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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Frankie Avalon was born Francis Thomas Avallone on September 18, 1940, in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to parents of Italian heritage. His song “Venus” became his first No. 1 single in 1959 and he released six more Top 40 records in that year alone. Avalon was on U.S. television playing his trumpet by the time he was 11. Two singles showcasing Avalon’s trumpet playing were issued on RCA Victor’s “X” sublabel in 1954 and, as a teenager, he played with Bobby Rydell in Rocco and the Saints.

His father, Nicholas Avallone, a multi-instrumentalist, nurtured Frankie’s artistic ambitions. Avalon broke into show business as a child prodigy, earning an appearance on The Jackie Gleason Show and making records for RCA Victor Records. He had an authentic music background to go with his good looks and it was that talent that allowed him to succeed. By 1962, the singer’s four-year domination of the music charts was coming to an end, but his career wasn’t. He teamed up with Annette Funicello and reinvented himself as a clean-cut surfer in the very successful Beach Party surfer film series.

Avalon also had straight dramatic parts. He acted in the John Wayne historical western film, The Alamo, as well as the science-fiction story, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, (1961) with Barbara Eden. His performance of “Beauty School Dropout” in the hit 1978 film of the musical, Grease, introduced Avalon to a new generation of viewers. Avalon appeared in nearly two dozen TV show episodes, including ABC’s The Bing Crosby Show and The Patty Duke Show.

Later, he became a national television spokesperson for Sonic Drive-In. He created a line of health and beauty care line called Frankie Avalon Products and has marketed his products on the Home Shopping Network. Avalon married Kathryn “Kay” Diebel on January 19, 1963. Still together, they have eight children and 10 grandchildren.

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Joni James (born Giovanna Carmella Babbo) on September 22, 1930. James was born into an Italian family in Chicago. As an adolescent, she studied drama and ballet and after graduating from high school went with a local dance group on a tour of Canada. She then took a job as a chorus girl in the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. However, she decided to pursue a singing career. Some executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) spotted her in a television commercial and she was signed by MGM in 1952. Her first hit, “Why Don’t You Believe Me?” sold over two million copies. She had a number of hits following that one, including “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Have You Heard?”,”Almost Always” (#9 in 1953), “My Love, My Love” (#8 in 1953,) “How Important Can It Be?” (#2 in 1955) and “You Are My Love” (#6 in 1955), as well as, sixteen other Top 40 hits from 1952 to 1961.

James married composer-conductor Tony Acquaviva at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York in 1956. In 1964 she retired from the music industry because Acquaviva was in bad health. She cared for him until his death in 1986. In 1997, she married retired Air Force General Bernard Adolph Schriever, 20 years her senior, the leader of the program that developed U.S. ballistic missiles. For many years, she was out of the public eye, but began touring again in the mid 1990s, performing memorable concerts at New York’s Town Hall, Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall. In October, 2001, just a few weeks after 9/11, she appeared at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, accompanied by the Count Basie orchestra. The streets of the city were still lined with armed soldiers and she was a guest of honor at the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Tribute to Barbra Streisand. With her renewed popularity, nearly her entire body of work was released on the Capitol-EMI, DRG and Tarragon labels under her personal supervision and in 2000 she released a brand-new recording, “Latest and Greatest”. For her contributions to the entertainment industry, James has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Bobby Darin (born Walden Robert Cassotto; May 14, 1936 – December 20, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter and actor of film and television. He performed in a range of music genres, including pop, rock’n’roll, jazz, folk and country.

Darin was born in the Bronx borough of New York City and was reared by his grandparents. His maternal grandfather, Saverio Antonio Cassotto, was of Italian descent and his maternal grandmother, Vivian Fern (Walden), was of English and Danish ancestry. By the time he was a teenager, he could play several instruments, including piano, drums and guitar. He later added harmonica and xylophone. Darin graduated from the prestigious Bronx High School of Science and he matriculated at Hunter College, but soon dropped out in order to play nightclubs around the city with a musical combo. Darin’s career took off with a songwriting partnership, formed in 1955 with fellow Bronx High School of Science student, Don Kirshner. In 1956 his agent negotiated a contract with Decca Records but the songs recorded at Decca had very little success.  Other songs he recorded such as, “I Found a Million Dollar Baby”, were sung in an Elvis style and did not suit his personality. It was during this period in his career that Darin was introduced to singer Connie Francis, for whom he helped write several songs. They developed a romantic interest of which her father did not approve and the couple soon split up. Francis has said that not marrying Darin was the biggest mistake of her life.

Darin left Decca to sign with Atlantic Records, where he wrote and arranged music for himself and others. Darin’s career finally took off in 1958 when he recorded “Splish Splash.” The single sold more than a million copies In 1959. Next, Darin recorded the self-penned, “Dream Lover”, a ballad that became a multi-million seller. With it came financial success and the ability to demand more creative control of his career. His next single, “Mack the Knife”, the standard from Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, was given a jazz-pop interpretation. Although Darin initially was opposed to releasing it as a single, the song went to No. 1 on the charts for nine weeks, sold two million copies and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1960. Darin was also voted the Grammy Award for Best New Artist that year and “Mack The Knife” has since been honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Darin followed “Mack” with “Beyond the Sea”.

In 1959, he was the only actor ever to have been signed to five major Hollywood film studios. He wrote music for several films in which he appeared. His first major film, Come September (1960), was a teenage-oriented romantic comedy and Darin won the Golden Globe Award for “New Star Of The Year – Actor” for his role in the film. The following year he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Best actor) in the film, Pressure Point. In 1963, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a shell-shocked soldier in Captain Newman, M.D and at the Cannes Film Festival he won the French Film Critics Award for best actor for his performance in that film.

Darin suffered from poor health his entire life. In 1973, after failing to take antibiotics to protect his heart before a dental visit, Darin developed a systemic infection (sepsis). This further weakened his body and affected one of his heart valves. He checked himself into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for another round of open-heart surgery to repair the two artificial heart valves he had received in January 1971. On the evening of December 19, a five-man surgical team worked for over six hours to repair his damaged heart. Darin died shortly after the surgery ended in the recovery room in the early morning hours of December 20, 1973, at the age of 37, without regaining consciousness.

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Sonny Bono, born Salvatore Phillip Bono, (February 16, 1935 – January 5, 1998) was an American recording artist, record producer, actor and politician whose career spanned over three decades. Bono was born in Detroit, MI to Italian immigrants, Santo Bono (born in Montelepre, Palermo, Italy) and Zena La Valle. Sonny was the youngest of three siblings and he had two older sisters, Fran and Betty. Bono began his music career working at Specialty Records where his song, “Things You Do to Me”, was recorded by Sam Cooke and went on to work for the record producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s as a promotion man, percussionist and “gofer”. One of his earliest songwriting efforts was “Needles and Pins” which he co-wrote with Jack Nitzsche, another member of Spector’s production team. Later in the same decade, he achieved commercial success, along with his wife, Cher, as part of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. Bono wrote, arranged and produced a number of hit records with singles like, “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On”. He also played a major part in Cher’s early solo career with recordings such as “Bang Bang” and “You Better Sit Down Kids”.

Bono co-wrote the song “She Said Yeah”, which was sung by The Rolling Stones on their 1965 LP, “December’s Children”. Bono also recorded as a solo artist under the name of Sonny. He had only one hit single as a solo artist, “Laugh at Me”. “Laugh at Me” was released in 1965 and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. In live concerts, Bono would sing the song with an introduction of, “I’d like to sing a medley of my hit.” His only other single as a solo artist was, “The Revolution Kind”, which reached number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 later that same year. Sonny continued to work with Cher through the early and mid-1970s starring in a popular television variety show, The Sonny and Cher Show, which ran on CBS from 1971 to 1974. From 1976 to 1977, the couple returned to performing together on The Sonny and Cher Show despite being divorced.

Bono entered politics after experiencing great frustration with local government bureaucracy in trying to open a restaurant in Palm Springs, California. Bono placed a successful bid to become the new mayor of Palm Springs. He served four years (1988 to 1992). He was instrumental in spearheading the creation of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which is held each year in Bono’s memory. Bono was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1994 to represent California’s 44th congressional district. He was one of twelve co-sponsors of a House bill concerning copyright laws. Although that bill was never voted on in the Senate, a similar Senate bill was passed after his death and named the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in his memory. He championed the restoration of the Salton Sea, bringing the giant lake’s plight to national attention. Bono died on January 5, 1998, of injuries sustained when he hit a tree while skiing at Lake Tahoe, California.

