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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Bacon

Eggs are one of my favorite foods. I like them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are also many ways to prepare them, so don’t get stuck in the scrambled or sunny-side up preparation. Below are some of my innovative and tasty ways to make eggs. And, if you are adventuresome, give them a try.

Tomato & Egg Breakfast Skillet

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 large (3 small) plum tomatoes, chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, slivered
Fresh ground pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes).

Add chopped tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until they the juice has cooked off–about 4-5 minutes.

Make 4 wells in the tomato mixture with a spoon and pour a cracked egg into each well. Add a grind or two of fresh pepper.

Cover the pan with a glass lid, and simmer until the egg whites are firm and the yolks are starting to set (about 2 minutes).

Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese, and cover again until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with fresh basil and spoon on to individual plates.

Spinach Egg Muffins

6 servings

Ingredients

6 large eggs
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
10 oz package frozen spinach, defrosted
3 thin scallions, white and light green sections, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar/Monterey cheese mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Squeeze the spinach to remove the water.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together until frothy. Add in the cheese.

Add the spinach, scallions and bacon and mix until combined.

Divide the mixture evenly among the 6 jumbo muffin cups coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 40 minutes until muffins are firm and golden.

Baked Avocado Egg Cups

Ingredients for each serving:

Half an Avocados
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings – chopped tomato or chopped onion and bell peppers

Directions

Cut the avocados in half. Take out the seed.

Scoop out about a 1 teaspoon of the flesh from each avocado half where the pit had been.

Season with salt and pepper. Place each avocado half in a small baking dish.

Crack an egg into the avocado opening and season with more salt and pepper.

Bake at 425-degrees for 10 minutes and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the egg.

Continue to bake for 18-20 minutes until the egg is done to your liking.

Sprinkle with additional toppings, if desired.

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Planning your menu before you go shopping is a practical skill that will save you time and money. At this time of year, you want easy to prepare meals that utilize what is in season and you want to cook healthy meals most of the time. This does take a little planning but well worth the time. Here are a few ideas to help you plan next week’s menu.

Fish Parmigiano

Serve this fish entrée with basil pesto pasta and yellow summer squash.

Ingredients

4 white fish fillets (about 6 oz each), such as flounder, tilapia, halibut, etc.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 to 1 ½ cups Italian seasoned panko crumbs
Olive oil plus olive oil cooking spray
1 cup Marinara sauce, heated
4 slices mozzarella cheese

Directions

Cover a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil and coat with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush each fish fillet on all sides with the mayonnaise.

Place the coated fish in the panko crumbs and press the crumbs into the fish on all sides.

Place the fillets on the prepared baking pan and drizzle the top of each fillet with a little olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and place hot marinara sauce on each fillet (about ¼ cup on each) and top with a slice of cheese.

Return the pan to the oven and cook about 5 minutes more or until the cheese is melted.

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta

Serve this pasta entrée with a tomato salad.

Topping

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Cauliflower

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, chopped fine
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 minced garlic cloves
12 ounces short pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

For the topping:

Combine the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat.

Cook, stirring, until the mixture is well toasted and golden-brown.

Stir in the thyme; remove from heat, and reserve.

For the cauliflower:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium baking dish, combine the shallots, cauliflower, garlic, salt and red pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the cauliflower is tender and browned.

Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese. Set aside while the pasta cooks.

For the pasta:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pan.

Turn the heat to very low and add the cauliflower sauce. Heat for a minute or two and pour into a pasta serving.

Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the top of the pasta and serve.

Pork Chops Pizzaiola

Pizzaiola is a term used for a Neapolitan style pizza tomato sauce. I like to use it over pork cutlets or beef steak. Mashed potatoes and a green vegetable are good sides for this entrée.

Ingredients

For the pork

4 boneless pork chops, about 4 oz each
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

For the sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups crushed Italian tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 basil sprig

Directions

For the pork:

Trim the pork chops of all fat. Pound them between sheets of plastic wrap until about a ¼ inch thick.

