August means summer and it is a good time to take advantage of all the great produce at the market. Tomatoes are tasting good now, lots of corn around, as well as eggplant, peaches and blueberries. Take advantage of the grill. Pair pasta with lots of vegetables. Make colorful salads. Seafood is in season, so pair it with tomatoes or seasonal vegetables. Lots of delicious meals ahead for the month.
There are several cuts of beef that work well in making steak burgers including: Brisket, Hanger, Short rib, Steak tail and/or Sirloin and when combined with chuck or each other, they can create some of the best-tasting Burgers around. Get creative with your toppings. While bacon and cheese are ever popular, I like to create healthier toppings from what is seasonally available. So my toppings incorporate tomatoes, peppers and onions.
You can actually roast the peppers on the grill. After the grill is heated, oil the grates and place the peppers directly on the hot grill. Rotate them as they blacken. As soon as all the sides are blackened, place the peppers in a paper bag to cool. when they are cool enough to touch, remove the stem and seeds and pull off the skin. The peppers are then ready to place on top of the burgers.
Serve these burgers with a Greek Salad.
- 1 1/3 lbs grass-fed organic ground beef steak for burgers
- Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
- 4 sturdy burger rolls (recipe link for my homemade rolls)
- 1/2 cup tomato jam (recipe link)
- 2 whole roasted red peppers
- 1 medium onion sliced and sautéed in butter
Shape the meat into four equal patties. If you want to make just two servings, freeze two of the burgers for another time.
Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.
Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for 8 minutes total.
Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls.
Assemble the burgers by placing 2 tablespoons of tomato jam on each patty, then one-quarter of the onions and top each with half of a roasted red pepper. Place the roll tops on the burgers and serve.
Greek Vegetable Salad
For 2 servings
- Half of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 4 Tuscan pickled peppers
- Half of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large salad bowl, combine the onion, olives, bell peppers, Tuscan peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese.
Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, agave and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, toss and serve.
Creamy Zucchini Pasta
Serve with Stuffed Tomatoes, recipe below.
- Salt to taste
- 8 ounces penne or other short pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small sweet onion
- 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
- 1 large zucchini, about one pound
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.
Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.
Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.
Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
- 2 vine-ripened medium-sized tomatoes
- 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp and seeds.
Salt the insides of the tomato shells and set upside down on a paper towel to drain, about 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese and the oil.
Stuff the tomatoes with the filling, sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Place the tomatoes in a small oiled baking dish and bake the tomatoes until cooked through and the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
For the corn stock ingredients
- 12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed and set aside for the chowder)
- 2 chive stalks
- 2 stems fresh parsley
- 2 stems fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
Put corn cobs, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cold water to cover in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and measure the broth.
If you do not have 6 cups add water to make the 6 cups. Set aside the broth.
For the chowder ingredients
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
- 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk
- 6 cups corn stock or vegetable broth if you don’t make the corn stock
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.
Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the 6 cups corn stock, chili powder and the thyme.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.
Take the pot off the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender.
Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.
Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.
Gulf of Maine Redfish Poached in Puttanesca Sauce
Acadian Redfish, also known as ocean perch, are caught in the Gulf of Maine (deep waters off the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire). The fish I purchased is certified, wild caught and sustainable. Fish cooked this way is so tasty and tender.
- 1 ¼ pounds Maine redfish of other boneless white fish fillets, cut into 4 equal pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 small onion or 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons dry red wine
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 cups seeded and finely diced fresh plum tomatoes, about 8-9
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper chile flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 3 oz thin spaghetti or linguine
For the puttanesca sauce
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan with a cover over medium-high heat until hot.
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 2 minutes, and then stir in the wine, olives, capers and anchovy paste, tossing to combine.
Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, stir in the tomato paste, followed by the oregano and red pepper flakes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Cook the pasta al dente. Drain
For the fillets
Dry the fillets well with paper towels. Score the skin of each fillet three times with a sharp knife.
Sprinkle with salt.
Bring the sauce to a boil, again. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the fish fillets, skin side down.
Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the pasta between two plates and place the fish and sauce over the pasta to serve.
