Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: mussels

puglia-italy

Puglia is a flat, fertile, sun soaked region in southern Italy which, together with its iron rich soil makes it one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. It is famous for its olive oil and produces between 250,000 and 300,000 tons each year. Puglia provides around 40 percent of the country’s extra virgin olive oil.

Durum wheat grows in abundance and is used for making pasta and bread. The pasta from Puglia is made without eggs as they were once considered to be a luxury. The most famous pasta made in Puglia is ‘oricchiette’ (meaning little ears) which is still made daily by the elder women in most of the small villages.

The bread in Puglia, which accompanies all meals, is more diverse than many other regions in Italy and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is cooked in traditional wood burning bread ovens and some of the villages still have a communal bread oven where the locals go to bake their bread every day.

Vegetables obviously grow well in the warm climate and are used in abundance, always fresh and always seasonal. Tomatoes are used for making sauces to go with the local pasta and aubergines, peppers and courgettes are roasted and grilled as an accompaniment to meat.

The interior of Puglia is rocky and many sheep and goats are bred there for their meat as well as their milk which is used for a variety of cheeses. Lamb is the most popular meat, followed by pork.

Puglia has many delicious local cheeses, perhaps the most famous being Burrata which is made from mozzarella and cream. Others include Cacioricotta – a seasonal Ricotta cheese made from unpasteurized ewes’ milk, Canestrato – a hard cheese which is a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk, Fallone di Gravina and Caciofiore.

Fish plays a large part in the cuisine of Puglia and the long coastline offers a large array of fresh fish on a daily basis. Sea bass, red mullet, anchovies, mussels and cuttlefish are among the favorites.

In spite of this excess of food, the daily cuisine in Puglia, as in the other southern regions of Italy, tends to be simple, fresh and wholesome with most locals growing, rearing and making enough for their individual needs.

Puglia 6

Dinner Party Menu For Six

Antipasto

Puglia 1

Pepperoni al Forno (Baked Peppers)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 sweet bell peppers (green and red)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 8 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 10 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Place the peppers in a hot oven (400 degrees F) for about half an hour or under the broiler until the skins start to blacken. Take them out of the oven, cool and then peel off the skins.
Cut the peppers into strips, about 2 inches wide.

Grease the bottom of a baking pan with olive oil and place a layer of peppers. Sprinkle a few capers, a few slices of garlic, some of the chopped anchovy fillets, a sprinkle of bread crumbs and a little salt and pepper on the peppers. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used.

When the top layer is finished, drizzle with olive oil. Then place the pan in a 400 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are tender and the bread crumbs are brown.

puglia 5

Taralli Scaldati (Dry Bread)

Ingredients

  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 14 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Warm water

Directions

Combine the all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until thoroughly combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for a few minutes. Soften the dough by adding a little warm water, if it seems too dry.

Turn the dough out onto a bread board and roll pieces of the dough into long thin stripes about 4-5 inches long. Loop the ends around to form circles or pretzel shapes and space them out on wax paper to rest for to rise for 15 minutes covered with a clean kitchen cloth.

Heat the oven to 400° F.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan and drop a few of the taralli in the boiling water for a minute, turn with and cook another minute. Remove the boiled taralli with a slotted spoon to a wire rack to dry for a minute or two.

Place them on an oiled baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until brown and crispy. Cool completely.

First Course

Puglia 2

Tubettini con le Cozze

(Small Pasta Tubes with Mussels)

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 lb tubettini pasta (little tubes)

Directions

Wash the mussels well under running water and pull out the beards (the stringy bits hanging out of the shell) and place them in a bowl of cold water.

Heat a large pot of water for the pasta and when it comes to the boil add salt and the pasta tubes.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a cover and add the chopped garlic. Cook for a minute and add the cherry tomatoes. Once they soften, add the white wine and bring to a boil so the alcohol evaporates. Season with salt and the crushed red pepper and add the mussels. Cover with the lid and cook until all the mussels open.

Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the mussels in the skillet, along with the chopped parsley and reserves pasta cooking liquid. Mix well on a low heat for a minute and serve.

Second Course

Puglia 3

Roasted Striped Bass

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4-6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large fresh fennel bulbs with fronds attached, trimmed; bulbs quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced; fronds chopped and reserved for garnish
  • 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise through root end, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 3 – 1 1/2-pounds whole striped bass or fish that is available in your area, cleaned, gutted, scaled 
  • 1/4 cup (about) all-purpose flour
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled, crushed, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted, halved

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F.

Boil wine in a medium saucepan until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Generously brush an 18 x 12 x 1 inch baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange fennel slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Top with onion slices in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle 3 tablespoons oil over the vegetables.

Rinse fish inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle fish inside and out with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lightly dust outside of fish with flour. Pour enough olive oil into extra-large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan; heat over medium-high heat until pan is very hot.

Working with one fish at a time, add fish to the skillet and cook until a golden crust forms on the skin, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining fish. Add more oil, only if necessary.Carefully place fish on top of the vegetables on the baking sheet. Gently stuff the cavity of each fish with 2 crushed garlic cloves and then 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Pour reserved wine over vegetables on the baking sheet.

Roast fish uncovered until vegetables begin to soften, 35 to 40 minutes. Scatter tomato halves and olives around the fish; bake until fish is just cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer fish to large platter; cover with foil to keep warm.

Increase oven temperature to 475°F. Continue to bake vegetables uncovered until tender and tomatoes are very soft and beginning to color in spots, about 15 minutes more.
Arrange vegetable mixture around the fish on a serving platter. Sprinkle chopped fennel fronds and serve.

Dessert

puglia 4

Baked Zeppole

Ingredients for the pastry dough

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 large eggs

Ingredients for the custard filling

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Jam

To make the pastry:

In a heavy saucepan, heat the water. Add the butter and the salt and remove from the stove once the butter has melted. Add the flour all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to medium heat and beat the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat again. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating the dough with a wooden spoon or hand mixer.

Note – make sure to blend in each egg well before proceeding to add in the next one.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Drop 1 1/4-inch portions of dough about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake the puffs about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F and then for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Transfer the pastries to cooling racks.

To make the custard:

In a medium bowl, mix the cornstarch and sugar for the filing. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it’s almost boiling. Add the 6 eggs to the sugar and the cornstarch and gradually add a couple of large spoonfuls of the warm milk. When it’s well-blended, pour it into the pot with the rest of the milk and continue to cook until the mixture thickens.

To serve:

Use a small knife to cut each zeppole in half. Fill each zeppole with some custard, replace the top half and put the zeppole on a serving dish. Add a teaspoon of jam to each zeppole and dust them with confectioner’s sugar.


seafood night cover

Fish is easy to digest, has a high level of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, trout and sardines comprise high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Why is this important?

Researchers have proved that Omega 3 fatty acids offer safety against harmful cardiovascular disease by reducing the levels of poor cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Omega 3 prevents the arrival of diseases such as macular degeneration, which is one of the most widespread causes of blindness related to aging. An increase in Omega 3 fatty acids is favorable for people with diabetes and has been proven to delay the appearance of dementia, as well Alzheimer’s disease. More recent studies, which have focused on its impact on the nervous system, show benefits in increased brain functions and even in combating depression.

Eat more fish and less meat. It’s so simple, really, and this is probably the most powerful change that you can make in your diet. Just as with vegetables, many people say that they don’t like fish. As with veggies, look for delicious and healthy recipes and try a few different types of fish or shellfish before you rule out fish on your menu. Even if you don’t like stronger tasting fish, like tuna and salmon, freshwater fish, which are lighter tasting, may appeal to you. While leaner freshwater fish such as trout, bass and whitefish may not be the best source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they still have them and they’re both delicious and low in calories and fat.

A number of environmental organizations have created lists that help identify fish that are sustainable and those that are not. Seafood Watch, the program run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has combined data from leading health organizations and environmental groups to come up with their list “Super Green: Best of the Best” of seafood that’s good for you and good for the environment. Click on the link below for their recommendations.

http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx

seafood night

Tilapia with Lemon-Garlic Sauce

I like to serve this entrée with orzo or rice and a green vegetable, such as broccoli.

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons quick-mixing flour (such as Wondra)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup unsalted chicken stock 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge both sides of the fish in flour; reserve unused flour.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add fish to the pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish from the pan to a serving platter and keep warm.

Add reserved flour and garlic to the pan; cook 90 seconds or until lightly browned, whisking constantly. Add wine and stock, stirring with the whisk; bring to a boil.

Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove pan from the heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, parsley and lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the fish in the serving platter.

seafood night 2

Shrimp Pasta Primavera

All you need to round out this dinner is a green mixed salad and a glass of white wine.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup low salt chicken broth
  • 1 small plum tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon each minced fresh basil, oregano, thyme and parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta (al dente) according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the asparagus and mushrooms in oil for 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the shrimp, broth, tomato, salt and pepper flakes; simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink.

Drain pasta. Add the pasta and herbs to the skillet; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 2 servings.

seafood night 3

 

Parmesan-crusted Fish

Serve this entrée with sautéed greens.

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless cod fillets (1-1/2 pounds total)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups julienned carrots ( My market sells carrots shredded)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse fish, pat dry with paper towels and place on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl stir together the panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese; press this mixture on the fish.

Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish or until crumbs are golden brown and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet bring the water to boiling; add carrots. Reduce heat. Cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Uncover; cook for 2 minutes more. Add butter and oregano; toss. Serve fish with the carrots.

seafood night 4

Seafood Arrabbiata

Don’t forget the crusty Italian bread.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces bay scallops
  • 8 ounces peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, according to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 12 littleneck clams
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions

Cook pasta (al dente) according to package directions; drain.

While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and shrimp to the pan; cook 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan to a bowl and keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and tomatoes; bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Add clam juice; cook 1 minute.