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Jon Bon Jovi was born John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of two former Marines, John Francis Bongiovi, Sr. and Carol Sharkey. He has two brothers, Anthony and Matthew. His father is of Italian descent (from Sciacca, Sicily) and and his mother is of German and Russian descent. John spent most of his adolescence skipping school to opt for music activities and ended up playing in local bands with friends and his cousin Tony Bongiovi, who owned the New York recording studio, The Power Station. By the time he was 16, John Bongiovi was playing clubs. It was not long before he joined up with keyboardist, David Bryan, who played with him in a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called, Atlantic City Expressway. John also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.

Jon Bon Jovi was working sweeping floors at his cousin Tony Bongiovi’s recording studio, when Meco was there recording “Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album”. Tony recommended Bongiovi for the song, “R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and this became his first professional recording. In June 1982, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a song called “Runaway”. He went to several record companies, including Atlantic Records and Mercury (PolyGram), but they all turned him down. Jon Bon Jovi visited the major rock station, WAPP 103.5FM “The Apple,” in New York City. He spoke directly to the promotion directo,r John Lassman, who accepted the song “Runaway” for inclusion on the station’s compilation album of local homegrown talent. “Runaway” became a local hit. Shortly after, Mercury Records gave Jon Bon Jovi a recording contract and he formed his band. The band released their first album on January 21, 1984 and became an international act in the late 1980s, when they released their breakthrough album “Slippery When Wet”. Their fourth album, “New Jersey”, which was released in 1988, became as successful as its predecessor. Following the group’s success, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, his lead guitarist, were asked to assist in producing Cher’s self-titled album. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora co-wrote and sang backup vocals on Cher’s single, “We All Sleep Alone”, and also produced several other tracks on the album. They also co-produced Cher’s multi-platinum album, “Heart of Stone” in 1989 and co-wrote the song, “Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore?”.

In 1990, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a soundtrack to the movie Young Guns II more commonly known as, Blaze of Glory. Having been originally approached by his friend, Emilio Estevez, to assist on the theme song,”Wanted Dead Or Alive”, for the upcoming Billy the Kid sequel, Jon Bon Jovi ended up composing an all-new theme song for the film’s soundtrack and producing his first solo album. The album featured high profile guests such as Elton John, Little Richard and Jeff Beck. The title track, “Blaze of Glory”, peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1991, “Blaze of Glory” won an award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single at the American Music Awards and won a Golden Globe, as well. The song also earned Jon Bon Jovi an Academy Award nomination and a Grammy. Jon Bon Jovi has worked on behalf of the Special Olympics, the American Red Cross, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Covenant House, Project H.O.M.E., The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and other groups.

Madonna was born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan, on August 16, 1958. Her father, Silvio Anthony Ciccone, is a first-generation Italian American (with roots in Pacentro, Italy), while her mother, Madonna Louise (née Fortin), was of French Canadian descent. Her father worked as a design engineer for Chrysler and General Motors. As Madonna had the same name as her mother, family members called her “Little Nonni”. Her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 30, in 1963. Madonna turned to her grandmother in the hope of finding some solace. The Ciccone siblings resented housekeepers and invariably rebelled against anyone brought into their home ostensibly to take the place of their beloved mother. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Madonna commented that she saw herself in her youth as a “lonely girl who was searching for something”.

Madonna later attended Rochester Adams High School, where she became a straight-A student and a member of the cheerleading squad. After graduating, she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. She convinced her father to allow her to take ballet lessons and was persuaded by Christopher Flynn, her ballet teacher, to pursue a career in dance. In 1978, she dropped out of college and relocated to New York City. She had little money and worked as a waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts and with modern dance troupes.

After her success as a dance club singer, Madonna developed her debut album, Madonna, which was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas, a Warner Bros. producer. However, she was not happy with the completed tracks and disagreed with Lucas’ production techniques, so she decided to seek additional help. Madonna asked her, then, boyfriend John “Jellybean” Benitez, for help in finishing the album’s production. Benitez remixed most of the tracks and produced “Holiday”, which was her third single and her first global hit. The overall sound of Madonna was dissonant and in the form of upbeat synthetic disco, utilizing some of the new technology of the time, like the Linn drum machine, Moog bass and the OB-X synthesizer. The album was released in July 1983 and peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200, six months later and in 1984. It yielded two more hit singles, “Borderline” and “Lucky Star”.

Madonna’s look and style of dressing, her performances and her music videos influenced young girls and women and her style became one of the female fashion trends of the 1980s. It was created by stylist and jewelry designer, Maripol, and the look consisted of lace tops, skirts over capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the crucifix, bracelets and bleached hair. Madonna achieved global recognition after the release of her second studio album, “Like a Virgin”, in November 1984. It topped the charts in several countries and became her first number one album on the Billboard 200. The title track, “Like a Virgin”, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks. Beginning in April 1985, Madonna embarked on her first concert tour in North America, The Virgin Tour, with the Beastie Boys as her opening act. She progressed from playing the dance clubs to playing sporting arenas. At that time she released two more hit singles from the album, “Angel” and “Dress You Up”.

In June 1986, Madonna released her third studio album, “True Blue”, which was inspired by and dedicated to Sean Penn (to whom she was married to at the time). Rolling Stone Magazine was generally impressed with the album and It spawned three number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Live to Tell”, “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Open Your Heart”, and two more top-five singles: “True Blue” and “La Isla Bonita”. The album topped the charts in over 28 countries worldwide, an unprecedented achievement at the time, and became the best-selling studio album of her career to this date with sales of 25 million. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two, behind only, The Beatles, on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the American singles chart. Throughout her career, Madonna has repeatedly reinvented herself through a series of visual and musical personae. In 1990, with earnings of more than $125 million since 1986 and as the highest-grossing woman in entertainment, Forbes Magazine “suggested that she was one of the smartest businesswomen in the United States”.

First Course Italian Pasta Dishes

eggplant pasta

Pasta with Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 2 thin eggplants, trimmed and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes In olive oil, reserve 3 tablespoons oil from the sun-dried tomato jar
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cups canned Italian tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrot and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

For the pasta:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the marinara sauce and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and add the mozzarella cheese, basil and the remaining salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow pasta bowls, top with parmesan cheese and serve.

chard pasta

Orecchiette with Ricotta and Chard

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch green or red Swiss chard
  • 3/4 pound dried Orecchiette or other short pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 ounces Asiago or Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper and/or nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, divided
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated Asiago or Pecorino cheese, for serving

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Separate chard stems from leaves; cut both in bite-sized pieces. Add orecchiette to boiling water. Set timer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add chard leaves to the pasta and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of cooking liquid. Return pasta and chard to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chard stems; cook 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender.

Place the pot with the pasta over lowest heat setting. Add sauteed chard stems and any residual oil to pasta, along with the butter, crushed red pepper and reserved cooking liquid.

Add grated cheese; toss. Season with pepper and nutmeg.

Divide among pasta bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon ricotta. Add sea salt, pepper and additional grated cheese to taste.

walnut pasta

Penne with Walnuts and Peppers

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole wheat or multigrain penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium green and/or red and/or yellow sweet peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into bite-size strips
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add walnuts and garlic. Cook about 2 minutes or until light brown, stirring frequently.

Add sweet peppers and red onion. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes; cook and stir until heated through.

Stir in parsley, rosemary and black pepper. Put pasta in a large shallow bowl. Top with walnut-pepper mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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lambbasic1_wide-d28234fec2b2afb46e2aad61985c3d451a8870b6-s40-c85One of the best ways to cut the cost of your shopping bill but still enjoy good quality meat is by buying cheaper cuts. It’s easy to end up buying the same things each week, such as chicken breasts or pork chops, but these are the more expensive cuts of meat. Many of the cuts that our grandparents ate regularly are forgotten about, even though they make great tasting, inexpensive meals and can be used in a variety of recipes. Don’t be put off buying cheaper cuts of meat because you are unsure of what to buy or you don’t know how to cook them.

