Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: April 2014

 

Apple_coffee_cake

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that cake, as we know it today made with refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast, arrived on the scene. The Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book [London, 1894] contains a recipe for a layer cake. Butter-cream frosting (using butter, cream, confectioners [powdered] sugar and flavorings) replaced traditional boiled icing in the first few decades of the 20th century. Coffee cake (also sometimes known as Kuchen or Gugelhupf) was not invented. It evolved from ancient honey cakes to simple French galettes to medieval fruitcakes to sweet yeast rolls to Danish cakes to mass-produced pre-packaged treats.

Food historians generally agree the concept of coffee cake [eating sweet cake with coffee] most likely originated in Northern/Central Europe sometime in the 17th century. Why this place and time? These countries were already known for their traditional sweet yeast breads. When coffee was introduced in Europe these cakes were a natural accompaniment. German, Dutch and Scandinavian immigrants brought their coffee cake recipes with them to America. Italian coffee cakes are usually filled with fresh seasonal fruit and are eaten for breakfast.

The first coffee cake-type foods were more like bread than cake. They were simple mixtures of yeast, flour, eggs, sugar, nuts, dried fruit and sweet spices. Over time, coffee cake recipes changed. Sugared fruit, cheese, yogurt and other creamy fillings are often used in today’s American coffee cake recipes.

Coffee cakes are a class of cakes intended to be eaten alongside coffee as part of a breakfast meal or that may be eaten during a “coffee break” or offered to guests as a gesture of hospitality on or around a coffee table. They are typically single layer cakes that may be square or rectangular like a Stollen or a loaf-shaped cake or they may be ring-shaped. Coffee cakes may be flavored with cinnamon or other spices, seeds, nuts and fruits. These cakes sometimes have a crumb topping called streusel and/or a light glaze drizzle. The hole in the center of many coffee cakes is a relatively recent innovation—it became popular in the 1950’s. The “bundt pan” was invented to allow heavier batters to get cooked all the way through without any dough left unbaked in the center.

Enjoy one of the following cakes with your next cup of coffee.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake

Oatmeal_Cake_9008

For the cake

  • 5.25 ounces (1 cup) steel-cut or old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cupsevaporated whole milk
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter or butter substitute (such as Smart Balance), room temperature
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) packed brown sugar
  • 3.5 ounces (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 7 ounces (about 1½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping

  • 2.5 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter or butter alternative
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) packed brown sugar
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3.5 ounces (1 cup) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 ounces (½ cup) chopped pecans

Directions

Make the cake:

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over high heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the milk over the oats and cover the bowl. Allow the oats to rest for 30 minutes; in this time they should have absorbed much of the milk and softened considerably.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8-inch square metal cake pan with cooking spray. Line it with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil cut to fit into the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan with ample overhang on either side. Spray the foil lightly. (If you have no interest in serving the cake outside of the pan, don’t bother with the foil. Instead, sprinkle flour generously on the inside of the sprayed cake pan, tilt to coat the bottom and sides and remove the excess flour.) Set the pan aside.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add the sugars, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and aerated, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Crack the eggs into a measuring cup. Add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork until combined.

With the mixer running on low-speed, add the beaten eggs, then add the dry ingredients and the oats with any liquid remaining in the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until the cake is golden brown, has shrunken slightly from the sides and tests clean with a toothpick, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Make the topping:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugars and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugars have dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and salt, bring to a boil, and boil until the mixture is thickened slightly, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla and set aside, covered, until ready to use.

Finish the cake:

After removing the cake from the oven, position the oven rack about 6 inches below the heating element of the broiler and preheat the broiler.

With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke ½-inch-deep holes at regular intervals into the top of the warm cake. Spread the topping over the cake, coaxing it to the sides and corners.

Broil until the topping is light brown and bubbly, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the intensity of your broiler. Remove from the broiler and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

To unmold the cake:

Run a metal spatula along the sides of the cake that touch the pan directly. Gripping the foil overhang on both sides, carefully lift out the cake and transfer it to a cutting board or serving plate. Press a long metal spatula flush against a side of the cake with a foil overhang and gently pull out the foil from under the cake.

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

blueberry-sour-cream-coffee-cake-recipe-rp

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter or butter alternative, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar or sugar alternative
  • 4 eggs or equivalent refrigerated egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, if frozen do not thaw

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; add to creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream.

Spoon a third of the batter into the prepared pan.

Combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle half over the batter. Top with half of the berries. Repeat layers. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over the top of the cake.

Hazelnut Coffee Cake

Hazelnut

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted, see tip below
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 9x 2-inch stone or metal loaf pan; set aside.

For the nut topping:

In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. With your fingers mix until mixture is crumbly. Stir in toasted hazelnuts. Set aside.

For the cake:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, combine egg, sour cream, the water and oil and add to the flour mixture; stir just until combined.

Place 1/2 cup of the batter into a clean small bowl. Stir in cocoa powder, milk and vanilla until smooth.

Spoon the light-color batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly (batter will be shallow in the pan).

Drop chocolate batter in small mounds over batter in the pan. Using a thin metal spatula, slightly marble batters. Sprinkle with the nut topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; serve warm. Makes 12 servings.

Tip:

To toast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Remove from the oven. Let nuts cool for 5 minutes. Rub hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel until skins loosen and fall away.

Raspberry Cheese Coffee Cake

raspberry

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sugar alternative
  • 3/4 cups cold butter or light butter alternative, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Filling:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups low sugar or sugar-free raspberry jam, warmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Directions

In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup and set aside.

To the remaining mixture, add the baking powder, baking soda and salt, sour cream, milk, egg and almond extract and mix well. Spread in the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.

For the filling:

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon over batter. Top with the warm raspberry jam. Sprinkle with almonds and reserved crumb mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 55-60 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 12 servings.

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Italian couscous

Couscous is a traditional Berber (North African) dish of semolina (granules of durum wheat) which is cooked by steaming. It is traditionally served with a meat or vegetable stew spooned over it. Couscous is made from two different sizes of husked, crushed and unground semolina. Semolina is the hard part of the grain that resists grinding. When hard wheat is ground, the endosperm—the floury part of the grain—is cracked into two parts, the surrounding part with its proteins, minerals and central floury mass, also called the endosperm, contains the gluten protein that gives hard wheat its unique properties for making couscous and pasta.

