Alia, for example, was a construction laborer who started his own underground and roadway construction company.  His son, Orly went to work for his father as a waterboy and recalls that the laborers’ clothes were always soaked with sweat.  Orly, as soon as he could, also started his own company and so did his son Richard, now head of R. L. Alia Co. This pattern of sons following in their father’s’ footsteps even to the fourth generation would become a tradition among Seattle’s Italian families.

By 1915, 20 per cent of Seattle’s Italian community members were in business or in one of the professions.  They included Doctors Xavier De Donato and A. J. Ghiglione (who founded a macaroni factory); Joe Desimone, who owned the Pike Place Market; Frank Buty, a real estate executive, Attilio Sbedico, professor of literature at the University of Washington and Nicola Paolella, publisher of the Gazetta Italiani. Paoella also produced and announced an Italian language radio show for 26 years and was the recipient of the Order of Merit, Italy’s highest civilian decoration.

The most eminent scholar in the Northwest was Henry Suzzallo, whose family came from Ragusa.  In 1915, he was appointed to the presidency of the University of Washington.  He held the position until 1926. He achieved even more prominence by becoming chairman of the board of trustees and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning.  He stayed there until he died in 1933.

Original Pike Place Market

Original Pike Place Market

Angelo Merlino, while still working in the mines, imported cheese, pasta and olive oil in bulk.  He quit mining and opened a store in 1900 that was so successful that he was soon importing Italian food by the shipload.  Today Merlino and Sons is one of Seattle’s biggest distributors of Italian foods.

Gradually, Seattleites developed a taste for Italian foods and other Italian food businesses, such as, Oberto’s and Gavosto’s Torino sausages, DeLaurenti’s, Magnano’s and Borracchini’s food stores became household words.

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Linguine with Shrimp in Pink Sauce

Recipe courtesy of DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine Shop

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup carrots – chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery – chopped
  • 1 cup sweet onion – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – minced
  • 28 oz can DOP San Marzano tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 lb. Italian dried Linguine
  • 1 lb. shrimp – peeled, deveined and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chilies
  • 3/4 cup fish stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Italian parsley – chopped for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Saute the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat, covered for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, being careful to keep the onions from burning. Add carrots, celery, thyme and cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Crush tomatoes by hand, add to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the sauce to a blender or processor and puree (this turns it pinkish). Return the sauce to the pan and set aside.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil with 2 tablespoons salt. Add linguine and cook al dente.

While the pasta cooks, season shrimp with salt & pepper. In a separate sauce pan, saute shrimp in 1 tablespoon olive oil and red pepper flakes until almost done, approximately 3 minutes – shrimp should still be a bit opaque in the middle. Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add stock and wine to the pan and reduce by 1/3, approximately 5 minutes. Ladle red sauce into stock & wine mixture and heat through.

When cooked, add the drained pasta to the sauce and mix. Add shrimp and heat through. Plate pasta, garnish with Italian parsley and serve immediately.

Oregon

Oregon Vineyards

Oregon Vineyards

In and around cities like Portland, immigrants found work as laborers, shopkeepers and farmers. The Italian population of Portland surged from 1,000 in 1900 to 5,000 by 1910. They first settled south of town near Marquam’s Gulch, a district shared with Russian Jews. Later, Italians moved to Ladd’s Addition, Brooklyn and Parkrose.

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Italian immigrants worked in a wide array of professions. Many hundreds of Italian immigrants worked in Portland’s extensive railroad yards or served as street graders and built and maintained roads throughout the city.  Italian entrepreneurs, like Francesco Arata, established shops and restaurants in Italian neighborhoods on both the west and east sides of the Willamette River.  Almost 1,300 Italians lived and worked on the east side.  They rented land and grew vegetables and berries and some families operated truck farms that sold produce to individuals and businesses across the city. The Italian Ranchers and Gardeners Association organized and established the first retail produce market on the west side but frequent flooding forced organizers to move it to the east side in 1906.  The new market covered a complete block and growers brought their produce there to sell before loading the remainder on trucks to be sold throughout the city.

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Grapes first came to the Oregon in the mid 19th century, along with the influx of French, German and Italian immigrants, bringing with them their tastes and cultures of wine. Early planting in Washington County included Zinfandel, Muscatel, Riesling, Burgundian varietals (Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and their derivatives) and Hambourg (Black Muscat).

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Ponzi children planting vines.

Family, business and Italian heritage are not separate subjects for Michel Ponzi. Born into a first-generation American-Italian family, where his old-world, European roots were at the forefront of his upbringing. Michel grew up in a household where the Italian immigrant work ethic met the American possibility. His grandparents sacrificed their own familiar life and culture in Italy in hope of a brighter future in America. Their American born children practiced the importance of hard work and following a dream. Michel’s parents, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, followed their dreams that led them and their young family to Oregon.

Michel was only six years old when his parents pursued an idea that had yet to be proven – to grow pinot noir grapes in Oregon and make world-class wines. In the late 60’s, early 70’s, Oregon was timber country filled with lumberjacks, hunters and farmers, with plenty of property available for purchase. Through trial and error, like a handful of other wine enthusiasts, his family started a winery.  As a boy, he planted vines on the rugged property and worked throughout his childhood, pruning them and picking grapes at harvest. Later, he became a row boss, tractor driver and, also,  worked the bottling line, in packaging and in product delivery.  With a business degree in hand, he continued his lifelong career of developing the family business into a prosperous entity, side-by-side with his mother and father, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, founders of Ponzi Vineyards.