A great way of finding out more about the cheaper cuts of meat that are available in your area is to talk to your local butcher or your local supermarket meat department manager. When shopping for lamb, always check the dates that are stamped on the packaging to know if you are getting fresh meat. If lamb is not contained in a package, look at the color of the meat, as that is a major factor in determining how fresh it is. Lamb should be pink/red in color. Any meat that is dark red is older and will not be as tender. Also, look for other markings on the label that will give you more information about the lamb. USDA Prime will be the highest in tenderness and flavor. USDA Choice is still high quality meat, but slightly less tender. While USDA Prime has somewhat of a higher fat content, all grades of lamb have similar protein, vitamins and nutrients.

Cheaper cuts of meat often come from tougher, muscled areas of the animal and require slow cooking in stews or casseroles to soften them up. By slow cooking these cuts of meat, which can be done either in a slow cooker or in a covered pot in the oven, you can easily make tasty meals. Where dishes call for “braising” or “stewing”, you can often use any of the cheaper cuts of meat. Braising refers to the cooking technique, where the meat is browned first in a pan and then cooked for several hours in liquid on low heat in a covered pot.

Less Expensive Lamb Cuts

Lamb Breast

This is one of the cheapest cuts and can be very versatile – it can be roasted, stuffed or rolled.

Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks have become popular in recent years, which has pushed the price up a bit. But they are still a good value and are suitable for slow roasting, stewing or braising. Lamb Shanks are excellent on a dinner party menu. They also make for a delicious meal, when slow roasted in individual aluminium foil packs with white wine and herbs.

Whole Lamb Shanks

Whole Lamb Shanks

Shanks are a cut of lamb taken from either the shoulder (fore shank) and arm of a lamb or the upper part of the leg (hind shank). The fore shank includes part of the shoulder, as well as part of the leg, while the hind shank includes only part of the rear leg. Lamb shanks have a paper-thin membranous covering and a thin layer of fat. While a lamb shank is leaner than other parts of a lamb, the meat can be tough. This cut of lamb must be braised or roasted.

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Cross Cut Lamb Shanks

Osso buco is the name for a classic Milanese dish of cross-cut slices of veal shank, which are often labeled osso buco and slowly braised in a vegetable-rich, tomato-based sauce until the meat is so tender, it falls away from the bone with the merest nudge of a fork. The shanks are traditionally served over saffron risotto or polenta.

If you’ve ever seen a whole veal shank, you’ll understand why cutting it crosswise into thick sections makes complete sense. The same is true of lamb shanks, pork shanks and turkey legs. Ask to have them cross cut for a nicer presentation, because it is so much more appealing to serve shanks in slices rather than as joints on a platter. Most likely, you’ll have to place a special order with the butcher in your market, but lamb shanks are much cheaper than veal.

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Tips For Slow Cooking Lamb

  • Brown the lamb first, in batches if necessary. This will caramelize the meat and improve its flavor.
  • Although lamb is a little more fatty than other meats, don’t trim all of it away before cooking. The fat contains a lot of the flavor and helps make the meat tender. The excess will rise to the surface of the cooking liquid and can be skimmed away.
  • Remember to only lightly season slow-cooked dishes at the beginning of cooking. As the meat braises the cooking liquid reduces and concentrates the sauce, which can easily become too salty.
  • When simmering lamb, do it over a low heat so that the liquid bubbles only very gently around the meat. This will keep the meat tender.
  • Keep an eye on slow-cooked lamb. Unless you want it so tender it falls apart. Check it after about 45 minutes for tenderness, as lamb cooks much faster than other meats. 

lamb ossobuco

Lamb Osso Bucco

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  1. 2 lamb shanks trimmed of fat and cross-cut into 1 or 1 ½ inch thick pieces
  2. 2 heaping tablespoons flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1 onion, chopped
  7. 2 carrots, chopped
  8. 1 stalk celery, chopped
  9. 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  10. 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  11. 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  12. 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  13. 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  14. 1 bay leaf
  15. 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a paper bag. Drop the lamb pieces into the bag and shake, thoroughly covering the pieces with the flour mixture.

Pour the olive oil into a Dutch Oven and brown the shank pieces over medium-high heat. Remove the browned lamb and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, carrots and celery to the skillet. Cook for three to five minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic, tomato sauce, wine, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Add the browned lamb and return to a simmer.

Place the pan in the oven, covered, and bake for 1 hour.

Turn the meat. Cover and cook another hour or until the lamb is tender enough to fall off the bone easily.

Remove the bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. It is traditional to serve this dish with risotto.

shankpan

Lamb Shanks in Foil Packets

Ingredients

  • 4 (2-1/2-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 (2-1/2- to 3-inch) strips orange zest
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lamb shanks (about 1 lb. each), trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter

Directions

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.

Arrange four 16×16-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a work surface. Put 1 rosemary sprig, 1 garlic clove, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and 1 strip of orange zest on each square. Set aside.

Pat the lamb shanks dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, brown the shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer 1 shank to each foil square, arranging it on top of the herbs. Draw up the edges of the foil to capture any juice, but don’t seal the packets yet.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping the skillet with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat. Portion the wine drippings evenly among the 4 packets, pouring it over the lamb. Dot each shank with a teaspoon of the butter.

Fold the foil to form rectangular packets, sealing the seams tightly. Arrange the packets on a baking sheet; it’s fine if they touch but they shouldn’t overlap. Bake for 2-1/2 hours; then check for doneness by carefully opening one of the packets (watch out for the steam) and testing the meat with a fork—it should be tender and pulling away from the bone. If necessary, continue to bake for another 10 minutes and check again.

Transfer the contents of the packets to large pasta bowls, surrounding the shanks with the liquid from the packets. Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

lamb shanks and pasta

Pappardelle with Braised Lamb Shanks and Winter Vegetables

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lamb shanks, cross-cut into 1-inch-thick slices, as for osso buco
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Juice and julienned zest of 1 orange
  • Juice and julienned zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 thick parsnip, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 small rutabaga, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 small celery root, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 pound dried pappardelle, fettuccine or other wide, flat pasta
  • 1/4 pound button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Dry the pieces of meat with a paper towel, season them well with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides; set them aside. Add the garlic and shallots to the pan; cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Add in the wine; simmer 5 minutes. Add the stock, orange juice, lemon juice, tomato paste, rosemary, the browned lamb shanks and any juices they have released. Cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Stir in the orange and lemon zest, parsnips, rutabaga, mushrooms, tomatoes and celery root. Cook, partially covered, until both the lamb and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes more. Set aside to cool. When the lamb is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and add it back to the stewed vegetables. Discard the bones.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, reheat the lamb and vegetable stew; bring to a simmer.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pasta directly from its cooking pot to the pot with the stew. Add the cheese and parsley; toss to combine. Season well with salt and pepper and serve in heated bowls, garnished with lemon wedges.

Jewish lamb shanks

Lamb Shanks – Jewish Style

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 Kosher lamb shanks (about 1 pound each), cross cut and visible fat removed
  • Kosher (coarse) salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, halved root to stem and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup prunes
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

Soak the lamb shanks in water to cover in a large bowl, changing the water frequently until it runs clear. (This will take about 15 minutes in all.) Remove the lamb shanks, dry them very well with paper towels and then season them all over with salt.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the shanks and brown them on all sides, about 15 minutes altogether. Remove the shanks and set them aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot, reduce the heat to medium and cook the onions until they are soft, about 10 minutes.

Mix saffron with 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and add to the pan. Stir to mix well, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the remaining chicken stock and return the lamb shanks to the pot.

Place the pot in the oven and roast, covered, turning and basting the shanks frequently, for about 1 hour.

Add the apricots and prunes and continue roasting, covered, until the meat is very soft, about 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the shanks to a platter and keep warm. Remove as much fat as possible from the sauce, using a spoon or a fat separator. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Spoon the sauce over the lamb shanks, garnish with toasted almonds. Serve by itself or over couscous.

slow cooker lamb

Slow Cooker Wine Braised Lamb Shanks

Ingredients :

  • 4 large lamb shanks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup Burgundy wine (or beef broth)
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules

Directions

Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Place in a 5-qt slow cooker. Sprinkle with the parsley, garlic, oregano and lemon peel.

In a small saucepan, saute the onion and carrot in oil for 3 – 4 minutes or until tender.

Stir in wine or broth and bouillon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour over the lamb.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove lamb and keep warm. Strain cooking juices and skim fat. In a small saucepan, bring juices to a boil. Cook until liquid is reduced by half. Serve with the lamb.