Beat the egg with a little water. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

Dredge the pork cutlets in the Italian breadcrumbs. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to cook.

It is important to refrigerate the breaded pork for a few hours, so that the breading stays put when the pork is cooked.

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.

Cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and let the sauce simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

To cook the pork:

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin coating of olive oil. Heat.

Add the pork cutlets and cook until brown on one side, turn and cook the second side until brown.

Drain the chops on paper towels. Place on serving plates and top with the Pizzaiola sauce.

Dinner Frittata

I usually make extra grilled vegetables, so I can use them in a frittata or quiche.

Serve this entrée with an Italian Mixed Greens Salad.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups leftover grilled potatoes, peppers and onions
See recipe link 
1 cup cooked spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
6 large eggs beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
3 slices of your favorite cheese

Directions

Preheat the broiler

Heat the oil and butter together in an ovenproof nonstick skillet.

Add the potato and pepper mixture and cook until hot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scatter the crumbled bacon over the mixture.

Pour the beaten eggs over all and cook until the eggs are set on the bottom.

Distribute the cooked spinach over the top of the frittata.

Break the cheese slices into quarters and place them evenly over the spinach.

Place the skillet under the broiler and cook the frittata until the cheese melts.

Remove and let rest for 3 or 4 minutes. Cut into serving pieces.

Chicken Piccata

Serve this quick cooking chicken entrée with noodles dressed with butter, Parmesan cheese and parsley and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Ingredients

Two 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded until thin and even
Coarse salt
Ground white pepper
1/4 cup finely ground all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons small capers, drained
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and white pepper. Lightly coat in flour. Shake off excess.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the olive oil and butter, swirl them around the pan, and add the chicken.

Turn the heat to high and saute the chicken 2 minutes per side.

Pour in the wine, swirl it around the pan for 20 seconds, and turn the chicken over.

Add the lemon juice and capers, swirl them around in the pan and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.


Sunrise on the Gulf

Do you get in a rut and eat the same things for breakfast most days? Time for a change. Below are some ideas to add interest to your breakfast meals. Wonderful fresh fruit is now becoming available in the markets, so don’t forget to make a fresh fruit salad to go with these dishes.

Jumbo Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Muffin Batter

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Directions

Prepare the topping:

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour two jumbo 6-cup muffin pans.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking soda.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla.

Pour into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups halfway and top with the crumb mixture.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Switch pans in the oven after 15 minutes.

Cool the muffins in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Avocado and Egg Sandwich

Ingredients for each serving

1 slice bread (crusty artisan bread, such as sourdough, rye, Italian or French) sliced one inch thick
1 garlic clove peeled
1/2 ripe, fresh avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed
1 egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
Slices of tomato
Cooked bacon, optional
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Hot sauce

Directions

Mix the avocado with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Toast the bread and rub one side with the garlic clove.

Spread with the mashed avocado. Top with some sliced tomatoes.

In a small nonstick skillet, heat the oil and cook the egg as desired.

Place the cooked egg on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Top with a little hot sauce and bacon on the side, if desired.

Barley Fruit Scones

Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought marmalade or fruit jam
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling on the top of the scones

Directions

Place a rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together in a large bowl, the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the flour mixture.

With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg.

Pour the buttermilk and egg into the dry mixture and mix until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. If dough is too sticky to handle, dust it with flour and fold it together a few times.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (use a scale).

Flour your hands and pat each piece of dough into a disk about 3/4 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter.

Cover one disk with the marmalade or jam.

Top with the other disk and press down gently so that dough settles into the marmalade.

Seal edges by lightly pressing together.

Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Use a sharp knife, slice circle into 8 triangular wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each wedge.

Place the baking pan in the refrigerator and chill the scones until firm, about 30 minutes.

Bake for 25 minutes. Scones are ready when the tops are golden brown and some marmalade has bubbled over.