In the province of Tra­pani, Sicily, it’s prac­ti­cally a sta­ple and if you take a look at a map you’ll see why. Tra­pani is actu­ally closer to Tunisia than it is to the Italian peninsula. Centuries ago, Sicily, North Africa and the Mid­dle East were just one big gra­nary sup­ply­ing ancient Rome. Bartolomeo Scappi’s culinary guide of 1570 describes a Moorish dish, succussu, that is made in Tuscany to illustrate how far north the grain traveled. Traditional Italian couscous is the result of the country’s unique geographic position at the center of the Mediterranean, an ideal place for cultural and culinary exchange dating back to the dawn of civilisation in the area. There is even a festival dedicated to the local specialty in the Sicilian town of San Vito Lo Capo. Couscous was introduced to the Italian palate long ago but its popularity is currently booming due to its easy preparation, versatility in the kitchen and reputation as a healthy alternative to other traditional pastas.

Italian couscous 2
Couscous is a staple food throughout the North African cuisines of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya. In many Italian regions couscous is served with fish. It is featured as a traditional Italian food product that is officially recognized by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. Use of couscous has become so widespread that some Italian food companies have even begun to launch cook and serve product lines to satisfy consumer demand. Chewy Italian couscous, also called freula, is a Sardinian-style toasted semolina pasta. It comes in small, medium and large grains and is available at specialty food stores.

Italian Couscous with Parmesan and Herbs

pearl couscous

Use this recipe as a basis for some of the recipes below.

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium-grain Italian couscous (about 2 1/2 cups) (Or any medium to large-grained couscous)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Italian couscous and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes. Drain well and return the Italian couscous to the pot. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese and stir over low heat until melted. Add the parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Pesto Chicken Over Italian Couscous

pesto chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bone on chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pesto sauce
  • 2 cups hot prepared Italian Couscous with Parmesan and Herbs, recipe above
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Place chicken thighs and pesto into a large ziplock bag, seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, longer if possible.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chicken thighs into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. (Meat thermometer should read 165 degrees F)

To serve, place couscous onto a serving plate and top with chicken and any drippings from the baking dish. Makes 4 servings.

Italian Vegetable Stew

mediterranean_vegetable_stew_use_this

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups homemade or store-bought Marinara Sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 recipe from above for prepared Italian Couscous with Parmesan and Herbs

Directions

Heat olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook garlic, zucchini, eggplant, onion, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in Marinara sauce and cheese. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to directions above. Serve vegetable mixture over hot couscous.

Italian Seafood Kabobs

Seafood Kabobs200x118

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Seafood

  • 1 lb raw shrimp (25 count)
  • 1 lb monkfish, grouper or other solid fish fillets (without bones)
  • 1 lb squid, cleaned
  • 1 lemon for garnish
  • 1 recipe prepared Italian Couscous with Parmesan and Herbs from above

Directions

This recipe makes 12 skewers, each approximately 10 inches long. If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Peel and devein shrimp. Cut monkfish into cubes. Cut squid into wide rings.

In a large bowl combine the garlic with the next six ingredients. Add the fish and mix until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Thread shrimp, fish and squid rings onto the skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat an outdoor grill or a stove top grill to medium high. Oil the grill. Place the skewers on the grill. Grill kabobs directly over the heat source for about 10 minutes, turning 1/4 rotation every 2 to 3 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.

Serve skewers over the prepared couscous with lemon quarters on the side.

Savory Baked Couscous

baked couscous

Serve this recipe as a side dish with grilled meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup medium Italian couscous
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Stir couscous into boiling salted water and return water to a boil. Add the Italian couscous and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes. Drain.

While the couscous is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Stir in garlic, green onions and peppers; saute briefly; then stir in tomatoes, basil, cooked couscous, salt and pepper.

Mix together and transfer to an oiled 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Splash the balsamic vinegar on top.

Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese while still warm.

Italian Couscous, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

couscous salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) container small fresh mozzarella cheese balls
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • 8 ounces medium Italian couscous
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Arugula or whole basil leaves for garnish

Directions

Halve cherry tomatoes.

In a large bowl combine the tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic, toss well then refrigerate, covered, to marinate for 30 minutes.

Cook couscous according to the directions above. Drain. Cool.

Toss couscous and basil with tomato and mozzarella mixture. Garnish with arugula or whole basil leaves and serve.

 

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seafood-platter

There are two types of shellfish-crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans have segmented bodies with crust-like shells. Mollusks have shells encasing their soft bodies. Crustaceans can be identified by their unsymmetrical, elongated bodies and their eyes on stalks. Examples of crustaceans are shrimp, crab and lobster. Mollusks can be identified by their shells which are either closed or partially cover their soft bodies. Oysters, scallops, mussels and clams are examples of mollusks.

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Crabs
Edible crabs include Alaskan King Crab, Snow Crab, Dungeness Crab and Blue Crab. After steaming, grilling, or frying the crab, you crack open the outer shell of the legs and body and eat the meat inside. Crabs are classified in a subgroup of crustaceans called Brachyura and typically live near the shore of oceans around tide pools. All crabs characteristically feature “pinchers” (claws) on their two front legs. Crabs can be cooked in numerous ways, but boiling is perhaps the most common method of preparation.

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Lobster
Another popular edible crustacean, lobsters feature 10 legs and often have pinchers (clawed legs). Varieties include the American Lobster (also called the Maine Lobster), the European Lobster and the Spiny Lobster (which does not have pinchers). Lobsters can be found in the ocean near the coast and can live up to 50 years in the wild. Many people choose to buy just the lobster claws or the tails, which is where the majority of the meat is. However, serving a whole, bright red lobster makes an attractive presentation for a special occasion. To cook whole lobsters, they must be bought alive as they will quickly spoil once they are dead. One of the most common and easiest ways to cook whole lobster is to steam it.