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

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

Pork Shoulder Cuts

Bone-in Pork Shoulder

Pork Butt

Boneless Pork Shoulder

How to Cook Pork Shoulder in the Oven

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

How to Cook Pork Shoulder in a Slow Cooker

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

How to Cook Pork Shoulder on the Grill

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

Storing Pork Roasts

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

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

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

pulled pork sandwich

Family Favorite – Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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

12 servings

Dry Rub:

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

Mustard Barbecue Sauce:

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

porketta

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

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

Makes 8 servings

ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pork Ragu Over Pappardelle

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

pork shoulder

Mediterranean Braised Pork Shoulder

Serves 4

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat oven to 300° F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pork chili

Southern Style Pork Shoulder Black-Eyed Pea Chili

Ingredients:

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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Expensive cuts of meat tend to be the ones that are tender and can be cooked quickly and easily. This doesn’t mean that you can’t create a great meal with a cut that costs less. Fresh brisket is an inexpensive boneless cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues to achieve tenderness. Because brisket is a tough cut of meat, it’s best simmered in a small amount of liquid, either in the oven, the slow cooker or on the stove top. Most recipes do not need much attention during cooking.

The secret to the tenderness is a long, moist cooking process called braising. Add a little liquid to the roasting pan – broth, wine, juice even water works fine. Season the beef and cover the pan tightly. The steamy environment created from the braising liquid will tenderize the meat. You’ll know that the brisket is done when you can easily insert and twist with fork the center of the meat without resistance. The important final step is to thinly slice the brisket across the grain.

Two different cuts of brisket are available. Unless the recipe specifies one or the other, either may be used in recipes calling for boneless beef brisket.

Beef Brisket Flat Half (also called thin cut, flat cut, first cut or center cut): With its minimal fat, this cut is generally the pricier of the two.

Beef Brisket Point Half (also called front cut, point cut, thick cut or nose cut): This cut is the less expensive of the two. It has more fat and more flavor.

How to Buy Brisket

Look for beef brisket that has a good color and appears moist but not wet. Avoid packages with tears or liquid in the bottom of the tray.

Plan on 3 to 4 ounces for each person you serve. Brisket comes in 3- to 3-1/2-pound sizes or larger. Unless you’re serving a crowd, you’ll probably have plenty of leftovers for sandwiches or future meals with 3 – 3 1/2 pounds.

Do not confuse a fresh beef brisket with corned beef.  Corned beef is a brisket that has been brined in a salt and herb solution.

Cooking Beef Brisket

Most briskets you buy will have a layer of fat on the surface. Trim this away using a sharp slicing knife. If needed, slice the brisket into two pieces to fit into your Dutch oven or slow cooker. Unless otherwise specified, you do not need to brown the brisket before cooking.

How to Cook Brisket in the Oven

The meat braises in a liquid (of your choice – broth, wine, barbecue) in the oven. No special equipment is needed — all you need is a baking pan.

1. Prep the Cooking Liquid

Here is a suggestion: In a small bowl stir together 3/4 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves.

2. Bake the Brisket

  • Place a fat-trimmed 3 to 3-1/2-pound fresh beef brisket in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Pour the cooking liquid over the meat.
  • Cover the pan with heavy duty foil.
  • Bake in a 325 degrees F oven about 3-4 hours or until tender, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Discard the cooking liquid and, if desired, serve the sliced brisket with barbecue sauce.  (See “How to Slice Brisket,” below.)

How to Cook a Brisket on the Stove Top

1. Prep the Brisket and Cooking Liquid

  • Slice 2 medium onions; set aside.
  • Coarsely crush 1 tablespoon mixed peppercorns. Sprinkle a fat-trimmed 3- to 4-pound brisket with salt and crushed peppercorns.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a large heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Brown the brisket on both sides in hot oil. Remove brisket from the pan.
  • Add onions to the skillet. Cook and stir onions until they are tender but not brown.
  • Return brisket to the skillet. Add one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 1 cup lower-sodium beef broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning.
  • You can also add other liquids, vegetables or seasonings of your choosing to the pan.

2. Cook Brisket on the Stove Top

  • Bring mixture in the pan to boiling. Reduce the heat. Spoon some of the onion mixture over brisket.
  • Simmer brisket, tightly covered, for 3-4 hours or until brisket is tender.

3. Finish the Sauce

  • Remove brisket from the pan to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Meanwhile, use a soup spoon to skim the fat from the top of the sauce. The liquid may be thickened with flour to make a gravy.
  • Serve the sliced brisket with the cooking liquid. (See “How to Slice Brisket,” below.)

How to Cook Brisket in a Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is ideal for braising brisket unattended for hours. In this preparation, the cooking liquid becomes a smoky barbecue sauce to serve alongside the tender, meaty slices of brisket.

1. Prep the Veggies and Sauce

  • Cut 2 stalks celery into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Combine the celery slices with one 16-ounce package of peeled fresh baby carrots in the bottom of a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Season the brisket with salt, pepper and herbs of choice or use a rub.
  • For the sauce, crush 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca using a mortar and pestle (or place the tapioca in a resealable plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin). In a small bowl combine the crushed tapioca, 1-1/2-cups smoke-flavor barbecue sauce, 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.

Slow-Cook the Brisket

  • Place the fat-trimmed brisket on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker. Note that you may need to cut the brisket in half to fit into the slow cooker.
  • Pour sauce over the brisket.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on the low-heat setting for 12 to 14 hours. Or cook on the high-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours.
  • Serve the sliced brisket with the vegetables and any liquid that forms in the pan. (See “How to Slice Brisket,” below.)

slice-beef-against-the-grain-diagram

How to Slice and Serve Brisket

  • Transfer cooked brisket to a cutting board. Let rest 10-15 minutes.
  • Using a slicing knife, thinly slice the brisket across the grain. (See photo above.)
  • If serving the cooking juices alongside your brisket, use a tablespoon to skim fat from the cooking liquid. Pass the cooking with the brisket.

How to Store Leftover Brisket

Divide leftover cooked brisket into small portions and place in shallow airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze (in freezer containers) for up to 2 months.

Here are some of my favorite brisket recipes.

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The Number One Family Favorite Is Not Italian!

Oven Barbecued Brisket

After several years of trying different spices and ingredients, I found the combination that everyone loves.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed of fat
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 26 oz container Pomi strained Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup

Directions

Combine shallots, garlic, chili powder, paprika,, oregano and salt in a small bowl. Rub onto both sides of the meat. Set the meat in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Mix tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar together in a large measuring cup.

Pour sauce over the meat. Cover the pan with heavy duty foil and set aside at room temperature while the oven heats to 350°F.

Bake the brisket, covered, for 2 hours. Turn meat over.

From this point on baste the brisket with pan juices every 30 minutes, for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more, until the meat is very tender.

Remove the meat from the sauce. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve.

Note: I like to make this dish the day before I plan to serve it, because the flavor improves so much sitting overnight. I slice the meat and place it in a baking dish, cover the dish and refrigerate overnight. I put the sauce in a separate container and place it in the refrigerator. The next day, I remove the chilled fat from the sauce and pour the sauce over the meat in the baking dish. Reheat the meat and sauce in a moderate oven for about 45-60 minutes.

Italian Braised Brisket

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Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock or water
  • 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 6 baking potatoes, peeled and quartered

Directions

Set the meat on the counter and let it come to room temperature. Salt and pepper the meat generously. Heat the oil over medium high in a heavy Dutch oven that will accommodate the roast and potatoes snugly in one layer. Add the meat and brown thoroughly on all sides, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to a platter.

Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and herbs to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and the celery and carrot are softened; do not brown. Push the vegetables to the edges of the pot and return the meat to the pan. Add the stock or water and tomatoes with all juices. Bring the sauce to a low boil, reduce to low heat and cover tightly. The liquid should be just bubbling throughout the cooling time, not a hard boil.

Turn the meat every 20 to 30 minutes and replenish the liquid if necessary. After 45 minutes, add the potatoes, nestling them in the liquid.

Check the roast after 2 hours and 30 minutes of cooking time; the dish is done when the meat is very tender. Serves 10 to 12.

