Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: December 2016

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Rome covers almost one-third of the Lazio region and is the capital of Italy. Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC, the area has been inhabited for much longer according to historians, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe.

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Rome covers almost one-third of the Lazio region and is the capital of Italy. Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC, however, the area has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe.

After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome gradually came under the political control of the Papacy and continued under their rule until 1870.

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Rome was a major world center of the Renaissance, second only to Florence, and was profoundly affected by the movement. A masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Rome is the Piazza del Campidoglio by Michelangelo. During this period, the great aristocratic families of Rome used to build opulent dwellings like the Palazzo del Quirinale (now seat of the President of the Italian Republic), the Palazzo Venezia, the Palazzo Farnese, the Palazzo Barberini, the Palazzo Chigi (now seat of the Italian Prime Minister), the Palazzo Spada, the Palazzo della Cancelleria, and the Villa Farnesina.

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Many of the famous city’s squares – some huge, majestic and often adorned with obelisks, got their present design during the Renaissance and Baroque. The principal ones are Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Farnese, Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza della Minerva. One of the most best examples of Baroque art is the Fontana di Trevi by Nicola Salvi. Other notable 17th-century baroque palaces are the Palazzo Madama, now the seat of the Italian Senate and the Palazzo Montecitorio, now the seat of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy.

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Public parks and nature reserves cover a large area in Rome, and the city has one of the largest areas of green space among European capitals. The most notable part of this green space is represented by the large number of villas and landscaped gardens created by the Italian aristocracy. While most of the parks surrounding the villas were destroyed during the building boom of the late 19th century, some of them remain. The most notable of these are the Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, and Villa Doria Pamphili. In the area of Trastevere the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden) is a cool and shady green space. The old Roman hippodrome (Circus Maximus) is another large green space: it has few trees, but is overlooked by the Palatine and the Rose Garden (‘roseto comunale’). The Villa Borghese garden is the best known large green space in Rome, with famous art galleries among its shaded walks. Overlooking Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps are the gardens of Pincio and Villa Medici.

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Rome is a city famous for its numerous fountains, built in all different styles, from Classical and Medieval, to Baroque and Neoclassical. The city has had fountains for more than two thousand years, and they have provided drinking water in the past.

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Rome has an extensive amount of ancient catacombs, or underground burial places under or near the city, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades.

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Experience Rome via this entertaining video from Travel & Leisure: ROMA

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Much of Rome’s cuisine comes from traditions that were based on poverty: people ate what they could get their hands on, the stuff the wealthy considered inedible and tossed away. In fact, many of the foods Romans today consider “Roman” are in fact based on old Jewish Roman cuisine.

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Artichokes – are thistles and were not considered a very edible plant long ago. Ox-tail stew – is the leftover from a larger, meatier animal. Zucchini flowers – are the part of the vegetable you threw away. Today, you find zucchini flowers everywhere in Roman cuisine, and it’s considered a delicacy: pizza topped with zucchini flowers, stuffed zucchini flowers and spaghetti and clams with zucchini flowers are some classic examples of typical Roman foods.

The quinto quarto refers to all the parts of an animal that are not considered “meat”: tripe, intestines, brains etc. This is also called “offal” and for those who love it, know where to get the best of it in Rome.

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Fried appetizers are popular and include stuffed zucchini flowers (fiori di zucca), stuffed fried olives (olive ascolane), potato croquettes, other fried vegetables and battered and fried salted cod (baccalà.)

Bruschetta, topped with either tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil, with some garlic or basil, or topped with a spread, such as artichokes, olives or truffles.

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Pasta in Rome is typically long, such as spaghetti, fettucine, tagliatelle or tagliolini; or short dried pasta such as farfalle (little bow ties), rigatoni or penne. Typical Roman pastas are amatriciana, cacio e pepe, gricia and carbonara.

Soups (minestre), often of legumes and grains. For example “zuppa di farro” is a vegetarian soup made with spelt, a thick chewy grain. Another classic is “minestra di ceci e vongole”, which is a soup of chickpeas and clams (other shellfish are used as well.)

