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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Author Archives: Jovina Coughlin

Italians started coming to Chicago from Italy during the 1850s and by the 1940’s there was a significant Italian population of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the city. There are some stories about U.S. soldiers of Italian descent returning from Europe after World War II and experimenting with different pizza recipes, and eventually creating a deep dish pizza. The only problem with these stories is that deep dish pizza was being sold in Chicago in the early 1940’s, before the end of the war. The one story that is probably true is about a man named Sewell who created the deep dish pizza in 1943 at his bar and grill, Pizzeria Uno. It was so popular that he soon opened another place called Pizzeria Due. Soon other restaurants were serving deep dish pizza and the dish became popular. Soon Chicago became known for creating it and everyone, not just Italians, adopted it as a ‘Chicago’ food. (source FoodReference.com)

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

Ingredients

1 lb of your favorite pizza dough, at room temperature
16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz cooked Italian sausage, sliced thin
12 oz jar Mancini Fried Peppers with sweet onions or equivalent amount of cooked onions and peppers
2 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a deep dish pizza pan. (My pan is 10 ½ inches in diameter)
Turn the pizza dough out into the prepared pan and use the heel of your hand and your fingertips to press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan, then about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

When the crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and keep the oven temperature on 350 degrees F.
Add the toppings in the following order:
On the bottom of the crust place an even layer of cheese slices. Then add the sausage slices in an even layer. Top it with another layer of cheese slices. Then add the cooked peppers and onions. Top with a final layer of cheese slices. Pour the sauce over the top and spread it into an even layer, making sure it is covering all of the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges are golden and the filling is firm. Allow the pizza to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Oven Baked Corned Beef Brisket

Servings 4 -6 servings

Ingredients

2-3 lb corned beef brisket
4 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
1 large onion quartered
3 carrots each cut into 3 pieces on the diagonal

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place the brisket, fat layer up, in the middle of aluminum foil big enough to cover the whole brisket.
Spread the whole brisket with Dijon mustard. Then, evenly sprinkle brown sugar over the top and gently pet it on. Pat some onto the sides as well.


Add the onions and carrots to the sides of the brisket.
Bring the aluminum foil together and close it, covering the brisket loosely, leaving a little space between the brisket and the foil. Place the covered brisket into a rimmed roasting pan.


Bake it for 4-5 hours until very tender. Remove the meat from the foil and let it rest for a few minutes on a cutting board.
Be sure to slice the meat against the grain. Serve with the cooked cabbage, onions and carrots.

Butter Cooked Green Cabbage

Ingredients

4 servings

1 medium head green cabbage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Remove 8 large outer leaves from the cabbage head and reserve for stuffing or another recipe. Cut the remaining head in quarters and remove the core from each. Slice the quarters into thin strips.

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan.
Sauté the shredded cabbage on low heat for at least 15 minutes or until the cabbage becomes soft and tender.
Stir often and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the baked corned beef.


The idea for this tomato-based seafood stew comes from the fisherman from Genoa who immigrated to the US and settled in the Bay area of California. Cioppino was developed in San Francisco by these Italian immigrants who prepared a fish stew with what they had on their fishing boats from their daily catch.

Legend has it that requests were made as the boats came in for the day asking for any seafood to “CHIP IN ” to the pot; add Italian seasoning and hence the name: Cioppino (chip-EEN-o). Most food historians and cookbook authors don’t even try to fix the recipe in time, although all point to San Francisco as the place of origin. Cioppino wasn’t well-known beyond the Bay area (or at least outside of California) until after World War II. John Thorne…describes in the September/October 1996 issue of his newsletter, Simple Cooking, how he came upon a vintage (1921) cookbook that discusses cioppino in detail. That book, Fish Cookery, by Evelyn Spencer of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and John N. Cobb, director of the College of Fisheries at the University of Washington, offers a recipe for cioppino that had appeared three years earlier by H.B. Nidever in California Fish and Game. Thorne believes that it may be one of the first, if not the first, ever published.

In 1925 Nunzio Alioto, an Italian immigrant, set up a stall at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf to sell lunchtime provisions to the Italian laborers. His business grew and by 1932 he had constructed the first building at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson, by combining the fish stand with a seafood bar. After Nunzio passed away unexpectedly, his widow Nonna Rose and her three children took over the stall. In 1938 she installed a kitchen in the original structure and officially opened Alioto’s Restaurant. Their specialty was Cioppino.

Here is my version that I have developed over the years and one that suits my family’s taste.

Italian American Seafood Stew (Cioppino)

Serve with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups fish stock
2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes in juice, crushed
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 pounds firm, skinless fish fillets (such as red snapper, grouper, swordfish, tuna, mahi-mahi or halibut), cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb shrimp, deveined
1 lb sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup white wine
2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed and soaked to remove the sand

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, fish stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes.

