Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: September 2013

The toughest part of shopping for apples in stores is deciding which apple is best for which recipe. Most are great for eating out of hand, but texture, flavor and size all contribute to whether the chosen variety is best for apple crisp or applesauce. Here is a guide for you.

Baking

Whether stuffed and baked whole for a dessert or chopped up and hidden under a layer of dough or crumble topping, these apples hold their shape during cooking:

Rome apples are very large with green-speckled red skin. This variety makes an impressive dessert when baked whole.

Extra tart with thick, “apple green” skin, Granny Smiths are a better choice than a sweeter baking apple, like Golden Delicious, for balanced pies and crisps.

Braeburn apples are very crisp, sweet and tangy making them great for baking or eating raw.

Golden Delicious are excellent all-purpose apples that are particularly good for baking in cakes and other desserts.

Jonagold apples have a honeyed sweetness and crisp yellow flesh. This variety holds its shape during baking or sautéing.

Saucing

These apples break down with heat, making them perfect for purées and sauces:

Cortland apples are sweet and juicy and their flesh breaks down easily with cooking, making them perfect for a sauce. These crisp apples are also great raw in salads as their flesh resists browning.

With shiny, deep red skin and bright white flesh, Empire apples are crisp and a little spicy. Cored and stewed, this variety cooks down into a beautiful rosy pink applesauce.

Stout Macoun apples are tender, juicy and sweet making them perfect for cooking.

Tart-sweet McIntosh apples are juicy with a great fragrance, but they don’t stand up to long cooking times.

Munching

If you’re simply looking for a good snack, apples fit the bill. These are some favorite varieties for eating out of hand or using in salads:

Honeycrisp apples are extra crisp and tangy. They are excellent eaten raw, but will also hold their shape when baked.

With red skin and light green patches, Fuji apples are juicy and fragrant.

Crisp and mildly sweet, Gala apples are a another good eating apple.

Pink Lady apples are pink/red in color with crisp, juicy flesh and a complex flavor.

Dried Apple Slices

Serves 6

Dried apples are great for snacks and lunch boxes. You can also add them to salads along

with nuts and grapes, or serve with roasted pork or alongside a sandwich, as you would chips.

Ingredients

  • 2 apples (Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Slice apples as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch or thinner (use a mandolin, if you have one). Arrange slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 1 1/2 hours; turn slices over and continue baking 1 1/2 hours longer or until completely dry and crisp (they will not crisp more after cooling).

Timing will vary depending on the moisture content of the apples and the thickness of the slices. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Celery-Root Soup with Bacon and Green Apple

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 medium leeks (3/4 lb), white and pale green parts only
  • 3 bacon slices (2 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 celery rib, very thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup inner celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Directions

Halve leeks lengthwise, then coarsely chop. Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out onto paper towels and pat dry.

Cook bacon in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel.

Pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat from the pot, then add oil and cook leeks over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add celery root and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add water and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until celery root is very tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

While soup simmers, thinly slice apple lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices, removing the core, then cut slices into 1/8-inch matchstick pieces. Gently toss with celery and celery leaves.

Purée soup in batches in a blender or immersion hand blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to cleaned pot, if you removed it to a blender.

If soup is too thick, thin with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water. Stir in salt, pepper and half-and-half and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm.

Season with salt according to taste, then divide among 4 bowls and top with apple-celery mixture and coarsely crumbled bacon.

Italian Farro with Sausage and Apples

Farro, a wheat like grain, makes a delicious alternative to rice and similar side-dishes that go with with meat, poultry and fish.

4 to 6 side-dish servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled whole-grain farro
  • 3/4 cup bulk pork sausage (about 3 oz.) or pork sausages, casings removed
  • Olive oil (if needed)
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Fuji apple (8 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Sort farro, discarding strawlike bits of hulls and other debris. Pour farro into a bowl, cover completely with cool water, stir, and skim off and discard any additional hulls that float to the surface. Drain farro.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, crumble sausage with a spoon and stir often until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to a paper towel lined bowl and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat or, if necessary, add oil to equal 1 tablespoon fat in pan. Add farro and return sausage to the pan and stir until grains are dried, about 2 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer (mixture foams, so check and stir occasionally to keep it from boiling over) until farro is tender to the bite and no longer tastes starchy, about 25 minutes. Stir in parsley, cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core apple; cut into about 1/4-inch dice and mix with lemon juice. Stir into farro, season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a serving bowl.

Ham, Sweet Onion and Apple Pizza

4 servings

Ingredients

  1. Olive oil cooking spray
  2. 1 pound package refrigerated pizza dough, whole wheat if available
  3. 1 cup apple butter
  4. 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  5. 1/4 cup diced sweet onion (Vidalia)
  6. 1/2 cup cored, seeded and diced Golden Delicious apple
  7. 1/2 cup thinly sliced deli ham

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Place dough on pan.

With floured hands press dough into a large rectangle.

Top with apple butter, cheese, onion, apple and ham.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Roast Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small tart apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cup apple cider

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the oil in a medium broiler pan, gratin dish or shallow ovenproof skillet.

Layer the apples (such as Granny Smith) on the bottom and season with half the sage, salt and pepper.

Place the pork chops on top and sprinkle with the remaining sage, salt and pepper. Pour the cider over the pork chops.

Roast for 15 minutes. Gently turn the pork chops over, basting them with the cider from the bottom of the pan. Stir the apples to allow them to cook evenly. Roast another 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the pork and apples for 4 to 6 minutes, or until just golden brown.

Apple and Walnut Torte

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur (ex. Grand Marnier)
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 orange, zested
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted (or Smart Balance butter alternative)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced peeled apples (2-3 depending on size)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, heat the orange liqueur. Turn off the heat and add the cranberries and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and the orange zest. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the apples, walnuts and cranberries. Mix well.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 by 2-inch glass baking dish or 8-inch cake pan.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

A Note of Sadness:

A great Italian chef and food writer passed away on Sunday – Marcella Hazan. You can read about her life and how she changed the face of Italian cooking in America in the New York Times aticle: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/dining/Marcella-Hazan-dies-changed-the-way-americans-cook-italian-food.html?pagewanted=all

Following are some of the posts I have written in the past about Marcella Hazan’s influences.

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/06/three-cookbooks-i-cherish/

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/15/does-shape-matter/

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/08/09/why-should-you-make-homemade-pasta/


La Scala Opera House – Milan

Italian opera is a musical art form that had its beginnings in Florence in the late 1500s. It was based on a number of performance genres that preceded it, including Greek drama, poems sung by a solo vocalist with single instrument backing and madrigals (a capella singing by 3-6 harmonizing vocalists). The earliest known opera composition is Dafne, written by Jacopo Peri (1561–1633) in 1597. Peri was born in Rome but relocated to Florence to study music. In the 1590s, he met Jacopo Corsi, the leading patron of music in Florence and they invited the poet, Ottavio Rinuccini, to write a text for a new composition. Dafne was the result. Peri’s later composition, Euridice, written in 1600 with Giulio Caccini, is the earliest surviving opera and was initially performed as part of a celebration for a Medici wedding, thereby propelling opera into the mainstream of court entertainment. Claudio Monteverdi was a native of Mantua, Lombardy, who wrote his first opera, La Favola d’Orfeo (The Fable of Orpheus), in 1607 for the court. Moving to Venice in 1613, Monteverdi subsequently enriched the performance of opera by adding an orchestra, more lavish costumes and sets and a more dramatic vocal style. Several decades later, opera had spread throughout the Italian peninsula, the result of touring companies who performed in all the major cities. The first public opera house, the Teatro di San Cassiano, opened in Venice in 1637. Opera was no longer a court entertainment but a commercial enterprise open to the paying public. Additional opera houses soon opened throughout the city, performing a variety of works during Venice’s Carnivale season. In the early 19th century composer, Gioacchino Rossini’s (1792–1868) first success was a comic opera, La Cambiale di Matrimonio (1810), followed by The Barber of Seville and La Cenerentola (Cinderella). Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35) born in Catania, Sicily, was known for his long-flowing melodies. Bellini is considered the first composer to develop bel canto (a style of singing) opera. Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848) was born in Bergamo, Lombardy, but wrote in Rome, Milan and Naples. Donizetti achieved some popular success in the 1820s but became famous throughout Europe when his Anna Bolena premiered in Milan. L’Elisir d’Amore, produced in 1832, is considered one of the masterpieces of 19th-century opera buffa (comic opera), as is his Don Pasquale (1843). Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), is his most famous opera and one that best represents the bel canto style of singing.

Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi

(1813–1901) was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. Verdi produced many successful operas, including La Traviata, Falstaff and Aida, and became known for his skill in creating melody and his use of theatrical effect. Verdi experimented with musical and dramatic forms and transformed the whole nature of operatic writing during his career. In 1877, he created Otello which is described by critics as one of the best romantic operas.

Risotto Giuseppe Verdi

The great opera composer was humble when it came to his music, but not so when the subject was cooking. In Ira Braus’ book, Classical Cooks, he includes a letter from Verdi’s wife regarding a possible Iron Chef-style cook off between Verdi and an actress by the name of Ristori. This recipe is said to be one he created for the challenge. Ingredients

  • ¾ lb Carnaroli rice
  • 2 oz butter
  • 3 oz mushrooms
  • 3 oz asparagus tips
  • 3 oz Prosciutto di Parma
  • 3 oz canned tomatoes
  • 3 ½ tablespoons light cream
  • 4 cups meat broth
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to taste
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced

Directions Clean and finely mince the onion. Clean and thinly slice the mushrooms. Clean and blanch the asparagus in salted water: cool them in water and ice. Finely mince the Prosciutto. Blanch the tomatoes, peel, seed and cut them into cubes. In a pot melt ¼ of the butter, add the onion and slowly cook it until soft and golden. Add the rice and toast it for about 1 minutes. Add the stock, 1 ladle at the time, waiting until it has been absorbed before adding the next one. After 10 minutes add mushrooms, Prosciutto, asparagus and tomatoes. Stir well, cook for another 2 minutes and add the cream. When the rice is “al dente” (about 18 minutes) add butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, stir well and cover with a lid. Let it rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Giacomo Puccini

(1858–1924) wrote some of the greatest Italian operas of the 20th century, including Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca and Madame Butterfly. Born in Lucca, Tuscany, he enrolled in the Milan Conservatory in 1880. Manon Lescaut (1893), his third opera, was his first great success. La Bohème (1896) is considered one of his best works, as well as, one of the most romantic operas ever. Italian opera remains a popular form of entertainment throughout the world. In the 1960s and ’70s, opera’s popularity in the United States grew. As a result, opera companies were established in cities of all sizes and fans no longer needed to travel to a major metropolis to see a performance. With the increased number of opera houses and with growing audiences, companies began commissioning new works, a trend that continues to this day. There is a legend that Puccini was a ladies man and when his wife suspected that he was about to stray, she would prepare his favorite dishes and use plenty of garlic. Here is a dish that Mrs. Puccini may have prepared.