Add clams; cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 4 minutes. Add mussels; cover and cook 3 minutes or until clams and mussels open. Discard any unopened shells. Stir in reserved scallop/shrimp mixture and parsley; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with basil.

seafood night 5

Baked Cornmeal-Crusted Grouper Sandwich

Serve with coleslaw and pickles.

4 servings

Ingredients

Grouper

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 4 (6-ounce) grouper fillets or fish fillets that are available in your area
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • Sliced tomatoes and lettuce, optional

Tartar Sauce

  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons capers, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.

To prepare grouper:

Dry fish well with paper towels.
Place flour in a shallow bowl. Combine cornmeal, salt and cayenne pepper in a second shallow dish, stirring well with a fork. Place milk in a third shallow bowl.
Dust both sides of each fillet with flour; dip each fillet in milk and dredge both sides in the cornmeal mixture. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish is flaky and crusty, turning once.

To prepare tartar sauce:

Combine mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients (mayonnaise through Worcestershire), stirring with a whisk.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of the tartar sauce over the cut sides of each bun; place one fish fillet on the bottom half of each bun. Add sliced tomatoes and lettuce, if desired. Top fillets with the remaining bun halves.

seafood ending

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Giuseppe_Verdi00

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest Italian composers of all time. Giuseppe Verdi was responsible for some of the best operas, which are still widely known and revered today: La Traviata, Aida and Rigoletto, to name just a few. Verdi dominated the Italian opera scene after the eras of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and some of his themes have long since taken root in popular culture.

Verdi was born to Carlo Giuseppe Verdi and Luigia Uttini in Le Roncole, a village in the province of Parma (Emilia-Romagna region) in Northern Italy. When he was still a child, Verdi’s parents moved from Le Roncole to a nearby village, Busseto, where the future composer’s education was greatly facilitated by visits to the large library belonging to the local Jesuit school. It was in Busseto that he was given his first lessons in composition. Verdi went to Milan when he was twenty to continue his studies. He took private lessons in music and voice while attending operatic performances and concerts. Eventually, he decided to pursue a career in theater composition.

After his studies, Verdi returned to Busseto, where he became the town music master and gave his first public performance at the home of Antonio Barezzi, a local merchant and music lover who had long supported Verdi’s musical ambitions. Because he loved Verdi’s music, Barezzi invited Verdi to be his daughter Margherita’s music teacher and the two soon fell deeply in love. They were married in May 1836 and Margherita gave birth to two children. Unfortunately, both died in infancy while Verdi was working on his first opera and, shortly afterwards, Margherita died of encephalitis at the age of 26. Verdi adored his wife and children and was devastated by their deaths.

His first opera, Oberto, performed at La Scala in November 1839, was successful and La Scala’s impresario, Bartolomeo Merelli, offered Verdi a contract for three more works.
It was while he was working on his second opera, Un giorno di regno, that Verdi’s wife died. The opera was a failure and he fell into despair, vowing to give up musical composition forever. However, Merelli persuaded him to write Nabucco and its opening performance in March 1842 made Verdi famous. It follows the plight of the Jews as they are assaulted, conquered and subsequently exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco. The historical events are used as background for a romantic and political plot. The best-known piece from the opera is the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”.

A period of hard work – producing 14 operas – followed in the next fifteen years. These included I Lombardi in 1843, Ernani in 1844 and, for some, the most original and important opera that Verdi wrote, Macbeth (1847). It was Verdi’s first attempt to write an opera without a love story, breaking a basic convention of 19th-century Italian opera.

Nabucco

Nabucco

Sometime in the mid-1840s, Verdi “formed a lasting attachment to the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi who was to become his lifelong companion”. Their cohabitation before marriage was regarded as scandalous in some of the places they lived and eventually Verdi and Giuseppina married. In 1848, Verdi bought an estate two miles from Busseto. Initially, his parents lived there, but after his mother’s death in 1851, he made the Villa Verdi at Sant’Agata his home, which it remained until his death.

Rigoletto

Rigoletto

During this time, Verdi created one of his greatest masterpieces, Rigoletto, which premiered in Venice in 1851. Based on a play by Victor Hugo (Le roi s’amuse), the opera quickly became a great success. There followed the second and third of the three major operas of Verdi’s “middle period”: in 1853 Il trovatore was produced in Rome and La traviata in Venice. The latter was based on Alexandre Dumas’ play, The Lady of the Camellias, and became the most popular of all of Verdi’s operas worldwide. You can listen to the drinking song, “Brindisi” from La Traviata, in the video below performed by two of my favorite opera singers, Dame Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti.

In 1869, Verdi was asked to compose a section for a requiem mass in memory of Gioachino Rossini, as part of a collection of sections composed by other Italian contemporaries of Rossini. The requiem was compiled and completed, but was cancelled at the last minute. Five years later, Verdi reworked his “Libera Me” section of the Rossini Requiem and made it a part of his Requiem Mass, honoring the famous novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, who had died in 1873. The complete Requiem was first performed at the cathedral in Milan in May 1874.

Verdi’s grand opera, Aida, is sometimes thought to have been commissioned for the celebration of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and there had been a plan to inaugurate an opera house as part of the canal opening festivities, but Verdi turned down an invitation to write an “ode” for the new opera house. In 1869, the organizers approached Verdi (this time with the idea of writing an opera), but he again turned them down. When they warned him that they would engage the services of Charles Gounod and Richard Wagner, Verdi began to show considerable interest and agreements were signed in June, 1870.

Aida

Aida

Teresa Stolz was associated with both Aida and the Requiem, as well as, a number of other Verdi roles. The role of Aida was written for her and she performed the opera at the European premiere in Milan in February 1872. She was also the soprano soloist in the first and in many later performances of the Requiem. After Giuseppina Strepponi’s death, Teresa Stolz became a close companion of Verdi until his death.

In 1879 the composer-poet Boito and the publisher Ricordi pleaded with Verdi to write another opera. He worked slowly on it, being occupied with revisions of earlier operas, and completed the opera seven years later. This opera, Othello, his most powerful and tragic work, a study in evil and jealousy, is notable for the increasing richness of detail in the orchestral writing. Verdi’s last opera, Falstaff, whose libretto was also by Boito, was based on Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, Part 1 with Victor Hugo’s translation. It was an international success and is famous for being one of the world’s best comic operas.

Othello

Othello

While staying at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, Verdi suffered a stroke on January 21, 1901. He gradually grew more feeble and died nearly a week later. Arturo Toscanini conducted a combined orchestra and choir composed of musicians from throughout Italy at Verdi’s funeral service in Milan. To date, it remains the largest public assembly of any event in the history of Italy.

Completing 25 operas throughout his career, Verdi continues to be regarded as one of the greatest composers in history. His works are noted for their emotional intensity, tuneful melodies and dramatic characterizations. He transformed the Italian opera, with its traditional staging, old-fashioned librettos and emphasis on vocal displays, into a unified musical and dramatic entity. As Verdi matured he played with the expectations of listeners, who expected scenes to unfold in familiar patterns. Instead, he would break off an aria and transition into a charged recitative or blur distinctions between forms and styles to make the music responsive to the dramatic moment and the text. The music of Verdi, one of Italy’s most outstanding composers, makes up some of classical music’s most timeless treasures and his operas are among those most frequently produced in the world today.

Busseto's Tribute to Verdi

Busseto’s Tribute to Verdi

Emilia Romagna

Verdi lived in Busetto in the heart of the Italian province of Parma, in Emilia-Romagna. When one thinks of luxurious Italian food, it is usually classic Emilia Romagna cuisine. The area is known for its flavorful produce dishes. Bright green asparagus is served with Parmigiano Reggiano and melted butter. The sweet chestnut, known as Marrone di Castel Rio, comes from Emilia Romagna, as do porcini mushrooms. Local shallots and olive oil pressed from local olives are prized for their quality. Pasta is a favorite food in the region. While polenta, rice and gnocchi were staples in Emilia Romagna cooking, fresh egg pasta is now more popular. Most areas consider tagliatelle their favorite shape and serve it with ragù. Recipes also include tortelli, or large pasta squares, filled with ricotta and greens and served with melted butter.

In addition to the Romagnola breed of cattle, rabbit, game birds and poultry are eaten. Wild duck and tomatoes are stewed with herbs, white wine and served with risotto. Cappone ripieno, or roasted capon, is stuffed with with a marsala flavored veal and ham filling. Other popular meats include pork, lamb and mutton. Proscuitto di Parma and fresh fruit are served together for a refreshing appetizer.

Emilia is well known for Parmigiano Reggiano, but the Grana Padano and Provonole Valpadana are also extremely high quality. Cheeses are used young, while sweet, or aged to develop a sharper flavor for grating. Ravaggiolo and squaquarone are also creamy piquant cheeses used in cooking. After so many rich dishes, it’s appropriate that many Emilia Romagna desserts are based on fresh fruit. Melons, stone fruits, berries and pears are most often served.

crostini di polenta with moules

Toasted Polenta with Mussels

You can use any seafood to top the polenta. The same combination may be successfully used in bruschetta or crostini recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups polenta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb mussels, steamed and removed from the shell
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Olive oil for brushing

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 – 26-28 can diced Italian tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper

For the green sauce:

  • 1 cup green parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Cook the polenta in salted water with the olive oil, in proportions according to package directions. You want a thick polenta, not thin. Pour the polenta into a loaf pan and leave it to set overnight; or for at least two hours.

The next day, cut the loaf into slices. Place the slices on a wooden board and brush with some olive oil. Next arrange the slices, oiled side down, on a greased oven rack. Brush the other side with olive oil.

Bake in 200°C/390°F oven until golden brown on top, for about 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven; let it cool.

Meanwhile prepare the mussels and sauces.

In a skillet heat the olive oil; add chopped garlic and the mussels. Then add the wine and let it cook until all liquids evaporate.

To cook the tomato sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan; add chopped onion and sauté until golden. Next add chopped garlic. Stir and sauté briefly, then add the canned tomatoes. Lower the heat and cook until the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat and let the sauce cool slightly. Then place it in a food processor and blend with a small bunch of fresh basil, salt and pepper.