Como is a province in the northern part of the Lombardy region of Italy that borders Switzerland. Its proximity to Lake Como and to the Alps has made Como a popular tourist destination and the area contains numerous works of art, churches, gardens, museums, theaters, parks and palaces. Como’s climate is humid and subtropical. Winters are not long, but foggy, damp and chilly with occasional periods of frost; spring and autumn are pleasant while summer can be quite oppressive and hot.
The most famous area within the province is Bellagio, a historic town surrounded by ancient city walls with narrow roads that run through the hills. The town’s ancient origins are visible in its Romanesque Cathedral dedicated to San Giacomo, the interior of which seems unchanged from the 12th Century. Another interesting town is Laglio that lies near the “Bear Cave” (buco dell’orso), where fossils of prehistoric bears and other remains found in the cave are displayed in the Town Hall. The annual Medieval Palio takes place at the beginning of September and is a knightly jousting contest between various province districts that is reenacted in the town of Cernobbio.
Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) is located in this province and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. The lake is shaped like the letter “Y” and has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times. Many famous people have or have had homes on the lake’s shores. The lake’s deep-blue waters, set against the foothills of the Alps, makes for a stunning view.
The Cuisine of Como Province
Lake Como’s cuisine is shaped by the three geographic areas that make up the Como area – the lake, the mountains with their valleys and the hills of Brianza (the area between Milan and Como). The province’s cuisine is closely tied to its primary natural resource, the lake, that provides an abundance of freshwater fish. Lavarello , a popular local lake fish, is usually served fried with a squeeze of lemon. Misultitt (a type of Shad) is usually dried and preserved with bay leaves in special tin containers. Another traditional dish is Risotto al Pesce Persico (European Perch filet Risotto), a fish grown in Lake Como, that is prepared with white wine, onion and butter.
Polenta is popular especially in the mountain valleys. In this area, it is common to make polenta by mixing corn flour and buckwheat flour together. It is usually served with meat, game, cheese or fish.
South of Como, the food becomes more Milanese. Popular in this region are polenta e osei (polenta served with poultry), cassoela (a stew with pork ribs and cabbage), cotechino sausage with beans and many different kinds of salami and cheese.
As far as traditional sweets and cakes are concerned, in Lake Como, you can find fritters often filled with apple and, Resca de Comm, a panettone made with raisins, citron, pine nuts and anise, that is baked in a cylindrical tube.
Among the red and white wines produced in the province are Rosso di Bellagio and Vespertò di Canzo. The best liqueurs are made by the Piona friars using local herbs.
Pizzoccheri is one of Lake Como’s typical winter pasta dishes. It usually consists of flat short tagliatelle noodles, made from buckwheat flour that is common in the area of Valtellina in Northern Italy (on the east shore of Lake Como). The buckwheat flour gives the noodles a grayish color and they are easy to make at home. However, most supermarkets now sell boxes of dried pizzoccheri, which has helped to spread the word of this delicious recipe throughout the country and, of course, cuts down on preparation time.
The noodles are served with a mixture of greens and diced potatoes and dressed with butter, sautéed garlic, sage and Swiss Casera and Parmesan cheeses (or grana padano). There are several variations to the recipe, including substituting the cabbage with Swiss chard, spinach or green beans depending on what you have on hand. The amount of butter can also be altered to your own preference although the original recipe states that the pizzoccheri should be practically drowning in the sage and garlic-infused butter. Vatellina Casera cheese can be difficult to find outside of Lombardy, so a good alternative is Italian Fontina, which is more widely available.
For the pasta:
- 2 cups (200 grams) fine buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) plain flour
- About 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) water
- Pinch salt
For the pizzoccheri:
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) savoy cabbage
- 4 1/2 ounces (125 grams) potatoes (2 to 3 small potatoes)
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter
- 8-10 sage leaves
- 4 1/2 ounces (125 grams) Valtellina Casera DOP or Bitto (Gruyere or Fontina can be substituted), thinly sliced or shaved
- 2 ounces (about 60 grams) Grana Padano, grated
- 1 clove of garlic
- Freshly ground pepper
For the pasta:
Combine the two flours in a bowl and gradually add the water, mixing until well incorporated. Work the dough for a few minutes. It should be smooth and compact, but not dry or crumbly and it shouldn’t stick to your hands. If it’s dry, add a little more water until it becomes smooth. Rest the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out with a rolling-pin to a thickness of 2-3 millimeters (1/10 of an inch). With a sharp knife, cut the dough into large strips about 7-8 cm (2.5 to 3 inches) wide then cut these into short pasta strips about ¼ inch thick. (If you have a pasta machine, I would use it)
For the pizzoccheri:
Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and chop roughly.