Slide a thin spatula underneath them while they’re still warm and transfer to a baking rack.

Potato Omelet

Ingredients

1 mini red bell pepper, diced
1 mini yellow bell pepper, diced
Half a sweet onion, diced
1 ½ cups leftover cooked sliced potatoes (I used leftover creamy scalloped potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
8 large eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of cheese (American, Cheddar, Swiss)

Directions

Preheat the broiler.

Melt butter in an ovenproof omelet skillet. Add the peppers and onions. Saute until tender.

Add the potatoes and let cook until they begin to brown.

Pour the whisked eggs over the vegetables.

Cook until all the egg is cooked, tilting the skillet to let the uncooked egg run underneath the cooked areas.

Place the cheese on top.

Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

 

 


In my part of the world, produce planted in February is coming into season during the month of April. Friday’s market had plenty of radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, leeks and asparagus. Fresh herbs and citrus fruits are still plentiful and they make excellent flavor additives to savory dishes.

There was lots to choose from, so the menu this week will reflect the variety of spring crops available. Here are a few ideas for when these crops are in season in your area.

Radish Salad

Pair this salad with the scallop recipe below. It is a great combination.

2 servings

Ingredients

4 large radishes
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves

Directions

Whisk together the lemon juice, orange zest, salt, honey and cayenne; whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside

Rinse and trim the radishes and slice into thin rounds.

Line a salad bowl with the spinach leaves and mound the radishes in the center and top them with the olives.

Drizzle the salad with the dressing just before serving.

Broccoli and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
2 cups broccoli florets
8 oz mozzarella, sliced thin
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
20 black olives, pitted and halved
2 chopped fresh plum tomatoes
Salt
Olive oil

Directions

Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. Oil a large pizza pan.

Press the pizza dough out on the pan to the edges.

Cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 2 minutes until it is just crisp-tender.

Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain well.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and garlic. Add a pinch of salt.

Place the sliced mozzarella evenly on the dough.

Drop the ricotta mixture in tablespoons on top of the dough and mozzarella.

Sprinkle with the olives and chopped tomatoes. Arrange the broccoli on top of the mixture.

Drizzle the top of the pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake the pizza for 18 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Pasta with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces thin sliced prosciutto, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1 cup half & half or heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz short pasta (I use Barilla’s Casarecce pasta for this dish)
1 bunch very thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 in pieces
1 1⁄2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil to taste

Directions

Bring 4 quarts salted water to boil in large pot.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta for the last two minutes of cooking time.

Cook pasta al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking.

Cook prosciutto until lightly browned and crisp, (5 minutes) Transfer to paper towel lined plate.

Add garlic to the pan and cook 30 seconds.

Stir in cream and lemon juice and simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Add the pasta and asparagus to the lemon cream sauce with  1/2 cup reserved pasta water, the cheese and the basil, toss to combine, add remaining water, if needed.

Sprinkle with black pepper and crunchy prosciutto. Serve immediately.

Sea Scallops in a Citrus Rosemary Sauce

I also like to serve this dish with a mango salsa. See recipe:

Serves 2. This recipe is easy to increase the number of servings.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small finely chopped shallot
6 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
Flour, for dredging
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Juice and zest from half a large orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

Heat oil in a small skillet. Sauté shallots over medium heat until soft. Push them to one corner of the pan.

Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Season flour with salt and pepper.

Dredge the scallops in the flour.

Increase heat under pan to high; sear the scallops for 1 minute. Turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes.

Add lemon juice, orange juice and orange zest to the skillet (the sauce will sizzle and steam).

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and swirl in butter and rosemary. Serve immediately.

Potato Soup

Ingredients

2 slices pasture-raised bacon
2 leeks, rinsed well with white and light green parts sliced very thin
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 cups half & half or whole milk
Fresh dill or chives, chopped fine
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Sour cream for garnish, optional

Directions

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel. When cool enough to handle crumble into small pieces.