Add the wine to a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the clams, turn the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Remove the clams as they open to a covered bowl. Discard any clams that do not open. Strain the juices in the skillet through a fine mesh colander. Set aside the clams and the strained cooking liquid.

Next add the fish pieces and shrimp to the tomato sauce, pushing them down into the liquid a little. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the opened clams and strained wine and heat for a minute or two.

Immediately scoop the stew into large bowls, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Italian bread.


Italian Braised Sirloin Steak

Ingredients

4 top sirloin or round steaks, about 1 lb and 1- inch thick, trimmed of visible fat
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
One 26-28 ounce container Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil
1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cut each steak in half horizontally into 8 steaks. Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and oil in a Dutch Oven or a deep skillet with a cover. Add half the beef pieces to the pan; brown both sides of each piece. Remove meat from skillet. Repeat the browning with the remaining beef.

Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Then, stir in the broth and undrained tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs, and red pepper. Add the meat to the skillet, spooning the vegetable mixture over the meat.

Cover and simmer about 2 -21/2 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.
Transfer meat to a serving platter. Spoon vegetable mixture over meat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Rice Saute

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
3 cups cooked rice or riced cauliflower (one 10 oz pkg frozen riced cauliflower, defrosted)
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Directions

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper.
Continue sautéing until all the rice or cauliflower rice is hot. Add parsley and serve.

Garlic Spinach

Ingredients

2 pounds tender fresh spinach leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lemon

Directions

Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it’s very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner and then chop into smaller pieces.

In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it’s browned.

Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes.

Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach into a serving bowl and top with a squeeze of lemon. Serve hot.


Italian Chicken Bake

Serve with Italian bread to dip into the sauce and a green salad.

Ingredients

Serves 4-5

5-6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into one-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
5 jarred pickled peppers, seeded and sliced thin (1/2 cup), plus 2 tablespoons brine from the jar
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pa the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the sausage pieces to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until the vegetables are softened about 5 minutes. Add the pickled peppers, garlic, and oregano and cook, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Add broth and pepper brine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.

Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the sausage. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer in the skillet and add any accumulated juice from the plate. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the thighs register 175 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (handle will be very hot). Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls.


Serve with a green vegetable or a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin removed and patted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes (seeds removed)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
Thin Spaghetti, cooked

Directions

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Season salmon all over with salt and pepper.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the salmon skin-side up and cook until deeply golden, about 6 minutes.

Turn over and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. When the butter melts, stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the shallot and cook until tender.

Add the chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes soften.

Stir in the heavy cream, parmesan, and pesto and bring mixture to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Return the salmon back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fish. Simmer until the salmon is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes more.

Place some cooked spaghetti on each serving plate and place the salmon on top. Pour the sauce in the skillet over the fish and spaghetti.


Dipping Sauce: To Accompany Wraps

Ingredients

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch granulated garlic

Directions

Mix together and let sit at room temperature for several hours to allow the flavors to combine.

Homemade Egg Rolls

6 rolls

Ingredients

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon honey
6 large wonton wrappers or medium low carb tortillas
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable oil

Directions

Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil, ground pork, grated ginger, and garlic.
Brown the ground pork and break it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the pork is mostly cooked through, stir in the shredded cabbage, bell pepper, green onions, honey, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Cook until the cabbage has softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Lay each wonton or tortilla out on a kitchen towel and scoop 1/6 of the pork filling on one end of each wrap. Brush the edges with egg to seal. Fold the edge of the egg wrap over the filling and fold the sides inward, like a burrito. Roll the wrap, tucking in the edges to fully enclose the filling. Brown on all sides in hot vegetable oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with Chinese mustard or dipping sauce.

Cabbage Pot Stickers

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 outer cabbage leaves from a medium head
1/2 pound lean ground pork
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the core off each of the cabbage leaves and add to boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked cabbage to a plate of paper towels to drain.

Prepare the pot sticker filling by combining the ground pork, chopped green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ground ginger in a skillet and cook until the pork is brown. Place ⅛ of the filling on each cabbage leal and fold in the sides and then roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling.

Brush the skillet with vegetable oil and place the cabbage rolls in the pan. Cover the pan and cook the rolls over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the rolls over, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with a dipping sauce.

Lettuce Wraps

4 servings

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 pound chicken tenders
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Large lettuce leaves

Directions:

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken tenders and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool. Then cut the tender into small pieces.
Mix together the garlic, celery, green onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha in the skillet the chicken was cooked in. Cook 2 minutes and then add the chopped chicken. Cook until hot.
To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf and roll up.

Asian Broccoli Salad

Side dish for Asian wraps.

2 servings

Ingredients

Half a head of broccoli cut into small florets
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup Teriyaki sauce
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together the ingredients including the uncooked broccoli florets. Toss to combine.
Let sit for several hours at room temperature. Toss again before serving.



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