To make the green sauce:

Place all ingredients for the sauce in a food processor. Blend until fairly smooth.

Carefully remove the polenta slices from the rack and arrange on a serving platter. Top with the tomato sauce and green sauce. Then arrange the mussels on top. Serve warm.

tagliatelle

Tagliatelle with Chestnuts, Pancetta and Sage

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces pancetta (Italian unsmoked cured bacon), chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 8 ounces bottled peeled roasted whole chestnuts, coarsely crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 ounces dried flat egg pasta such as tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions
Cook pancetta in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, 1 tablespoon sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in chestnuts and remove from heat.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander and add to the pancetta mixture in the skillet. Add the reserved cooking water along withthe  cheese and butter and cook, tossing constantly, over high heat until pasta is well coated, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve sprinkled with parsley and remaining tablespoon sage.

parma pork

Pork Tenderloin Prosciutto Parma

Serve with broccoli rabe. Try to purchase authentic Italian Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano for this dish—even though it is more costly, the superior flavor is worth the expense.

10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pork tenderloins, (1-1 1/4 pounds each), trimmed
  • 4 thin slices Italian Parma ham, (Prosciutto di Parma), divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Directions

Combine sage, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Butterfly the tenderloins, so they can be flattened, stuffed and rolled. To do that, make two long horizontal cuts, one on each side, dividing the tenderloin in thirds without cutting all the way through. Working with one tenderloin at a time, lay it on a cutting board. Holding the knife blade flat, so it’s parallel to the board, make a lengthwise cut into the side of the tenderloin one-third of the way down from the top, stopping short of the opposite edge so that the flaps remain attached. Rotate the tenderloin 180°. Still holding the knife parallel to the cutting board, make a lengthwise cut into the side opposite the original cut, starting two-thirds of the way down from the top of the tenderloin and taking care not to cut all the way through. Open up the 2 cuts so you have a large rectangle of meat. Use the heel of your hand to gently flatten the meat to about 1/2 inch thick.

Cover each butterflied tenderloin with 2 of the prosciutto slices, then spread 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano over the ham, leaving a 1-inch border. Starting with a long side, roll up each tenderloin so the stuffing is in a spiral pattern; then tie the roasts at 2-inch intervals with kitchen string.

Lightly brush the roasts all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, then rub with the reserved herb mixture. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roasts, bending to fit if necessary, and cook, turning often, until the outsides are browned, 3 to 5 minutes total.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, checking often, until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. To serve, remove the string and cut the pork into 1-inch-thick slices.

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Fish has a high level of protein, is easy to digest and is considered an important part of a healthy diet. Some fish have an added bonus because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids – docosahexaeonic acid (DHA) – occur mostly in fatty fish like herring, salmon and mackerel. They are thought to lower blood pressure, to strengthen the immune system and to have positive effects on the development of the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

Two newly published articles in the March 2013 science journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describe how the researchers analyzed the impact of omega-3 fatty acids at a systemic level and they also described their underlying molecular mechanisms for the first time. The teams working at Jena University Hospital in Germany and at the University of Pennsylvania examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the cardiovascular system and were able to show, for the first time, that DHA directly influences blood pressure.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, boost immunity and improve arthritis symptoms and, in children, may improve learning ability. Eating two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna, contain the most omega-3 fatty acids and, therefore, offer the most benefit, but many types of seafood contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Most freshwater fish have less omega-3 fatty acids than do fatty saltwater fish. However, some varieties of freshwater trout have relatively high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Look for seafood rich in omega-3s, such as:

  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Swordfish
  • Trout
  • Tuna (fresh)

Only buy fish that is refrigerated or properly iced. Fresh fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour or ammonia-like. Whole fish and fillets should have firm, shiny flesh and bright red gills free from slime. When buying frozen fish, avoid packages placed above the frost line or top of the freezer case. If the package is transparent, look for signs of frost or ice crystals. These could mean the fish has been stored a long time or thawed and refrozen — in which case, choose another package.

Healthy Ways to Cook Fish

Baked Fish

Baking fish allows you to get the satisfying crunch of fried fish without all the fat. Just because it’s baked, though, doesn’t mean it’s healthy: Watch the amount of butter, oil, mayonnaise, or cheese called for in the recipe.

It’s easy and delicious to cook fish fillets in packets of parchment paper, a technique called “en papillote”. The fish is cooked by the trapped steam. If you don’t have parchment paper on hand, use aluminum foil to make the packets. The fish needs to bake for only 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Broiled Fish

When the weather’s not right for grilling, try broiling instead. Broiling is great when you want a fast, simple, hassle-free preparation with delicious results.

It gives fish a nicely browned exterior with the convenience of a temperature-controlled heat source.  For easy cleanup, line the broiler pan with a piece of greased foil.

Poached Fish

This gentle cooking method is perfect for seafood. Poaching keeps fish moist and won’t mask the delicate flavor of the fish.

To poach fish: use vegetable or chicken stock or a homemade broth of aromatic herbs and spices.

Use a pan big enough to lay each piece of fish down flat.

Pour in enough liquid to just barely cover the fish.

Bring the liquid to a simmer and keep it there.

If you see any bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, it’s too hot–the liquid should “shimmer” rather than bubble. The ideal poaching liquid temperature is between 165 and 180 degrees F (74 to 82 degrees C).

Steamed Fish

Steaming is another gentle cooking method. It produces a mild-tasting fish that is often paired with a flavorful sauce.

Rub the fish with spices, chopped herbs, ginger, garlic and chili peppers to infuse flavor while it cooks.

Use a bamboo steamer or a folding steamer basket with enough room for each piece of fish to lie flat.

Pour about 1½ inches of water into the pan.

Place the steamer over the water, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.

Begin checking the fish for doneness after 10 minutes.

Grilled Fish

When you’re grilling fish, keep a close watch. Fish only takes a few minutes per side to cook. If the fillets are an even thickness, they may not even require turning–they can be cooked through by grilling on one side only.

Brush the fish lightly with oil and spray the grill with nonstick cooking spray.

Place fish near the edge of the grill, away from the hottest part of the fire. (Don’t try to lift up the fish right away; it will be stuck to the grill).

Turn the fish over when you see light grill marks forming.

Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can determine whether fish is properly cooked by slipping the point of a sharp knife into the flesh and pulling it aside. The flesh should be opaque and separate easily.

White Wine and Garlic Steamed Clams

This dish makes a great appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds manila or littleneck clams
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large slices sourdough or country bread, each about ½-inch thick

Directions

Scrub the clams and rinse them in four rounds of cold water to remove any sand and grit.

Heat a 12-inch skillet with a cover over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute.

Add the wine and cook for about 1 minute more. Add the clams and cook covered until the clams open wide, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Add the 2 tablespoons butter, the parsley and season with pepper. Toast the bread on a stovetop grill or in the broiler about 1 minute, turning once.

Discard any unopened clams and serve right away in bowls with the bread and pan juices.

 

Shrimp with Oregano and Lemon

This is another great appetizer. You can turn it into a main dish by serving the shrimp and sauce over rice or pasta.

The sauce is also delicious spooned over grilled swordfish or any other meaty fish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted capers—rinsed, soaked for 1 hour and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined

Directions

On a cutting board, finely chop the drained capers with the oregano and garlic. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season the sauce with pepper.

Heat a stove top grill.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Grill shrimp, turning once, until the shrimp show grill marks and are cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp to a platter.

Spoon some the sauce on top and serve. Pass the remaining sauce with the shrimp platter.

MAKE AHEAD The sauce can be refrigerated overnight. Bring it to room temperature before serving. Serve with crusty bread.

fish5

Red Snapper Livornese

Serve with rice or couscous and a salad or steamed broccoli.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons capers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound red snapper fillets

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Stir in marinara sauce, wine, capers, black olives, red pepper flakes and parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in an 11 x 7 inch baking dish and arrange the snapper fillets in a single layer in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over all.

Bake for 15 minutes for 1/2 inch thick fillets or 30 minutes for 1 inch thick fillets. Baste once with the sauce while baking. Snapper is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

Salmon Rolls

4 servings

Ingredients

1 ¼ pounds center-cut salmon fillet, skinned and cut lengthwise into 4 strips

Stuffing

  • 1/2 cup plain panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix the stuffing ingredients together in a medium bowl. Working with one piece of salmon at a time, spread about 3 tablespoons of the breadcrumb mixture over the salmon.

Starting at one end, roll the salmon up tightly, tucking in any loose filling as you go. Insert a toothpick through the end to keep the rolls from unrolling.

Place in the prepared dish and repeat with the remaining salmon strips.

Bake the rolls until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the toothpicks before serving.

Italian Style Paella

Fregola, the pearl-sized pasta that is similar to couscous, makes an excellent substitute for rice in this paella-style dish; it soaks up a lot of the cooking liquid from the dish and still stays chewy.

12 Servings

Ingredients

  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 6 ½ cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fregola (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 pounds red snapper, cod or monkfish, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

In a small bowl, crumble the saffron in 1/2 cup of the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a very large, deep sauté pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 2 minutes. Add the fregola and sausage and cook, stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white wine, saffron and its soaking liquid and the remaining 6 cups of warm water to the sauté pan and bring to a boil.

Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, cover and cook over low heat until the fregola is very chewy and soupy, about 10 minutes.

Season the shrimp and red snapper with salt and pepper and add them to the pan along with the mussels, nestling them into the fregola. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over low heat until the fregola is al dente, the fish is just cooked through and the mussels have opened, about 12 minutes longer.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the paella stand for 5 minutes; the fregola will absorb a bit more of the liquid, but the dish should still be brothy. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle the fregola with the chopped parsley and serve.