Fettuccine in Garlic Cream Sauce

Serves 6 Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 ½ cups of cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan type cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and fresh, coarse ground black pepper to taste

Directions Cook pasta according to package directions. Melt the butter over moderate heat and cook the garlic until it is golden. Add the cream and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Place the cooked pasta in a serving bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, chives and parsley and gently toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Adelina Patti

(1843 –1919) was a highly acclaimed 19th century opera singer, earning huge fees at the height of her career in the music capitals of Europe and America. She first sang in public as a child in 1851 and gave her last performance before an audience in 1914. Along with her near contemporaries Jenny Lind and Thérèse Tietjens, Patti remains one of the most famous sopranos in history, owing to the purity and beauty of her lyrical voice and the unmatched quality of her bel canto technique. The composer, Giuseppe Verdi, writing in 1877, described her as being the finest singer who had ever lived and a “stupendous artist”. Verdi’s admiration for Patti’s talent was shared by numerous music critics and social commentators of her era.

Portrait by Franz Winterhalter (1862)

She was born Adela Juana Maria Patti in Madrid, the last child of Sicilian born tenor, Salvatore Patti and soprano, Caterina Barilli. She made her operatic debut at the age of 16 on 24 November 1859 in the title role of Donizetti’s, Lucia di Lammermoor, at the Academy of Music in New York. In 1862, during an American tour, she sang John Howard Payne’s “Home, Sweet Home” at the White House for the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary. The Lincolns were mourning their son Willie, who had died of typhoid. Moved to tears, the Lincolns requested she sing the song again. After that, it became associated with Adelina Patti and she performed it many times as an encore at the end of recitals and concerts. Patti’s career was one of success after success. She sang not only in England and the United States, but also in Europe, Russia and South America, inspiring audience frenzy and critical superlatives, wherever she went. Her beauty gave her an appealing stage presence, which added to her celebrity status. A dish that includes her name is “Poularde Adelina Patti”, a recipe created by the famous chef, Auguste Escoffier, who created many other dishes named after opera singers. This recipe is particularly difficult to find and one must buy his cookbook to gain access to it. Briefly described, however, “Poularde Adelina Patti” is a chicken dish covered with a cream sauce, flavored with paprika, surrounded by artichokes, garnished with truffles and coated with a meat glaze. If any readers desire to find the full recipe, I would recommend searching for The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery.

Enrico Caruso

(1873 –1921), born in Naples, was an Italian tenor, who sang to great acclaim at the major opera houses of Europe and the Americas, appearing in a wide variety of roles on stage. Caruso also made approximately 290 commercially released recordings from 1902 to 1920. All of these recordings, which span most of his stage career, are available today on CDs and as digital downloads. Caruso’s 1904 recording of “Vesti la giubba” from Leoncavallo’s opera, Pagliacci, was the first sound recording to sell a million copies. Caruso’s 25-year career included 863 appearances at the New York Metropolitan Opera before he died at the age of 48. He was married to socialite, Dorothy Park Benjamin, the daughter of a wealthy New York patent lawyer. Dorothy lived until 1955 and wrote a biography about Caruso (Enrico Caruso: His Life and Death). A fastidious dresser, Caruso took two baths a day and liked good Italian food and convivial company. Caruso was superstitious and habitually carried good-luck charms with him when he sang. He played cards for relaxation and sketched friends, other singers and musicians. His favorite hobby was compiling scrapbooks. He also amassed a valuable collection of rare postage stamps, coins, watches and antique snuff boxes. Caruso was a heavy smoker of strong Egyptian cigarettes. This habit, combined with a lack of exercise and the punishing schedule of performances that Caruso willingly undertook season after season at the Met, may have contributed to the persistent ill-health which afflicted the last 12 months of his life

Bucatini Caruso

The recipe was created by the tenor, who loved pasta and loved to cook. This dish is typical of his native Naples. A story that circulates is that he was given a cold reception in his early singing days by his fellow-citizens and Caruso swore he would never sing in Naples again, but he would return there only to enjoy his favorite macaroni dishes. Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb bucatini pasta
  • 3 or 4 San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chili pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • oregano
  • basil
  • parsley

Directions Stir-fry the garlic cloves, cut in quarters in oil.  When they start to turn golden, remove them and add the chopped tomatoes and the pepper, cut in chunks. Turn up the heat and add the oregano, crushed chili and a generous amount of basil to the sauce. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini into rounds, coat them with flour and deep-fry in a skillet. Cook the pasta al dente in salted boiling water, drain and dress with the tomato sauce, the deep-fried zucchini and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

Mario Lanza

(1921-1959) born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was exposed to classical singing at an early age by his Abruzzese-Molisan Italian parents, Maria and Antonio Cocozza. By the age of 16, his vocal talent had become apparent. Starting out in local operatic productions in Philadelphia for the YMCA Opera Company while still in his teens, he later came to the attention of Boston Symphony conductor, Serge Koussevitzky, who in 1942 provided young Cocozza with a full student scholarship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Massachusetts. Reportedly, Koussevitzky told him, “Yours is a voice such as is heard once in a hundred years”. His performances at Tanglewood won him critical acclaim, with Noel Strauss of “The New York Times” hailing the 21-year-old tenor as having “few equals among tenors of the day in terms of quality, warmth and power”. His budding operatic career was interrupted by World War II, when he was assigned to Special Services in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He resumed his singing career with a concert in Atlantic City with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in September 1945 under Peter Herman Adler, subsequently his mentor. The following month, he replaced tenor Jan Peerce on the live CBS radio program “Great Moments in Music” on which he made six appearances in four months, singing extracts from various operas and other works. In April 1948, Lanza sang two performances as Pinkerton in Puccini’s, Madama Butterfly, for the New Orleans Opera Association. A concert at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1947 brought Lanza to the attention of Louis B. Mayer, who signed Lanza to a seven-year film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This proved to be a turning point in the young singer’s career. The contract required him to commit to the studio for six months and, at first, Lanza believed he would be able to combine his film career with his operatic and concert career, but this proved to be a difficult goal. In May 1949, he made his first commercial recordings with RCA Victor. His rendition of the aria “Che gelida manina” (from La Bohème) from that session was subsequently awarded the prize of Operatic Recording of the Year by the (United States) National Record Critics Association. In 1951, Lanza portrayed Enrico Caruso in “The Great Caruso”, which proved an astonishing success. Some of his other famous films were:

  • Because You’re Mine, MGM 1952
  • The Student Prince, MGM 1954
  • Serenade, Warner Bros. 1956
  • Seven Hills of Rome, MGM 1958
  • For the First Time, MGM 1959

Pizzelle

Lanza was reportedly partial to Italian waffle cookies called pizzelle (which literally means small pizzas), that are quite popular in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Makes about 36 pizzelle Ingredients

  • 1¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons anise (or other extract)

Directions Pre-heat a pizzelle maker. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the butter and sugar and mix until smooth. Add anise and then the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix well. Lightly spray the pizzelle maker with vegetable oil (unless you have a non-stick version). Drop the batter by the tablespoon onto the pizzelle iron, and cook, gauging the timing (usually less than a minute) according to the manufacturer’s instructions or until golden. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Anna Moffo

(1932 – 2006) was an Italian-American opera singer, television personality and award-winning dramatic actress. One of the leading lyric-coloratura sopranos of her generation, she possessed an accomplished voice of considerable range and agility. In the early 1960s, she hosted her own show on Italian television, was acclaimed for her beauty and appeared in several operatic films and in other dramatic non-singing roles. In the early 1970s she extended her international popularity to Germany through operatic performances, TV appearances and several films, all while continuing her American operatic performances. Due to an extremely heavy workload, Moffo suffered a serious vocal-breakdown in 1974, from which she never fully recovered. In later years, she gave several master classes through the Met. Her death at age 73 was preceded by a decade-long battle with cancer. Anna Moffo was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania to Italian parents, Nicola Moffo (a shoemaker) and his wife Regina Cinti. After graduating from Radnor High School, she turned down an offer to go to Hollywood and went instead to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1954, on a Fulbright Program scholarship, she left for Italy to complete her studies at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. She became very popular there after performing leading operatic roles on three RAI television productions in 1956. Moffo made her official operatic debut in 1955 in Spoleto as Norina in Don Pasquale. Shortly after, still virtually unknown and with little experience, she was offered the challenging role of Cio-Cio-San in an Italian television (RAI) production of Madama Butterfly. The telecast aired on January 24, 1956, and made Moffo an overnight sensation throughout Italy. Offers quickly followed and she appeared in two other television productions that same year. Moffo returned to America for her debut as Mimì in La Bohème next to Jussi Björling’s, Rodolfo, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on October 16, 1957. Her Metropolitan Opera of New York debut took place on November 14, 1959 as Violetta in La Traviata, a part that would quickly become her signature role. She performed numerous soprano roles at The Metropolitan Opera for seventeen seasons before her retirement. Anna was quoted in the press saying, she enjoyed cooking and especially liked to prepare Italian style chicken livers for herself and her husband. Here is a similar recipe to the one she liked to prepare.

Sicilian Sautéed Chicken Livers

opera1

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cups dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken livers, each cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 3 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Polenta

Directions Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast pine nuts in the oven until golden brown, about 8 minutes. In a small stainless-steel saucepan, combine raisins, broth and vermouth. Bring to boil and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Set aside. In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil over moderately high heat. Season livers with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, in two batches if necessary, until almost done, about 3 minutes. The livers should still be quite pink inside. Remove from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and reduce heat to moderately low. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring, 15 seconds longer. Stir in raisin-and-vermouth mixture and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer, scraping bottom of pan to dislodge any brown bits. Add livers and any accumulated juices, pine nuts and parsley and simmer until livers are just done, about 1 minute longer. Serve mixture over polenta.


Long before biblical times and across different civilizations, the leaves of the laurel tree have developed symbolic meaning in many areas- perhaps most familiar to us as a symbol of glory and achievement. To this day, students in Bologna and Padova, Italy wear a wreath of alloro (laurel, in Italian) on the day they formally receive their laurea (university degree). The English term “bay leaf” derives from the Latin word bacca, which means “berry” – an ancient reference to this tree’s inedible black berries. But, it is the leaves from this tree that add great taste to some well known Italian dishes.

Used mostly in dried form in hundreds of food preparations, bay leaves are one of the most popular spices throughout the world. In Italy, bay leaves, like rosemary, are free for the picking; laurel trees grow wild almost everywhere – including even in the milder parts of the northern regions, mostly around the three major lakes and Liguria.