Meat dishes in Rome are mostly beef, pork and lamb. But especially beef. One classic Rome dish is beef straccetti, which are thin strips of beef, slowly cooked in their own juices, and then served alone on a plate, served with parmesan cheese, arugula (rocket) or artichokes. You will also typically find beef served as a simple grilled steak, or as a “tagliata”, which means, a steak that gets sliced just as it comes off the grill.
A classic Roman meat dish is lamb “scottaditto”, which means, lamb chops served so hot and crispy, they burn your fingers.

There is a lot of pork in Roman cuisine and, very often, in pasta sauces such as amatriciana, gricia and carbonara. Two very common pork dishes in Rome are “porchetta”, a baby pig stuffed with herbs and slowly cooked; and “maialino”, which is very tender, slowly baked baby pig.

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Stracciatella (Egg Drop Soup)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 quarts chicken broth
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Nutmeg

Directions

Heat the broth to boiling and set aside 3 tablespoons of the hot broth in a mixing bowl.

Beat 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Add the grated cheese and the bread crumbs.

Add the reserved 3 tablespoons of broth and beat until creamy.

Return the broth to boiling.

Pour the egg mixture into the boiling broth. Whisk vigorously with a fork to break up the egg into small strips.

Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring continuously.

Remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour into serving bowls. Sprinkle with more parmesan and freshly grated nutmeg.

 

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Beef Tagliata Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tender steak, such as rib-eye or T-bone
  • Sea Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 handfuls arugula
  • Small block of Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon cut in half

Directions

Lightly season the beef with salt and then place on the grill and cook for five minutes on each side, Remove the steak to a plate and allow it to rest for another five minutes.

Once rested slice the meat diagonally with a sharp knife into thin slices, drizzle a little olive oil over the meat and sprinkle with sea salt.

Arrange the beef between two plates. Place the arugula into a bowl and dress with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the leaves around and over the beef.

Shave the Parmesan into thin strips and sprinkle over the beef. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with a half lemon.

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Bucatini all’amatriciana

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 100 g or 3.5 oz. guanciale or pancetta (about ¾ cup diced)
  • 100 g grated pecorino romano (about ½ cup)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • One 14 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
  • ½ tsp. hot pepper flakes, or more to taste

Directions

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Put in a small handful of large-grain salt.

Dice the guanciale into medium cubes, about 1/2 inch.

Saute the guanciale and hot pepper in the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. As soon as the fat becomes translucent, remove the meat and place on a paper towel to drain.

Add onions to the rendered fat and saute, stirring constantly, until translucent.

Add the tomatoes and the guanciale. Simmer on low heat about 5 minutes.

When the salted water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the package states.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss in the sauce and add the pecorino romano, stirring constantly so that the melted cheese coats the pasta.

Remove from heat and serve immediately with additional grated pecorino for sprinkling on top.

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Roman-Style Braised Oxtail

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds oxtail, cut into 2-inch sections
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 28 ounces Italian tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • About 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves

Directions

In a heavy-bottom saucepot, heat the olive oil.

Season the oxtail pieces with salt, browning each side of the pieces. Remove; set aside.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan. Sweat the onions until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic. Cook 3 minutes more.

Add the oxtail pieces back to the pot. Deglaze with the wine over high heat, cooking about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes; bring to a boil. Continue boiling to cook off some of the tomato water.

Add the beef stock just to cover the meat, then the pepper and cloves.

Bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a circle of parchment paper, and cook for 4 hours (stirring occasionally).

Once the oxtail is tender, remove the pieces to a serving dish. Cover with aluminum foil; set aside.

Strain the sauce, pressing down on the vegetables to extract all the juices.

Skim all the fat off the top, and pour into a smaller saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, reducing by 1/4.

Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the oxtail and serve

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Roman Pastries

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This is the time of year for parties and getting together with friends and relatives to celebrate the New Year. It is also a time for festive foods. If you are asked to bring a dish to the party, you may be thinking about what you can bring. Below you will find the recipes for some of my favorite take along dishes.