Heat the reserved bacon fat over medium heat and add the leeks, garlic, celery and carrot.

Cook until tender, about five to six minutes or so.

Add the broth, cubed potatoes and a teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Cover the pot.

Cook the potatoes, vegetables and broth together over medium-low heat until the vegetables are softened and fall apart when pressed with the tines of a fork, about thirty minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender or use a processor.

Add the half & half, dill or chives to taste, crumbled bacon and adjust the seasoning. Reheat over low.

Serve with a tablespoon of sour cream, if desired.


Asparagus Quiche

This is the right time of year to buy asparagus. They are in season and the price is low. Of course, you will get tired of them, if you cook asparagus the same way each time you serve them. Have you tried asparagus in a quiche or an omelet? Delicious – give it a try. Double the ingredients and make a second quiche for the freezer.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 refrigerated pie crust for a 9 inch pie, at room temperature
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
3 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 eggs
1/2 cup half & half cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

Directions

Heat the oven to 450°F.

Line a baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spread asparagus on the baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the bacon strips on one end of the pan.

Roast until the asparagus are tender, about 12 minutes. Cool and cut into one inch pieces. Drain the bacon on a paper towel and crumble.

Lower oven temperature to 350°F.

Place pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pie pan on a clean baking sheet.

Arrange the roasted asparagus, crumbled bacon and shallots over the bottom of the crust.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chives, Dijon mustard, eggs, half & half, a large pinch salt and a large pinch black pepper. Whisk together until well combined.

Pour over asparagus.Top with the cheese.

Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Colcannon

Cabbage is beautiful this time of year – mild and tender – so take advantage of one of the season’s best vegetables. Colcannon is popular because it combines the cabbage with potatoes for a delicious side dish.

Ingredients

6 Servings

Ingredients

4 large baking potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into small cubes
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, minced
Half a large head of green cabbage, thinly shredded
1 1/2 cups half & half
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced fresh chives

Directions

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a deep skillet with a cover over medium heat.

Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, 8–10 minutes.

Add the shredded cabbage and cook, stirring often until the cabbage is soft and tender.

Add half & half and bring to a simmer.

Add potatoes and remaining butter and cook until the potatoes are hot and most of the half & half is absorbed.

Coarsely mash with a potato masher and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the colcannon to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with chives.

This recipe can be prepared ahead and reheated in a moderate oven or in the microwave just before serving.

Grilled Chicken Over Greek Salad

This is one of my favorite dishes. So many delicious ingredients – all in one bowl. This salad works in any season and the chicken doesn’t have to be grilled. It can be sautéed or baked in the oven,

Serves 2

For the chicken marinade

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
Large pinch sea salt
Dash black pepper
2 small or one large boneless chicken breast

For the salad

One heart of romaine lettuce, washed and shredded
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1 1⁄2″ pieces
Half a cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise into 1⁄4″ pieces
1⁄2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ bell pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon. red wine vinegar
1⁄8 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 oz. feta, crumbled
8 kalamata olives
4 Tuscan (pepperoncini) peppers
Pita bread

Directions

To prepare the chicken

In a glass measuring cup, mix the first seven ingredients together.

Place the chicken breasts in a storage dish with a cover and pour the marinade over the meat. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Prepare an outdoor grill or heat an indoor grill.

Place the meat on the hot grill and turn the chicken about every 4 minutes until the chicken registers 165 degrees internal meat temperature. Set on a plate to cool while you prepare the salad.

To prepare the salad

Slice the chicken into thin pieces. Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and onions in a salad bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and oregano; season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad mixture. Toss and top with feta, olives, pepperoncini and sliced chicken.

Serve with warm pita bread.

Open-Face Reuben – My Way

This sandwich can be made with any leftover meat. I just happened to have corned beef from St. Patrick’s Day on hand. I have use sliced turkey, chicken and steak in the past for this sandwich and they all turned out well. I usually bake oven fries with this dish which take about 20 minutes. Put the sandwich in the oven after the potatoes have baked for ten minutes.