Related Articles


Military Leadership is a fundamental ingredient of warfare, without which the outcome of a combat operation cannot be assured. The leader is the brain, the motive power of command, upon whom subordinates rely for guidance and wisdom, and depend upon for good judgment. The leader must be determined, unflappable and charismatic; confident in delegation of authority; able to combine the various strands of command into a common thread; seasoned, intelligent, and thoughtful. (Oxford University Press)

Bartolomeo Colleoni by Stefano Bolognini

Napoleon Bonaparte

“The Gauls were not conquered by the Roman legions, but by Caesar. It was not before the Carthaginian soldiers that Rome was made to tremble, but before Hannibal. It was not the Macedonian phalanx which reached India, but Alexander. It was not the French army that reached Weser and the Inn; it was Turenne. Prussia was not defended for seven years against the three most formidable European powers by the Prussian soldiers but by Frederick the Great.”

William Shakespeare

“In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility;

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger:

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.”

Giuseppe Garibaldi

“I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor food; I offer only hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart, and not merely his lips, follow me.”

Winston Churchill

“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”

Luigi Palma di Cesnola

The first Italian American to receive the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor was Luigi Palma di Cesnola, a Union general in the Civil War, who later became the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Luigi Palma di Cesnola was born the second son of a count and military officer at Rivarolo Canavese in the Kingdom of Sardinia, Italy. In 1848 Luigi joined the Sardinian army at the age of 15 and served in the First Italian War of Independence. During the battle of Novara on 23 March 1849, he was decorated for bravery and promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. He graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Cherasco in 1851. In 1854 he was dismissed for unknown reasons and subsequently served with the British Army in the Crimean War as the aide-de-camp to General Enrico Fardella.

In 1858 he went to New York, where he first taught Italian and French. In February 1861 he married Mary Isabel Reid, the daughter of war hero, Commodore Samuel Chester Reid. He then founded a private military school for officers, where in six months he trained over seven hundred students.

In 1862, he took part in the American Civil War as colonel of a cavalry regiment. At the Battle of Aldie (June 1863), Colonel di Cesnola was wounded and taken prisoner. He received a Medal of Honor for his efforts during the battle. He was released from Libby Prison early in 1864, when the Union Agent for Prisoner Exchange offered a personal friend of Jefferson Davis as barter.

After the war, he was appointed United States Consul at Larnaca in Cyprus (1865–1877). During his stay on Cyprus, he carried out excavations (especially around the archaeological site of Kourion), which resulted in the discovery of a large number of antiquities. The collection was purchased by the newly expanded Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1872 and Cesnola became the first director in 1879. He held this position until his death in 1904.

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Giuseppe Garibaldi

Garibaldi led Italy to unification in 1861 and he was offered a command as Major General in the Union Army by President Lincoln. Garibaldi declined, but to honor him, the 39th New York Infantry was known as the Garibaldi Guard. About 150 of its 850 men were Italian and they fought in the Union Army from Bull Run to Appomattox.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born and christened Joseph Marie Garibaldi on July 4, 1807 in Nice, which at the time was part of France, to Giovanni Domenico Garibaldi and Maria Rosa Nicoletta Raimondo. Garibaldi’s family’s involvement in coastal trade drew him to a life at sea. He was certified in 1832 as a merchant marine captain.

In April 1833 he travelled to Taganrog, Russia, in the schooner Clorinda and during ten days in port, he met Giovanni Battista Cuneo from Oneglia, a politically active immigrant and member of the secret La Giovine Italia / Young Italy movement of Giuseppe Mazzini. Mazzini was an impassioned proponent of Italian unification through political and social reform. Garibaldi joined the society and took an oath dedicating himself to the struggle to liberate and unify his homeland and free it from Austrian dominance. He joined the Carbonari revolutionary association and in February 1834 participated in a failed Mazzinian insurrection. A Genoese court sentenced him to death in absentia and he fled across the border to Marseille.

Soon after he sailed to Tunisia and eventually found his way to the Empire of Brazil. Once there he joined the rebels, known as the Ragamuffins, in the Ragamuffin War. During this war he met Ana Ribeiro da Silva (known as Anita). When the Ragamuffins tried to claim another republic in the Brazilian province of Santa Catarina in October 1839, she joined Garibaldi aboard his ship, Rio Pardo, and fought alongside him at the battles of Imbituba and Laguna.

In 1841, Garibaldi and Anita moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, where Garibaldi worked as a trader and schoolmaster. The couple married in Montevideo the following year. They had four children – Menotti (born 1840), Rosita (born 1843), Teresita (born 1845) and Ricciotti (born 1847). A skilled horsewoman, Anita is said to have taught Garibaldi about the gaucho culture of southern Brazil and Uruguay. Around this time, he adopted his trademark clothing, which consisted of the red shirt, poncho and sombrero commonly worn by the gauchos.

Garibaldi returned to Italy during the turmoil of the revolutions of 1848. In the unsuccessful First Italian War of Independence, he led his legion to two minor victories at Luino and Morazzone. In 1859, the Second Italian War of Independence (also known as the Austro-Sardinian War) broke out. Garibaldi was appointed major general and formed a volunteer unit, named the Hunters of the Alps. Garibaldi took up arms again in 1866 with support from the Italian government. The Austro-Prussian War had broken out and Italy had allied with Prussia against Austria-Hungary in the hope of taking Venetia from Austrian rule (Third Italian War of Independence). Garibaldi gathered again his Hunters of the Alps, now some 40,000 strong, and defeated the Austrians at Bezzecca.

Garibaldi’s popularity, his skill at rousing the common people and his military exploits are all credited with making the unification of Italy possible. He also served as a global exemplar of mid-19th century revolutionary nationalism and liberalism.

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Charles Camillo DeRudio

Carlo di Rudio was born in Belluno, Italy. He was the son of Count and Countess Aquila di Rudio. As a teenager, he attended an Austrian military academy in Milan and at the age of 15, di Rudio left to join the Italian patriots during the uprising in 1848. He participated in the defense of Rome and, later, of Venice against the Austrians. He was shipwrecked off Spain in an aborted attempt to sail to America. By 1855, he was living in east London (England) and had married Eliza, the 15-year-old daughter of a confectionist. They eventually had three daughters and two sons.

DeRudio immigrated to New York City in 1860. He became a private in the 79th New York Volunteers (“Highlanders”), serving about two months with them at the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia, between August 25 and October 17, 1864. On November 11, 1864, he was commissioned second lieutenant, 2nd U. S. Colored Infantry. DeRudio served with the 2nd U.S.C.T. in Florida until honorably mustered out of service on January 5, 1866.

After his Civil War service, DeRudio received an appointment to the 7th Cavalry on July 14, 1869, as a 37-year-old 2nd lieutenant. On June 25, 1876 DeRudio was with Company A and crossed the Little Bighorn River as part of Major Marcus Reno’s battalion. His company dismounted and fought in a skirmish against the Hunkpapa and Oglala warriors who rushed to defend their village from Reno’s attack. Under pressure from growing numbers of warriors, Reno ordered a retreat back across the river, where DeRudio lost his horse and was left behind in the timber on the western bank. For thirty-six hours, DeRudio and Private Thomas O’Neill remained hidden until the early hours of June 27 when they were finally able to cross the river, joining the Reno and Benteen command on Reno Hill.

DeRudio commanded a reformed Company E during the Nez Perce War of 1877 and continued service with the 7th Cavalry. He was promoted to captain on December 17, 1882, while stationed at Fort Meade, Dakota Territory. He later served at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and at Fort Bayard, New Mexico. He retired on August 26, 1896 with the grade of major to San Diego, California.

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John Basilone

Basilone, an Italian American Marine sergeant from New Jersey, fought at the Battle of Guadalcanal (1942), raised millions of dollars in war bonds and was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. He is the only enlisted Marine in U.S. history to receive both of the nation’s two highest military honors: the Navy Cross for valor and the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in World War II.

Basilone was born on November 4, 1916, the sixth of 10 children. His father, Salvatore Basilone, emigrated from Naples in 1903 and settled in Raritan, New Jersey. His mother, Dora Bencivenga, was born in 1889 and grew up in Manville, but her parents, Carlo and Catrina, also came from Naples. His parents met at a church gathering and married three years later. Basilone grew up in the nearby Raritan Town (now a borough of Raritan) where he attended St. Bernard Parochial School. After completing middle school at the age of 15, he dropped out prior to attending high school.

Basilone worked as a golf caddy for the local country club before joining the military. He enlisted in the United States Army and completed his three-year enlistment with service in the Philippines, where he was also a champion boxer. Upon returning home, he worked as a truck driver in Reisterstown, Maryland. After driving trucks for a few months, he wanted to go back to Manila and believed he could get there faster as a Marine than in the Army. He enlisted in the Marines in July 1940 from Baltimore, Maryland and went to recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island followed by training at Marine Corps Base Quantico and New River. The Corps sent him to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for his next assignment and then to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands as a member of Dog Company 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division.

During the Battle for Henderson Field, his unit came under attack by a regiment of approximately 3,000 soldiers from the Japanese Sendai Division. Japanese forces began a frontal attack using machine guns, grenades, and mortars against the American heavy machine guns. Basilone held off the Japanese soldiers attacking his position using only a .45 pistol. By the end of the engagement Japanese forces opposite their section of the line were virtually annihilated. For his actions during the battle, he received the United States military’s highest award for bravery, the Medal of Honor. After receiving the Medal of Honor, he returned to the United States and participated in a war bond tour. Although he appreciated the admiration, he felt out of place and requested a return to the operating forces fighting the war.

After his request to return to the fleet was approved, he was assigned to Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division during the invasion of Iwo Jima. On February 19, 1945, he was serving as a machine gun section leader against Japanese forces on Red Beach II. With his unit pinned down, Basilone made his way around the side of the Japanese positions and attacked with grenades and demolitions, single-handedly destroying their entire strongpoint and its defending garrison. He then fought his way toward Airfield Number 1 and aided an American tank that was trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillery barrages. He guided the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite heavy weapons fire from the Japanese. As he moved along the edge of the airfield, he was killed by Japanese mortar shrapnel. His actions helped Marines penetrate the Japanese defense and get off the landing beach during the critical early stages of the invasion. For his valor during the battle of Iwo Jima, he was posthumously approved for the Marine Corps’ second-highest decoration for bravery, the Navy Cross. He was interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia and his grave can be found in Section 12.