Onion-Braised Brisket

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Ingredients

  • 4-5-lb beef brisket
  • 2 bay Leaves
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 3 cups beef stock; (homemade or low sodium canned)
  • 3 large yellow onions; (about 3 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • Coarse salt; to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic; minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper; to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika; sweet or hot

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Pat brisket dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Sear brisket well on both sides, about 8 minutes, set aside.

Add remaining oil to in Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions and cook stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden; add garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Add bay leaves and beef stock and bring to a boil. Return brisket to the Dutch oven, leaving lid 1/2-inch ajar, transfer to the heated oven and bake, 3-1/2 hours or until tender. (Add more water or stock as needed throughout the roasting time).

Remove brisket from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Remove and discard bay leaves. Using a handheld blender, puree broth and onions to smooth sauce, if desired, or leave onions in the sauce without pureeing. Adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Slice brisket against the grain and serve with the onion sauce.

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

Some tips on this recipe:

This recipe is so much better the next day because the flavors blend together. Another benefit to this method is that it permits you to skim the fat from the pan juices. Also, once cooked and cooled, the brisket is easier to slice thinly across the grain. Prepare the roast the day before serving and simply reheat the sliced meat in the de-fatted pan juices in a moderate oven.

Italian Jewish Style Brisket

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Ingredients

  • 1 beef brisket, about 5 pounds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 sticks celery, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Garnish: parsley, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Trim the brisket of most of its fat and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch Oven and sear the brisket on both sides. Remove the brisket from the pan. Add the diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat or until onion is translucent. Add the rosemary, tomatoes and bay leaves and return brisket to the pan. Completely cover the meat with the wine, adding chicken stock if necessary so that the meat is covered.

Cover the pan and bake in the oven for 3 to 3 and 1/2 hours or until the meat is fork-tender. If the liquid reduces by more than half during cooking, add a small amount of chicken stock.

Transfer the meat to a dish and keep warm. Remove the herbs and puree the liquid in a blender or with a hand held immersion blender until smooth. If the sauce is a little thin, return it to the heat and reduce over medium-high heat until it reaches the desired consistency. Slice the brisket and arrange it on a deep platter with the sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Easy Smoked Brisket

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Don’t have access to a Smoker? Then try this oven roasted barbecue brisket that tastes pretty much like the real thing. This recipe makes great sandwich meat.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 4 pound beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions

Combine everything but the brisket in a bowl. Mix well. Rub over the surface of the brisket and wrap tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place foil wrapped brisket in a roasting pan on a roasting rack and poke a couple of holes in the foil on the top. Cook for 4 hours.

Remove meat from foil and let sit for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.

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Charles Angelo Siringo (1855-1912)

Siringo was born in Matagorda County, Texas to an Irish immigrant mother and an Italian immigrant father from Piedmont. He attended public school until the age of 15, when he started working on local ranches as a cowboy. After taking part in several cattle drives, Siringo stopped herding to settle down, get married (1884) and open a merchant business in Caldwell, Kansas. He wrote a book, entitled, A Texas Cowboy; Or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony. A year later, it was published and became one of the first true looks into life as a cowboy written by someone who had actually lived the life. File:Charles A Siringo.jpg In 1886, bored with the mundane life of a merchant, Siringo moved to Chicago and joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He was immediately assigned several cases, which took him as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico City. He began operating undercover, a relatively new technique at the time and infiltrated gangs of robbers and rustlers, making over one hundred arrests. In the late 1890s, posing as “Charles L. Carter”, an alleged gunman on the run from the law for a murder, he infiltrated Butch Cassidy’s Train Robbers Gang. For over a year, using information he would gather, he severely hampered the operations of Cassidy’s gang, but without many arrests. After the gang committed the now famous train robbery near Wilcox, Wyoming, in which they robbed a Union Pacific train, Siringo again found himself assigned to capture the Cassidy gang. Several members of the gang were captured as a result of information Siringo gathered, including the capture of Kid Curry, who escaped but was again cornered and killed during a shootout with law enforcement in Colorado. Siringo’s information helped track him down. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid both fled to South America. Siringo retired in 1907 and wrote another book entitled, Pinkerton’s Cowboy Detective. The Pinkerton Detective Agency held up publication for two years, feeling it violated their confidentiality agreement that Siringo had signed when he was hired and objected to the use of their name. Siringo gave in and deleted their name from the book title, instead writing two separate books entitled, A Cowboy Detective and Further Adventures of a Cowboy Detective.

Giuseppe “Joe” Petrosino (1860 – 1909)

In 1874, the remaining members of the Petrosino family emigrated to the United States from Padula (in the province of Salerno, Campania), a village in southern Italy. Joseph had come over previously with his cousin to live with their grandfather in New York. An unfortunate streetcar accident took the life of the grandfather and the two young cousins wound up in Orphans/Surrogates Court. Rather than send the children to the orphanage, the judge took them home to live with his own family and provided for the boys until relatives in Italy could be contacted and arrangements made to bring over family members. Joseph Petrosino and his cousin, Anthony Puppolo, lived for a time in a “politically connected” Irish household and this opened up educational and employment avenues that was not usually available to immigrants. On October 19, 1883, Joseph joined the NYPD. During his service he would become friends with Theodore Roosevelt, who was police commissioner of New York City at the time. On July 20, 1895, Roosevelt promoted him to detective sergeant in charge of the department’s Homicide Division, making him the first Italian-American to lead this division. The pinnacle of his career came in December 1908 when he was promoted to lieutenant and placed in charge of the Italian Squad, an elite corps of Italian-American detectives assembled specifically to deal with the activities of organized crime. One notable case in Petrosino’s time with the Italian Squad was when the Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, who was performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, was blackmailed by gangsters who demanded money in exchange for his life. It was Petrosino who convinced Caruso to help him catch those behind the blackmail. A second notable case was Petrosino’s infiltration of an Italian-based anarchist organization that assassinated King Umberto I of Italy. During his mission, he discovered evidence that the organization intended to assassinate President William McKinley during a trip to Buffalo. Petrosino warned the Secret Service, but McKinley ignored the warning, even after Roosevelt, who had by this time become Vice-President of the United States, vouched for Petrosino’s abilities. McKinley was assassinated during his visit to Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition on September 6, 1901. Petrosino’s investigations into Mafia activities led him to Don Vito Cascio Ferro. In 1903, Petrosino arrested him on suspicion of murder, but Cascio Ferro was acquitted. Cascio Ferro later returned to Sicily, where he became increasingly involved with the Sicilian Mafia. In 1909, Petrosino made plans to travel to Palermo, Sicily, on a top secret mission. Unfortunately, the New York Herald published the story of Petrosino’s mission on February 20, 1909, just days before his departure. Even though he was aware of the danger, Petrosino headed to Palermo as planned. Petrosino wrongly believed that the Sicilian Mafia would not kill a policeman, as they did not in America. On March 12, 1909, after arriving in Palermo, Petrosino received a message from someone claiming to be an informant, asking the detective to meet him in the city’s Piazza Marina to give him information about the Mafia. Petrosino arrived at the rendezvous, but it was a trap. While waiting for his “informant”, Petrosino was shot to death by Mafia assassins. The various crime fighting techniques that Petrosino pioneered during his law enforcement career are still practiced by various agencies in the fight against crime.

John Sirica (1904 – 1992)

John Sirica was born in Waterbury, Connecticut to Ferdinand and Rose (Zinno) Sirica, both Italian immigrants. His father, Fred, who had emigrated from a village near Naples in 1887, worked as a barber. His mother, Rose, ran a grocery store. “It was”, Judge Sirica later said “an uphill fight against poverty.” The family, including brother, Andrew, moved several times, to Jacksonville, Fl, New Orleans, Richmond and, then when John was 14, to Washington D.C. Along the way, he helped out, working once as a waiter and another time selling newspapers. Sirica received his degree from the Georgetown University Law Center after doing undergraduate work at Duke University. Boxing champion Jack Dempsey was a close friend of his and was Sirica’s best man at his marriage in 1952. Sirica was in the private practice of law in Washington, DC from 1926 to 1930. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1930 to 1934 and, subsequently, returned to private practice from 1934 to 1957. He also served as general counsel to the House Select Committee to Investigate the Federal Communications Commission in 1944. John was a Republican and was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on February 25, 1957. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 26 and became chief judge of the court in April, 1971. John Sirica had a largely unnoticed career before Watergate. He rose to national prominence during the Watergate scandal when he ordered President Richard Nixon to turn over his recordings of White House conversations. Sirica’s involvement in the case began when he presided over the trial of the Watergate burglars. He did not believe the claim that they had acted alone and persuaded them to implicate the men who had arranged the break-in. For his role in Watergate, the judge was named TIME Magazine‘s “Man of the Year” in 1973. Sirica served as chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia from 1971 to 1974 and assumed senior status on October 31, 1977. He died in 1992 at the age of 88. Sirica, with the help of John Stacks, published his account of the Watergate affair in 1979 under the title, To Set the Record Straight: The Break-in, the Tapes, the Conspirators, the Pardon.