ShrimpCooked3

Shrimp
Shrimp live in freshwater and saltwater. Although more than 300 species of shrimp exist, the most common edible shrimp, include gulf shrimp and tiger shrimp. Farm raised shrimp are also increasingly common. Avoid shrimp that smells of anything other than salt water. If there is any hint of the aroma of ammonia, it’s a sign the shrimp are way past there prime. Truly fresh shrimp will have almost translucent flesh. Do not buy shrimp with black spots or rings (unless it’s black tiger shrimp) as this indicates the meat is starting to break down. Also avoid pink meat. Shrimp can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be boiled, steamed, grilled, sautéed, baked or deep-fried. They can also be cooked with or without the shell and with the vein or deveined.

oyster

Oysters
Oysters are found all over the world’s coasts and oceans. Oyster varieties have different sizes, colors and flavors due to environmental conditions. Because oysters are filter feeders, they are sensitive to environmental pollution. They may pass these pollutants on to humans so eating oysters from reliable habitats is important. Buy oysters in winter months when the cold water in the oyster bed produces peak flavor. Look for undamaged shells that are shut tight. Ask the fishmonger to shuck fresh oysters, if possible. To do it yourself: scrub the outside and shuck them carefully with a sharp knife. Wear a heavy rubber glove to hold the oyster shell to avoid injury. Oysters are served raw, steamed, fried, poached, grilled and baked. Oyster dishes are usually accompanied by lemon juice, chili sauce or horseradish sauce. Serve raw oysters on the half-shell with cocktail sauce and crackers or baked florentine. Saute whole oysters, make oyster chowder or fry them with a light breading.

clams

 

Clams
The many species of clam are found all over the world’s oceans and coasts and range in size from a four-inch sand clams to the four-foot giant clams. Soft shell and hard shell clams live in the open in deep fresh and saltwater and burrowed in the tidal sands or muddy banks of coastal areas. Buy fresh clams in the shell. Store in an open bowl in the refrigerator. Wash the clams under running water to remove any sand before preparing them. Small hardshell clams should be handled in the same manner as mussels. Cook softshell clams before eating them. Wash them thoroughly under running water, as they always contain a lot of sand and mud. Clams are served in chowder and soups and in sauces. Steam, fry, bake and grill clams.

600px-Mussels_at_Trouville_fish_market

Mussels
Mussels are fresh and saltwater filter feeder mollusks that are sensitive to environmental pollutants and are considered a species that indicates water quality. Mussels have two shells bound together with a ligament and can close and open it at will. Mussels use the ligament to attach to rocks or underwater piles but some species burrow in sand or mud. Store fresh mussels in an open bowl in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Rinse fresh mussels under slow running water. Discard any heavy mussels (that are filled with mud), any broken shells or any shells that are open. Take a sharp knife and carefully scrape off the “beard” from the edge of each mussels. Mussels are usually served steamed with sauces but they can also be roasted or served in soups and pasta. Steam the mussels 8 to 10 minutes until the shells pop open. Serve with a sauce made from butter, white wine and garlic.

scallops

Scallops
Sea Scallops live on the ocean floor in groups and filter feed on plankton and other small organisms. Unlike most mollusks, sea scallops are relatively fast swimmers, opening and closing their fanned shell quickly to move around. The muscle that holds the two scallop shells together, called the abductor muscle, is the most popular edible part of the scallop. Choose sea scallops or bay scallops, both of which come shucked and ready to prepare. Strip off and discard the little strip of tendon that is attached to each scallop. Buy “dry” scallops, if possible. Refuse scallops that have been soaked in phosphates, which causes them to absorb water and lose flavor. Scallops are served sauteed, seared, baked, grilled, in soups and raw. Make serviche, an appetizer made with fresh bay scallops and marinated in citrus juices. Grill, roast or saute large scallops as an entrée. Bread scallops with a mixture of bread crumbs and basil.

Cooking Shellfish

Some Guidelines

Shellfish — shrimp, crabs, scallops, clams, mussels, oysters or lobster — becomes tough and dry when overcooked. To cook raw shellfish, shucked or in the shell, follow these basic guidelines:

  • Raw shrimp turn pink and firm. Depending on the size, it takes from 3 to 5 minutes to boil or steam 1 pound of medium size shrimp in the shell.
  • Shucked shellfish (clams, mussels and oysters without shells), become plump and opaque when cooked and the edges of the oysters start to curl. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests: boiling shucked oysters for 3 minutes, frying them in oil at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or baking them for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F.
  • Clams, mussels and oysters in the shell will open when cooked. The FDA suggests steaming oysters for 4 to 9 minutes or boiling them for 3 to 5 minutes after they open.
  • Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm when cooked. Depending on the size, scallops take 3 to 4 minutes to cook thoroughly.
  • Boiled lobster turns bright red. Allow 5 to 6 minutes cooking time after the water comes back to a full boil.

Grilling Seafood

CUT WEIGHT ORTHICKNESS HEAT COOKING TIME(MINUTES PER POUND)
Dressed Fish 1 lb. Medium/Direct 10 to 15
2-2-1/2 lbs. Med/Indirect 20 to 30
Fillets or Steaks 1/4 to 1/2 in. High/Direct 3 to 5
1/2 to 1 in. High/Direct 5 to 10
Kabobs 1-in. cubes Medium/Direct 8 to 12
Scallops, Sea 1 lb. Medium/Direct 5 to 8
Shrimp, Medium 1 lb. Medium/Direct 5 to 8

Shrimp and Crab Boat Appetizers

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24 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 6 ounces) lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 24 Belgian endive leaves (3-4 heads) or small butter lettuce leaves

Directions

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, crab and celery. Add mayonnaise and mustard. Toss to coat. To serve, top each leaf with about 2 tablespoons shrimp mixture. Yield: 2 dozen.

Red Pepper Soup with Grilled Shellfish

pepper soup

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 pounds red bell peppers
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 10 leaves basil, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the seafood:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 8 (U 16/20-count) shrimp
  • 8 (U 30-count) scallops
  • 8 ounces crabmeat, leg or lump

Directions

For the soup:

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, garlic and onion and saute until translucent.

Roast the peppers on an open flame until charred; place in a plastic bag to sweat; remove skin and seeds. Puree the peppers and add to onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock and water; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add basil, thyme, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Puree the mixture with a hand immersion blender.

For the seafood:

Combine ingredients (olive oil through the chives) and mix well. Add seafood and marinate for 10 minutes prior to cooking. Cook seafood until done (about 5-6 minutes) on a grill or under the broiler. Use as a topping for the Red Pepper Soup and serve hot with crusty country bread.

Pistachio-Crusted Scallops

pistachio-crusted-scallops-940x600

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pistachios and cook, stirring often, until nuts are deeply toasted, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Chop pistachios. Place in a small bowl; toss with chives, tarragon and thyme.

Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat remaining butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add scallops; sear until crusty brown, about 2 minutes per side. Roll scallops in pistachio mixture and serve immediately.

Baked Italian Oysters

baked-oysters-ck-237772-l

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 oysters on the half shell
  • 8 lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place bread in a food processor and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form, (about 3/4 cup).