File:Anthony Zinni.jpg

Anthony Zinni

General Zinni, a veteran Marine and the son of Italian immigrants, commanded Operation Desert Fox and the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1998. It was the largest U.S. offensive since the Gulf War in 1991. A highly decorated officer, he was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command.

Zinni was born in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, the son of Lilla (Disabatino), a seamstress and homemaker, and Antonio Zinni, a chauffeur. His parents were of Italian descent. In 1965, Zinni graduated from Villanova University with a degree in economics and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, where he served as a platoon commander, company executive officer and company commander in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. He also served as a company commander in the 1st Infantry Training Regiment during this tour.

In 1967, Zinni was assigned as an infantry battalion advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Following the Vietnam War, he was ordered to the Basic School where he served as a tactics instructor, platoon commander and company executive officer. In 1970, he returned to Vietnam as a company commander in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, where he was wounded and subsequently assigned to the 3rd Force Service Support Group on Okinawa.

In 1981, he was assigned as an operations and tactics instructor at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, Virginia. He was next assigned to the Operations Division at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps where he served as the Head of the Special Operations and Terrorism Counteraction Section and as the Head, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Concepts and Capabilities Branch. In 1984, he earned his master’s degree from Central Michigan University. In 1986, he was selected as a fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group. From 1987 to 1989, Zinni served on Okinawa as the regimental commander of the 9th Marine Regiment and the Commanding Officer of the 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was twice deployed to the Philippines to conduct emergency security operations and disaster relief operations. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned as the Chief of Staff of the Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

His initial general officer assignment was as the Deputy Director of Operations at the U.S. European Command. In 1991, he served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort, during the Kurdish relief effort in Turkey and Iraq. He also served as the Military Coordinator for Operation Provide Hope, the relief effort for the former Soviet Union. In 1992-93, he served as the Director for Operations for the Unified Task Force in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. Also in 1993, he served as the Assistant to the U.S. Special Envoy to Somalia during Operation Continued Hope. Zinni was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, from 1992 to 1994.

From 1994 to 1996, he served as the Commanding General, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. During early 1995, Zinni served as Commander of the Combined Task Force for Operation United Shield, protecting the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Somalia. From September 1996 until August 1997, Zinni served as the Deputy Commander in Chief, United States Central Command. His final tour was from August 1997 to September 2000 as the Commander in Chief, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, where he organized Operation Desert Fox, a series of airstrikes against Iraq during December 1998. Following this, he retired in autumn 2000 and in 2002, he was selected to be a special envoy for the United States to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Sardinia

Lemony Tuna – Tonno al Limone

Serve 4:

Ingredients

  • A fresh tuna fillet weighing about 1 1/3 pounds (600 g), cut into serving portions
  • A small onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 lemon slices, cut into wedges
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine a half cup of water (200 ml) with the lemon juice, parsley and oil and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Marinate the tuna in the liquid for three hours.

When the marinating time is almost up, preheat your oven to 360 F (180 C).

Put the fish in a pan, sprinkle the onion and some of the marinade over it, season lightly with salt and pepper and roast it for 20-25 minutes. Transfer the fish to a serving dish, decorate it with the lemon wedges, spoon the pan drippings over it, and serve.

Bellumo, Italy

Belluno Veneto Style Meat Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 lb chopped beef
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 boxes of frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup Grated Piave aged or Asiago aged or Parmigiano cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Polenta, optional

Directions

Heat a 3 quart sauce pot and add the olive oil and stir in the chopped onions. Place the chopped meat over the onions and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir the meat and the onions thoroughly and cook the meat until it is browned, stirring occasionally.

As the meat browns, mix the tomato paste, broth and red wine in a bowl. When the meat has browned add the tomato paste mixture to the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook for about five minutes. Add the peas and cook until the peas are tender. Take the pot off the heat and stir the cheese into the meat sauce. Salt & pepper to taste. Tradionally this sauce is served over cooked polenta.

Naples, Italy

Neapolitan-Style Mussels alla Giancarlo

(Cozze alla Marinara)

Serves 4

For the crostini:

  • 20 slices of bread, from one large Italian baguette
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced in half

For the mussels:

  • 4 pounds mussels
  • 1 cup wine
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, from fresh lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like this dish)
  • 32 ounce can peeled, diced Italian tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bunch, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 lemons, sliced in wedges 

Directions

Preheat an oven to 375ºF

To make the crostini:

Brush both sides of each of the slices of bread with olive oil.Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Rub each side of the crostini with the sliced garlic. Set aside.

To prepare the mussels:

Clean the mussels under running water, discarding any with broken shells. Trim the “beard” (the stringy portion) from the side. In a large sauté pan big enough to hold all the mussels in one layer, add the mussels, wine and lemon juice. Cover and steam over medium heat until almost all the mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. (Discard any that haven’t opened.) Strain the liquid and set it and the mussels aside, separately.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions and celery and cook until they are transluscent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, the mussel cooking liquid, oregano and 1/3 of the chopped parsley. Turn the heat to high. Keep the heat high until it starts to boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook another 10 minutes, reducing a bit. The sauce should be quite dense. Add the mussels and reheat. Taste and add more salt if needed, plenty of freshly ground pepper and the remaining parsley.

To serve:

Place a crostini at the bottom of each of 4 individual bowls. Spoon the mussels into the four bowls, distributing them evenly. Pour the sauce over the mussels. Add three crostini to each bowl and lemon wedges if desired.

Neapolitan Style Mussels


California’s Mediterranean climate is similar to Italy’s, so the Italian immigrants felt at home and were able to bring their food and culture to this new land. The California soil was ideal for planting crops Italians were used to growing, such as eggplant, artichokes, broccoli and Sicilian lemons. Italians also brought with them a love of wine as well as a history of making it.

Nearly 200 members of the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society and the Folsom Historical Society attended the opening reception for the exhibit “Nostra Storia” on January 28, 2000. This is a unique story about that wave of people from Italy, primarily from the area around Genoa in the region of Liguria, who settled in the foothills of the Mother Lode region (Sierra Nevada Mountains) of Northern California in the Mid-19th century. This is the first time that an exhibit has been created to tell the story of these enterprising people who contributed so much to the economic and cultural fabric of California. The history of the Italian Americans is often relegated to the margins of American history despite the fact that the Italians are the 4th largest ancestry group in America with more than 25 million Americans and two million Californians of Italian descent (based on the 2000 Census).This exhibit is part of the determination of this current generation of Italians, to see that the Italian immigrant story is told and included in the history of the nation.

California’s gold country has been profoundly influenced by Italian culture for the last 160 years. Immigrants from Italy’s northern provinces were drawn here by the lure of gold, but it was the allure of the California foothills where they found the terrain and climate similar to that of Italy, that convinced them to stay. California’s fledgling economy provided unparalleled opportunities for Italian businessmen and unclaimed land was available for agriculturalists. Settlement soon brought women and children and, within a decade, Italians represented a significant portion of the population in the region, numbering among the gold country’s leading farmers, merchants and tradesmen. The Mother Lode also offered women unique advantages and Italian women proved wonderfully resourceful when necessity demanded. The 1870s saw a second wave of immigration, as Italian laborers arrived to work in the large, corporate-owned gold mines. Descendents of many of these Italian pioneers remain in the gold country to this day.

Del Monte

Across the state, the Italians also settled on the farmlands and played a prominent role in developing today’s fruit, vegetable and dairy industries. By the 1880’s, Italians dominated the fruit and vegetable industry in the great Central Valley of California. Italian immigrants also left their mark on the California food processing industry. Marco Fontana arrived in the United States in 1859 and along with another Ligurian, Antonio Cerruti, established a chain of canneries under the “Del Monte” label. Most of their workers were Italian and their cannery soon became the largest in the world.

One of the most inspiring of California’s Italians was Amadeo Pietro Giannini, who was born in 1870 to immigrant Italian parents from Genoa. He started the first statewide system of branch banks in the nation by opening branches of his Bank of Italy in the Italian neighborhoods across the state. He later changed the name of his bank to Bank of America, which became the largest bank in the world.

The California wine industry also owes much to the Italian founders of the industry. Italians have been planting vineyards and making wine in America since the early colonial days when Filippo Mazzei, planted vineyards with Thomas Jefferson. The founding of the Italian Swiss Colony at Asti in 1881 as a cooperative of Italian immigrants from the wine growing regions of Italy, promoted the widespread participation and success of the Italians in the California wine industry and the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma.

Largest wine vat in the world, Asti, about 1900. The vat is still there, but today it contains water for fire protection instead of wine. (Cloverdale Historical Society collection)

Oakland, the other city by the bay, was a magnet for Italian immigrants in the early decades of the 20th century. Some relocated from San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire; many more came to Oakland predominantly from Italy’s northern regions. As they established new roots and adopted new ways, they congregated largely in north Oakland’s bustling Temescal neighborhood and these Italian Americans nurtured their old country customs and traditions for generations–giving us a rare glimpse of bygone days.

Los Angeles’, “Little Italy”, presents a history of the city’s vibrant Italian enclave during the 100-year period following the arrival of the city’s first Italian pioneers in 1827. While Los Angeles possesses the nation’s fifth-largest Italian population today, little is known about its Italian history which has been examined by only a handful of historians over the past 50 years. Much of LA’s historic Little Italy has been masked by subsequent ethnic settlements, however, the community’s memory lives on. From pioneer agriculturalists and winemakers to philanthropists and entertainment personalities, Italian Americans left a lasting impression on the city’s social, economic and cultural fabric and contributed to Los Angeles’ development as one of the world’s major metropolises.