Frank Serpico (1936 -)

Serpico was born in Brooklyn, the youngest child of Vincenzo and Maria Giovanna Serpico, Italian emigrants from Marigliano in the province of Naples, Campania. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed for two years in South Korea as an infantryman. He then worked as a part-time private investigator and as a youth counselor while attending Brooklyn College. In September 1959, Serpico joined the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and was assigned to the 81st precinct. He worked for the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) for two years and then was assigned to work plainclothes. Serpico worked in Brooklyn and the Bronx to expose vice racketeering. In 1967 he reported credible evidence of widespread systematic police corruption. Nothing happened until he met another police officer, David Durk, who helped him. On April 25, 1970, Serpico contributed to the New York Times front-page story on widespread corruption in the NYPD. Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed a five-member panel to investigate charges of police corruption. The panel became the Knapp Commission, named after its chairman, Whitman Knapp. Serpico was shot during a drug arrest attempt on February 3, 1971. Four officers from Brooklyn North received a tip that a drug deal was about to take place. Serpico was sent up the fire escape to enter the building by the fire escape door and follow two suspects. When they came out the police arrested the two suspects who were found with bags of heroin. Serpico (who spoke Spanish) was told to attempt to make a fake purchase and to get the drug dealers to open the door. Serpico knocked on the door and the door opened a few inches, just far enough for Serpico to wedge his body in. Serpico called for help, but his fellow officers ignored him. Serpico was then shot in the face and the bullet struck just below the eye and lodged at the top of his jaw. His police colleagues refused to make a “10-13”, a dispatch to police headquarters indicating that an officer has been shot. An elderly man who lived in the next apartment called the emergency services and reported that a man had been shot. The bullet had severed an auditory nerve, leaving him deaf in one ear and he has suffered chronic pain from bullet fragments lodged in his brain. He survived to testify before the Knapp Commission. On May 3, 1971, New York Metro Magazine published an article about Serpico titled “Portrait of an Honest Cop”. Frank Serpico retired on June 15, 1972, one month after receiving the New York City Police Department’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Serpico, a biography written by Peter Maas, sold over 3 million copies. The book was adapted for the screen in the 1973 film titled, Serpico, which was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Al Pacino in the title role. In 1976 David Birney starred as Serpico in a TV-movie called, Serpico: The Deadly Game. This led to a short-lived Serpico TV series the following fall on NBC. Serpico still speaks out against police brutality, the weakening of civil liberties and corrupt practices in law enforcement. On June 27, 2013 the USA Section of ANPS (National Association of Italian State Police) awarded him the “Saint Michael Archangel Prize”, an official honor by the Italian State Police and the Italian Ministry of Interior.

Antonin Scalia (1936 -)

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey. His father, Salvatore Eugene Scalia, was an immigrant from Sicily, who was a graduate student and clerk at the time of his son’s birth, but who later became a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College. His mother, Catherine Scalia (née Panaro), was born in the United States to Italian immigrant parents and worked as an elementary school teacher. photograph of the justices, cropped to show Ju... When Antonin was six years old, the Scalia family moved to Elmhurst, Queens, in New York City. After completing eighth grade in public school, he obtained a scholarship to Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he graduated first in his class. In 1953, Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University, where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1957. While at Georgetown, he also studied at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and went on to study law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University. The fellowship allowed him to travel throughout Europe during 1960–1961. On September 10, 1960, Scalia married Maureen McCarthy, whom he met on a blind date while he was at Harvard Law School. Maureen Scalia had been an undergraduate at Radcliffe College where she later obtained a degree in English. The couple raised nine children, five boys and four girls. After spending six years in a Cleveland law firm, Scalia became a law school professor. In the early 1970s, he served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, first in minor administrative agencies and then as an assistant attorney general. He spent most of the Carter administration teaching at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the first faculty advisers of the Federalist Society. In 1982, he was appointed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan. In 1986, Scalia was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court to fill the associate justice seat vacated when Justice William Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. Scalia was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, becoming the first Italian-American justice. As the longest-serving justice currently on the Court, Scalia has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court’s conservative wing. In his years on the Court, Scalia has staked out a conservative ideology in both his opinions and in constitutional interpretation. He is a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He opposes affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He files separate opinions in large numbers of majority opinion cases and, in his minority opinions, often castigates the Court’s majority decisions.

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Italian Breads

Regional Foods of Piedmont – a region of northwest Italy.

Piedmont’s forested foothills provide mushrooms and white truffles that add depth to risottos and pastas. Rich foods in general are featured with anchovies, garlic and gorgonzola cheese often in their recipes. The breadstick is also characteristic of Piedmontese cuisine. Grissini were actually invented at the end of the 17th century to cure the health problems of young Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy. The Duke had major difficulty digesting most foods and the court doctor commissioned the court baker to make an extremely light bread. The baker decided to take dough used to make ghersa, a typical bread of Turin, and stretch it out into long, thin strips. Once baked, the thin breadsticks were crisp and easy to digest. Thanks to this recipe, the duke’s health improved and, after a couple of years, he was able to take the throne. He was crowned king in 1713. Legend has it that the ghost of the King, with grissini in hand, still haunts the rooms of his old castle.

Grissini

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast (4 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions In a saucepan, warm the milk. Add the yeast and sugar and let stand until slightly foamy. Pour the milk into a large bowl. Add the flour, butter, salt and oil and stir until a stiff dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until elastic, about 5 minutes. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough to it, turning to coat. Cover with a towel; let rest until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. (You can also use an electric mixer to make the dough.) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat down. Cut into 5 pieces and roll each piece into a 10-inch square. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1/3-inch-wide strips. Transfer to the baking sheets. Bake the grissini for 12 minutes or until golden and crisp, shifting the pans as necessary for even browning. Let cool completely before serving.

 Focaccia genovese

Regional Foods of Campania – a region south of Rome on the west coast of italy.

Its capital, Naples, is the birthplace of Pizza Margherita (a tomato, basil and mozzarella pie) and its pizzerias are praised around the world. The area, which includes Pompeii and the Amalfi coast, is also famous for its San Marzano tomatoes, seafood and pasta. Campania is agriculturally rich: Tomatoes, chestnuts, figs, beans, onions, artichokes, lemons and apples flourish in the rich soils under Mount Vesuvius. Fresh, still-warm mozzarella, floating in brine; bubbly, wood-fired pizza and just-caught shellfish tossed with pasta are just a few of the can’t-miss dishes. The most famous Campania food product made from Sorrento lemons is limoncello (or limunciel, as the Campanians call it), a liqueur that is the result of an infusion of lemon peel in pure alcohol.

Focaccia Genovese

You can add rosemary, onion or oregano to season the focaccia, however the most traditional version calls for no extra flavorings. Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast

Directions In a bowl of an electric mixer, add the water, yeast and olive oil, then cover the liquid with flour. Add the salt. Mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic. Coat a baking dish, roughly 9″ x 13″ and 2″-3″ deep liberally with olive oil. Stretch the dough until it is roughly the shape of the pan, lay it in the pan and push it into the corners to fit. Wiggle the pan back and forth to make sure the bottom of the dough is coated and slides smoothly. Cover and let rest an hour or until it has risen by half. Create an interesting pattern of indentations using your fingers, coat the top with yet more olive oil to fill the indentations and bake in a 450 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

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Regional Foods of Sicily

Separated from the peninsula by the narrow Strait of Messina, Sicily sits at the toe of the Italian boot. Grapes are not the only fruits that thrive in the warm Sicilian sunshine. Oranges, lemons and figs also love the climate and rich volcanic soils. Eggplant and tomatoes are also in abundance. The waters around Sicily provide tuna, sardines, anchovies and swordfish. Dry pastas come in every shape and size in Sicily. The local olive oil is often poured over pastas and used to marinate fish. Local cheeses include the hard Pecorino Siciliano and creamy ricotta.

