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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Author Archives: Jovina Coughlin

What is Saltimbocca (pronounced [saltimˈbokka]?
Saltimbocca (Italian for jumps in the mouth) is an Italian dish (also popular in Europe) made of veal scallops lined or wrapped with prosciutto and sage; marinated in wine, oil or saltwater depending on the region or one’s own taste.
The original version of this dish is Saltimbocca Alla Romana (saltimbocca, Roman-style), which consists of veal, prosciutto, and sage, rolled-up and cooked in dry white wine and butter. Marsala is sometimes used in place of white wine. Also, in some recipes, the veal and prosciutto are not rolled-up but left flat. An American twist replaces the veal with chicken or pork
The ancient recipe for “saltimbocca” is said to have originated in Brescia. While it is much older than a century, the first written recipe can be found in an influential book published towards the end of the 19th century, by Pellegrino Artusi, a celebrated Italian chef: “Saltimbocca Alla Romana” is recipe No. 222, and Artusi claims to have enjoyed the dish in Rome, at the Trattoria “Le Venete”.
While there are many variations of this Italian classic dish, I have given my version a slightly southern Italian flavor.

Chicken Saltimbocca Over Tomato Sauce

Ingredients for 2

1 cup marinara sauce heated
Salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
6 fresh sage leaves
2 slices Prosciutto
2 slices Provolone Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Lightly sprinkle the chicken breasts slices with salt and pepper. Wrap each breast in a slice of prosciutto. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet with a cover. Completely brown the chicken on both sides.


Top each chicken breast with 3 sage leaves. Place a slice of provolone cheese on top of each breast. Cover the pan and heat over low until the cheese begins to melt.


Place ½ cup of tomato sauce on a serving plate and place a chicken breast on top of the sauce. Repeat with the second breast. Serve immediately.

Green Beans With Sauteed Mushrooms

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb fresh green beans trimmed and cut into thirds
1 lb mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in the green beans and stir. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove from the heat, drain thoroughly then pat dry with a clean linen tea towel and keep warm while the mushrooms cook. Place a skillet over medium-high to high heat with the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter melts, spread the mushrooms out evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. Mushrooms should be lightly brown. Add the green beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat on low until the beans are hot.

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Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a type of stew prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, bell peppers, and sometimes wine. It is named in honor of the hunter’s wife—who, all over northern Italy, might traditionally cook the dish on the eve of the hunt. In Italy hunter’s stew was made with rabbit or other wild game, not chicken, sometime during the Renaissance period. This stew dish was simple but delicious and was likely developed to satisfy the appetites of hunters who may have been on the track of a larger animal or herd of animals for several days, and who needed a tasty, filling stew that could easily be cooked outdoors to keep them going. The spices used, such as parsley and oregano, would have also been readily available. Contrary to popular belief, Cacciatore did not originally contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, as tomatoes were brought to Italy from the New World later than it would have been made for the first time. When the Italian immigrants came to America, they brought with them their traditional recipes but needed to adapt them to the ingredients available in America.

In true Italian fashion, there are probably more than a thousand recipes for this dish and here is mine.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

4 lbs chicken cut up or use all thighs, skin removed
8 oz Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 large onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cups)
1 large bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (26-oz.) container finely chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions

Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or plate. Season with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Place a large Dutch oven over high heat for several minutes. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until shimmering. Add a layer of chicken and brown on both sides. Remove to a large plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil and brown the remainder of the chicken. Remove and place with the first batch of chicken.

Add the sausage to the pan and brown completely, crumbling the meat as you stir.


Add the remaining oil and vegetables; reduce the heat to medium and sauté until the vegetables are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is very tender.

To prepare ahead.
Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Remove chicken to a large baking dish and pour the sauce from the Dutch Oven over the chicken. cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees F and reheat the chicken covered for one hour.


Making cookies for Christmas is an important part of my family’s holiday tradition. This week I am sharing some of our favorite recipes.

Christmas Butter Cut-out Cookies

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
2 cups butter ( 4 sticks)
4 large eggs, separated
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 and leave one whole. 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.
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.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.
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 the scraps until all the dough is used.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.


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

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

Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Mix together to make a thin icing.

Italian Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter
3 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans halves
Powdered sugar icing, see below
Multi-Colored sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Beat butter, powdered sugar, water, and vanilla until creamy in an electric mixer. Add flour and salt. Mix well.
Cover a pecan half with 1 tablespoon of dough and place on cookie sheets.
Bake for 30 minutes until lightly brown. Cool cookies on a rack.
Frost with powdered sugar icing and sprinkle colored sprinkles on top.

Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Mix together to make a thin icing.

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies

Ingredients
1 ¼ cups, softened (2 ½ sticks)
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Red food coloring

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream together the butter, egg, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Divide the mixture in half. Add 1 teaspoon red food coloring to ½ the dough. Chill both halves.