Bay leaves are used to season many Italian meat and fish dishes and they add flavor to soups, sauces and stews. The flavor of bay leaves is deepened with steaming. Try them with vegetables, fish, seafood or chicken in a steamer. Bay leaves release their flavor during slow cooking, so the longer the better. Consider adding bay leaves to casseroles and slow cooker meals. Bay leaves also impart a great flavor to white, cream/cheese sauces (for example, béchamel sauce).

Bay leaves are also used in pickled vegetables, as well as in fish and meat marinades. The leaves’ spicy taste – which is attributed to their essential oil, cineole, blends beautifully in vegetable, fish and meat sauces for pasta dishes. Just one important reminder: Bay leaves always should be removed from all food preparations before serving. Why? Because they are as tough as old boots to the human palate, so avoid consuming them as part of the meal!

A question that is often asked: Are bay leaves poisonous?

The question derives from the fact that spreading whole or crushed bay leaves in pantries and kitchens have been found to keep cockroaches, meal moths and flies away. But this is mainly because of the aromatic oils present in the leaves. Household pests are repelled by these oils, which act as a deterrent for them. Bay leaves, however, are perfectly safe to use in your cooking.

Bay leaf oil is also available. Add 10-15 drops of bay leaf oil into a 16 ounce bottle of your shampoo. This solution is believed to be an effective cure for dandruff.

Taking a bath with water mixed with bay leaf oil can be very soothing for the senses. Dipping your hands and feet in bay leaf-water solution is believed to ease pain in those regions.

The aromatic properties of bay leaf oil make it suitable to be used as a room freshener. Pour a few drops of bay leaf oil into a dish, light a candle below this to gently heat the oil and vaporize it.

Poaching Fish

Sea bass is a fish found in areas of the Mediterranean and North Atlantic that is sought after by many sports fishermen. Sea bass is a quality protein source, with flaky white meat. The delicate flesh of sea bass stands up well to cooking methods, such as poaching, which refers to cooking in a liquid such as water, wine or stock. You can find sea bass at some grocery stores and most fish markets. Any sustainable white fish fillets will work in this recipe.

Directions

Place a pan or skillet on the stove over high heat. Add liquid such as white wine, vegetable or fish stock, water or a combination to total about two cups.

Add aromatic vegetables and herbs:

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 leek, cut into 4 or 5 pieces,
  • 1 carrot, cut in thirds
  • 2-3 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

Stir the vegetables around and let the liquid come up to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture gently for 10 minutes.

Season sea bass fillets with salt and pepper and place into the liquid, skin side up.

Cover the skillet and poach the fish for six to eight minutes, until the fillets are cooked through. The flesh should flake off easily.

Remove the fillets from the pan and serve them with rice and side vegetables.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

Ingredients

  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1½ cups dried white beans: cannellini
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Pomi brand chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup small macaroni (ditalini), uncooked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish
  • Basil leaves, optional

Directions

Place water and beans in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat for 3 minutes and remove from the heat. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.

Add the onion, tomatoes, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves. Mix well and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until beans are tender (about 1½ hours). Stir frequently. Add macaroni and mix well. Cover and continue simmering until macaroni is tender (about 12 minutes).

Remove bay leaves before serving. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired. Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread.

Italian Style Pot Roast

I usually make this the day before serving. The flavor improves greatly sitting overnight in the refrigerator. Just heat up the next day and serve.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds beef pot roast (rump or chuck)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups medium-bodied Italian red wine
  • 1 26-ounce container Pomi brand chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions

Trim the fat from the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with the salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, shimmering but not smoking, add the roast and cook, turning it a few times, until it is browned on all sides, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the meat to a platter.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrot, celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are golden brown and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and stir about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the wine and stir quickly, lifting up the browned caramelized vegetables that stick to the bottom of the pan. When the wine is almost all evaporated and thickly coats the vegetables, return the meat to the pan and turn it over a few times to coat in the sauce.

Raise the heat to high, adding the remaining wine, the bay leaves, the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, turning and basting the meat every half hour or so, until the meat is very tender and flakes away when pierced with a fork, 3-4 hours. Turn off the heat and let the roast sit in its juices for an hour.

Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a cutting board, covered loosely with aluminum foil. If the sauce is too thin, bring it to a fast boil and reduce it until it has a medium-thick consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cut the meat into thick slices (it will probably fall apart) and place on a warm serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve with pasta.

Penne with Chick Peas, Leeks and Artichoke Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb whole grain penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks cut in thin rounds
  • 1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package frozen artichokes hearts, defrosted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Parsley thinly sliced

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile cook the garlic over low heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the artichokes, season with salt and pepper and saute for two minutes.

Remove 1 ½ cups of boiling water from the pasta pot and add to the artichoke mixture. Reboil. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Process in the blender or use an immersion hand blender until smooth and set aside.

In the same skillet, gently heat remaining olive oil with leeks and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas and cook for three minutes.

Cook pasta two minutes under the required cooking time on the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Add penne and the reserved pasta water to the chickpeas. Be sure to remove the bay leaf. Stir in the artichoke sauce and heat until warmed. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley before serving.

Sweet and Sour Cipollini Onions

Adapted from a recipe from Italian chef, Fabio Trabocchi. Cipollini are small Italian onions readily available in the supermarket.

This dish makes a great side dish for roasted pork.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds cipollini onions, peeled
  • Strips of zest from 1 lemon
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

In a large saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water. Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the butter and the 1/2 cup of the balsamic vinegar. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the butter is melted.

Add the onions, lemon zest, bay leaves and chicken stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer over moderately low heat until the onions are very tender and glazed and the liquid is syrupy, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Prune and Olive Chicken

Prune and Olive Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup pitted prunes, halved
  • 8 small pimento stuffed green olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8- 10 pieces, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

In a medium bowl combine the garlic, prunes, olives, capers, olive oil, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spread mixture in the bottom of a 10×15 inch baking dish. Add the chicken pieces, stir and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove dish from refrigerator. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and pour white wine all around chicken.

Bake for 1 hour, spooning juices over chicken several times, as it is baking. Serve on a platter, pouring juices over the top, and garnish with fresh parsley.


Tuna has been fished from the warm, temperate parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans since ancient times. As a member of the mackerel family, tuna naturally has a stronger, more robust flavor than whitefish. In 1903, when sardines were the canned fish of choice, canner Albert P. Halfhill managed a shortage by packing tuna in cans and persuading local grocers to stock them. More than a century later, tuna is a household staple as a protein-packed, quick-yet-wholesome meal.

Tuna is one of the most popular types of fish used for canned seafood products. It is high in protein and vitamins, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and has an appetizing taste and texture. The are many different types of tuna but there are only a few that are highly desired by the canned tuna industry. The most popular types of canned tuna are:

  • Skipjack Tuna is one of the smaller species of tuna and is commonly found at the surface of tropical oceans. It is fast, sleek and can grow up to three feet in length. The Skipjack tuna is a healthy tuna stock and is currently quite stable. It has a faster breeding cycle than other tuna and is a popular choice for many fisheries.
  • Albacore Tuna is one of the most plentiful species of tuna found in the ocean and, as such, is one of the most common types of canned tuna found in stores. A full sized Albacore tuna can weigh close to one hundred pounds and be close to five feet in length. It has a darker blue color and is silver on the underneath side. At present many Albacore tuna stocks are fairly healthy and are not at current risk of being overfished.
  • Yellowfin Tuna, when canned, is typically called Chunk Light Tuna and is usually very easy to find in grocery stores and supermarkets. Yellowfin tuna is a large predator fish that can weigh close to 500 pounds when full sized and reach lengths of over 7 feet. It’s name comes from a stripe of yellow that runs along its side and its yellow fins.Yellowfin tuna is usually canned in salt water, oil or natural spring water. This type of tuna will have a stronger flavor than Albacore Tuna and may be similar in taste to swordfish. Unfortunately the Yellowfin Tuna is in decline because of excessive human consumption and unsustainable fishing practices.

These three species of tuna fish are the most commonly consumed and most commonly used for canning. They each have unique characteristics, flavor and ocean habitation patterns. Knowing more about what species of tuna you are eating and it’s relative strength as a species is a good start for choosing a sustainable tuna brand. Of course when buying canned tuna always ensure that the tuna species is listed prominently on the can and try to choose canned tuna that is caught by pole and line fishing. As connoisseurs of canned tuna we want to help promote sustainable canned tuna, to ensure the world can enjoy eating tuna for many years to come.

tuna packed in olive oil

tuna packed in water

Turns out tuna is not just for sandwiches! In fact, it’s perfect for appetizers, soups, main dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes and all kinds of salads.Tuna consistently makes the top-choices list for “best canned items” to keep on hand. You’ll find canned tuna packed in water, oil or brine; it can be salted or unsalted and you can choose the variety of tuna you want. Below are some of my favorite ways to use canned tuna.

Tuna Florentine Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch (6.4 oz.) or can white tuna in water
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans (cannellini)
  • 1/2 cup dry orzo (or other small pasta)
  • 6 cups low sodium Chicken Broth
  • 3 oz. fresh spinach (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Mix in white beans, orzo and chicken broth and cook for 7 -8 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Stir in pesto and tuna. Add spinach and stir until just wilted.

Serve with parmesan cheese.

Tuna Sliders

For 10 mini burgers

Tuna Patties

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (or any hot pepper)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cans tuna in olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3 minced scallions
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (+ extra flour for dusting the patties)
  • 10 slider rolls

Coleslaw

  • 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded white cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

For the coleslaw:

In a large bowl, mix the cabbages with the sugar and the salt, cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Then add the carrots and parsley. Mix the rest of the slaw ingredients together and add them to the cabbage. Adjust salt if necessary.

For the patties:

In a small pan add the olive oil, jalapeno, celery, garlic, cayenne pepper, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes and set aside.

In a large bowl, shred the tuna; add the panko, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, flour, egg and scallions. Mix well and add the cooked celery and garlic mixture.

Flour your hands and make small balls (size of a golf ball) and gently flatten them to the desired size (just a little bit bigger than the bun you will use, as they will shrink while cooking.

Lightly flour each patty and refrigerate them for 10-15 minutes on wax paper. This will make them firmer and easier to saute.

Saute the patties in a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of hot oil. Cook until golden brown.

Warm the buns without toasting them. Put a patty in each bun and top with the slaw to serve.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and diced
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tuna, packed in water, drained
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata or black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 cups mixed greens

Directions

Combine eggs, tuna, onion, olives and feta cheese. Combine olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl; whisk until well blended. Add to tuna mixture. Season with pepper. Serve over mixed greens.