For 2

Ingredients

2 large slices rye bread; see link for my homemade rye bread recipe
https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2017/03/17/happy-st-pats-day/
10 slices cooked corned beef
4 slices swiss cheese
½ cup sauerkraut, drained
4 tablespoons mustard sauce, recipe below

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Toast the bread and place it on a foil lined baking pan. Spread 2 tablespoons of the mustard sauce on each piece of toasted bread. Arrange the meat slices on top.

Place 1/4 cup sauerkraut on top of each sandwich and top with two slices of cheese. Place the sandwiches in the oven for 10 minutes so the meat can heat and the cheese melt.

Serve with some great pickles.

For the Guinness Mustard Sauce:

1/4 cup stone ground mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon horseradish powder (ground)
4 tablespoons Guinness beer

In medium bowl combine mustard, mayonnaise, horseradish and sour cream together. Slowly whisk in beer. Chill in the refrigerator.


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According to the food historian, Clifford Wright, the origin of pasta carbonara is not really known. There are several competing theories, but all are anecdotal.

The first theory is said to come from a dish made in the Apennine mountains of Abruzzo by woodcutters who made charcoal for fuel. They would cook the dish over a hardwood charcoal fire and use penne rather than spaghetti because it was easier to toss with the eggs and cheese.

The second theory is the one that gives the meaning to the dish’s name – alla carbonara or coal worker’s style. This name implies that the dish was eaten by coal workers or that because of the abundant use of coarsely ground black pepper the dish resembled coal flakes.

Another story is that due to the food shortages after the liberation of Rome in 1944, the Allied troops distributed military rations consisting of powdered egg and bacon which the locals used with water to season the easily stored dried pasta.

There is also a theory that in the province of Ciociaria, in the region of Lazio near Rome, pasta was seasoned with eggs, lard and Pecorino cheese. During the World War II German occupation of Rome, many middle class families escaped the occupation and fled to Ciociaria, where they learned about this dish. After the war, Roman cuisine became very popular throughout Italy and this dish became a prime example.

Another story suggests that the famous restaurant in the Campo de Fiori in Rome, La Carbonara, was named after its speciality. Although the restaurant has been open since the early part of the twentieth century and does have carbonara on its menu, the restaurant denies any such connection.

The simplest story, and therefore the most likely, is that the dish had always existed at the family level and in local trattorias. Cheese, pork, olive oil, salt, pepper and pasta were all kept fresh without refrigeration and eggs were readily available at local farms. All that was needed was a pot and a fire. An eyewitness account supporting this theory can be found in a cookbook titled, Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memories. The actress described how during the filming of Two Women in the late 1950s, in the mountains near Rome, the crew came upon a group of carbonai who offered to prepare food for them. They prepared carbonara. The director, Vittorio De Sica, and Loren had second helpings.  Loren returned the next day to learn how to make the dish. (An accomplished home cook, Loren claimed the recipe was exactly as the carbonai made it but her rendition calls for cream—an addition most carbonara connoisseurs would not agree with. The dish was also popular among the American troops stationed in Italy; and when they returned home, they made “spaghetti alla carbonara” popular in Italian cuisine.

And, the debate goes on….

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Pasta Carbonara

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced guanciale, pancetta or bacon (about 1/4 pound)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or other long, thin pasta
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, or more to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

In a medium skillet, combine the olive oil and pork/bacon and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

Add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of water before the draining pasta.

Beat eggs in a large warmed pasta serving bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan and the bacon and its juices. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with egg mixture.

Add a little of the pasta cooking water to moisten. Season with plenty of black pepper, and serve.

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Venice (Italian: Venezia) is a metropolitan city in the Veneto region of Italy. It is situated across a group of 117 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges. These are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Parts of Venice are renowned for the beauty of their settings, their architecture and artwork. The lagoon and a part of the city are listed as a World Heritage Site

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The name, Venezia, is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region in 10th century BC. The Republic of Venice was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance and a staging area for the Crusades, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially for silk, grain and spices) and art. Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial center and this made it a wealthy city throughout most of its history.