Heat a medium nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onions, parsley and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in fresh breadcrumbs, Italian breadcrumbs and the next 4 ingredients (Italian breadcrumbs through black pepper).

Place oysters on a jelly roll baking pan. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over oysters.
Bake the oysters for 7 minutes or until the edges of the oysters curl. Serve with lemon wedges.

Mussels Fra Diavlo

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups Fra Diavlo Sauce, recipes follow
  • 3 pounds medium mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves

Fra Diavolo Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • Kosher or sea salt

Directions

For the sauce:

Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan slightly over medium heat and saute the garlic and crushed red pepper until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 40 seconds. Add the Marinara Sauce, clam juice and salt to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat, about 15 minutes.

For the mussels:

Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and Fra Diavlo sauce, increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels and replace the lid. Cook over high heat 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir once gently. Continue to cook until the mussels are completely open and firmly cooked, about 4 minutes more.

Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the mussels gently from the pot to a large bowl with a wire mesh skimmer. Return the pot to the heat and increase the heat to high. Boil for a minute or two, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve immediately.

Lobster Arrabbiata

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Ingredients

  • Two 1 1/2-pound lobsters
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small dry red chilies, crushed or 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, for garnish, optional

Directions

Bring 2 large, tall pots of water to a boil. One will be for the spaghetti, one for the lobsters. It is best if the lobster pot has a lid.

Place the lobsters in the boiling water headfirst and cover tightly with the lid. (If you happen to have lobsters of different weights, put the heaviest lobster in first and wait a minute to add the others.) Boil the lobster for about 7 minutes but no longer than 8 minutes. You want it to be slightly underdone. Transfer the lobsters to a bowl and separate the heads from the tails, reserving them both in the bowl. Remove the lobster legs from the body/head and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and lobster heads in a large 14-inch saute pan. Include any juices that have collected in the bowl. Roast the lobster heads in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack open the claws and remove the meat. Cut open the tails to remove the tail meat. Cut all of the meat into large, 2-inch pieces.

Remove the lobster heads from the pan and discard. Add the chilies and garlic to the olive oil and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and saute until they just begin to break down.

Cook the spaghetti in the second pot of boiling water along with 2 tablespoons of salt for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the spaghetti.

Add the lobster meat, reserved lobster legs and pasta to the sauce and toss together for about a minute, adding pasta water as needed, top torn basil and serve.

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EarthDay

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Energy & Waste
The average American produces more than four pounds of garbage per day. Over the course of a year, that is more than 1,600 pounds of garbage per person. Almost half of the food in the U.S. goes to waste – approximately 3,000 pounds per second. The recycling rate has increased from less than 10% in 1980 to more than 34% in 2011. From 1990 to 2010, the total amount of garbage going into landfills dropped by almost 10 million tons.

Plastic
In 2012, the U.S. produced 32 million tons of plastic. Only 9% was recovered for recycling. It takes 100 to 400 years for plastics to break down in a landfill. The energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle can power a computer for 25 minutes. Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. About 1,500 bottles end up in landfills and the ocean every second.

Glass
It takes approximately 1 million years for a glass bottle to break down in a landfill. Recycling one glass bottle can power a computer for 30 minutes. Producing glass from new materials requires 30% more energy than using used glass.

Paper
Every year, Americans use more than 180,000 of paper and paperboard. That’s an average of 700 pounds of paper products per person each year. Recycling a stack of newspaper just 3 feet high saves one tree. By recycling 1 ton of paper, we save enough energy to heat a home for six months.

Water
Almost 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers. Only 1% is usable for agriculture, manufacturing and personal needs. The average American uses more than 750,000 gallons of water per year. Around the world, the average is less than half of that figure.

Today is Earth Day, but you can have a meaningful discussion with your loved ones about it at any time. Taking care of our environment is important and you can empower your loved ones by sharing with them some of the easy ways to make a difference in your home and neighborhood.

Go Vegetarian Once a Week
One less meat-based dinner a week can nourish the planet and your diet. The meat industry contributes nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions accelerating climate change, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. A report published by the Environmental Working Group last year found that if every American eliminated both meat and cheese from their diet for one day a week, it would be equivalent to removing 7.6 million cars from the road. The Meatless Monday website reports that up to 2,500 gallons of water may be needed to produce one pound of beef and “40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feedlot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.”

Use Fewer Paper Napkins
This one’s real easy. During one year, the average American uses 2,200 paper napkins—approximately six per day. If everyone in the country eliminated just one paper napkin per day, more than a billion paper napkins could be saved from landfills each year. This goes for paper towels, too.

Buy local produce
According to the Institute of Food Research, the majority of produce in your grocery store loses nearly 45% of its nutritional value by the time you buy it. When you purchase produce from a nearby farm, chances are it was picked less than 24 hours earlier and had to travel less than 100 miles to get from the farm to you. This means you’re getting nearly all of the original nutrients and helping to reduce greenhouse gases from transportation, which contributes to climate change. While buying from a farm isn’t always possible, when you get the chance, doing so can make a big difference!

Reduce waste with composting
By composting kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, you cut down on the amount of food you waste and reduce your contribution to landfills. By composting regularly, you can reduce the volume of garbage you generate by as much as 25 percent!

Turn off the lights, and the faucets
Try to turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room. Experts recommend turning off Fluorescent bulbs which are sensitive to how many times you switch them on and off, when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more. This helps save both energy and money. And when brushing your teeth, try to turn off the water for the two minutes or so it takes to brush; you can help save up to four gallons of water if you do this regularly.

Plant a tree
The simple act of planting a tree also reaps many benefits. Trees are good for the air and land and they can provide shade for your house, which can help you save on cooling costs. You can make the act meaningful for your family by starting an annual ritual of planting a tree in honor or in memory of someone. Or if you want to start smaller, just plant some herbs you can watch grow on the windowsill.

Discover more activities you can do together
There are plenty of other easy Earth-day inspired ways your family can contribute to a healthier planet beyond your backyard. Take walks or bike rides together instead of driving places. Volunteer together to help clean or preserve local parks. Learn about recycling together by calling your local recycling center and taking a tour, if they offer them. The best part about these activities is not only that they’re good for the planet, but by doing them together, they’re good for the family, too.