Zucchini Fettuccine

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cups half & half or cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 zucchini cut lengthwise, into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 cans or pouches tuna in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of minced scallion
  • 3 teaspoon of lemon juice

Directions

Boil water with salt and cook the pasta “al dente”.

Place the zucchini ribbons in the pasta water during the last 2 minutes.

Drain the pasta and the ribbons and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter; add the onion, salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown. Approximately 5 minutes.

Add the white wine, boil for 1 minute and add the broth. Boil again for a couple of minutes, add the peas and the half & half; cook for 1 minute and add the tuna at the just to warm it. Do not over mix or shred the tuna. Add the fettuccine and ribbons to the sauce, the lemon juice, parmesan cheese and scallions. Gently mix and serve with a little Parmesan cheese on top.

Tuna Stuffed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 red skin medium-large size potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cans or pouches tuna in olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato (small cubes without seeds)
  • 1/4 cup julienned roasted peppers
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large pot of cold water put the unpeeled potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and boil. After the water returns to boiling, cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

In a bowl mix the ricotta cheese, tomatoes, roasted pepper, salt and pepper to taste.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set aside to cool. Cut off the top of the potato and with the help of a spoon remove about a third of the potato and add it to the ricotta mixture. Repeat with remaining potatoes.

Then add the mozzarella and tuna to the ricotta mixture. Carefully combine; don’t flake the tuna.

Stuff the potatoes with the filling, top each with parmesan cheese and place in a baking dish.

Bake for 8-10 minutes and the parmesan is golden brown.

Tuna Stuffed Shells

Ingredients

24 jumbo shells, cooked “al dente”

Stuffing:

  • 1/2 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans or pouches tuna in olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 baby zucchinis, sliced thin and each slice cut in half
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Sauce:

  • 4 cups canned diced Italian tomatoes 
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped bell pepper
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

For the stuffing:

In a skillet sauté the mushrooms in the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for 10 minutes. Add the white wine, reduce to half and add the half & half. Cook for 5 more minutes and set aside to cool.

In a bowl: mix the ricotta and mozzarella cheese, add the tuna with the olive oil, the cooked mushroom mixture, parsley, zucchini, half the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Mix gently.

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan; add the garlic, onion and bell pepper. Cook for 5-8 minutes on medium heat, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 20 more minutes until flavors are blended and the sauce has reduced about 20%. Add salt and pepper to taste followed by the parsley and oregano. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Stuff the shells with the tuna and ricotta stuffing. Place about 1″ of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the stuffed shells over the sauce, stuffing face up. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350° F. Uncover, add the remaining Parmesan and cook for 5 more minutes.


A Neapolitan Market by Attilio Pratella

Neapolitan cuisine has ancient historical roots that date back to the Greco-Roman period, which was enriched over the centuries by the influence of the different cultures that controlled Naples and its kingdoms, such as that of Aragon and France. Since Naples was the capital of the Kingdom of Naples, its cuisine took much from the culinary traditions of the region, balancing between dishes based on rural ingredients and seafood. The Spanish and French rule in Naples initiated the difference between the cuisine of the aristocrats and that of the poorer classes. The former was characterized by elaborate, more cosmopolitan dishes and a greater number of expensive ingredients, including meat.

Braciola (plural braciole) is the name given to thin slices of meat (typically pork, chicken, beef or swordfish) that are rolled as a roulade with cheese and bread crumbs. Interestingly, the word braciole derives from the word for charcoal, implying that it was originally cooked “alla brace”, that is, grilled and that it was a cut of meat with the bone.

What are known as braciole in the United States are named involtini in Italian. Each involtini are held together by a wooden toothpick and the dish is usually served in a sauce as a second course. When cooked in tomato sauce, the sauce itself is used to coat the pasta for the first course, giving a consistent taste to the whole meal. Involtini can be cooked along with meatballs and Italian sausage in a Neapolitan ragù or tomato sauce called “Sunday gravy” (northeastern United States). They can also be prepared without tomato sauce. There exist many variations on the recipe, including using different types of cheese and the addition of vegetables, such as eggplant. Braciole are not exclusively eaten as a main dish, but can also be served as a side dish at dinner or in a sandwich for lunch.

First Course

Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta

Directions:

Boil the gnocchi in batches in plenty of salted water. The gnocchi are done about 2 minutes after they float to the surface; remove them with a slotted spoon. Reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water.

At the same time heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat, add shallots and saute until translucent. Add prosciutto and cook until crisp. Add in the peas and toss gently to coat. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add boiled gnocchi to the pan and gently toss. Add butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Stir in the lemon ricotta and add some of the gnocchi water to thin the sauce, if needed.

Lemon Ricotta:

  • 1 cup good quality ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Salt

Place the ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and add the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Second Course

Braised Beef Braciole Stuffed with Basil and Mozzarella

This is a home-style version of the Italian-American classic. The traditional dish uses small roulades of beef round, but in this recipe I use a whole flank steak because it is easier to stuff and roll one large cut of meat and flank steak has more flavor than round steak.

Ingredients:

  • One 2 lb. flank steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin strips (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • One 26-28-oz. container crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered

Directions:

Place the flank steak on a large cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, slice the steak lengthwise along one long side (without cutting all the way through the meat) and open it up like a book. Using a meat mallet, flatten the meat so it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

For the stuffing: put the mozzarella, Parmigiano, bread crumbs and basil in a food processor and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the stuffing evenly over the beef and roll it up lengthwise, jelly roll–style, with the stuffing inside. Secure with kitchen twine in five or six places.

Heat half the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering. Add the beef and cook until it browns and releases easily from the pan, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until browned, about 5 more minutes. Transfer meat to a large plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the onion to the pan and lower the heat to medium. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the onion wilts completely and turns a light brown, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine and cook, stirring, until it is almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a gentle simmer and add the meat and mushrooms to the sauce. Cover and cook, repositioning the meat occasionally, until the meat becomes tender and cuts easily with a paring knife, about 1-1/2 hours.

Set the meat on a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice and serve topped with the sauce. (Adapted from Big Buy Cooking)

Spicy Rapini with Garlic and Oregano

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), ends trimmed and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, crushed
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Cook broccoli in boiling, salted water in a large saucepan 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender; drain. Rinse with cold water and and drain again. Coarsely chop.

Heat oil in the same saucepan. Add broccoli, garlic, crushed red pepper and oregano; cook stirring 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.

Mixed-Greens-and-Herb Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 4 ounces Black Mission figs, thinly sliced ( 2/3 cup)
  • 8 cups mixed Italian lettuce greens
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1 ounce fresh pecorino, shaved

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden, about 10 minutes; let cool, then coarsely chop.

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the figs, greens, parsley, mint, dill, chives, pecorino and walnuts and toss gently.

Dessert Course

Italian Apple Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 oz. (125 grams) butter
  • 1 TB butter for greasing pan
  • 3/4 cups (125 grams) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 ¾ cup (250 grams) flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder (16 grams)
  • 2/3 cup (125 ml) milk
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons
  • For the apples:
  • 1 ½ lb. (700 grams) apples (Golden Delicious)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • Confectioners sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C) and thoroughly butter and flour a 10” (25 cm) springform pan.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft, add the 3/4 cups sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Add the flour gradually, alternating with the milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon rind. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with a spatula so it is even.

Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice each quarter into 3-4 pieces, about 1/4 inch wide. Place the slices core side down on the batter. Start from the outside making one circle, then make a smaller inner circle of apple slices. The apples should be quite close together so that you barely see the batter. You may have a few apple slices that don’t fit. Sprinkle the surface of the apple cake with the 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Place on a rack, remove the springform side and allow to cool. Sieve powdered sugar over the apple cake before serving. Serves 8-10.


Umbrian Pork

The art of preserving pork in Umbria, dates back to the 2nd century BC. Because of the poor farming conditions in this cold mountainous area, the inhabitants of Norcia (in the Province of Perugia) relied on animal husbandry. This art was perfected under the Roman Republic and Roman Empire and continued to thrive under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church State until modern times. The meticulous selection of livestock, the expert dry or humid curing, the distinct and diverse flavoring, the personal care and attention by specialists of this art, all contribute to the production of these unique delicacies.

Prosciutto

Umbrian cured ham, Prosciutto di Norcia, is the king of Umbrian delicacies. The most famous of central Italian ham is unmatched in quality and taste. The prosciutto is made of salted and naturally aged meat from the hindquarters of heavy mature animals. A Prosciutto di Norcia will generally weigh at least 20 pounds ( 9 kilos). The animals are raised in the high mountain ranges above sea level in the Valnerina district. The calciferous rock, of which the mountains are mostly made, filter rain water to create natural cellars with perfect conditions for the slow aging process (14 months or more) resulting in top quality cured meats. Prosciutto di Norcia is savory but not salty and each slice presents a variety of shades of garnet. The unique nutty taste of this ham is a perfect companion to a side dish of Mediterranean fruits or grilled asparagus.

Capocollo

Also known as lonza, ossocollo, capicollo, coppa. Capocollo is the famous Italian sandwich meat, characterized by its tenderness and aromatic flavor. Umbrian capocollo is made from prime cuts of pork neck, which is salted and flavored with fennel, garlic, salt and black pepper and cured in a red wine brine. The craft of capocollo preparation includes storage in fresh cellars where the capocollo is massaged by hand for at least 30 days. The capocollo is bound with natural string and allowed to air-dry. It is then wrapped in brown-paper and hung for 45-50 days at a temperature around 50 degrees F (10°C). A slice of Umbrian capocollo is compact and has a savory but slightly sweet taste which improves with age and adds refinement to any appetizer. Also delicious in a cold main course of arugula salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and wedges of pecorino.

Ciauscolo

This soft sausage has a strong and assertive flavor. It is made with shoulder and bacon meat, which is repeatedly minced to obtain a creamy texture. It is stuffed in natural gut casing and allowed to air-dry for 2 weeks. Delicious when spread on a slice of crusty Italian bread and accompanied with slivers of green apple or grapes and a little honey.

Fiaschetta

These spicy, pear-shaped sausages are characterized by their small size and intense flavor. They are made from coarsely ground lean pork, seasoned with black pepper and garlic. The fiaschetta are dry-cured in rooms heated with a natural log fire for 40-50 days.The spiciness of this salami is a perfect balance for delicate, close textured Umbrian bread. It is also popular as an addition to a rustic meat-based risotto.

Corallina

The original and most famous of Umbrian salami is made from the best cuts of pork following a traditional and age-old recipe. The meat is expertly hand-cut to obtain the correct balance of meat and fat. It is flavored with whole and crushed black peppercorns, garlic and salt, hand-tied and aged for up to 40 days.This authentic delicacy can be served as an appetizer with grilled vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.