Boil a large saucepan of salted water, cook the potatoes for 20 minutes and then add the cabbage and pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a separate pan and saute the garlic and sage.
Drain the potatoes, cabbage and pasta and layer in a dish with the melted butter, slices of cheese and black pepper.
Serve with Grana Padano cheese.
Risotto with Perch Fillets
This recipe is the national dish of Lake Como and one that is used in most of the area’s restaurants. Perch is one of the most valuable species of freshwater fish because of its tender and delicate meat and the fish can be found in all the lakes of Northern Italy.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups risotto rice
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Salt and black pepper for seasoning
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
- 4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable stock)
- 4 perch fillets (per person) – about 18 total
- Flour for coating
- Butter or oil for frying
In a heavy saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter until it melts.
Add the chopped onion and cook until tender. Add the rice and mix it well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates. Add the broth, a small amount at a time, stirring it constantly until all the liquid is absorbed.
When the rice is just about tender, add the salt, pepper and Parmigiano cheese.
Dredge the fillets in the flour and cook in a hot skillet in butter or oil, turning them over once, until each side is golden brown.
Spoon the rice onto a serving dish and top with the fish fillets.
Parmesan Barley Soup
Barley is a healthy high-fiber, high-protein whole grain containing numerous health benefits. When cooked, barley has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice. Although soup is the most popular way to eat barley, you can use it like any other grain, such as couscous or rice. Hulless barley is unprocessed and takes longer to cook than pearl or pearled barley, which is more common. Quick cooking barley is just as healthy and takes only 10 minutes to cook. Try adding a handful of quick cooking barley to a simmering pot of soup.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 ribs celery, sliced thin
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup barley
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Parmesan rinds
- 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 1/4 cup white wine
- Sea or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Pre-soak the barley in water to cover for one hour. Drain well and set aside.
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil for a minute or two, then add the diced carrots and celery. Reduce the heat and cook for another two to three minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the red wine vinegar, stirring to coat the vegetables well.
Reduce heat to medium low and add the barley and vegetable broth, stirring to combine.
Heat for ten minutes, then add the Parmesan rinds and simmer for fifteen minutes, or until the barley is almost cooked.
Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese, milk, white wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat another five minutes or until the barley is fully cooked.
Remove the Parmesan rinds and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.
Lake Como’s sweets are mainly cakes, tarts and pies that are eaten for breakfast and afternoon snacks. Among them you can find the cutizza, a homemade focaccia made of flour, milk, sugar and lemon peel. The cutizza is a sweet bread known as the poor man’s cake because it uses only a small amount of flour. This is a very old and rustic recipe.
- ½ lb white flour
- 6-7 oz whole milk
- Oil for frying
- 3 eggs
- Lemon rind
- Vanilla sugar
Break the eggs in a bowl, add the flour and mix well. Add the grated lemon and milk and mix until smooth. Add the smaller amount of milk at first and then more, if needed, to make a smooth dough.
Heat enough oil in a frying pan to just cover the bottom and pour in the mixture. Cook on one side and then turn over to cook the other side. Sprinkle with sugar and serve warm.
Variation: add some chopped apple to the mixture before cooking.
The cutizza can be eaten as a snack or as a dessert accompanied by a glass of Moscato.
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy lies in the north of the country, sharing a border with Switzerland. Lombardy’s northern borders are formed by the Lepontine, Rhaetian and Orobic Alps. It also includes the major Italian lakes: Varese, lseo, Como and the northern part of Lake Garda. The regional capital is Milano. Other important cities are: Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Lecco, Lodi, Varese, Sondrio, Pavia, Cremona and Mantova.
Take a tour of Lombardy through the video below.
The mountain peaks welcome ski and snowboard enthusiasts to internationally-famous ski destinations, like the Camonica Valley and Valtellina. In summertime, the area offers mountain climbing, as well as rafting, trekking and mountain biking, while the Stelvio Glacier offers skiers the challenge and adventure of its slopes, even in the warmest months. Visitors can tour the vineyard-covered terraces and hills, stopping off at wineries and local producers to taste the well-known local specialties.