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In the 14th century, many young Venetian men began wearing tight-fitting multicolored hose, the designs indicated the Compagnie della Calza (“Trouser Club”) to which they belonged. The Venetian Senate passed laws banning colorful clothing, but this merely resulted in changes in fashion in order to circumvent the law. Dull garments were worn over colorful ones, which then were cut to show the hidden colors that resulted in the wide-spread use of men’s “slashed” fashions in the 15th century.

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Today, Venice is a major fashion and shopping center, not as important as Milan, Florence, and Rome, but on a par with other fashion centers. Roberta di Camerino is a major Italian fashion brand to be based in Venice. Founded in 1945, it is renowned for its innovative handbags featuring adornments by Venetian artisans. Many of the fashion boutiques and jewelry shops in the city are located on or near the Rialto Bridge and in the Piazza San Marco. There are Louis Vuitton and Ermenegildo Zegna flagship stores in the city.

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Venice is known for its ornate glass-work, known as Venetian glass. It is world-renowned for being colorful, elaborate and skilfully made. However, by the 14th century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano, an offshore island in Venice. The glass made there is known as Murano glass. Despite efforts to keep Venetian glass-making techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere and Venetian-style glassware is produced in other Italian cities and other countries of Europe. Some of the most important brands of glass in the world are still produced in the historical glass factories on Murano. They are: Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Millemetri, Seguso. Barovier & Toso is considered one of the 100 oldest companies in the world, formed in 1295.

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Festivals

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The Carnival of Venice is held annually in the city and It lasts for around two weeks and ends on Shrove Tuesday. Venetian masks are popular during the festival.

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The Venice Biennale is one of the most important events in the arts calendar. In 1895 an Esposizione biennale artistica nazionale (biennial exhibition of Italian art) was inaugurated.

The Festa del Redentore that is held in mid July began as a feast to give thanks for the end of the plague of 1576. A bridge of barges is built connecting Giudecca to the rest of Venice and fireworks play an important role.

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The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata in 1932 as the Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica. The festival takes place every year in late August or early September on the island of the Lido. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi. It is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals and is part of the Venice Biennale.

Cuisine

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Venice cuisine has a centuries-long history and it is significantly different from the other cuisines of northern Italy. Venetian cuisine is characterized by seafood, but also includes vegetables from the islands of the lagoon, rice from the mainland, game and polenta. Venice combines local traditions with influences stemming from age-old practices. These include: sardines marinated to preserve them for long voyages; bacalà mantecato (a recipe based on Norwegian stockfish and extra-virgin olive oil); bisàto (marinated eel); risi e bisi,( rice, peas and pancetta); fegato alla veneziana, Venetian-style veal liver; risòto col néro de sépe (risotto with cuttlefish, blackened by their ink); cicchétti (tapas); antipasti (appetizers); and Prosecco, an effervescent, mildly sweet wine.

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The most common dish is polenta, which is cooked in various ways within the local cuisines of Veneto. It is very popular to serve grilled meat (often by a barbecue that includes a mix of pork, beef and chicken meat) together with grilled polenta, potatoes or vegetables. Other popular dishes include risotto, rice cooked with many different kinds of food, from vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin or radicchio to seafood, pork meat or chicken livers. Bigoli (a typical Venetian fresh pasta, similar to Udon), fettuccine (hand-made noodles), ravioli and the similar tortelli (filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or pumpkin) and gnocchi (potatoes-made fresh pasta), are fresh and often hand-made pasta dishes (made of eggs and wheat flour), served together with a meat sauce (ragù) often made with duck meat, sometimes together with mushrooms or peas, or simply with melted butter.