Aged Guanciale

Meat taken from the cheeks of the pig are cured in a red-wine based brine for 20 days. It is subsequently hung for 10 days in a room where a wood-fire maintains a steady temperature that encourages the curing process. It is then seasoned with either crushed chillies, fennel or black pepper and left to mature in a cool room for 45-50 days. The guanciale is mostly a soft-white color with a ribbon of pink running through it. It has a variety of uses – for basting roast meats, to adding flavor to gravy, as a topping for minestrone or polenta or as wafer-thin slices placed over bruschetta or freshly baked bread.

Pancetta

A speciality made from pork belly. When making pancetta, some of the fat is removed and replaced with crushed chillies, fennel, black pepper and sea salt. The pancetta is rolled, tied with jute and pressed between planks of wood. It is stored in a cool place for approximately one month and as the curing progresses, the planks of wood are tightened to compact the layers. The finished product is dense and when cut appears as pink and white spirals. The taste is spicy but delicate. The flavor of pancetta lends itself to goat cheese, black olives, peas and other legumes. It can be used as an alternative for bacon in classic pasta dishes such as pasta alla carbonara, pasta all’amatriciana and pasta alla carrettiera.

Coppa di testa

Hand-cut meat from the head of the pig, seasoned with garlic, black pepper and salt and steamed in a jute bag. This cooked salami has a marbled terrine-like appearance with a delicate aromatic taste. It can be served in thin slices with arugula and mature pecorino or with fried eggs. Goes well with a glass of robust red wine.

Recipes Using Italian Cured Pork

Frittata with Prosciutto, Potatoes, Goat Cheese & Thyme

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 ounces arugula
  • 1 russet potato (about 8 oz), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/2 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (or cheese of choice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the sliced potatoes in a bowl and cover them with cold water to keep them from turning brown.

Slice the onion and saute in the olive oil until soft and translucent.

Oil a 9×12 baking dish and place an overlapping layer of potato slices on the bottom of the dish (you will use about half of the potatoes). Spread the cooked onions and the prosciutto on top of the potatoes. Next a layer of arugula and top with crumbled goat cheese and half of the thyme.

Whisk together the eggs and milk and gently pour over the layers in the pan. Top with the remaining slices of potato and sprinkle remaining fresh thyme on top.

Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Removing the foil and bake 5-10 minutes until the eggs are set. Turn the oven setting to broil and brown the top of the frittata.

Lentil Soup and Ciauscolo

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices Ciauscolo salami
  • 2 1/4 cups lentils
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Put the lentils in water and let stand overnight.

Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Into a saucepan pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic cloves and chopped shallots. Add the potatoes and let cook for 5 minutes.

Drain lentils and put into the pot. Stir, cover with cold water, add the rosemary, bay leaves and salt and cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally to see if the lentils are soft. The soup should be quite liquid, so it may be necessary to add a few tablespoons of water. When cooked, remove the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves and keep warm.

Take the slices of Ciauscolo and sear them quickly on both sides on a stove top grill.

Pour the lentil soup into bowls and place the Ciauscolo slices on top. Add freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound small brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved through root ends
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound 1/8-inch-thick slices pancetta cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

Directions:

Cook brussels sprouts in a saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté pancetta until crisp. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

Add warm brussels sprouts to the skillet; sprinkle with thyme and sage. Sauté over high heat just until heated through and vegetables begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Spaghetti All’Amatriciana

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz finely minced guanciale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onion (about 1 large onion)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced pepperoncini or other dried hot peppers
  • 2 28-oz cans tomato purée
  • 1 lb dry spaghetti

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until the oil ripples but does not smoke. Add guanciale and cook, stirring frequently, until the fat begins to render and meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Add onion and stir, coating onions with the rendered fat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and pepperoncini and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more.

Add the tomato purée, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and thickens slightly, about 40 minutes. At this point the sauce can be used immediately, or cooled and refrigerated for up to a week or cooled and frozen.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain but don’t rinse, return spaghetti to the hot pot and toss with the sauce.

Pizza with Mozzarella and Capocollo

Ingredients:

Dough

1 pound of pizza dough

Topping

  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes
  • 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 pound thinly sliced capocollo

Directions:

Heat pizza stone in the oven for at least 45 minutes before assembling pies. Place the stone on a rack in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to maximum temperature (500º to 550º).
While stone is heating prepare topping.



Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add tomatoes to the boiling water; boil for 20 seconds. Drain tomatoes, then peel, quarter, seed and coarsely chop.

Meanwhile, place onion slices in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes, then drain. Repeat 2 or 3 times while you prepare the rest of the topping (soaking raw onion in cold water mellows the harsh taste).

Rinse and dry leek. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leek and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and sugar; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce is blended and thickened, about 4 minutes more. Transfer sauce to a bowl.

Spread dough in a greased pizza pan. Working quickly, spread sauce over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border. Tear the cheese into pieces and arrange on top of the sauce. Drizzle lightly with oil. Place pizza pan on the stone. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in spots and the edge of the crust is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pizza from the oven and top with capocollo and red onion.


Thyme once was associated with courage, bravery and strength. Roman soldiers exchanged sprigs of thyme as a sign of respect. Greeks and Romans burned bundles of thyme to purify their temples and homes and to evoke a spirit of courage in those who inhaled it. Greeks and Romans are also believed to have added this herb directly to their baths and oil extracts from the plant were used to make bath and massage oils.

Thyme was associated with health and vigor and believed to strengthen and purify the body. Today, its essential oil, thymol, still has many therapeutic applications – it is widely used as an antiseptic and disinfectant and infusions of thyme are believed to be an excellent remedy for respiratory and throat ailments – and even hangovers! Thyme is also said to help in the digestion of fatty foods.

Thyme is widely used in Italian cooking – where it is know as “timo, pronounced “tee-mo”. Though there are more than 300 varieties of this herb, the most common types used in cooking are Thymus vulgaris (common thyme), Thymus citriodorus (citrus thyme, Thymus herba-barona (caraway thyme) and Thymus serpyllum (wild thyme).

Wild Thyme

Common thyme, the variety most often found in Italy, is a perennial plant, six to twelve inches tall, with tiny oval leaves and a pungent aroma.

Fresh thyme holds up well with refrigeration and can often be purchased by the bunch or a group of sprigs in a plastic clamshell container. Fresh thyme can be used whole with the stem or just the leaves with the stem removed.

If a recipe calls for a “sprig” of thyme, the leaves and stem should be used together, intact. When adding a whole sprig of thyme to soups, stews or other recipes, the leaves usually fall off during cooking and the woody stem can be removed prior to serving.

To remove the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, simply hold the sprig of thyme at the top with one hand, pinch the sprig with the other, and pull backwards down the stem. The leaves will detach easily. Fresh thyme leaves are so small that they usually require no chopping.

Fresh thyme should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic or in the original plastic clamshell container. When stored properly, fresh thyme will retain freshness and flavor for about two weeks.

Dried thyme retains much of the flavor of fresh thyme and is a suitable substitution for fresh in many cases. When substituting dried thyme for fresh, use roughly one third of the volume of fresh thyme called for in the recipe. Dried thyme can be found in most major supermarkets year round. Store dried thyme in an airtight container, away from heat and light. When stored properly, dried thyme should retain flavor and potency for up to one year.

When cooking with thyme, unlike many other herbs, be sure to add it early in the process, so the oils and flavor have time to be released. Thyme is used in many typical southern Italian pasta sauces, featuring peppers and eggplant and is also a great complement for many vegetables, including tomatoes and roasted potatoes. In Italy recipes, grilled and oven roasted fish, such as spigola (sea bass) triglie al forno (mullets), call for thyme. Additionally, thyme combines well with sage and rosemary and, when you grill, you can get great results if you marinate the meat for a few hours before grilling with those three herbs (thyme, sage and rosemary), along with good quality Italian olive oil.

Eggplant Rolls with Fresh Ricotta and Thyme

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium eggplants, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, freshly grated
  • 3/4 cup flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Slice 1½ eggplants into ¼ inch slices lengthwise. Reserve the 1/2 eggplant for a sauce.

Sprinkle with salt and drain in colander for 30 minutes. Set aside.

For the eggplant sauce:

Peel remaining ½ eggplant and cut into small cubes, season with salt and place in another colander for 30 minutes to drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, add garlic and sauté until garlic is translucent.

Add the cubed eggplant, salt and pepper and water. Cook until eggplant is very soft.

Process the sauce mixture in a blender or with a hand immersion blender until smooth.

Add chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon thyme. Makes approx 1-½ cups.

For the cheese filling:

Mix ricotta cheese, parmigiano, remaining thyme and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Coat eggplant slices lightly with flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and sauté eggplant slices until light brown. Remove the eggplant and spread flat on level surface.

Divide ricotta mixture evenly among eggplant slices. Begin at one end and roll the eggplant into a cylinder. Repeat with remaining rolls.

Place rolls in 8×8 glass baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano cheese. Serve the eggplant rolls with warm eggplant sauce.

Farfalle with Peppers and Thyme

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Farfalle pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups white onions, sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh italian parsley chopped

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 sprig of fresh thyme. Sauté 5 minutes.

Add peppers and water to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Sauté an additional 10 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Drain pasta, add to the skillet with the pepper mixture and toss. Sprinkle with remaining thyme and chopped parsley.

Chicken Thighs Baked with Lemon and Thyme

In addition to the lemon and thyme, the chicken thighs are flavored with an emulsified mash of garlic, salt and olive oil.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • Coarse salt or sea salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 2 large lemons, each cut into six 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1-2 bunches fresh thyme, snipped into twenty-four 2-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup black olives (kalamata), cut in half

Directions:

Mash the garlic with a large pinch of salt to create a coarse paste ( with a mortar and pestle or a small mixing bowl and the back of a spoon). Add the oil very slowly in drops while pounding and grinding the paste, continuing until thick, creamy and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl. Rub the garlic paste all over and under the skin. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Arrange the lemon slices in one layer in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish (9x13x2 inches). Top each slice with two pieces of thyme. Set the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top; sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Bake until the skin is golden and the juices are clear, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Sometimes the lemons and chicken produce a lot of juices, in which case you can make a pan sauce. Transfer the chicken (keeping the thyme and lemon slices underneath) to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

Set the pan over medium heat (if the pan isn’t flameproof, pour the juices into a small skillet) and scrape up any stuck-on juices. Let the juices boil and reduce so they thicken to a saucy consistency. Drizzle the sauce around, not on, the chicken to maintain the crisp skin and garnish with olives.

Nectarine-Thyme Crumble

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 nectarines, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

In a bowl, toss the nectarines with the granulated sugar, juice, thyme and a pinch of salt; let stand for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and wheat germ with a pinch of salt. Using your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture is sandy. Press the streusel into small clumps and scatter on a rimmed baking sheet.