Source: http://www.50waystohelp.com/

Earth Day Menu

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Italian Leafy Green Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups romaine lettuce – torn
  • 1 cup torn escarole
  • 1 cup torn radicchio
  • 1 cup torn red leaf lettuce
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced in rings
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the romaine, escarole, radicchio, red-leaf, scallions, red pepper, green pepper and cherry tomatoes.

Whisk together the olive oil, basil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pour over salad, toss and serve immediately.

 

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Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

1 pound eggplant, peeled
3/4 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.

Place the egg substitute in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.

Dip the eggplant slices into the egg substitute mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture.

Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.

To assemble the casserole, you will need:

Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

  • 2 ½ cups Marinara sauce (see recipe below
  • 1-8 ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • Breaded and baked eggplant 

Directions

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the package of cheese. Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped fine

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute vegetables. Add 1-6 oz. can tomato paste.
Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot. Add 4-28 oz. boxes Pomi tomatoes. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper and dried thyme. Simmer for another hour or until the sauce has thickened. Taste the sauce to see if it is very acidic. If it is, add a teaspoon of honey or agave syrup.

Measure out 2 ½ cups of sauce for the recipe above and freeze the remaining sauce.

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Homemade Italian Bread

Ingredients

  • 7 1/4-7 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages fast-rising active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups water ( 110 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • 1 slightly beaten egg white

Directions

In a large electric mixer bowl, combine 3 cups of flour and the yeast.
Combine the water and salt. Add to the dry mixture.
Beat at low-speed for 30 seconds, scrapping the sides constantly.
Beat at high for 3 minutes.
By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a very stiff dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and very elastic (15-25 minutes).
Shape into a ball.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough.
Cover and let rise in a warm place till double (about 1 hour).

Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide the dough in half.
Cover with the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each half into a 15×12 inch rectangle.
Beginning at the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up tightly, sealing as you roll.
Taper the ends of the loaf.

Grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle them each with cornmeal.
Place each loaf, diagonally seam side down, on baking sheets.
Make diagonal cuts 2 ½ inches apart (1/8 to ¼ inch deep) on the tops of the loaves.
Add tablespoon of water to the beaten egg white and brush over the top and sides of the loaves.

Cover and let rise in a warm place till double (about 20-45 minutes).
When ready to bake, place a large shallow pan on the lower rack of the oven and fill with boiling water.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes, brush with the egg white mixture again.
Bake 20 minutes longer. Cool on a rack.

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Yogurt Cake with Fresh Berries

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil, plus more for oiling the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh berries or seasonal fruit for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9-inch cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Oil the paper, too; set the pan aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, oil, almond extract and vanilla extract. Gently whisk flour mixture into yogurt mixture just until blended and smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and top has formed a thin crust. The cake should be just firm in the center when done. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and peel off parchment paper.

Continue cooling on a rack. Slice and serve with berries.

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springvegetables

If you have been picking up Spring vegetables and are wondering what to do with your new bounty, here are a few ideas on how to turn them into dinner.

Spring Vegetable Risotto

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Serve this main dish with a garden salad and bread sticks to make a complete dinner.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Cook peas in boiling water about 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.

Pour broth into a medium-size saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce heat to low and keep broth warm.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, salt and pepper and cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until softened. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to saucepan. Stir in rice and cook 1 minute. Add wine to saucepan and stir until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in warm broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir frequently until liquid is absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup (about 22 minutes total).

When you have about 10 minutes cook time remaining, stir in carrots. Add peas to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, butter and lemon juice.

Chicken Soup with Vegetables

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For dinner serve this soup with a Toasted Tomato Sandwich (recipe below).

Ingredients

Stock Base

  • 4 whole bone-in chicken breasts
  • 5 medium carrots, quartered
  • 2 large parsnips, quartered
  • 2 small turnips, quartered
  • 2 medium celery roots, quartered
  • 1 large green bell pepper, halved, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 20 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 20 black or white peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice

Soup

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch Julienne strips
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch Julienne strips
  • 1 large celery stalk, cut into ⅛-inch julienne strips
  • 1 pound thin noodles, cooked and drained

Directions

Place chicken, carrots, parsnips, turnips, parsley roots, green pepper, onion and 1 tablespoon of salt in a 12-quart stockpot. Cover with 6 quarts cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim and discard foam that forms at the top when it comes to a boil. Add remaining salt, the parsley, cauliflower, garlic, peppercorns and allspice and return to a boil. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 1 hour.

Remove the chicken breasts and allow them to cool slightly. Remove meat from bones. Shred meat and refrigerate. Return bones to the pot. Continue simmering, covered, over low heat, for at least 2 hours more.

Strain entire contents of pot through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Chill broth overnight.

To serve soup: Remove surface fat and pour broth into a large pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until warm, 10 to 15 minutes. Add zucchini, carrot, celery and reserved shredded chicken. Simmer 5 minutes to cook vegetables and heat chicken.

Be careful to keep soup over low heat; bringing soup to a boil can make it cloudy. Season to taste with salt. Place 1/4 cup noodles in each soup bowl and ladle hot soup over pasta.

Toasted Tomato Sandwiches

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Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese with onion and chives
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 slices whole-grain country bread
  • 4 slices provolone cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/2 inch thick

Directions

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

Mash garlic on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife or a spoon until a paste forms. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with cream cheese and lemon juice.

Sprinkle tomatoes with pepper and salt.

Place bread on a large baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the bread over and divide cheese among 4 of the pieces. Continue broiling until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Assemble sandwiches with tomato and the garlic-herb mixture. Top with the melted cheese bread.

Scallops with Asparagus Salad

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Serve this main dish salad with Cheddar Drop Biscuits (recipe below).

6 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salad

  • 1 pound new potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (about 24 scallops)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10 cups salad greens (about one 5-ounces)

Directions

In small bowl, whisk together cider vinegar, mustard and shallot. Gradually drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil, whisking continuously until dressing is emulsified; set aside until ready to use.

Bring a medium-size pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add potato slices to boiling water and cook 4 minutes; drain. Cut 1-inch off of bottoms of asparagus; discard. Cut stalks into 2-inch pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potato slices to skillet and cover; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add asparagus pieces to skillet and stir to combine. Sprinkle potato mixture with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and cook an additional 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove asparagus and potatoes to a plate.

Season scallops with remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add half of the butter, swirling to coat bottom. Add half of the scallops to the skillet and cook 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on the first side, then turn and cook 1 minute on the second side, adjusting heat as necessary so the butter doesn’t burn. Repeat process with remaining butter and scallops.