While the terrain of northern Lombardy can be harsh and sometimes unforgiving, water from snow on the mountains refreshes many of the streams and rivers branching out into other parts of the region, as well as other parts of Italy. Freshwater fish like trout, perch and whitefish are abundant. The mountains tend to shelter the southern parts of the region, which allows for milder and more ideal growing conditions further down into the Po River Basin.
Rice grows well here, so it’s no surprise that risotto dishes find their way onto almost every table. The cattle industry is healthy, providing shanks for the well-known dish, ossobuco. Agri d’ Valtorta, Bagoss, Bitto, Branzi, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Provolone Valpadana are just a few of the many excellent cheeses crafted in Lombardy. Peppers, greens, lettuce, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and tomatoes are all abundant harvests. Lombardy is also the home of the Christmas favorite, panettone (a rich bread made with candied fruits, citrus and raisins). Stews, soups, heavily sauced polenta, hearty filled ravioli and slow-braised meat dishes are all-around favorites.
Recipes From Lombardy
Makes: 6 servings
- 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2½ cups carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 cups hot chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat until melted. Add sage and cook until fragrant. Remove and discard sage. Remove sage butter from heat and set aside.
Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent. This process is known as tostatura or toasting.
Add wine, stirring, until it is mostly absorbed, then add 1 cup of broth and the saffron. Simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Continue adding broth in ½ cupfuls, stirring often, and allowing each addition to mostly evaporate before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still slightly firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy (you will have broth left over).
Stir in the remaining 3½ tablespoons butter, reserved sage butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt to taste.
Add an additional cup of broth, stir to combine, and serve “all’onda” (a “wavy” or wet-style risotto) immediately.
Skillet Perch with Lemon and Capers
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 1/2 cups each: flour, fine cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pounds lake perch fillets, skinned
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup capers, drained
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
Combine the eggs and milk in another medium bowl. Drench fillets in egg-milk mixture; shake off excess. Coat fillets evenly with seasoned flour; shake to remove excess flour.
Meanwhile, heat large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to cover skillet bottom. Place perch, one by one, in the pan cooking until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn fillets and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove to paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining fillets.
For sauce, discard oil from the skillet. Add lemon juice and capers to the skillet; cook about 1 minute or just until bubbles appear. Add chives, salt and pepper to taste. Place fillets on a serving plate. Top with the lemon sauce and lemon slices.
Asparagi al Forno (Classic Roasted Asparagus)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
- 2 bunches asparagus (40 asparagus), woody ends trimmed
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with olive oil.
Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the tips facing in the same direction (this will make serving easier later).
Pour the water into the baking sheet.
Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano.
Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top and still slightly crisp. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6
The Traditional Recipe for Panettone
- 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons softened butter, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Make the sponge:
Place 1 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons apricot jam and 1 teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 3 hours.
Make the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sponge, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon yeast. Use the hook attachment to knead the dough until the mixture is smooth and stretchy, about 3-5 minutes.
Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Return the dough to the mixer and add salt, vanilla, lemon and orange flavoring, honey and 1 teaspoon yeast. Knead for 1 minute.
Add 3 egg yolks and knead until incorporated. Add the 12 tablespoons of softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Knead until dough is soft, shiny and very stretchy, about 5 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Combine the chopped raisins, cherries and pecans with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add them to the dough and knead briefly, until just mixed in.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place dough inside of a 6 inch diameter panettone mold, or use a clean, buttered coffee can lined with parchment paper (you can also use a baking dish). Make a small cross in the top of the dough with scissors.
Let dough rise in a warm place until triple in size, which may take several hours since the dough is cold from the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Place the panettone in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Bake the panettone for about 1 hour, until it has risen high and springs back a little when pressed on top (like a muffin).
Let the panettone cool in the pan on a rack.
Make the icing (optional): Melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk into 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle icing decoratively over the top of the panettone.
Store panettone wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.
Note: Traditional Italian panettones are made with a special flavoring called “fiori de sicila”, which you can purchase at gourmet stores and online. Use in place of the lemon and orange extract.