Spoon the nectarines, thyme and any juices into 6 individual baking dishes. Bake the nectarines for about 20 minutes, until the fruit is softened. Meanwhile, bake the streusel mixture stirring once, for about 10 minutes, until browned.

Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit, bake for 5 minutes longer and serve.


Soup can be anything you want it to be – quick, slow-cooking, hearty or light. You can also experiment endlessly with your favorite vegetables, beans and meats to make delicious meals in no time. Cooking homemade soup can be easy and soups make wonderfully satisfying meals. Here are some tips for making great tasting soup.

1. Start with a Delicious Liquid Base

Soups are mostly water, but often include broth or stock, wine or milk. Whatever the liquid in your soup is, use one that you would want to drink. The vast majority of the time, the liquid in soup is stock or broth. The best to use is homemade but many delis, supermarkets and butchers sell freshly made frozen stock that works well, too. If you buy store- bought broth, dilute it with water (4 parts of broth to 1 part water) and find a brand sold in boxes instead of cans to avoid a slight metal taste. When adding wine to soups, be sure to bring it to a boil and let it cook for at least 10 minutes to cook off the alcohol taste. For cream or milk-based soups, check the expiration date to be sure you are using fresh dairy products.

2. Sweat the Aromatics

Aromatics include onions, leeks, garlic and often celery and carrots. Cooking them over low to medium heat in the pan before adding any liquid will help soften their texture and blend their flavors. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. The goal is to break down their cellulose (making them easier to eat or purée later) and get them to give off some of their liquid, which will deepen the flavor of the soup.

3. Use the Right Tools

A large and heavy pot with a cover

A powerful blender or hand immersion blender

An ample soup ladle.

4. Salt in Layers

Canned and prepared soups and broths are known to be high in sodium. You want a satisfying homemade soup that is full of flavor but not overly salty. Salt soup as chefs do: in layers. Add some salt to the aromatics and other vegetables as you are cooking them. If you’re cooking meat separately, make sure it is well seasoned before it goes into the pot. And, most importantly, taste it before adding more salt.

5. Include Something Fresh

You’ve used great ingredients. You’ve cooked and salted them properly. Add a bit of something fresh right at the end. Fresh herbs, fresh citrus juice, a dollop or two of cream or yogurt or pesto. A hint of something un-cooked and un-simmered will highlight the deep melded flavors in the rest of the soup.

6. Garnish at the End

Go beyond chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper. The best soup garnishes offer a contrasting flavor or texture to both compliment and highlight the soup.

  • Crunchy on smooth (small croutons or crackers on a pureed vegetable soup )
  • Smooth on chunky (sour cream on borscht )
  • Bitter on savory (herbs on a lentil soup)
  • Salty on sweet (diced prosciutto on sweet potato or squash or carrot soup )

Fall Soups

Take advantage of the fall vegetables that make great additions to soup:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mustard Greens
  • Rutabagas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Squash
  • Turnips

Tuscan Peasant Soup with Pancetta

Yields 3-1/2 qts.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 -1 cup small-diced pancetta (about 4 oz. or 4 thick slices)
  • 4 cups large-diced Savoy cabbage (about ½ small head)
  • 2 cups medium-diced onion (10 to 12 oz. or 2 small)
  • 1-1/2 cups medium-diced carrot (about 4 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 28-oz. can diced Italian tomatoes
  • 7 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 2 15-1/2-oz. cans small white beans, rinsed and drained (about 2-1/2 cups, drained)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 4- to 5-qt. Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crisp (the oil will also be golden brown), about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and with a slotted spoon or strainer carefully transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Return the pot to medium-high heat, add the chopped cabbage and salt lightly. Cook the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until limp and browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat again and transfer the cabbage to another plate.

Put the pot back over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and the vegetables are browned around the edges and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan, 8 to 9 minutes.

Add the last 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the fresh rosemary and the ground coriander. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stir together, and cook the mixture 2 to 3 more minutes.

Return the cabbage to the pan and add the chicken broth. Stir well, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes to infuse the broth with the flavor of the vegetables. Add the beans, bring back to a simmer and cook for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary and let rest a few minutes.

Taste the soup and add lemon juice to brighten it—you’ll want at least 1 teaspoon. Season with more salt, if necessary, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Serve the soup hot, garnished with the reserved pancetta crisps, the toasted breadcrumbs and the grated Parmigiano.

Fall Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped, thick stems discarded
  • 2 or 3 cabbage leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch chard, preferably white, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 4 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini, with their liquid. (If using canned beans buy low sodium.)
  • Water

Directions:

Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a deep pot and turn the heat to medium.

Add half the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, which takes about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil and repeat the process, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.

Add the parsley, cabbage and chard and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is softened but not browned.  Add the tomato paste and stir.

Mash half the beans and leave the remainder whole. Add this mixture to the pot, along with any bean cooking liquid and enough water to cover the ingredients completely.

Continue cooking, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as necessary, until all the vegetables are very tender and the soup is hot. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Roasted Butternut Soup with Apples and Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 4 bacon slices, chopped in large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the squash, onion, apples, bacon and garlic in a deep roasting pan or on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the oil.

Roast, stirring every now and then, until the squash, onion and apples are tender and browned and the bacon is crisp, which takes about 45 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Set aside some of the bacon for garnish.

Stir in the sage and white wine and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom.

If you’re using a roasting pan that can be used on the stovetop, position the pan over 2 burners and put both on medium heat. Otherwise, transfer the contents of the pan to a large pot or Dutch oven and set it over medium heat.

Add the stock and cook until the squash, onion and apples break apart and thicken and flavor the broth, which takes about 25 minutes. You can help the process along by breaking the mixture up with a potato masher. Garnish with bacon before serving.

Chicken Kale Soup with Pesto

If you are pressed for time, you can substitute 3 to 4 tablespoons of a store-bought basil pesto.

5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 6 ounces baby kale or spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can low sodium cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup plain or herbed multigrain croutons for garnish

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot, bell pepper and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Lightly salt the chicken and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add kale (or spinach if you cannot find baby kale in your market) and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan cheese and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water if needed, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Sauteed Leeks

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped and thoroughly rinsed
  • 6 slices Pancetta, diced
  • Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:

In a wide, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (do not brown), about 5 minutes.

Add cauliflower, potato and 2 tablespoons butter; stir to combine. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until cauliflower is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add leek and diced pancetta, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 cups broth and a pinch salt; cook at a very gentle simmer for 15 minutes. Strain liquid into pot with cauliflower; reserving pancetta and leeks for garnish.

In a blender or with a hand immersion blender, carefully purée cauliflower mixture. Return purée to pot, if using a blender, and gently heat to warm through. Adjust seasoning. Add additional broth to thin soup to your liking. Ladle soup into bowls, top with pancetta and leeks and sprinkle with parsley.

 


Flatbread is thin and, in many instances, made without yeast. Many cultures have their own version and it was probably one of the earliest bread products ever made. Some of the oldest examples of food found in tombs and archaeological sites have been flatbreads. They vary widely in size, shape, texture and ingredients.

Unleavened flatbread has a special symbolic role for several religions, especially Judaism. Matzo is a common example and it traditionally takes the form of a rectangular crisp cracker. Tortillas are a softer version, made with corn or flour, depending on the region and the dish. The disparity between these two dishes helps to illustrate the wide range of flatbreads eaten around the world.

Some other examples include chapati, injera, pizza, pita, lavash, puri, barbari, arepas, and naan. Many of these breads are designed to work like eating utensils for scooping up foods from a common serving platter. They can also be wrapped or rolled around foods, stuffed like sandwiches or eaten plain. Almost every culture with access to grain has devised some kind of bread that is flat, made from ingredients, like wheat, teff, corn, rye or rice.

The most basic flatbread is made from ground grain and water. Many cooks also add salt and oil for additional flavoring. Leavened breads may be made with yeast and they may also include eggs in some types. The variants certainly do not stop with the basic recipe, however, and the dough can be mixed with herbs, spices and vegetables, such as dill, thyme, cumin, coriander seed, onions, or garlic.

Kiosk (in Cesena)

In the case of pizza and focaccia, the bread may be topped with a wide variety of ingredients. Piadina is a thin Italian flatbread, typically prepared in the Romagna region (present-day Emilia-Romagna.). It is usually made with white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water. The dough was traditionally cooked on a terracotta dish (called teggia), although nowadays flat pans or electric griddles are commonly used. Piadine are usually sold immediately after preparation in specialized kiosks. They can be filled with a variety of cheeses, cold cuts and vegetables and sometimes with sweet fillings, such as jam or Nutella. There may be minor differences in the fillings, depending on the area of production. Piadine produced around Ravenna are generally thicker, while those produced around Rimini and the Marche region are thinner but the diameter is greater.

Flat breads can be stored in several ways: Room temperature: 5 days; Refrigerated: 25 days; Frozen: 6 months – Quality is not compromised when frozen. Thaw at room temperature.

Flatbreads Without Yeast

Skillet Flatbreads

These flatbreads are great for stuffing or rolling around a variety of ingredients, especially cheese and roasted red peppers.

 Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 to 3 additional tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

Place the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the oil and ice water and mix to make a soft, cohesive dough. Adjust with additional flour or water as needed. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet on the stovetop. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until the oil starts to shimmer in the pan.

Divide the dough into 10 to 12 equal pieces. Each piece should weigh about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces, about the size of a large egg. Dredge each piece in flour and roll to a rough circle or oval, about 1/4″ thick or hand shape the pieces by flattening between your palms.

In batches, fry the flatbreads in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn and fry on the second side for another 2 minutes. Or you can put a griddle pan on high heat and cook each flatbread for a couple of minutes per side, until slightly puffy and lightly charred – you’ll need to do this in batches.

Transfer from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving. Add more oil as needed for frying successive batches.

Yield: 10 to 12 flatbreads.

Whole Wheat Piadina (Italian Flatbread)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups ice water

Directions:

Combine the ingredients in the order given, one at a time, stirring well between each addition. Knead a bit by hand for the final mix. Work fast to keep the dough tender.

The dough should be soft but easily rolled out. You may need to add a bit of flour or water depending on the weather and the type of flour you are using.

Cut into 10-12 pieces. Roll out thin on an oiled surface. Create disks approximately 8 -10″ round.

Prick the top of the bread with a fork and fry in a lightly oiled skillet or on a grill. These work well on the outdoor grill, if the the grill is well oiled. Good toppings are prosciutto and cheese.

Italian Chickpea Flatbread

This recipe is vegan and gluten free.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups chickpea flour (also called garbanzo flour)
  • 3.5 cups fresh cold water
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water gradually as you whisk the flour to keep any lumps from forming. Once all the water has been added, mix until completely smooth. Add the salt and pepper.