Stromboli

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Ingredients

2 (one pound) pizza dough balls, at room temperature
Olive oil
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced capicola
12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup marinara sauce
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle.

Spread half the marinara sauce over the dough.

Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.

Layer half the meat over the cheese on the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.

Roll the dough up into a log and brush the seam edges with beaten egg.

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Leaving the seam at the bottom and pinching the ends closed, place the roll on one of the baking sheets. Cut five small slits in the top of the log.

Complete the other roll in the same manner.

Brush the rolls with the beaten egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Eggplant Parmigiana

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First Stage

I usually prepare 4-1 pound eggplants at once and freeze them, individually, for future use.

For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
1 pound eggplant, peeled
1/2 to 3/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
1 cup 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.

If you are not going to assemble the eggplant dish at this time, wrap each batch of eggplant in aluminum foil with foil sheets between the layers and place it in a ziplock freezer bag.

Store in the freezer until you need it. Defrost a package overnight in the refrigerator, when you want to make the casserole.

Second Stage

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

1 package of breaded and baked eggplant

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 remaining 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.

Here is the recipe for Marinara Sauce.

Homemade Version

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 4-26 to 28 oz. containers of chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions

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.

Oven Barbecued Brisket

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Time: About 4 hours

Ingredients

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole beef brisket, about 5 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup dry red wine or beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven that can later be covered over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes.

When it is hot, add the oil, swirl it around, then add the beef.

Sear the meat for about 5 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper; when nicely browned, remove from pot to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes (if the meat is very lean you might need to add a little oil).

Add all remaining ingredients, stir and cook for about a minute. Return the meat to pot, nestling it in sauce.

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Cover the pan, put it in oven, and cook until the meat is tender, at least 3 hours and probably closer to 4. Turn the meat over several times during the baking process.

When the brisket is done, you can refrigerate it in its liquid for 1 to 2 days and reheat before serving.

Yield: 10 or more servings.

 


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Christmas dinner includes lasagna in our family. It can be traditional or meat sauced or veggie filled. This year it is white lasagna with spinach. One of our favorites and it melts in your mouth. For a holiday effect, decorate the top just before serving with chopped fresh tomato and chopped parsley.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my readers. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Spinach Lasagna

For the white sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
Salt & Pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Stir in flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream and bring mixture to a boil, whisking until thick and smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer sauce over low heat, whisking occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened. Transfer sauce to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap.

Cheese Filling

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Ingredients

32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lasagna

1 lb.mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
White sauce, recipe above
12 parboiled spinach or plain lasagna noodles, fresh noodles if possible are best

Directions

Mix the ricotta with the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Completing the Lasagna

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.

Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.

Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce.

Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.

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Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle the top with extra parsley for added color.


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This coffeecake has been traditional for our Christmas morning breakfast for more years than I can remember. My children have always loved it and know it is special for Christmas. When they were young, I used to decorate it with red and green cherries. These days, I usually transport the cake without the glaze to their houses, since we visit them for the holidays now that they have children. I decorate the cake just before serving. The grand-kids also look forward to this festive cake. 

You can also divide the dough in half and make 2 braids or 2 horseshoe-shaped cakes. The dough can also be shaped into a large candy cane.

Almond Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Dough
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ½ – 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste

Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Sliced almonds or colored cherries for garnish, optional

To Make the Dough:

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Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.

Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.

Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

To Make the Filling:

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

Assembly:

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.

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Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.

Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.

Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1 inch intervals.

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Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.

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Baking:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack. 

To make the glaze:  

Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before.

For Christmas

After glazing the cakes decorate with red and green cherries if desired.



 

Lunetta, “Little Moon” in Italian, celebrates life’s small pleasures. Lunetta Prosecco is produced by Cavit, located in the northern Italian region of Trentino. It is the largest facility in Italy dedicated exclusively to producing world-class sparkling wines. Prosecco is fermented by a process known as the Charmat method. Unlike Champagne, there is no aging time. The Charmat process is particularly suited to producing sparkling wine whose most important characteristic is freshness.