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In addition, Venice is known for the golden, oval-shaped cookies called baìcoli, and for other types of sweets, such as: pan del pescatore (bread of the fisherman); cookies with almonds and pistachio nuts; cookies with fried Venetian cream, or the bussolài (butter biscuits and shortbread made in the shape of a ring or of an “S”) from the island of Burano; the galàni or cróstoli (angel wings); the frìtole (spherical doughnuts); the fregolòtta (a crumbly cake with almonds); a milk pudding called rosada; and cookies called zaléti, whose ingredients include yellow maize flour.
The dessert tiramisù is thought to have been invented in Treviso in the late 1960s and is popular in the Veneto area.

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Venetian-style Capesante

Scallops are popular as a hot fish appetizer.

Ingredients

4 servings

8 sea scallops
⅛ oz garlic
½ oz parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Large scallop shells for serving

Directions

Heat the oil in a pan, add the finely chopped garlic and the scallops. On high heat, add parsley and dill. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.

Rearrange each shell by placing two scallops inside and pouring a little of the cooking liquid over each one. This dish can also be served with hot croutons brushed with garlic.

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Bigoli With Duck Sauce

This is a typical first course. The “bigolo” is a hard wheat pasta, which had made its appearance in the area in the eighteenth century. It was produced using the special “bigolaro”, a press featuring a brass drawplate which permitted the pasta to be formed into a rough-textured “bigolo” shape. In the Veneto region, the name “bigoli” is also given to large spaghetti or “bucatini” because of their slender elongated shape, also a kind of “bigolo”.

Ingredients

4 servings
1 lb bigoli-a hard wheat pasta
3 ½ oz liver
3 ½ oz duck meat
1 oz butter
¾ oz extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
2 oz ripe tomatoes
2 oz onion
3 ½ oz red wine
Thyme to taste
Marjoram to taste
1 bay leaf
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to taste
Parsley to taste

Directions

In a pan combine the oil and butter and brown the onions, add the liver and duck meat and brown that also. Mix thoroughly.

Pour the red wine over the mixture, allow to evaporate, and then salt to taste. Add the broth and cook until the broth has reduced to only a few tablespoons. Add the herbs, the bay leaf and the tomato.

Cook the pasta in abundant boiling and salted water. When the pasta is cooked, when it is still “al dente”, drain it, put it in the pan with the sauce and toss it. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese, finely chopped parsley and arrange on a serving dish.

torresani

Torresani allo Spiedo (pigeons on the spit)

Ingredients

Serves 4

4 terraioli pigeons (also known as toresani)
120 g bacon, in large slices
Extra virgin olive oil
10 Juniper berries
2 Bay leaves
Rosemary – a large sprig
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preparation for plucking pigeons: flame it to remove the hair, clean the entrails, wash well and dry them.

Grind in a mortar the juniper berries and two bay leaves, put the mixture into a shallow dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add plenty of extra virgin olive oil.

Dip the sprig of rosemary into the mixture and use the rosemary to brush the seasoning on the pigeons.Then wrap them in slices of bacon, with a kitchen string to tie them, putting them on the spit and after ½ hour of cooking brush with the remaining mixture prepared with oil.

After 40 total minutes of cooking, remove the pigeons, remove the string and served with grilled polenta.

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Zaleti

This is a traditional cookie from the Venice area. They are often enjoyed together with a glass of sparkling wine like Prosecco.

Ingredients

¾ lb cornmeal
3 ½ oz sugar
½ lb all-purpose flour
5 oz butter
3 oz raisins
2 ½ oz pine nuts
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk, fresh
1 pinch vanilla
Lemon zest, grated

Directions

Mix the flours with the baking powder in a separate bowl. Combine the butter and sugar. Add the flour mixture, raisins, previously soaked in warm water, the pine nuts, milk, grated lemon zest and vanilla, to form a dough mixture.

With your hands, shape the mixture into small oval cakes about 3.2 inches long. Place them onto a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake in a hot oven. Cooking time is generally 20-25 minutes, but it can vary according to the size of the “zaleti”.



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