Let the mixture stand on the counter for 3 hours or so. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Gently skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the mixture with a slotted spoon.

Prepare a large rimmed cookie sheet by pouring enough olive oil onto the bottom to completely cover the pan.

Once the oven is hot, pour the batter onto the baking pan, making a layer about (1/4) inch deep. Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool before cutting and serving. Pesto makes a great topping for this bread.

Flatbreads Made With Yeast

Grilled Onion and Sage Flatbread

Serve this flatbread as an appetizer or for lunch or dinner with a salad and soup. Use any type of herb that you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (6 slices)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

Prepare a medium (350°F to 375°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Brush the onion slices with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the onion slices until grill marks form on one side, about 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the slices and continue to grill until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes more. Stack the onions on a large piece of foil, wrap the onions up and let them sit for 10 minutes to soften further.

Coarsely chop the onions.

Generously coat a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Oil your hands as well, then evenly press the pizza dough onto the sheet pan all the way to the corners. Using your knuckles, make dimpled depressions in the top of the dough.

In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the oil with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon water; brush the dough with the mixture.

In a medium bowl, toss the sage and onion with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Top the dough with the onion mixture. Bake in the center of the oven until the flatbread and onions are browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Slice and serve.

Carta da Musica/Pane Carasau

Sardinian flatbread is called Pane Carasau.

This Italian flatbread has a crispy, cracker-like texture and is usually seasoned with rosemary and salt. It is also nicknamed “piano paper” or carta da musica which describes it’s thinness. It is said to have been first made by the shepherds in Sardinia, who took it with them into the pastures because it keeps well.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Semolina Flour
  • 1 envelope Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Salt

To Serve: fresh chopped rosemary, salt and olive oil

Directions:

Combine the two flours with 1 teaspoon of salt.

In a small cup, dissolve the yeast and a 1/4 cup of the warm water. Let sit until bubbly.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour with the rest of the water. Mix until you have a smooth dough. Cover and let sit 1 hour. Knead for 5 minutes and cover for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Spray two flat baking sheets with oil spray. Knead the dough once more and divide into 8 equal balls. Roll each ball out as thinly as you canand place on the baking sheets.

Bake each pan for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.

The breads should blister but not brown. Remove from the oven and pile one on top of the other. Place a board or flat tray on top and let sit until cool.

To prepare for serving,:

Return each bread to the oven for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove, brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh chopped rosemary and salt and return to the oven for a few minutes. Serve warm.


São Paulo

Many Italians left Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and it was one of the largest modern emigrations any country has seen (Ireland was another). Argentina was a popular destination, but so were Brazil, the United States, Uruguay, Canada, Venezuela and Peru. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, an estimated 8.9 million Italians emigrated to the Americas, 7.6 million to other countries in Europe, 300,000 to Africa, 42,000 to Oceania and 13,000 to Asia.

Brasil’s Ellis Island-Santa Catarina

Italian Immigrants in South America

After Italian unification in 1861, the Italian economy improved. However, generations of subdividing plots, poor land management and farming methods and the phylloxera epidemic (microscopic root insect similar to an aphid that wiped out the Italian wine industry in the 1870s), all led to major ecomonic losses for most Italians. As a result, increasing numbers of young Italian men began seeking work abroad, first in France and Switzerland, then in the Americas, as transatlantic shipping became more reliable and less expensive.

Argentina was the preferred destination in the 1870s and 1880s, next Brazil until the turn of the century and, then, the U.S. until World War I. As the great majority of Italian emigrants were economic migrants, it was the availability of work, above all, that dictated their preferred destinations. Argentina was popular, at first, because of geography; farm laborers could find work in Argentina to earn extra income during the Northern Hemisphere winter. As the economy there boomed due to demand for its agricultural products, the need for laborers also grew and Domingo Sarmiento, president of Argentina (1868-1874), encouraged immigration. In 1890 Argentina suffered a severe economic downturn, a financial recession, which also affected its neighbors and the U.S. At the same time, Brazil’s coffee planters were becoming more aggressive in seeking cheap labor. São Paulo began to subsidize passage and lodging for new immigrants. In the 1880s, coffee plantation owners promoted Brazil heavily as a work destination, so a large proportion of Italian emigrants were attracted to Brazil. However, a few years later, word of the ill-treatment of Italian workers in Brazil led to outrage in Italy. This outcry sharply curtailed the number of Italian immigrants to Brazil and helped the numbers increase to the United States.

In contrast to the situation in South America, the U.S. needed cheap labor for its factories, not for farming, and many Italians preferred the life of a factory worker to that of a farm laborer or ranch hand. So the United States absorbed most of the Italian immigrants until after World War I, when a series of anti-immigration laws closed the country to Southern Europeans. After World War II, Italian emigration expanded to places like Australia, but improving economic conditions in Italy would eventually reduce immigration to more stable levels.

La Boca

File:Bocajrs 1908.jpg

Boca Juniors team, during the amateur era of the Argentine Football Association

The neighborhood of La Boca is known in Argentine history for being one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. It’s port was the entry point for immigrants in the 1900’s and, today, it is known for the rows of brightly painted houses and the tango. Located in the very southern part of Buenos Aires, this area was once a trade center and shipyard. During the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s, the La Boca neighborhood became home to Buenos Aires’ first ‘Little Italy’. This community gave birth to the tango and the dance was celebrated in tango halls, bars and brothels. La Boca was popular for quite sometime, but as the years past, the neighborhood declined. Today, La Boca is mostly frequented by visitors for its famous Caminito Street, tango shows and to catch a world class football game at La Bombonera Stadium. The club was founded in April 1905 by five Italian immigrants.

The main areas of Italian settlement in Brazil were in the southern and southeastern regions, namely the states of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais.  Among all the Italians who immigrated to Brazil, 70% went to São Paulo. The rest went mostly to the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais.  In 1880, due to the great numbers of Italian immigrants, the Brazilian government created another Italian colony, Caxias do Sul. After initially settling in the government-promoted colonies, many of the Italian immigrants spread into other areas of Rio Grande do Sul seeking better opportunities.

Wine production introduced by Italians in Caxias do Sul.

The Italians established many vineyards in the region. Today, the wine produced in these areas of Italian colonization in southern Brazil, is much appreciated within the country though little is available for export. Many Italians also worked in factories (in 1901, 81% of the São Paulo’s factory workers were Italians). The workers established themselves in the center of the city, living in multi-family row houses, and these urban centers gave birth to typical Italian neighborhoods – a Little Italy, (such as Mooca).  Other Italians became traders selling their products throughout the region. A common presence on the streets of São Paulo were the Italian boys selling newspapers. Despite the poverty and poor working conditions faced by many Italians in Brazil, over time, most of this population achieved some personal success and changed their low class economic situation. The children of Italians, born in Brazil, often changed their social status as they diversified their field of work, leaving the poor conditions of their parents behind.

Italian Students in Brazil.

St. Vito Festival is one of the most important Italian festivals in São Paulo. It is a celebration in honor of Saint Vito, the patron saint of Polignano a Mare, a city in the Puglia region, in Italy. Many Italian immigrants in Brás, a São Paulo district, came from Puglia. Festa de São Vito is also a time when the Italian community in São Paulo gathers to party and eat traditional food. Other important Italian celebrations in São Paulo are Our Lady of Casaluce, also in Brás (May), Our Lady of Achiropita, in Bela Vista (August) and St. Gennaro, in Mooca (September). As São Paulo grew, so did the Italian community and the St. Vito Festiva. An estimated 140,000 people attend the festival every year.

Italian Influences In Argentine and Brazilian Cuisine

Argentina

Argentine cuisine has been strongly influenced by Italian cuisine. Italian staple dishes like pizza and pasta are common. Pasta is usually served simply prepared with butter, oil, tomato or bechamel-based sauces. Pizza (locally pronounced pisa or pitsa) more closely resembles Italian calzones than it does its Italian ancestor. Typical Argentine pizzas include pizza canchera (thick crust, tomato sauce, no cheese), pizza rellena (stuffed pizza), pizza por metro (pizza by the meter) and pizza a la parrilla (grilled pizza). The most popular pizza, Argentine fugazza comes from the Italian focaccia (Genoan), but the addition of cheese to the dish (fugaza con queso or fugazzeta) is an Argentine invention. Fainá is a type of thin pizza made with chickpea flour (adopted from northern Italy). The name comes from the Ligurian word for the Italian, farinata. 

Nevertheless, pasta surpasses pizza consumption in Argentina. Among them are tallarines (fettuccine), ravioles (ravioli), ñoquis (gnocchi) and canelones (cannelloni). It is common in Argentina for pasta to be eaten with white bread, which is unusual in Italy. This can be explained by the fact that Argentine pastas tend to come with a large amount of tomato sauce (Italian sugo). Sorrentinos are also a local dish with a misleading name (they do not come from Sorrento, but were invented in Mar del Plata). They look like big round ravioli, stuffed with mozzarella, cottage cheese and basil and served in tomato sauce. 

Polenta comes from Northern Italy and is very common throughout Argentina. Just like polenta in Italy, this cornmeal dish is eaten as a main course with sauce and melted cheese. Milanesa Napolitana is an Argentine innovation, despite its name, and it consists of breaded meat with cheese, tomatoes and sometimes ham on top of the meat. Pasta frola, a recipe heavily influenced by Southern Italian cuisine, consists of a buttery pastry with a filling made of quince jam or milk caramel (dulce de leche). Argentine ice cream (Spanish Helado; Gelato in Italian) is particularly popular for dessert. Its creamy texture comes from heavy cream and the flavors range from classical chocolate with almonds to Dulce de Leche to kiwi, wine or tangerine. Ice cream was again a legacy of the Italians.

Pizza de Fugazza

Fugazza, a kind of pizza, though it lacks a tomato-based sauce and has a thicker, airy crust. It’s always topped with a pile of sweet onions and sometimes with mozzarella cheese and cooked in a deep pizza pan or cast-iron skillet. Fugazza makes a great appetizer or main dish. You can add other toppings of course – olives, herbs, ham, etc. The onions are typically not pre-cooked in Argentina

Yield: Makes 1 14-inch pizza.

Ingredients:

  • 2 2/3 cups bread flour
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100-105 degrees F)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Thin slices of mozzarella cheese (optional)

Directions:

Place the warm water in a small bowl. Stir 1 teaspoon sugar into the water and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is bubbly.

Place the flour, olive oil and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix together briefly using the dough hook. Add the yeast/water mixture and begin to knead. The mixture should come together as a soft, stretchy dough, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more flour, if mixture is too wet or add a bit more water, if mixture seems dry, crumbly or overly firm. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.

Oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, peel and slice the onion into very thin strips. Place them in a bowl of cold salted water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain onions well and dry them with paper towels.