I was selected to develop a post for Lunetta in conjunction with Honest Cooking Magazine that would feature a sparkling wine cocktail and an appetizer for the winter season. In planning for this post, Lunetta was very generous and sent me several bottles of Rose and White Prosecco.

White Prosecco is pale straw in color with greenish reflections and an apple and peach aroma.
Rose Prosecco is pale salmon in color with a berry aroma.

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As a result of sampling the two excellent Proseccos, I decided to make two cocktails – not just one: one featuring the white Prosecco and one featuring the rose Prosecco. And, of course, each needed a great appetizer to enhance their flavors. I also wanted to make cocktails and appetizers that my readers and friends would want to make for their own parties. I invited several friends and family members for Thanksgiving Day and served the cocktails and appetizers featured in this post. They were all a big success. So, I know, you will want to make these cocktails and appetizers at your next party!

Lunetta Rose Prosecco and Crème de Cassis Cocktail

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For 6 cocktails

Ingredients

6 teaspoons crème de cassis brandy, divided
3 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1 bottle chilled Rose Prosecco sparkling wine

Directions

Pour 1 teaspoon of crème de cassis and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice into each champagne glass. Stir.

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Slowly fill each glass to the top with chilled Rose Prosecco.

Skewer three raspberries on each of 6 bamboo sticks and drop them into the glasses to serve.

Smoked Salmon Appetizer Rolls

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Ingredients

6 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
6 tablespoons cream cheese with chives and onions
6 slices smoked salmon

Directions

Roll out the bread slices using a rolling-pin.

Spread cream cheese on each slice.

Add smoked salmon slices and roll up each slice

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Cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

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Cut into one-inch slices and arrange on a serving platter. Keep the rolls covered with plastic wrap until your guests arrive.

Lunetta Prosecco and Ginger Brandy  Cocktail

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For 6 cocktails

Ingredients

Coarse sugar crystals
6 teaspoons ginger brandy, divided
3 teaspoons agave syrup, divided
6 crystallized ginger cubes, divided
1 bottle chilled white Prosecco sparkling wine

Directions

Decorate the rims of 6 tall flute glasses by dipping them in a saucer of water then into a dish of the coarse sugar crystals.

Add one teaspoon of ginger brandy and ½ teaspoon of agave into each glass. Stir.

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Fill each glass with Prosecco and add a cube of crystallized ginger to each glass.

Gorgonzola Thumbprint Appetizers Filled With Tomato Jam

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Makes about 15

Ingredients

1 cup almond flour
3 tablespoons softened, salted butter
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Tomato Jam, homemade recipe below or use store-bought

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl until a cohesive dough forms.

Scoop up 1″ balls of dough (a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here) and roll into a smooth ball.

Arrange the balls of dough about 1 1/2″ to 2″ apart on the prepared baking pans.

Use your thumb to press an indentation into the center of each ball of dough.

Bake the thumbprints for 8 to 10 minutes, until they start to turn light golden brown on top.

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Remove the thumbprints from the oven and cool them on the pan for 10 minutes.

Transfer them to a rack to cool completely before serving. Fill with jam just before serving.

Homemade Tomato Jam

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Makes about 2 1/2 cups

3 pounds Roma tomatoes, (plum), cored and quartered
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ and ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
2½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup dry red wine

Directions

In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes with the sugar, the 1¼ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and red wine vinegar until the tomatoes are finely chopped but not completely pureed and the sugar is dissolved, about 6 – two second pulses.

In a 12 inch skillet over medium, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallots, thyme and the ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the red wine, adjust the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a loose glaze, about 4-5 minutes. Add the processed tomato mixture.

Adjust the heat and simmer vigorously, stirring more often as the mixture reduces, is glossy and has a jam-like consistency, somewhere between a sauce and a paste, about 60-90 minutes (depending on how watery your tomatoes are).