Toss salad greens with 2 tablespoons prepared dressing and divide among plates. Toss asparagus mixture with remaining dressing and divide among salad plates, then divide scallops among plates and serve immediately.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, well shaken
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F with racks in upper and lower third positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper. Work butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until butter is incorporated and pea-size lumps remain. Stir in cheddar, then buttermilk and chives, just until dough comes together.

Using two spoons, drop 1/4 cup quantities of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake in oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes, rotating baking sheets once.

Spinach, Onion and Cheese Quiche

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Serve this Quiche with a tomato salad and Zucchini Muffins (recipe below) for dinner.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

Ingredients

Crust

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Gouda cheese or cheese of choice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs

Directions

To prepare crust, place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Combine milk, salt, and egg yolk in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add milk mixture to butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour; beat just until combined. Press mixture into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap and place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Freeze 15 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

To prepare filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 2 minutes. Combine 1 cup milk and remaining ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in spinach mixture.

Pour filling into crust. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes.

Zucchini Muffins

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Servings: 12 Ingredients

  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup almond milk or low-fat dairy milk
  • 1½ cups shredded zucchini

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together.

In another bowl, combine sugar, applesauce, vanilla, lemon zest, zucchini and milk. Stir until well combined.

Add wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring until just barely combined.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 18-25 minutes.

Spring Lasagna

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Serve a green bean salad (recipe below) to round out the menu. Add browned sliced Italian sausage to the layers for a meat option.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for the pan
  • Eight 2 1/4-inch wide lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup green peas, freshly shelled or frozen
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
  • 1 pound ricotta, preferably whole milk
  • 1 packed cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons minced or crushed garlic
  • About 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan

Directions

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with a little olive oil. Lay out two kitchen towels.

Add salt and noodles to the boiling water, swishing gently so they don’t stick. Boil 2 minutes, then add the asparagus and fresh peas. (For frozen peas, just place them in a colander in the sink.) Boil 1 minute. Add sugar snap peas and boil 1 minute more. Drain into a colander (directly over the frozen peas, if using).

Using tongs, immediately lift out 4 noodles and place them in the pan in a single layer. Place the other noodles on a towel in a single layer. Transfer the vegetable to the other kitchen towel and pat dry. Reserve a few asparagus tips to garnish the top of the lasagna.

Combine the ricotta and mozzarella in a bowl. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic in a small microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook for 30 seconds; stir it into the ricotta. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To assemble the lasagna, spread half the pesto over the noodles in the pan. Using half the ricotta mixture, place spoonfuls over the pesto, trying to get it evenly distributed. There will be gaps. Scatter half the vegetables on top. Sprinkle with a little more than half the Parmesan. Top with remaining noodles and repeat the layers, ending with a light scattering of Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until heated through and lightly golden.

Garnish the top of the lasagna with the reserved cooked asparagus tips before serving.

Green Bean Pepper Salad

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Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. green beans, washed, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded or 1 jarred roasted pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

Directions

Put 1 cup of water in a saucepan with the green bean pieces. Boil water and reduce heat to medium. Cover the pot and steam the green beans for 12-15 minutes until tender-crisp (smaller, younger beans may cook more quickly).

Meanwhile, dice the roasted bell pepper flesh into small pieces. Drain the beans in a colander and run cold water over them to cool them down to room temperature. Shake them dry.

Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper, salt and parsley in a small bowl. Place the steamed green beans and diced roasted bell pepper in a salad bowl and pour dressing over them. Toss all ingredients gently until the beans and peppers are fully coated with the dressing.

Let the salad marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Serve at room temperature.

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abruzzo-1

Abruzzi is located in the mountains along the Adriatic region of Italy and the cuisine is known for simple but hearty meals. A typical meal prepared in Abruzzi will feature diavolicchio, a combination of olive oil, tomatoes and chili peppers. Chili peppers are used often to spice up recipes, typical for much of Southern Italy. Rosemary, garlic and wine are also used extensively in Abruzzi cooking. Despite being more expensive per gram than truffles or caviar, saffron is used in many recipes and most of Italy’s saffron is produced in Abruzzi.

abruzzi

Abruzz’si cuisine is famous for artichokes and cardoons, legumes and potatoes and they are often enjoyed in soups. Cacio e Uova is a soup made from vegetables and salt pork and sometimes lamb, in a chicken base that relies on grated pecorino and eggs for a thick, creamy texture. Zuppa di cardi combines cardoons, relatives of the artichoke, with tomatoes and salt pork. The tiny mountain lentils are cooked with fresh chestnuts, pork and tomatoes with herbs to make zuppla di lenticchie. The traditional Christmas lunch begins with chicken broth, cardoons, tiny lamb meatballs and raw egg scrambled into the broth or fried chopped organ meats added to the soup just prior to serving.

Atessa-Abruzzo-Italy

Abruzzi recipes feature fresh seafood from the Adriatic, such as, Brodetto, a peppered seafood soup. Port cities also prepare fresh fish in a salty vinegar based dressing. Octopus is cooked in tomatoes and hot peppers and called “polpi in purgatorio”. Garlic, peppers and rosemary are used to season an anchovy and monkfish dish, called coda di rospo alla cacciatora. Fish and crayfish also come from inland freshwater ways.

The countryside of Abruzzi is dotted with herds of sheep and goats, making the preferred meats, lamb and kid. These meats are simmered slowly in sauces to serve over platters of polenta or pasta and served family style. Large pieces of spit roasted lamb are frequently eaten in Abruzzi, especially on special occasions. Another lamb dish of the region, agnello alle olive, is slowly cooked in a sealed clay casserole dish along with olives, lemons, hot peppers and oregano.

ab0bzxo1_1280

While beef is not as popular as in other areas of Italy, many households have their own herds of free ranging pigs. This yields meat for curing. Mortadellina, ventricina and salsicce di fegato pazzo are locally made table ready sausages that are enjoyed with bread. Abruzzi recipes such as ‘Ndocca ‘ndocca make use of the ribs and other parts of the pig that might otherwise be wasted, such as skin, ears and feet. This stew is flavored with vinegar, rosemary, bay leaf and peppers. Pork sausage is also enjoyed baked into the savory pizza rustica along with cheese and eggs.

guitar pasta

Abruzzi cuisine begins many meals with a pasta course. Maccheroni alla chitarra, or guitar pasta, is a classic Abruzzi dish. This egg dough is cut into the classic quadrangular shape with an instrument resembling an acoustic guitar. This is traditionally served with a lamb and tomato sauce seasoned with tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic and bay leaves. Lasagne Abruzzese layers sheets of pasta with spicy meat and tomato sauce.