Once the dough has risen, punch down and shape into a smooth ball. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a 14-inch pizza pan with 1 inch sides. Place the ball of dough in the middle of the pan and flatten gently with your fingers. Let dough relax for 10 minutes.

Continue to flatten dough in the pan, pushing it toward the sides of the pan, letting it relax in between, until the dough covers the bottom of the pan.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Sprinkle the onions over the top of the dough. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the onions and sprinkle with the dried oregano.

Place the fugazza in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. If desired, remove fugazza from the oven and top with thin slices of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake until fugazza is golden brown and crispy around the edges. Brown onions under the broiler for the last 3 minutes of cooking, if desired. Remove from the oven and cut into slices to serve.

Pizza de Fugazzeta

Fugazzeta is a variation of the popular Argentinian, fugazza, an onion-topped pizza that is very similar to Italian-style focaccia. Fugazzeta is a double crusted version of fugazza, stuffed with cheese and topped with the same sweet onions. Fugazzeta de verdura has all of this plus a layer of sautéed spinach and vegetables.

Yield: 1 12-inch pizza.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion
  • 6-8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup grated aged provolone cheese 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Warm the milk to 100-105 degrees F and place in a small bowl. Stir the sugar into the milk and sprinkle the yeast over. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is bubbly.

Place the flour, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix together briefly using the dough hook. Add the yeast/milk mixture and begin to knead, adding the water gradually. The mixture should come together as a soft, stretchy dough, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more flour, if mixture is too wet or and add a bit more water, if mixture seems dry, crumbly, or overly firm. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.

Oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, peel and slice the onion into very thin strips. Place them in a bowl of cold salted water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain onions well and dry them with paper towels.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two pieces. Roll each half into a smooth ball. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a 12-inch pizza pan or cast iron skillet. Place one ball of dough in the middle of the pan and flatten gently with your fingers. Let dough relax for 10 minutes.

Continue to flatten the dough, pushing it toward the sides of the pan, letting it relax in between, until the dough covers the bottom of the pan. Oil the counter and roll the other piece of dough into a 12-inch circle, letting it relax in between until it holds its shape.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the slices of mozzarella cheese over the dough in the pan. Sprinkle the provolone over the mozzarella. Place the other round of dough over the cheese and seal the edges of the two dough circles together.

Top the pizza with the sliced onions. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the onions and sprinkle with the dried oregano and some Parmesan cheese.

Place the fugazzeta in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and crispy. Brown the onions under the broiler for the last 3 minutes of cooking if desired. 

Remove from the oven. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.

Pizza de Fainá

Fainá is a nutty, peppery flatbread (related to the italian flatbread, Farinata) made with garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour. It makes a great appetizer, (especially with toppings), but it’s most often served as an accompaniment to pizza. In fact, topping a slice of pizza with a piece of fainá is a very common practice in both Argentina and Uruguay, where fainá is popular. When pizza and fainá are paired this way it’s called pizza a caballo (horseback pizza).

pizza a caballo

Fainá is very quick and easy to make and you can find garbanzo bean flour (gluten free) at many natural food stores.

Yield: 1 12-inch flatbread

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-2 1/2 cups water

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk the garbanzo bean flour together with the salt, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the Parmesan cheese and a generous amount of ground black pepper.

Whisk in 1 3/4 cups of water until the mixture is well blended. Set batter aside for about a half hour, to let the garbanzo flour absorb some of the water.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When it is hot, place the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch pizza pan. Heat the pan in the oven until very hot.

Gradually stir remaining water into the batter mixture until it is thin enough to pour. Remove the hot pizza pan from oven and immediately pour the batter into the pan. The batter should make a thin (about 1/4 inch) layer. Place the pan back in the oven and bake until fainá is golden and crispy (about 8-10 minutes). Cut the faina into pieces and serve.

Brazil

Italians brought new recipes and new types of food to Brazil that eventually changed Brazil’s cuisine. Aside from the typical Italian cuisine like pizza, pasta, risotto and ossobuco, Italians helped to created new dishes that, today, are typically Brazilian. Galeto (from the Italian Galletto –  grilled chicken), Frango com Polenta (Chicken with fried polenta), bife à parmegiana (beef prepared with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese), Catupiry cheese ( a soft, mild-tasting cheese that can be spread over toast, crackers and bread or used in cooking), new types of sausage, such as Linguiça Calabresa and Linguiça Toscana (literally Calabrian and Tuscan Sausage), Chocotone (Panettone with chocolate chips) and many other dishes were created or influenced by the Italian community.

Frango Con Quiabo

Brazilian comfort food – a simple dish of stewed chicken with okra. Okra can be used to thicken certain Brazilian stews, but in this recipe the okra is fried separately and then added to the stew at the very end, a technique that keeps the okra crisp and tender, yet not slimy. Frango con quiabo is often served over a polenta-like corn pudding called angu, as well as over rice (or even both).

Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, cut into serving-size pieces
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 cups fresh okra (or one bag of frozen okra)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth
  • Angu, for serving, see recipe below

Directions:

Cut the stems off the okra and cut the okra into half-inch rounds. Place okra in a colander and salt generously, tossing to coat all the pieces with some salt. Season with black pepper. Let okra rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the marinade, whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Place the chicken pieces in a dish or ziplock bag and cover with the marinade, turning chicken to coat. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes (chicken can marinate several hours to overnight).

Place 4 tablespoons of vegetable  oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the okra and fry for about 5 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove okra to a plate covered in paper towels, and set aside.

Add the chicken pieces to the same skillet and cook briefly until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the chopped onion, pepper and tomato to the skillet. Cook vegetables until soft and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the chicken back into the skillet and add some chicken broth until the chicken is about half covered. Simmer chicken, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Just before serving, add the okra to the chicken. Serve over Angu (creamy polenta) or rice.

Angu

A simple Brazilian side dish made of cooked cornmeal, similar to polenta. Angu is traditionally prepared with cornmeal, water and a little salt for flavoring. Chicken or beef broth can replace some of the water to add more flavor. Angu can be very creamy or it can be cooked longer until it’s thick enough to be placed in a mold. A popular way to serve angu is to shape it in a fluted ring mold, then serve the main dish (such as chicken with okra) in the middle of the unmolded cornmeal ring.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Bring water and chicken broth to a boil. Slowly stir in the cornmeal.

Season with salt to taste. Cook at a low simmer, stirring frequently, until cornmeal reaches desired consistency, adding more liquid if necessary. Remove from heat, stir in butter and serve.

If using a mold, cook cornmeal until very thick, about 30-40 minutes. Stir in butter. Use 1-2 tablespoons additional butter to grease the inside of a ring mold generously and pour the hot cornmeal into the mold. Let cool for about 10 minutes before gently unmolding. Serves four as side dish.

Bife à Parmegiana

Ingredients

Serves: 4

  • 4 steaks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons wheat flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 8 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the steaks with garlic and salt. Dredge steak in the flour, the beaten egg and breadcrumbs, in that order. Fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Arrange the steaks side by side in the dish and cover with the remaining sauce and mozzarella slices. Sprinkle oregano on top.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve at once.

Chocolate Panettone – Chocottone

Chocottone is the clever name for the chocolate version of traditional Italian panettone. It’s a rich chocolate brioche bread, baked in a high round dome and drizzled with chocolate glaze. Chocolate chips and nuts replace the traditional dried fruits.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter, divided
  • 4 tablespoons Nutella, or other chocolate/hazelnut spread
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

Directions:

Make the sponge:

Place 1 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons raspberry jam and 1 teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 3 hours.

Make the dough:

In the bowl of a standing mixer add the sponge, 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon yeast. Use the hook attachment to knead the dough until the mixture is smooth and stretchy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time and knead until dough is smooth, shiny and stretchy.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Return dough to the mixer and add salt, vanilla, honey and 1 teaspoon yeast. Knead for 1 minute. Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time, and knead until smooth.

Add the 8 tablespoons softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the Nutella, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue to knead until dough is shiny, stretchy, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 5 minutes).

Toss the chocolate chips and pecans with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add them to the dough and knead briefly, until just mixed in.

Place the dough in a oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Make a small “x” in the top of the dough by snipping it with scissors.

Place dough inside of a 6 inch diameter panettone mold, or use a clean, buttered coffee can lined with parchment paper. Let dough rise in a warm place until triple in size (at least 3 hours).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Place the panettone in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Bake the panettone for about 1 hour, until it has risen high and springs back a little when pressed on top (like a muffin).

Let panettone cool in the pan on a rack.

Make chocolate glaze:

On low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter with 1 cup chocolate chips. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon corn syrup. While still warm, drizzle icing decoratively over top of panettone .

Store panettone wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.

Approaching the ferry slip with a view of the Main Building at Ellis Island, NY.

This post concludes my articles on the history of the Italian immigrants and their journey to find a better life in the Americas. My next weekly feature will look indepth at the contributions Italians have made world-wide in the arts, cusine and as world leaders. Hope you will look forward to those posts.



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Victor Jung

Food, Restaurants, Bars, & Hospitality

LITTLE CHEF’S APRON

13 but looking for ways to share my cooking and photography experiences with you!

A Curly Sue's Ramblings

Lifestyle, Ramblings and more

Leverage Ambition

be you, be great

The TeeKay Take

A RESOURCE FOR RARE FINDS IN MUSIC AND WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR IT

. . .

love each other like you are the lyric and they are the music

https://jakhala.com

jakhala.com is a Blog on Healthy Life Style, Markets, News India, Sports, Wildlife-Nature, Entertainment, Photography, Food

saania2806.wordpress.com/

Philosophy is all about being curious, asking basic questions. And it can be fun!

Cooking, Food & More

Sharing what I am passionate about

itsthebiblophile

Writing can be anything for anyone but for me it's to express the overwhelming feelings I feel that cannot be said .[Disclaimer : everything posted here will be my own work (p.s. work here means everything written and not the images) unless mentioned otherwise. Please do not copy.]

No Time For Pants

Life Hacks and Advice

Dawn Anthony

Just another girl who loves sugar, spice and everything nice!

Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

beautifulpeopleinc.com

Live, Love, Travel and Laugh (Proudly Pinoy)

Theas Kitchen Recipes

Quick and Easy Recipes | Cakes and Pastries | Pinoy and International Recipes

Food Segment

You are what you eat....

miss PE

free food recipes for vegetarian and healthy food lover.

PJ Procrastinates

Baking and Oversharing

Five Lessons

Success Stories for Angsty Professionals

promoting product both digital&physical

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Keywebco

Helpful Tips Show, Blog & Vlog Via Keywebco

Rachel Rose

A Fitness * Fashion * Health Tips

Whatsdalatest

Uncover your Perception

Secret World Entertainment

Go, Go, Go. Stay, Stay, Stay.

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