Sicilian Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 packet dried yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups golden durum flour or semolina -( if using semolina, grind in a blender a quarter cup at a time with some of the white flour until it becomes powdery)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Directions Dissolve yeast in warm water, let stand 5-10 min. until creamy. Stir in olive oil. Mix together golden durum flour and salt and stir into yeast mixture. Slowly stir in 1/2 all purpose flour. Spread 1 cup all purpose flour on a work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. Knead until silky, about 10 minutes. Work in more flour as needed. (You can also use an electric mixer to make the dough.) Form dough into ball, oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover, let rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled. Without punching down, shape dough into a loaf. Heavily dust a peel or baking sheet with flour. Place loaf on the baking sheet or peel and brush with water. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and press seeds into dough. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for 30 minutes with a baking stone or tiles on the middle rack. Spray the oven with water to create steam and slide bread onto the baking stone and spray with water again. Bake for 10 minutes, spraying with water during that time. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and bake 40-50 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow.

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Make-ahead meals put you in control of your schedule. You do the preparation when you have some extra time on the weekend, then you have some quick, home-cooked meals when things get hectic later in the week. Prepping ingredients ahead of time or assembling the full meal for reheating can make the dinner hour more relaxed and manageable.

There are several ways to make your meals ahead of time. You can assemble a dish early in the day or the night before and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to heat it in the oven. Or you can completely cook your meal, freeze it and then heat it at mealtime.

You can also get all the ingredients for a recipe prepped and even partially cooked, in most cases for up to two days ahead.

Many slow-cooker recipes are suited to being prepared ahead of time. Slow-cooker dishes like stews and chili also lend themselves to being refrigerated or frozen and reheated.

You can do “big batch” cooking on the weekend and have dinner for several nights during the week, Freeze the rest for future meals

Most casserole-type dishes lend themselves to being made ahead, like tuna noodle casserole, au gratin style dishes, chicken enchiladas or a creamy chicken and rice dish. Meatloaf, Chicken Parmesan and crab cakes, can all be prepared ahead and then cooked or reheated.

Soups often benefit from being made ahead because standing time allows the flavors to blend and most homemade salad dressings taste better when they are made a day in advance.

Freeze any leftover soup or stew in freezer containers with tight-fitting lids. Because food expands when it freezes, leave about 1/2 inch of headspace below the rims of the containers.

Taking an hour and a half on the weekend to tackle some preliminary preparation and cooking will save you precious time during the week.

Here is a suggested game plan for a busy week:

The Menu

Monday: Honey Mustard Chicken With Rice and Peas

Tuesday: Pasta with Broccoli and Sausage and Tomato Salad

Wednesday: Panko-Topped Fish with Greek Salad

Thursday: Vegetarian Spinach Rice Casserole and Carrots

Friday: Cheeseburgers with Pineapple-Mango Salad

Grocery List

Produce

  • 2 Limes
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 ½ lbs broccoli tops
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes
  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 1 mango
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • 1 lb pkg carrot chips ( diagonal sliced carrots)

Meat, Poultry & Seafood

  • 1 lb chicken breast cutlets
  • 12 oz package Italian cooked chicken sausage
  • 1 lb thin white fish fillets
  • 1 lb lean ground beef

Dairy

  • Small wedge Parmesan cheese
  • Carton of eggs
  • 4 oz container Feta cheese
  • 8 oz pkg shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz pkg American or Swiss Cheese

Grocery

  • 1 jar Honey
  • 1 jar Dijon mustard
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 16-oz box whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 16-oz package regular brown rice
  • 8-oz box Panko Italian flavored breadcrumbs
  • 7-oz tub pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 package English muffins

Frozen

  • 16-oz pkg. frozen chopped spinach
  • 10 oz pkg. frozen peas that are enclosed in a cooking pouch

Already Have at Home

  • Vegetable oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Garlic Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Italian dried seasoning
  • Dried Oregano
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Italian salad dressing
  • Ketchup

Suggested Plan for the Weekend Prep:

  • Make 6 cups of brown rice according to package instructions. Divide rice in half and store each half in an airtight microwave container in the refrigerator for dinner on Monday and Thursday.
  • Mix together the Honey Mustard Glaze for Monday’s chicken dish (recipe below). Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • Chop Tuesday’s broccoli into smaller florets and refrigerate in a plastic ziplock bag.
  • Zest and squeeze one lemon. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Chop scallions for Thursday’s casserole and place in a ziplock bag. Grate Parmesan cheese and store in an airtight container.
  • Freeze fish for Wednesday’s dinner on parchment paper in a single layer on a baking sheet for 1 hour, or until firm, then place on the parchment in a single layer in an airtight freezer container.
  • On Wednesday evening place frozen spinach in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.
  • Combine the burger ingredients for Friday’s dinner. Form into burgers as directed in the recipe and layer the uncooked patties between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight freezer container. Freeze. Move to the refrigerator to defrost on Thursday.
  • Cube pineapple and mango. Place in an airtight container.
  •  If you have time you can prepare and bake the rice casserole on Sunday and reheat it on Thursday.

Monday

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Honey Mustard Chicken With Rice and Peas

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
  • Hot cooked brown rice
  • 10 oz pkg. frozen peas in a cooking pouch

Directions

In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, honey, lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Remove 2 tablespoons of the mixture and set aside the remaining glaze in a small bowl.

Lightly brush both sides of chicken cutlets with the 2 tablespoons of glaze.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken cutlets in the pan. They should not be touching. (If there is not enough room in the pan to cook the cutlets all at once, saute them in batches.) Cook the cutlets for 3 – 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. The cutlets should be lightly browned and cooked through.

Boil water in a medium saucepan and drop the frozen peas in a pouch in the saucepan and cook according to directions.

While the chicken is cooking, reheat the rice in the microwave.

Spoon rice onto serving plates. Top with chicken cutlets and drizzle with reserved glaze mixture. Serve peas on the side.

Tuesday

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Pasta with Broccoli and Italian Sausage

Pre-cooked chicken sausage keeps dinner prep down to the time is takes you to cook your pasta. Suggested sausages are from Al Fresco or Bruce Aidell. Serve with sliced plum tomatoes drizzled with Italian salad dressing.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat short pasta
  • 1 ½ pounds broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 links (12 oz.) cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian dried seasoning
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring chicken broth and water to boiling in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Four minutes before the pasta is finished, add the broccoli to the pot. Just before draining, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain and return the pasta and broccoli to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the sausage slices until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the sausage and any olive oil in the pan to the drained pasta mixture. Stir in the lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, Italian seasoning and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Serve topped with cheese and the tomato salad on the side.

Wednesday

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Panko-Topped Fish with Greek Vegetable Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Fish

  • 1 pound tilapia or other thin white fillets, cut into 4 portions, if necessary
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges

Salad

  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced (1 cup)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

Place frozen fish with the parchment paper from the freezer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl stir together the panko and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sprinkle evenly over fish. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork and crumbs are golden.

While the fish bakes, mix together in a medium bowl cucumber (save the other half for Friday’s salad), tomatoes, green onions, olives, 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, oregano and pepper. Gently stir in feta cheese.

Serve fish with lemon wedges and Greek Salad.

Thursday

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Vegetarian Spinach Rice Casserole and Carrots

While the casserole is baking or reheating, Cook the carrot chips in a microwave safe bowl.

6-8 servings

Ingredients:

Casserole

  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 16 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (6 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan

Carrots

  • 16 oz pkg fresh sliced carrot chips
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat rice in the microwave.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put thawed spinach into a colander, then use your hands to squeeze out as much of the water as you can.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. Add the sliced green onions, dried Italian seasoning, salt and garlic powder. When ingredients are combined, mix in the drained spinach. Then mix in the mozzarella cheese and the 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan, followed by the warmed brown rice. Use a fork to mix until the ingredients are well-distributed into the rice.

Put the mixture into a round casserole dish that you’ve sprayed with oil or nonstick spray. Cover the dish and bake about 35 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through and the cheese is melted. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, then bake 10-15 minutes more.