Divide each half into 60 small balls. Press a red ball and a white ball together. Roll the two into a 4-inch rope and form into a candy cane shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 9 minutes. Cool.
These cookies also freeze well.


Making cookies for Christmas is an important part of my family’s holiday tradition. This week I am sharing some of our favorite recipes.

Rainbow/Venetians/Neapolitan/Tri-Color Cookies

Ingredient

1- 8 ounce can almond paste
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
12-ounce jar apricot preserves
8 ounces semisweet chocolate

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dishes; line with waxed paper; grease paper.
Break up paste in large mixer bowl with a fork. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks and extract and beat with the mixer until fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in the flour and salt.
Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Stir into almond mixture with a wooden spoon, using turning motion similar to folding.
Remove 1-1/2 cups batter; spread evenly into one of the prepared pans. Remove another 1-1/2 cups batter to small bowl; tint green with coloring. Spread into the second pan. Tint remaining 1-1/2 cups batter red. Spread in remaining pan.
Bake 15 minutes or until edges are lightly golden; cake layers will each be 1/4 inch thick. Immediately remove cakes from pans onto large wire racks. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Cool.


Place red layer on upturned jelly roll pan or large platter. Heat preserves; strain; reserve chunks in a strainer for other uses. Spread half of the strained preserves over red layer. Top with a white layer. Spread with remaining preserves. Cover with a green layer, top side up.
Cover with plastic wrap. Weigh down with a large wooden cutting board, heavy flat tray or large book. Refrigerate overnight.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot water.

Trim off the uneven cake edges with a sharp knife. Frost the top layer with half of the melted chocolate. Let chocolate dry. Turn the rectangle over and frost the remaining chocolate. Cut cake crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. Makes about 6 dozen. Cookies freeze well.

Marshmallow Fudge Squares

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon. salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 (6 oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate pieces (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons milk
30 large marshmallows

Directions:

In a 1-quart saucepan melt butter and chocolate squares. Remove from heat.
Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Into large mixer bowl, measure flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat at low-speed until blended, scraping bowl occasionally. With a spoon, stir in chocolate mixture. Spread mixture in prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate pieces and milk. Remove from heat.
Remove baking pan from oven; arrange marshmallows in rows on top of the baked layer. Bake 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows are soft and puffed. Remove to wire rack. With a metal spatula, flatten marshmallows and spread evenly.
Drizzle melted chocolate mixture over marshmallow layer. Cool on rack 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate, until cold and the top is firm, about 2 hours. When cold, cut into small squares,
Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator to use up within 3 days.
Cookies may be frozen with between layers of wax paper.


Making cookies for Christmas is an important part of my family’s holiday tradition. This week I will share with some of our favorite recipes.

Pine-nut (Pignoli)Macaroons

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

Ingredients

1 can (8-ounce) almond paste, cut in small pieces
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites, from 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 cup pine nuts, pignoli

Directions

Heat oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In mixer bowl beat almond paste, sugar, egg whites, and lemon peel with an electric mixer until smooth. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls dough 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pine nuts to cover, then press them gently to adhere.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes until 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.)

Italian Wedding Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
powdered sugar ( for rolling baked cookies in)

Directions

Cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy; stir in vanilla.
Whisk together flour and salt; add gradually to butter mixture; stir in chopped nuts.
Chill dough if it seems too soft.
Form dough into 1 inch balls and place onto parchment-lined or ungreased baking sheets.


Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or just until the cookies start to turn light golden-brown; remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; while cookies are still warm (but NOT hot) remove them from baking sheets and roll, a few at a time, in powdered sugar until evenly coated; cool cookies completely on wire racks.
Cookies may (optionally) be rolled in powdered sugar a second time once cooled to room temperature. Cookies freeze well.
Yield: 48 cookies.


Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
10 oz fettuccine

Directions

Boil a large pot of salted water, add the pasta and cook just until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot melt the butter and add the shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and saute just until the shrimp turn pink on both sides. Over low heat add the cream and heat for a minute. Add the cheese and stir. Add the drained fettuccine and mix well. Add the parsley, stir and serve immediately.

Sautéed Winter Greens

4 servings

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Heat the garlic and oil in large, deep skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to the empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return the drained greens to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture. When hot, transfer to a serving bowl to serve.

Very Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or other herbs you like, minced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle or oval on a sheet of parchment paper. Place the parchment with the dough on it on a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt, garlic, cheese, and rosemary. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

 


Christmas Morning Coffee Cake

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
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

To Make the Dough:

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.

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.

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

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. Wrap well and freeze until the day before Christmas. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight.

For Christmas Morning

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 serving.



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