San Pedro Port

While the downtown cluster (St. Peter’s Italian Church, Casa Italiana and the Italian Hall) may loosely be construed a Little Italy, San Pedro today represents one of the few visible local nuclei of Italians. This clustering on the Los Angeles landscape has arisen for a unique reason. Until recently, San Pedro was geographically and occupationally compact due to its function as Los Angeles’ port and due to what was, formerly, a significant fishing industry. San Pedro Italians came from two Italian island fishing communities: Ischia and Sicily. Although they arrived with the migrations of the early 20th. century (the Sicilians later), the independent nature of this group’s trade and the relative geographic compactness of San Pedro, fostered the preservation of ethnic loyalty.

Attracted by the mild climate and abundance of fertile land, Italians came to the Santa Clara Valley from all regions of Italy. Beginning in the 1880s, Italian men, women and children filled the numerous canneries and packing houses, supplying the rest of the nation with fresh produce. Once the largest ethnic group in the valley, the Italians’ impact on the region has been profound. Here are some of their stories:

Rodolfo Mussi was born in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania in 1914 to an Italian immigrant father, who worked in the coalmines. Rodolfo’s mother died at a young age forcing the family to return to Italy. The village of Riccione in Northern Italy did not offer much hope to young Rodolfo, who at age sixteen returned with his father’s permission to the United States. His father let him leave Italy on one condition: that he head to California not Pennsylvania. At sixteen with little money, no family or friends or command of the English language, Rodolfo went to work in the mud baths in Calistoga. He later moved to Stockton and went to work on a farm. He noticed a plot of land that was not being farmed and inquired about the property. He had no money to purchase the land or equipment to farm it, but his determination impressed the landowner, Mr. Lucas, who leased the land to Mussi. After thirty years, Mussi secured a twenty-five year lease and his sons still lease and farm the same land today

Joseph Solari II’s great grandfather arrived in Stockton in 1877 and his family was among the first to grow cherries in the area. Four generations of the Solari family farmed in Stockton and their products are sold around the country through the California Fruit Exchange, founded in 1901. The cherries and plums are packed on the Solari Ranch and then sent to the east coast. The Solari family was also involved with the founding of two additional organizations: the San Joaquin Marketing Association (1922) and the San Joaquin Cherry Growers (1935).

In addition to cherries, Stockton was also known for its tomatoes. Two families cornered the market for quality tomatoes and tomato products. The Cortopassi family business began in 1942 with fresh-packed canned tomato products. Today, their products are available only through food service distributors in the United States and Canada. George Lagorio began farming in 1945 on thirty acres. Today the Lagorio family farms over 10,000 acres. The ACE Tomato Company founded in 1968 ships worldwide today. Their Specialty Products include olive oil, walnuts, cherries and wine grapes. George’s daughter, Kathleen Lagorio Janssen and her husband Dean expanded the family business a few years ago with the purchase of olive orchards. Now the company also produces extra virgin olive oil.

Italian immigrants to San Jose, located south of San Francisco in the Silicon Valley, came from many Italian regions, but a majority of them arrived from villages in southern Italy and Sicily. There were two primary Italian neighborhoods in San Jose,  as its population grew in the early to mid twentieth century. The Goosetown neighborhood included Auzarias Avenue and North 1st. Street. This neighborhood bordered Willow Glen, where many Italian Americans still reside. The second neighborhood was around North 13th. Street and it included Holy Cross Church and Backesto Park. One Italian immigrant who eventually made his home in San Jose was Mario Marchese, who was born in 1878 in Palermo Sicily. He left home for New York in 1903 with other family members and, when he arrived in NY, he took a job moving furniture. In 1907 he married his boss’s daughter, Domenica Pavia. Shortly after the birth of their first child, they took the train west to California in search of a better opportunity. Mario and Domenica had ten children and lived in the Italian neighborhood known as Goosetown. Mario initially worked as a prune picker and was eventually hired by Navelete’s Nursery to oversee the orchards.

 

Brothers Andrea and Stefano D’Arrigo were born in Messina, Sicily and emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and 1911 respectfully. They eventually settled in Boston, went to college and fought for the U.S. in World War I. They started D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of Massachusetts in 1923. Stefano travelled to California in 1925 on a wine grape buying trip. He observed the fertile farmland in San Jose and, soon after, D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California was launched and they were growing vegetables in San Jose. The broccoli seeds arrived from Italy and were planted over twenty-eight acres, making them the first to introduce broccoli to the public under their brand, Andy Boy, trademarked in 1927. They remain one of the largest fresh produce growers in the country and the company is still family run.

Women Cannery Workers 

The Bisceglia Brother’s Canning Company employed many Italian immigrant women and was located on South First Street close to the Goosetown neighborhood. They earned less pay than the men but worked less hours. The women worked on the assembly line peeling, cutting, pitting and slicing by hand. By the 1930s and 1940s women were promoted to supervisors, better known to the employees as floor ladies. These women supervised thirty-five to forty-five women on the production line and they typically supervised their own ethnic group.

More than most people realize, the Italian Americans helped to shape the cultural landscape of California and the modern West. The enterprise and success of these Italian pioneers is a unique legacy – one shared by all of us. 

(Sources: We Are California: Stories of Immigration and Change A California Stories Project of the California Council for the Humanities.  www.weareca.org  The California Italian American Project is designed to make available to students and researchers basic information and resources about California’s original Italian communities.)                       

California is where pizza became “boutique” food, starting in the 1980s, as part of a larger attraction to the Mediterranean cuisine. Alice Waters put a wood-burning oven into her café at Chéz Panisse and Wolfgang Puck became famous by feeding Hollywood stars $100 caviar pies. Puck’s pizza man, Ed LaDou, went on to found the California Pizza Kitchen chain. The chain is widely known for its innovative and non traditional pizzas, such as the “Original BBQ Chicken Pizza”, BLT, Thai Chicken and Jamaican Jerk Chicken pizzas. They also serve various kinds of pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts. The chain has over 230 locations in 32 US states and eleven other countries, including 26 California Pizza Kitchen ASAP kiosks designed to serve passengers at airports and shopping malls. The company licensed its name to Kraft Foods to distribute a line of premium frozen pizzas in 2000 and Nestlé purchased Kraft’s pizza lines in 2010.

Chéz Panisse’s wood-burning oven

Italian Recipes That Make Use of California’s Bounties

Sweet Pepper Martini

Makes 2 Drinks

Giuseppe Luigi Mezzetta, founder of G. L. Mezzetta, immigrated to America from Italy to start a new life. He eventually saved enough money to bring his new wife, Columba, to California where their son, Daniel, was born in 1918. Giuseppe continued to work hard and was soon able to earn a better wage as a janitor for two large import/export firms. In 1935, father and son decided to open a small storefront business and the new company began importing Italian peppers, olives and other staples of the Mediterranean table.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Mezzetta Roasted Bell Pepper Strips, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup or agave syrup
  • 2 strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2 basil leaves, cut into strips
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vodka or gin
  • 4 Mezzetta Sweet Cherry Peppers, to garnish

Directions:

In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker add and mix all of the ingredients except the vodka. Fill the skaker with ice and add the vodka. Shake vigorously.

Strain the drink, using a fine mesh strainer, and pour into two martini glasses. Garnish with sweet cherry peppers.

(Note: to prepare simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water. Boil until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the syrup before using.)

Pesto Arancini Stuffed with Mozzarella

During his 25 years as a chef/restaurateur, Michael Chiarello has been acknowledged by the Culinary Institute of America, IACP, Food & Wine Magazine and many more for his success as both a Chef and restaurant professional. He has developed over 10 restaurants, including his hugely popular Bottega Restaurant in Yountville, California (Napa Valley), his new Spanish restaurant Coqueta on Pier 5 in San Francisco and his first in California, Tra Vigne, of which he was executive chef/partner until 2000. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

I visited Michael Chiarello’s restaurant, Bottega, two years ago when I was in California, and the food was outstanding. Restaurants don’t come any better than this one.

Recipe from Bottega by Michael Chiarello (Chronicle Books, 2010)

Makes 16 arancini; serves 4

Arancini, or rice-balls filled with a melting cheese, are for leftover-risotto days. I never make the rice from scratch when I’m making arancini at home. If you don’t have leftover risotto, you can make these balls from cooked Arborio rice but be sure to add a teaspoon or two of salt while the rice cooks. (Honestly, you’re better off making a big pot of risotto and then making arancini the next day.)

Arancini always remind me of my friend Mariano Orlando. He always made arancini the Sicilian way, his rice balls the size of oranges. We talked once about arancini and he kept saying in Italian, “telephone wire,” making a motion with his hands as if to stretch a length of cord. “What are you saying?” I asked him. “Why are you talking about telephone wire?” The cheese, Mariano said, should stretch like a telephone wire when you take a bite from a perfect arancini and pull it away from your lips.

Our arancini don’t have that same telephone wire of cheese; we use a little less cheese in the middle and a lot more cheese in the risotto. You can add more cheese to the middle if you want to go for the telefono filo effect. If you want to make these a few hours ahead, pour panko crumbs into a baking dish and rest the arancini on the panko before covering the dish in plastic wrap and refrigerating.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups leftover risotto or cooked Arborio rice, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups Blanched Basil Pesto, double recipe below
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably bocconcini
  • Peanut oil, corn oil, or canola oil for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Directions:

Line a platter with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir the risotto and pesto together until blended. Divide the rice into 16 more-or-less-equal portions.

Cut off about 1/2 teaspoon of mozzarella and then with your hands ball up one serving of rice around the cheese so it’s completely encased in rice. Gently place on the prepared platter. Repeat to form 16 arancini. Slide the platter into the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the balls to firm up.

Before you take the rice balls from the freezer, set up your dredging station. Pour the flour into a shallow bowl; the eggs into another shallow bowl; and the panko into a third shallow bowl.