Carrots

While the casserole is baking, combine carrot ships, honey and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove bowl from the microwave and stir the ingredients. Return the bowl to the microwave and cook 5 minutes more.

Friday

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Cheeseburgers with Pineapple-Mango Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

Burgers

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 English muffins, split and toasted
  • 4 slices American or Swiss cheese
  • Burger condiments

Salad

  • 3 cups cubed peeled and cored fresh pineapple
  • 1 mango, seeded, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint

Directions

In a large bowl mix together the beef, scallions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Shape mixture into four 1/2-inch thick patties.

Heat a stove top grill pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties about 5 minutes per side or until done to your liking (150-160 degrees F).

Top burgers with a slice of cheese about a minute before they are completely cooked.

For the salad: in a medium bowl mix together the pineapple, mango, cucumber, lime juice and honey. Stir in mint.

Serve burgers on English muffins with condiments of choice.

Additional Recipe For Your Slow Cooker

Make this recipe ahead and refrigerate for reheating during the week or freeze for a future meal.

Italian Braised Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, skinned (If you like drumsticks, use half drumsticks and half thighs)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 15 1/2 oz can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 medium yellow sweet pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 ounce diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon of snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Directions

Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper. Place chicken in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Top with drained beans, fennel, sweet pepper, onion, garlic, rosemary, oregano and crushed red pepper. In a medium bowl, combine undrained tomatoes, wine, tomato paste and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; pour over mixture in cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Sprinkle each serving with cheese and parsley.

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Italian Cookies

Is it possible to have Italian cookies for around 200 calories per serving? Yes, if you swap in lower-fat ingredients, add nutrition-rich fruits and determine proper portions to accomplish this.

You do not have to stop baking cookies, if you are trying to eat healthy, but rather learn how to make them healthier without sacrificing taste. Obviously moderation and portion control still apply, no matter how healthy the cookie is, but learning how to reduce calories and fat, along with using some healthy ingredients, will make the cookies you bake that much more appealing and nutritious.

There are a variety of ingredients that you can substitute in your favorite cookie recipes to help make them better for you.

  • Try using part whole wheat pastry flour instead of all white flour.
  • You can replace half the butter in a recipe with oil or applesauce. You may have to reduce your baking time by 25% with these substitutes. With cookie recipes though, you may also have to experiment, because the cookie may not set properly, if there is not enough butter. 
  • Use skim or non-fat milk instead of whole milk.
  • Use egg whites (usually 2 egg whites for every egg) or 1/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute.
  • Try reducing sugar by 1/4 to 1/3. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup, use 2/3 cup.
  • Try using natural sugar substitutes. Two, I like, for baking are Domino Sugar Light and Truvia for Baking. They both use a natural sweetener called Stevia in their products. Add some cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract to your cookies to give the impression of sweetness when cutting back on the sugar.

The recipes below for some of the most popular italian cookies have been adjusted to make them healthier. Each serving is less than 200 calories.

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Italian Amaretti Cookies

Serving size: 4 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole blanched or unblanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line large cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooling spray.

In a food processor combine the almonds and the powdered sugar. Cover and process until finely ground. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, amaretto and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually beat in the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold half of the almond mixture into the egg white mixture, then fold in the remaining almond mixture.

Spoon almond mixture into 1-inch diameter mounds, 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until the tops are set and lightly browned. Cool cookie sheets on wire racks and remove cookies as soon as they can be released from the parchment paper or foil without breaking. If you leave them too long, they may be difficult to get off the paper. Makes about 48 cookies.

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Tuscan-Style Cookies

Serving size: 2 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups slivered almonds (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts (4 ounces)
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

In a food processor combine almonds, pistachios and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. Cover and process until the nuts are very finely ground but still dry (not oily). Add 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, the flour, orange peel, lemon peel, baking powder and salt. Cover and pulse with on/off turns to combine; set aside.

In a large bowl beat egg whites, almond extract and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar, beating until medium-stiff peaks form (tips stand almost straight). Gently fold the nut mixture into the egg white mixture until the mixture forms a dough.

With damp hands or using a rubber scraper, form dough into a 12×6-inch rectangle. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Unwrap dough. Using a long sharp knife, cut dough into 2×2-inch squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to form two triangles. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottoms are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack. Sift additional powdered sugar over warm cookies. Cool completely.

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Walnut Crescents

Normally these cookies would be made with 1 cup of butter. In this recipe ricotta cheese is substituted for half the butter.

Serving size: 2 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer combine butter, ricotta cheese and salt. Beat on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon. Shape dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheatthe  oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease two  cookie sheets.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Fold in half; roll into a 15×12-inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch squares.

In a small bowl combine walnuts, sugar, orange marmalade, orange peel and cinnamon.

Place a slightly rounded teaspoon of the walnut mixture on each dough square. Fold one corner of each dough square over the filling; roll to the opposite corner and press to seal. If necessary, brush underside of each dough point with water before pressing to seal. Place on prepared cookie sheets.

In a small bowl beat together the egg and the water. Brush egg mixture over crescents.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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Tiramisu Ladyfinger Sandwiches

Serving size: 1 cookie sandwich

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur or strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Tiramisu Frosting, recipe below
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Chocolate covered coffee bean, optional

Directions

Line three large cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the sugar, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks, coffee-flavored liqueur, vanilla and instant espresso coffee powder with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick.

Fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites just until combined. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour over the egg mixture. Fold flour in gently, just until combined.

Repeat with remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, being careful to not overstir.

Spoon batter into a decorating bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe batter 1 1/2 inches apart in ladyfinger shapes (3×1-inch) on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until set and golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.

Spoon the Tiramisu Frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe frosting onto the flat sides of half of the cookies. Top each frosted cookie with another cookie, flat side down. Pipe a bit of frosting on the top of each cookie. If desired, sift with cocoa powder and top with a chocolate coffee bean. Chill until ready to serve.

To Store:

Layer unfilled cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw cookies, if frozen. Fill and frost cookies as directed above.

Tiramisu Frosting

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces softened light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon coffee-flavored liqueur or strong brewed cooled coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar

Directions

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, butter, whipping cream, coffee-flavored liqueur or strong brewed cooled coffee, vanilla and instant espresso coffee powder. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar to make a frosting of piping consistency.

Florentines

Serving size: 2 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large cookie sheets with foil. Grease foil; set cookie sheets aside.

In a medium heavy saucepan combine sugar, butter, cream and honey. Cook and stir over low heat about 5 minutes or until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring mixture to boiling.

Brush side of pan with a damp pastry brush or damp paper towel to prevent sugar from crystallizing on the sides. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook until the thermometer registers 238 degrees F (soft-ball stage). Remove from heat. Quickly stir in oats, almonds, ginger, flour and lemon peel.

Drop dough by tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto prepared cookie sheets. Dip tines of a fork into cold water and press the top of each cookie to flatten. Bake on separate racks for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown and set, switching cookie sheets halfway through baking.

Cool completely on cookie sheets. Gently lift cookies from foil. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is set.

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Pistachio-Fruit Biscotti

Serving size: 2 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup snipped dried apricots
  • 1 ½ cups lightly salted dry-roasted pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat two 8x4x2-inch (or similar) loaf pans with nonstick spray. Line a large baking sheet with parchment; set aside.

In a large bowl stir together sugar, butter, vanilla, baking powder, almond extract and salt. Add eggs and egg whites, beating vigorously until evenly incorporated. Fold in apricots and nuts. Gradually stir in flour until blended (if desired, work in last of it with your hands). If dough seems very soft or sticky, let it stand to firm up for 5 minutes.

Divide dough in half; place each half in a loaf pan. Using greased hands, press dough to edges until smooth on top and evenly thick all over. (Alternatively, using greased hands, shape and smooth each half into an 8×4-inch, evenly thick loaf, spacing them as far apart as possible on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 24 to 28 minutes or until firm and light brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Set aside; cool completely.

Transfer to a cutting board. Using a large, serrated knife, cut each loaf into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Place slices, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet.

Return to the oven. Bake slices 12 minutes or until toasted and light brown. Cool slightly. Gently turn over. Bake 7 minutes more until golden brown, watching closely to avoid over browning. Turn off the oven. Let stand in the oven to crisp 10 minutes more. Remove from oven; cool completely.

Store at room temperature up to 10 days. Freeze up to 2 months.

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