Abruzzi cooking often calls for a crepe called scrippelle. These crepes are filled with flavorful ingredients and then used in other dishes. With scrippelle ‘mbusse, the crepes are served in chicken stock with grated pecorino cheese. In timballo di crespe, the crepes are placed in elegant molds with vegetables, cheese and meat and baked.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Hot Pepper

spaghetti with oil

Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino is a traditional recipe from the Abruzzi region of Italy.

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 14 oz (400 grams) spaghetti
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 peperoncino ( hot peppers)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt

Directions

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water.
A few minutes before draining the pasta, heat 1/4 cup of oil, add the garlic and the peperoncino and cook slowly until the garlic turns golden. Add the sauce to the drained spaghetti, toss well and serve immediately.

Chicken and Peppers Abruzzi-Style

Chicken-cacciatore

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lb chicken; cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh hot chili peppers; chopped
  • 4 whole cloves garlic; peeled
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves; chopped
  • Salt
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 small black olives

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a deep ovenproof skillet with a lid that is large enough to contain all the chicken pieces in one layer without crowding, add oil, garlic and rosemary to the pan – turn the heat to high. Add the chicken and arrange the pieces with the skin side facing down in one layer. When well browned, turn the pieces and brown on the other side. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and chili peppers and transfer the chicken to a large plate, skin side up.

Add the onion and the bell peppers to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the olives and cherry tomatoes and, once the tomatoes are hot, pour in the wine and simmer over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Cover the pan and braise in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer dish to a large warm platter and serve at once with crusty Italian bread.

Timballo di Patate

potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds potatoes 
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  • Chopped parsley 
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Directions

Cook potatoes whole, in water, peel them. Mash potatoes mixing in mozzarella, eggs, grated cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.
Place mixture in a 12x9x2 inch (or 9 inch round) pan, of which the inside surfaces have been oiled (or buttered) and sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking. Heat at 425 degrees F. in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Serves 12.

Easter Ricotta Tarts with Saffron

soffioni

During Easter time the Abruzzi people celebrate the holiday with traditional sweets called soffioni or “big puffs”. The name refers to the look these mini tarts get while baking. Their filling is made with fresh ricotta and flavored with citrus zest and saffron. The expensive spice is a local ingredient from the fields around the small town of Navelli. It takes the inner part of 150 flowers (called crocus) to yield 1 gram of dry saffron and the brief harvest occurs once a year, when the flowers bloom around mid October.

12 pastries

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for the work surface
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium eggs plus 1 egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of sheep’s milk ricotta or cow’s milk ricotta, well-drained
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated
  • Vegetable oil or butter for coating
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, olive oil, eggs plus the egg yolk and salt. Work the dough just until it comes together in a smooth and firm ball. Wrap it with plastic and let rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature while making the filling.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the filling:

If you have an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, use it to make the filling. Remember to clean the bowl and the beater before beating the egg whites.

In a small bowl, crush the saffron threads with the back of a teaspoon.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the yolks in an electric mixer with the sugar until light and pale colored. Add the saffron, ricotta and lemon zest. Continue to beat until the mixture is fluffy. Set aside.

In another bowl or in a clean electric mixer bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until light and fluffy. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk and ricotta mixture.

Take the dough out of the wrap and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a square, about 1/8 inch thick. Using a fluted pastry cutter (or a knife), slightly trim the edges and then cut the pastry evenly into 12 squares.

Coat a 12 cup muffin baking pan with vegetable oil or butter and lightly dust with flour. Press the pastry squares into the muffin cups, making sure to leave the four corners hanging over the edges. With a spoon divide the ricotta filling among the 12 pastry cups without overfilling and then fold the corners over the center of the filling. They should not seal but remain partially separated from each other.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 320 degrees F and continue baking for another 15 minutes until the tarts are golden.

Let cool at room temperature and then carefully remove the tarts from the muffin pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

 

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AAEK001144

Marcella Hazan was born on this day, April 15, in 1924 in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna. She earned a doctorate in natural sciences and biology from the University of Ferrara. In 1955 she married Victor Hazan, an Italian-born, New York-raised Sephardic Jew, who subsequently gained fame as a wine writer. The couple moved to New York City a few months later and Marcella was a newlywed who did not speak English, transplanted to a country whose knowledge of her native cuisine was not much more than spaghetti covered with what, to her, tasted like overly spiced ketchup. The culture shock was substantial. She found canned peas and hamburgers appalling and for coffee – she described it, “as tasting no better than the water we used to wash out the coffee pot at home”.

Hazan had never cooked before her marriage. As she recounted in the introduction to her 1997 book, Marcella Cucina, “… there I was, having to feed a young, hard-working husband who could deal cheerfully with most of life’s ups and downs, but not with an indifferent meal. In Italy, I would not have wasted time thinking about it. My mother cooked, my father cooked, both my grandmothers cooked, even the farm girls who came in to clean could cook. In the kitchen of my New York apartment there was no one.” She began by using cookbooks from Italy, especially Ada Boni’s cookbook, The Talisman Italian Cookbook, – also my first Italian cookbook. Soon after she realised that she had an exceptionally clear memory of the flavors she had tasted at home and found it easy to reproduce them in her kitchen. “Eventually I learned that some of the methods I adopted were idiosyncratically my own,” she recalled, “but for most of them I found corroboration in the practices of traditional Italian cooks.”

In October 1969 she began teaching Italian cooking classes that were as much about Italian culture and history as about food. She taught students that Italian cooking was really regional cooking, from the handmade noodles and meat sauce of Bologna to the fish and risotto of Venice to the linguine and clams of Naples.