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 inches oil over medium-high heat until it registers 375°F on a deep-fat thermometer. While the oil heats, dredge each rice ball in flour and lightly shake off the excess. Dip in the egg and then in the panko. Gently drop 4 to 6 balls into the oil and cook until lightly browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Don’t overcook them or the cheese will leak out into your oil. Using a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining arancini. Serve at once.

Blanched-Basil Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

Powdered vitamin C- also called ascorbic acid-is my secret for keeping pesto a fresh, appetizing green. The herbs go in boiling water and then straight into an ice bath, so I like to use a large sieve or colander to transfer all the herbs in one smooth move.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, preferably ground sea or gray salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Set up a large bowl of ice water. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place the basil and parsley leaves in a sieve or colander that fits inside the pan. Lower the sieve full of herbs into the boiling water, and use a spoon to push the leaves under so the herbs cook evenly. Blanch for 15 seconds, and then transfer the sieve to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Let the herbs cool in the ice bath for 10 seconds. Remove the sieve, let drain, and then squeeze any water that you can from the herbs. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

In a blender, puree the herbs with the oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and ascorbic acid until well blended and somewhat smooth. Add the cheese and whir for a second or two to mix. Transfer the pesto to a bowl; taste and adjust the seasoning.

Press plastic wrap directly top of the pesto to keep it from turning brown and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze it for up to 1 month.

Chef’s Note: Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over low heat, shaking the pan frequently. Heat for just a minute or two; as soon as you smell the fragrance of the pine nuts, slide the nuts out of the pan and onto a plate so they don’t burn.

Chicken in Tomato & Olive Braise

Chef David Katz, owner of Panevino, and faculty member at the Culinary Institute of America created this recipe to specifically pair with Mirassou wine. Chef Katz has spent nine years in the Napa Valley as a working chef and instructor at CIA Greystone focusing on the business of cooking and on food and wine education.

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken thighs, 5-6 ounces each
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced about 1/8th inch thick
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pinch hot pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 cup Mirassou Pinot Noir
  • 1 large can (1 pound 12 ounces) excellent quality diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 teaspoons brine-packed capers, rinsed
  • 1 cup whole pitted green olives, rinsed
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 loose cup whole parsley leaves, plucked from the stem

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F.  Select a 3 to 4 quart oven-safe baking dish, and set it aside. Heat a large, heavy skillet over a medium-high burner. While the pan is heating, season the chicken with the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the olive oil to the skillet, allow it to heat through, then add the chicken pieces skin-side down. Cook until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes, then turn and brown equally on the other side, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet, and return it to the stovetop over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion, and stir often for 3 minutes, or until it smells sweet. Stir in the pepper flakes and fennel. Deglaze with the wine, stirring against the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the browned juices. Add the tomatoes, capers and olives, and bring the skillet to a simmer. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then pour the tomato mixture into the oven-safe baking dish. Arrange the chicken pieces over the tomato mixture, skin-side up, and sprinkle the shaved cheese over the chicken. Place the baking dish on the center rack of the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees in the center of the largest piece of chicken.

Garnish the dish with parsley leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with soft polenta or your favorite short pasta and a crisp green salad.

Italian Padella

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

“Padella” is Italian for skillet, as “paella” is in Spanish.

Ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1/4 pound sliced ham
  • 1/4 pound salt pork
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1-1/2 pounds squid, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 2 cups cooked peas
  • 24 mussels, scrubbed
  • 24 clams, scrubbed
  • 8 large prawns, shelled, deveined and cooked
  • 2 tablespoons pimientos

Directions:

Combine 2 tablespoons oil, oregano, peppercorns, garlic, salt and vinegar; mix with mortar and pestle to make a paste. Rub chicken with oregano paste.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; brown. Add sausage, ham, salt pork, onion, green pepper, capers and coriander. Reduce heat to low; cook 10 minutes.

Add rice and tomato sauce; cook 5 minutes. Add medium shrimp, squid, broth and saffron; mix well and cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in peas.

Steam mussels and clams in water until open; add large prawns and pimientos. Transfer rice mixture to large serving platter; top with mussel mixture.


Italians were some of the first European explorers and settlers in California. Religious work and the search for new fishing grounds were initial reasons for Italians to explore what later became the thirty-first state, but their reasons for staying, expanded after arriving in California. Though we often associate Italians in California with San Francisco, the initial settlers, who were from the region of Liguria in Italy, established themselves in such diverse communities as Monterey, Stockton and San Diego during the years of Spanish Rule. The arrival of the”Genovesi” in California, beginning in the 1850’s, coincided with the early development of the state. It wasn’t long before Italian fishermen had established themselves in fishing villages from Eureka to Benicia, Martinez, Pittsburg, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Monterey. By the 1880’s, California had become a leading fishery and its coastal waters were dominated by Italian fishermen and their graceful sailing “feluccas”.

Italian Feluucas

Chumming for tuna 

The Italian immigrants who settled near downtown San Diego in the 1920s were mostly fishermen from Genoa and Sicily. They worked on or owned fishing boats and opened seafood markets or processing plants. Also, many Italians moved to San Diego from San Francisco after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in search of tuna and other deep-sea sport and commercial fish.

Fishing Family 1917

The example of Joseph Busalacchi is typical of the Italian fisherman who left fishing and succeeded as a merchandiser of ocean products. Mr. Busalacchi was born in Palermo, Sicily, in 1899 and came to San Diego in 1921 to join his brother Mario, who was a fisherman there. In 1925, Joe opened a small market at Fifth and E Streets. Soon after this, the owner of the Union Fish Company, Anthony Trapani, asked Joe to work for him. Mr. Busalacchi worked for the Union Fish Company for nineteen years, most of the time as manager. In 1944 Mr. Trapani retired and left the business to Joe and to the bookkeeper of the company, George Bissel. In 1950 Mr. Busalacchi bought out Bissel’s share. When the Navy took over the company’s location at the foot of Market Street, Mr. Busalacchi opened a new storage and freezer plant at 1004 Morena Boulevard, where it is still located. Then, in 1965, Mr. Busalacchi opened the Sportsman’s Seafood Market at 1617 Quivira Road, where he sold fresh fish and provided smoking and canning services for sportsmen who brought in their catch. 

Anthony's Fish Grotto 1946

Original Anthony’s Fish Grotto 

Anthony's Fish Grotto 1996

New Anthony’s Fish Grotto (1966)

Women of the Italian fishing families also made their contribution. For example, Catherine Bregante was born in Riva Trigoso, Italy, on the seacoast not far from Genoa. In 1912 her family came to San Diego and settled at 2136 Columbia Street. In 1916 her father, Anthony, opened a small fish market on F Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets. Catherine and her brother Anthony, Jr., operated the market. In 1926 the store moved to a larger location at the foot of Broadway, where both wholesale and retail business was conducted. A food counter was installed and seafood cocktails and chowder were served and the company prospered through the depression years. Michael Ghio, Catherine’s husband since 1916, worked in the Bregante business, however, in 1934 Michael Ghio died. Catherine supported her children by continuing to work in the seafood restaurant. In 1946 when her sons, Tod and Anthony, came home from service in the war, they opened the first Anthony’s Grotto, a restaurant on the wharf with a seating capacity of sixteen. From the first Grotto the business grew into a multi-outlet industry with about 600 employees and an annual payroll in excess of $4 million.

The tuna clipper Venetian

The tuna clipper, Venetian

Commercial fishing is a risky enterprise that requires hard work, a willingness to take a chance and the propensity to rely on one’s own ability to survive. All successful fishermen have had, and still have, these qualities. The Italian fishermen, however, had another trait that was vital to the success of the San Diego fishing industry. This trait was an entrepreneurial instinct that impelled them to develop the fresh fish marketing structure that first encouraged the fishing business to grow. Those early fishing boats, which were built and then enlarged to supply that market, were the foundation upon which the modern tuna fleet was built. Although fishing, which the Italians dominated, is now a minor part of San Diego’s industry, it must be recognized that the city’s seafood industry has its roots in that early Italian fishing/marketing structure.

Source: Center for Migration Studies and San Diego History Center.

When Italian immigrants settled along San Diego’s waterfront in the early 1900s, they formed the “Italian Colony,” a tightly knit community that provided refuge and a shared culture and heritage. Extended families, new businesses and church traditions formed the foundation for a lasting social code. It was no coincidence that the area would become known as “Little Italy”—it was exactly that for its inhabitants—a home away from their native land. But by the mid-1960s, changes brought by war and urban modernization began to unravel the community. By the early 40s, thousands of Italian families lived in San Diego and the fishing community was the center of the Pacific Coast tuna industry, but Italy’s involvement in World War II — and the restrictions the US government imposed on Italians in America — limited the fishermen’s livelihood. After the war, competition from Japanese fishing fleets and new industry regulations further impaired the fishing industry. In the late 50s, the landscape of the neighborhood was drastically changed with the construction of Interstate 5. The Interstate construction destroyed 35% of the neighborhood and, during the same time period, the California tuna industry began to decline which caused the neighborhood to suffer economically.

In the past 20 years, San Diego’s Little Italy has experienced a resurgence. The Little Italy Association was formed in 1996 and has implemented street improvements, renovations and new buildings to create a thriving waterfront community filled with retail and professional businesses, restaurants, specialty stores and artwork depicting the Italian American experience.

OLR was the center of San Diego’s “Little Italy” 1925

Thanks to Italian American residents, like Sicilian baker and Sicilian Heritage Foundation organizer, Mario Cefalu, San diego’s “Little italy” is thriving once again. The area is beautifully maintained and full of tributes to the Italian history of the block. Every Saturday the Mercato, Little Italy’s Farmers’ Market, offers food, flowers and merchandise with an Italian perspective. Carnevale, a Sicilian Festival, Taste of Little Italy, a restaurant tour with special menus and live music, Art Walks through studios and galleries and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony are some of the annual events. In October, Our Lady of the Rosary Church holds a procession that has been an annual event for more than 50 years and the Little Italy Festa is one of the largest Italian festivals in America.