Set the pan aside, off heat, to cool to room temperature.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and store. The jam can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks or frozen for six months.

Here is the Prosecco Spiced Cocktail recipe featured in the video:

Prosecco Spiced Cocktail

Serves: 1

Ingredients

Syrup

½ cup honey
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Drink

½ oz spiced honey syrup
1 oz whisky
1 oz cider
Sprig of thyme
Lunetta Prosecco to top off

Instructions

Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cool down.

With ice, shake together honey syrup, cider, and whiskey. Strain into a glass, top with Prosecco and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

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This is a busy time with all the holiday preparations and the refrigerator has lots of leftovers from last week. As you know, I am not a fan of just heating up the leftovers. I have to do something different with them. Nothing too involved though at this time – just a few different additions. The leftovers include Beef Cacciatore, Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf and Spaghetti Squash. Here are some recipes to change them a bit.

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Beef Pasta Bake

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella and salt.

Oil an 11×8 baking dish. Spread ½ cup marinara sauce in the baking dish

Layer half of the beef cacciatore and noodles in the dish.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the pasta and cover with the remaining beef and noodle mixture.

Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the top of the pasta and beef.

Cover the dish with foil and bake the casserole for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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Meatloaf Pizzaiola

Make extra sauce because it is delicious on pizza.

Sauce

Directions

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Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until tender.

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Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the marinara sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for about 15 minutes. Add parsley and remove the pan from the heat.

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Warm slices of meatloaf in the microwave and pour some hot pizzaiola sauce over each slice to serve.

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Spaghetti Squash Cakes

Ingredients

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour and beaten eggs with a whisk. Add the spaghetti squash, cheese, onions and ¼  teaspoon salt. Mix very well, until all the mixture has a uniform consistency.

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Heat a large skillet on high-medium heat until very hot. Then add the olive oil. Add ¼ cup of the batter to the hot skillet. Repeat with as many ¼ cups as will fit in your skillet.

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Cook until the bottom side of each cake is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Using a spatula, turn the cakes over and cook 1-2 more minutes.

Repeat with any remaining batter and add more oil if needed.

Serve as is or with sour cream or Greek yogurt.


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Butter Cookie Cutouts

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

I have been making this recipe since 1986. It is an heirloom recipe brought from Europe and published in The Holidays by cookbook author, John Hadamuscin. It is perfect for cutting with traditionally shaped cookie cutters. When my children were young, they use to love to help me make these cookies. These cookies are also their favorite cookie of all the cookies I make for Christmas. I have been making the same cookies every year since they were small. That is how they like it – no deviations.

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
2 cups butter ( 4 sticks)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour
Powdered sugar icing (see below) and red and green colored sprinkles for decoration

Directions

In a large electric mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and smooth.

Separate 3 of the eggs; Beat the 3 egg yolks and the remaining whole egg into the butter-sugar mixture. Set aside the eggs whites and use for another recipe, such as the Pignoli cookies below.

Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour and mix well. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into four equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one-fourth of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters.

Transfer cookies to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and re-roll scraps until all the dough is used.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Cool.

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Frost the cookies lightly with the icing and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.

Store in tightly covered containers for up to one month in a cool place, or freeze for up to 6 months.

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Powdered Sugar Icing

Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Directions

Mix together to make a thin icing.

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Pine-nut (Pignoli) Macaroons

Use only almond paste, not marzipan or canned almond filling.

Makes 2 dozen. I usually double the recipe.

Ingredients

8-ounces almond paste, cut in small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites, from 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pine nuts (pignoli)

Directions

Heat the oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In mixer bowl beat almond paste, sugar, egg whites and almond extract with an electric mixer until smooth. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls pf dough 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Sprinkle with pine nuts to cover, then press them gently to adhere.

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Bake 20 minutes or until the tops feel firm and dry when lightly pressed. Cool completely on cookie sheet on wire rack. Store airtight at room temperature.

(Cookies are best eaten within 2 weeks, or they can be frozen.)



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