Her recipes tended to use only ingredients that would actually be used in Italian kitchens (with some concessions for ingredients that are not readily available outside Italy). Mrs. Hazan embraced simplicity, precision and balance in her cooking. She emphasised careful attention to detail. In her third book, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, Hazan laid out her “Elementary Rules” with some 22 commandments. Among them are:

  • Use no Parmesan that is not Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Never buy grated cheese of any kind; grate cheese fresh when ready to use.
  • Do not overcook pasta. Do not pre-cook pasta.
  • Unless you are on a medically prescribed diet, do not shrink from using what salt is necessary to draw out the flavor of food.
  • Dress salads with no other oil than olive.
  • Do not turn heavy cream into a warm bath for pasta or for anything else. Reduce it, reduce it, reduce it.
  • Choose vegetables that are in season and plan the entire meal around them.
  • Soak vegetables in cold water for half an hour before cooking to remove all trace of grit. Cook them until they are tender, but not mushy, so that they have a rich flavor. Cooking brings out the taste. If you cook vegetables too little because you want them crunchy, they all have one thing in common: They taste like grass. 
  • When sautéing onions, put them in a cold pan with oil and heat them gently; this will make them release their flavor gradually and give them a mellower taste than starting them in a hot pan.
  • Although some types of pasta, like tagliatelle, are best made freshly at home, others, like spaghetti, should be bought dried. Pasta should be matched carefully to the sauce.
  • Olive oil isn’t always the best choice for frying; in delicately flavored dishes, a combination of butter and vegetable oil should be used.
  • Garlic presses should be avoided at all costs.

Bibliography of Marcella’s books:

  • The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating (1973)
  • More Classic Italian Cooking (1978)
  • Marcella’s Italian Kitchen (1986)
  • Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1992)
  • Marcella Cucina (1997)
  • Marcella Says: Italian Cooking Wisdom from the Legendary Teacher’s Master Classes With 120 of Her Irresistible New Recipes (2004)
  • Amarcord: Marcella Remembers (Gotham Books, 2008)

marcella-logo1

Scholarship Award

In her honor, the International Culinary Center (ICC)—the only school at which Marcella taught—is launching a scholarship in her name, sending worthy aspiring chefs to the seven-month Italian Culinary Experience, a program that begins at ICC’s campus in New York or California, then continues in Marcella’s home province of Emilia-Romagna in Italy, including staging (apprenticeships) in top restaurants in Italy. To access information and the application, click on the link below.

http://www.internationalculinarycenter.com/scholarships/marcella-hazan-summer-scholarship/

Recipes for some of Marcella Hazan’s pastas.

eggplant pasta

Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta

(From Marcella Says)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant or 2 small eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • Salt
  • 1/4 lb mozzarella, cut into thin strips
  • 1 lb short tube pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • Torn basil leaves

Directions

Boil 4 quarts of salted water in a large pot.

Remove the tops of the eggplant and cut into 1-inch dice.

Heat a 10-inch saute pan and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the eggplant. Cook about a minute, turning the eggplant frequently. Add tomatoes and chili flakes. Turn heat to low and simmer until the oil floats to the top of the sauce. Season with salt and remove from the heat.

Drop pasta into boiling water. When the pasta is nearly done, turn the heat down on the sauce and add the mozzarella, stirring until it dissolves into the sauce.

When the pasta is done, drain and transfer into a large warm bowl. Pour sauce over. Add pecorino cheese and torn basil leaves. Toss and serve at once.

Abruzzi pasta

Pasta with Abruzzi-Style Lamb Sauce

(From Marcella Cucina)

Serve 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 pound boneless lamb, cut into very fine dice
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juices.
  • 1 pound penne, ziti or rigatoni
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

Directions

Put the oil and onion in a large skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is pale gold. Add the pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered; the pancetta should remain soft.

Add the lamb and cook until browned, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated, 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until the fat begins to separate from the sauce, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, cover and return to a boil.
Add the pasta to the pot and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Cover and bring back to a boil. Uncover and cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until it is al dente.

Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with the lamb sauce and the 1/3 cup of grated cheese. Serve at once, passing additional cheese at the table.

clam pasta

Pasta With Fresh Clams

(From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 18 littleneck clams
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced paper-thin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh hot red pepper or crushed dried red pepper to taste
  • 1 ripe plum tomato, seeded, diced and drained
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound spaghettini or spaghetti
  • Several basil leaves, torn up.

Directions

Wash and scrub the clams, dunking them in several changes of fresh water until there are no traces of sand. Discard any that remain open when handled. Place them in a dry skillet in one layer, cover the skillet and turn the heat to high. Cook, checking and turning occasionally to remove each clam as it opens; the total cooking time will be about 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Remove each clam from its shell and swish it in the cooking liquid to remove any remaining sand. Cut the clams into two or three pieces each, then put them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and set aside. Pass the cooking liquid through a strainer lined with paper towels or cheesecloth and set aside.

Place the remaining oil and the garlic in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta later and turn the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring, for a few seconds, then add parsley and chili pepper. Stir once or twice, then add tomato. Cook for a minute, stirring, then add the wine. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until it is very firm to the bite, just short of being fully cooked (it should be so firm that you would not yet want to eat it). Drain it, turn the heat to high under the skillet and add the pasta to the skillet, along with the filtered clam juice. Cook, tossing and turning the pasta, until the juice has evaporated. The pasta should now be perfectly cooked; if it is a little underdone, add some water and continue to cook for another minute.

Add the cut-up clams with their oil and the basil leaves; toss two or three times, then serve.

carbonara

Marcella Hazan’s Spaghetti Carbonara

(From Essentials of Italian Cooking)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound cubed pancetta or slab bacon
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated romano cheese
  • 1/2 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 1/4 pound spaghetti

Directions

Mash the garlic with a fork and saute in the olive oil in a pan on medium heat while you cook the spaghetti. Saute until the garlic becomes a deep gold color, then remove and discard it.

Put the onion and cubed pancetta or bacon in the pan and cook until onions are golden and the pancetta is crisp at the edges. Add the wine and let it bubble for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Break the eggs into a serving bowl in which you will toss the pasta. The serving bowl can be warmed in the oven, if it is oven proof. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, add the cheeses, a liberal grinding of pepper and the chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly.

Add cooked drained spaghetti to the bowl and toss rapidly, coating the strands well. Briefly reheat the onion and pancetta over high heat. Turn out the contents of the pan into the pasta bowl and toss thoroughly once more. Serve immediately.

zucchini penne

Penne with Creamy Zucchini and Basil Sauce

(From The Classic Italian Cookbook)

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne
  • 2 lb zucchini
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • One bunch of basil, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions
Set a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini in thin strips.

Heat butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir. Before garlic starts to brown, add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and starting to brown a bit.

Add cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on medium-low heat until thickened a bit and let simmer until the pasta is done.

Just before mixing with the pasta, stir basil into the sauce and turn off the heat. Toss with pasta and parmesan cheese.

 

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