India Street is lined with restaurants, sidewalk cafes and shops and, most of them are new, coming after the renewal projects. For some of the best pizza on the block, served in appropriately decorated Italian American checked-tablecloth-fashion, head to Filippi’s Pizza Grotto (1747 India St.). Vincent De Philippis and his wife Madeleine came to America in 1922 and in 1950 opened a deli on India Street. That deli expanded into a small pizza empire named, Filippi’s. If it’s pasta you’re after, try family run Assenti’s Pasta (2044 India St.), offering homemade pasta.

The original Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is still owned and operated by the family

Italian Seafood Cuisine from San Diego

Steamed Mussels with White Wine & Chiles

You should buy the mussels on the day that you are going to cook them. Scrub and debeard them in advance of cooking.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flat leafed parsley, plus a little for garnish
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 red chiles finely chopped
  • 1 large baguette

Directions:

Place the olive oil in a large wide pot over medium heat.

Add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.

Add the scallions and the chiles and saute for another minute.

Add the mussels and toss quickly to coat.

Add the white wine and and cover the pot.

Continue to cook over a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes or until the mussels begin to open. 

Add the tablespoon of chopped parsley and toss to combine.

Continue cooking until all the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Place the mussels in warmed serving bowls or one large bowl (family style) and spoon over the wine mixture.

Sprinkle with the additional parsley and serve with the baguette. for dipping

Tuna with Tomato-Caper Sauce

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tuna steaks (such as albacore or yellowfin; each about 6 oz. and 1 in. thick)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (8 oz.), peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) crushed tomatoes in purée
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

Pat tuna steaks dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper. Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add onion and stir frequently until limp, about 5 minutes.

Push onion to the side of the pan and add tuna steaks. Cook, turning once, just until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Stir in crushed tomatoes, wine, vinegar, capers and oregano.

Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until tuna is no longer pink in the center (cut to test), about 15 minutes. Transfer tuna to plates and top equally with sauce.

Seafood Pasta

Chef Geno Bernardo

Ingredients:

For spaghetti:

  • 8 ounces cooked linguine
  • 4 per serving of shrimp
  • 2 ounces cooked Alaskan king crab meat, per serving
  • 1/2 per serving of Maine lobster tail, claw, elbow (with tail shell, cut into pieces)
  • 4 per serving of Little Neck clams or Manila clams
  • 2 ounces calamari, per serving
  • 8 per serving of mussels
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup celery, cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup fennel, cut into thin strips
  • 3/4 cup leeks, cut into thin strips
  • 3 ounces butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

For seafood marinara:

  • 1 cup lobster stock (made from lobster shells)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted saffron
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 quart tomato basil marinara

Directions:

For seafood marinara:

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

For spaghetti:

In a small pot steam the mussels and clams in the wine.

In a large skillet sauté the shrimp and calamari. Add the seafood marinara. Add the basil, vegetables, butter and linguine.

Season to taste and serve family-style topped with the crabmeat and lobster.

Cracker-Crusted Pacific Cod with White Polenta

Steve Black Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island – his comments on this dish.

“At a recent offsite gig, our client chose the humble Pacific codfish for their main course because it is one of the best-eating fish and it comes from a healthy, sustainable stock unlike the Atlantic codfish that continue to struggle. Atlantic cod have been overfished in the Gulf of Maine for decades. I paired the fish with white polenta, another favorite that comes out creamy and delicious the way we slow-simmer it, adding in a lot of cheese. I wanted to give the plate some color to make it visually appealing so I added the roasted roma tomatoes, asparagus and some edible flowers.You can find white polenta in specialty food stores and I like it as it’s less grainy than regular polenta. Just like all polentas, it does bloom up a bit so I would say 12 to 16 ounces is plenty for this dish and will leave you with some leftovers.‘

Serves 6

For the Creamy White Polenta:

  • 12 ounces White Polenta
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic & Shallots
  • 2-3 Pints Chicken Base/Stock
  • 1 Pint Heavy Cream
  • 1 Wheel Herbed Boursin Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Chives
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper

For the Cracker-Crusted Cod:

  • 6 Boneless Cod Fillets (6 to 7 ounces)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Seasoning Salt
  • 2 Sleeves Ritz Crackers, ground up fine
  • 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 30 Pieces Blanched Green Asparagus
  • 1 Cup Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes (coated in olive oil and roasted for 30 minutes at 200 degrees)
  • 4 Ounces Sweet Butter
  • Lemon vinaigrette, directions below 

Directions:

Start by making the polenta. Take a stockpot and heat up the olive oil along with the chopped garlic and shallots. Simmer on low heat for five minutes.

Turn up the heat and add the polenta, starting with two pints of chicken base or stock (you can always add more) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a low, gentle simmer and cover the pot. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Take a look to see how the water has been absorbed. Now you can add the heavy cream and all three cheeses. Cover and let simmer again for 15 to 20 minutes. You will also want to taste the liquid and add some salt and pepper and even some extra chicken stock if need be.

The polenta is almost done at this point. You are looking for the same consistently of loose mashed potatoes. You may have to simmer with the cover removed for the liquid to evaporate quicker. Once you have the right consistency and flavor, place the polenta on the side, covered. Just before service, you can stir fresh chives into the polenta.

I like to make the preserved lemon vinaigrette by using a basic dressing and simply blending in some preserved lemons. You could also use fresh orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit or whatever juice you want. Put half a bottle of champagne vinaigrette into a blender with a quarter-cup of preserved lemons (we make our own here in the hotel and I add sugar instead of straight salt for a better-flavored preserved lemon). Blend at high speed for two minutes and taste. Adjust the seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper or sweet orange juice or lemonade. Turn the blender on high again and drizzle in a half-cup of olive oil. You can make this in advance and store in the fridge.

Now it’s time to move on to the fish. Combine the crackers and the panko crumbs. Mix the egg, milk and seasoning salt together. Add the flour and whip until you have a thick batter. Pour enough of the egg batter over the fish to create an even coat of batter on the fillets. You only need a little as the Ritz/panko mix will adhere to the batter really well. If you want to make this healthier, use olive oil to coat the fish instead of the egg batter.

Bread each piece of cod with the Ritz/panko mix and set aside.

Take a saute pan and heat to medium, add the canola oil and then brown off the battered fish on both sides. I prefer to brown the fish quickly and then finish roasting it in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes until the internal temp hits 145.

Spread your dried tomatoes on a pan and heat up in the oven. While the fish is roasting melt the butter in a sauté pan and heat up your asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the chives into your white polenta and spoon a nice portion onto each plate followed by the asparagus and tomatoes. Top with the cod, drizzle some vinaigrette on top, garnish and serve.

Basil & Artichoke Crusted Halibut

Steve Black Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island.

“While there are a lot of ingredients used in this recipe, it’s really relatively simple to prepare. The preparation combines many fresh flavors with one of the best-tasting, flaky fish out there —halibut. The braised fennel and tomato sauce used on the halibut is also delicious on just about any other seafood, including shrimp and mahimahi to name a few.”

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 Ounces fresh cleaned basil leaves
  • 6 Ounces drained, marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 6 Ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • 6 pieces halibut fillets weighing 6 to 7 ounces each
  • 4 Ounces Japanese panko breadcrumbs

Sauce:

  • 3 oz. Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup diced fennel
  • 1/2 Cup diced onion
  • ½1/2Cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup diced red pepper
  • 1/2 Cup diced yellow squash
  • 1/2 Cup diced eggplant
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 Cup white wine
  • 2 Cups marinara sauce
  • 1/4 Cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream

Directions:

For this recipe, I like to start off by making the braised fennel and tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil on medium high in a saucepot. Add the fennel, onion, zucchini, red pepper,  squash, eggplant, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and saute for three minutes, then turn down the heat to a simmer and add the wine and marinara. Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer another 15 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens. The vegetables will turn soft with the tomato cream sauce for a nice consistency. Pull from the heat, taste for seasoning and add the basil and hold on the side.

Now move on to making the crust for your halibut. In a mixer or hand immersion blender, puree the basil, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. Add a quarter cup of the parmesan and then drizzle in four ounces of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set this mix in the refrigerator.

Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper on both sides and in a medium size nonstick sauté pan, add two ounces of olive oil and let it come up to heat. Add in the fish, letting each side sizzle until brown.

Once both sides of the fish are seared, remove the pan from the heat and spread the basil/artichoke mix on the top of each fillet. Mix the panko crumbs with two ounces of grated parmesan and then top the basil/artichoke mix with the breadcrumbs and finish the fish by baking it in a 350-degree oven for 10 more minutes.

For plating, spoon the fennel-tomato sauce into the bottom of a bowl and top with the cooked halibut.

Yellowtail & Lobster Stew

Steve Black Executive Chef at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island.

” I went on a five-day trip on the Royal Polaris a while back and the yellowtail fishing was incredible with anglers loading up on fish up to 40 pounds. With the yellowtail season on the horizon, I thought I’d share this incredibly simple recipe that can be used with lobster to create more of a Northeast-style stew or chowder. I had to add the fresh yellowtail I brought home from that trip and man, was it good! “

Ingredients:

Serves 8

  • 1.5 Pounds of spiny baja lobster, steamed, meat removed, cut into large chunks
  • 1 Pound fresh yellowtail, (a type of Amberjack) seasoned and cut into large chunks
  • 8 ozs. Sweet butter
  • 4 ozs. Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ozs. Cognac
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 2 Cups heavy cream
  • 2 Cups evaporated milk
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat up the oil and butter. Add the yellowtail and brown the meat for three minutes. Add the lobster and cognac and flame off the alcohol.

Add the paprika, heavy cream, evaporated milk and whole milk, chives and salt and pepper, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it. You do not want to let this to come to a boil or it may curdle the milk. Let the stew simmer until all of the flavors are well combined.

The stew should take on a nice red color from the paprika and lobster meat. Taste the stew to check the seasoning and then serve with crisp, warm bread.



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