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Ponzi Italian varietals

In 1999, the Ponzi Family recognized that the rapidly increasing enthusiasm for wine touring was not supported sufficiently by fine dining facilities located in the local wine country. They constructed and continue to operate a culinary center in the tiny town of Dundee. The Dundee Bistro and the Ponzi Wine Bar, showcasing the region’s finest wines are the result of their endeavor. Reception to the facility has been overwhelming, garnering excellent reviews and recommendations in the national media.

The Ponzis wanted to create a casual, friendly atmosphere that welcomed tourists, families, local residents and wine makers still in their overalls and field boots. On a given day it’s possible to order handmade pizza, fish and chips, a salad of mixed organic greens with seared foie gras, Kumamoto oysters fresh from the Pacific 60 miles away, roasted butternut squash soup with chanterelles, loin of venison or local, natural pork smoked all day over local walnut to tender perfection. A meal can end with simple house blackberry sorbet or flaming Oregon cherries jubilee, either one accompanied with piping hot Italian espresso.

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Pork Tenderloin in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce

Courtesy of Christopher Flanagan, Executive Chef, The Dundee Bistro

Ingredients

2 pork tenderloins (approx. 2 lbs)

Marinade

  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons star anise pods, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1/2 cup Port
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate concentrate
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 star anise pods, whole
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2/3 cups toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Garnish: Pomegranate seeds, fresh mint sprigs

Directions

Marinade: Combine marinade ingredients in a sealable plastic bag with the pork tenderloins. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours. Remove tenderloins and pat dry; reserve marinade.

Sauce: Sauté shallots in olive oil for 2–3 minutes. Add Pinot Noir and Port. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add pomegranate concentrate, orange juice, chicken stock, star anise and reserved marinade. Continue to simmer until reduced by half again, or until the sauce thickens enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Cautiously add vinegar, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, strain and add walnuts and butter. Keep warm.

Tenderloins: Brown by grilling (5–6 minutes/side) or sauté in olive oil 4–6 minutes/side without overcooking. Hold tenderloins at least 5 minutes in a tinfoil tent. Slice into 1/3-inch slices.

To serve: spoon a pool of sauce on individual plates.  Arrange sliced pork on top, then additional sauce.

Garnish: with pomegranate seeds and mint sprigs.

Recommended accompaniments: a simply prepared rice pilaf, barley, oven-roasted potatoes or pasta dressed with butter, olive oil and salt.

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How To Make Biscotti

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In Italian, the word “biscotto” means “biscuit” or “cookie.” More specifically, biscotti are named according to their original method of baking. The root words “bis” and “cotto” literally mean “twice” and “baked.” When Italians first created biscotti in the region of Tuscany many centuries ago, they were careful to bake the cookies twice, in order to allow the cookies to develop their signature crisp texture. Over the years, these methods became standard practice. Bakers shape the dough into a log, bake it, evenly slice it into cookies and then bake the cookies again.

The first biscotti were made as a portable and durable food for Roman soldiers and travelers. They were made with traditional almond flavoring during the Renaissance and, at the time, it was also popular to dip them in an Italian dessert wine called Vin Santo, a practice that remains common in Italy today. Many people outside of Italy prefer to dip biscotti in coffee or hot chocolate to soften them before eating them. The range of flavors that these cookies come in has also expanded hugely since their creation and can include walnuts, orange zest and anise. Some types are coated with icing or glazed with chocolate, but the most traditional ones do not have a frosting or coating.

It’s relatively easy to bake these cookies. The basic recipe includes flour, sugar, eggs and sometimes butter or olive oil, along with nuts, spices or fruits. There is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs only, which is the traditional method, while others include butter or oil. The choice is yours; just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.

Here are my two favorite recipes.

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Makes about 36 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the tops of the dough
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Reserve one baking sheet for later when you bake the biscotti slices.

Place pistachios in a single layer on a third baking sheet and toast the nuts in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix toasted pistachios, cherries, sugars, baking powder and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla extract until well blended. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times.

Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough and, using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. If it’s sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Place the two logs on one baking sheet. Brush the loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides on the baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the biscotti for 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. Turn the biscotti slices over and rotate the pans after ten minutes.

If you desire, you can turn off the oven and let the biscotti stay for up to an hour. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they will become. Remove the pans from the oven and cool the biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container, preferably a tin, which helps keep them crisp. Stored properly, biscotti will last up to a month.

Toast the Nuts

Lightly Toast the Nuts

batter

Form the Batter

Shape into Loaves

Shape into Logs

Brush with Egg

Brush with Egg

Bake the Logs

Bake the Logs

Cool and Slice Logs

Cool and Slice Logs

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Bake Slices

Bake Slices

Cool Twice Baked Slices and Store

Cool Twice Baked Slices and Store

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Makes about 36 biscotti (3/4-inch-wide cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the tops of the dough
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

Directions

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Reserve one baking sheet for later when you bake the biscotti slices.

Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a third baking sheet and toast the nuts in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool. Chop the nuts into large pieces.

In a large bowl, mix toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips, sugars, baking powder, cocoa, flour, cinnamon and espresso powder.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and coffee liqueur. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times.

Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough and, using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. If it’s sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Place the two logs on one baking sheet. Brush loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides on the baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the biscotti for 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. Turn the biscotti slices over and rotate the pans after ten minutes.

If you desire, you can turn off the oven and let the biscotti stay for up to an hour. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they will become. Remove the pans from the oven and cool the biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container, preferably a tin, which helps keep them crisp. Stored properly, biscotti will last up to a month.

 


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