The market was full of lovely produce this week and, therefore, very difficult to decide what to purchase. I settled on several baskets of beautiful tomatoes and bright green Swiss chard. Redfish is in season here and it is a fish we like a lot, so this recipe was made with redfish. You can use any white fish fillets that you like. You may also add rice if you want another side. The parsley butter adds a lot of flavor and it can also be used on other meats. It is even a good on vegetables. The muffins make a good addition to this dinner. This dinner is also gluten-free and would work perfectly if you had a family member or guests that needed this special diet. On the other hand, this dinner is delicious for anyone.
Fish Fillets With Parsley Butter and Roasted Tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb white fish fillets of choice
1 tablespoon Parsley Butter, per fish fillet
Roasted Tomatoes, recipe below
Kalamata Olives, pitted
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature (If you use unsalted butter, add ½ teaspoon of salt)
1/4 cup fresh, finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 teaspoons grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Parsley Butter:
Be sure the butter is at room temperature and soft enough to mash with a fork.
In a small bowl mash the butter and add the remaining ingredients. Mix very well, cover and chill until it is time to cook the fish.
For the Spice Rub:
In small bowl, combine the black pepper, paprika, onion powder and seasoning salt.
To cook the fish:
Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the Spice Rub on both sides of the fish fillets.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium. Cook the fillets about 4 minutes on one side.
Remove the fish to a serving plate and place 1 tablespoon of Parsley Butter on each piece of fish.
In the same pan place the roasted tomatoes and olives. Heat until warm and spoon next to the fish on the serving plate.
Note: The Parsley Butter will keep at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Make this recipe early in the day or even the day before and refrigerate them in a covered container.
2 pints miniature mixed heirloom tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Combine all the ingredients in a single layer in a baking pan.
Roast for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are caramelized and have released their liquid. Pour into a serving bowl.
Use as a side dish, as an ingredient in a main dish or on pizza. Drizzle some of the thickened balsamic sauce on each serving.
Sautéed Swiss Chard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 bunches of swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove and discard the chard’s stems that run up the middle of each leaf.
Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and black pepper.
Heat, covered, for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.
Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, another 3-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored.
Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.
Add salt to taste and serve.
Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
12-15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin tin
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
Spray the inside of the liners with cooking spray to make for easier removal.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar, coconut flour, poppy seeds and baking powder.
In a large measuring cup or medium mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs, almond milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups filling them ¾ of the way and bake 25 to 35 minutes, until tops are just golden brown and the muffins are set. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
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.
Not only are there seasons for fruits and vegetables but fish and shellfish have seasons also. It is good to know that you can buy locally caught seafood that is in season near where you live or close to it. My local market is located right on the Gulf and the boats come in every day with fresh, seasonal fish. It is a pleasure to shop in such a fine market.
Here is a chart to help you buy in season fish locally.
In my area, the Gulf waters warm up in April. Along with the warm water, a host of fish appear with the temperature increase, such as Cobia, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Redfish, Scallops, Flounder, Speckled Trout, Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Amberjack and Hard-Shell Crabs. Here are a few of our favorite fish dinners.
Spinach Pesto is delicious with this fish.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh redfish fillets (or any white fish fillets), ounces each
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Combine the flour, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large shallow plate.
Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels.
Heat the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until melted.
Dredge the fish fillets in the seasoned flour on both sides and place them in the hot butter.
Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes.
Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side.
While the second side cooks, sprinkle the fish with the lemon juice and chopped parsley.
Carefully put the fish fillets on warm plates.
Serve the fish topped with Spinach Pesto, recipe below.
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse.
With the machine running, gradually add the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy.
Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. This sauce freezes well.
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh baby spinach
6 large sea scallops
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup heavy cream or half & half
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme leaves
In medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.
Season the scallops with the Italian seasoning.
Sauté the scallops 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and keep warm by covering with a piece of foil.
Heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in the skillet and add the garlic
When the garlic has softened, add the spinach.
Sauté the spinach until wilted.
Add the grated Parmesan, cream, salt and pepper, mix and heat until the cheese and cream are hot.
Divide the spinach mixture between two serving dishes and top each plate with 3 scallops.
Garnish the scallops with the chopped herbs.
I like to serve the kabobs over linguine dressed with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped basil.
4 metal, bamboo or wooden skewers
1 lb fresh tuna fillet (1 inch thick)—cut into 16 even-sized cubes
1 small zucchini—cut into diagonal slices
Onion slices—cut into 16 even-sized squares
2 bell peppers—cut into 16 even-sized squares
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus lemon wedges for serving)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic—grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Place the tuna cubes, zucchini, onion and bell pepper in a glass baking dish.
Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small measuring cup until well combined.
Pour over the tuna and vegetables in the baking dish.
Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour, turning the mixture halfway through marinating.
Divide the mixture evenly among 4 skewers and reserve the marinade.
Cook the skewers on a hot grill for about 10 minutes until cooked through, turning and brushing regularly with the marinade.
Serve the skewers with lemon wedges.
The Earth Day movement, that was started in the 1970′s by John McConnell, has since seen billions take part in planting trees, cleaning up local neighborhoods and pushing government officials to enact more progressive environmental laws. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was instrumental in raising awareness about protecting the environment. On April 22, 1970, rallies were held in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, as well as, on numerous college campuses across the country.
The mission of Earth Day was formally established by the Earth Society Foundation in 1976. Its mission was:
“Conduct educational programs and seminars and promote research and investigation throughout the world for the purpose of providing data to all individuals and institutions who are joining in the movement to promote and implement the Earth care ethic: namely, that the stewardship and care of earth requires action to produce and use materials and services that help nurture, conserve and recycle, without destructive pollution, the organisms and nutrients of Earth’s web of life. Coordinate or assist the work of like-minded organizations for the purposes of minimizing unnecessary duplication of energies and maximizing the impact and effectiveness of the earth care movement.”
Triggered by Earth Day awareness, the United States government has enacted many environmental programs, such as the Clean Air Act, Water Quality Improvement Act, Endangered Species Act, Toxic Substance Control and the Surface Mine and Reclamation Act.
Botanic gardens are natural resources for Earth Day events and their focus varies from being educational to just enjoying nature. Master gardening and children’s programs are a wonderful way to get families involved in gardening. There are bird watching and identification programs at gardens, since the birds are naturally attracted to the large variety of plants and flowers. Zoos also offer educational programs for patrons as a way to connect with nature through the animal world.
Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect on our food footprint (the environmental impact related to the production of food). The less processing your food sees the better. Eat locally and fill your market basket with in season produce. Eat local, sustainable fish. Eat less meat but, when you do, eat locally raised, grass-fed meat. Don’t waste food. Look for products that have minimal packaging or packaging and are made from recycled materials or with materials that can be recycled after use.
Grilled Redfish with Spinach Pesto
- 8 oz redfish fillet, cut in half or any fish fillets available in your area
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Spinach Pesto, recipe below
Prepare an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, lighting fresh coals if you are using a charcoal grill. If you are using a gas grill, preheat the grill by turning all burners on to high for about 10 to 15 minutes, then reduce one burner to a medium-high temperature. You may also cook the fish on a greased indoor grill.
Brush the redfish fillets with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Cut a sheet of heavy duty foil large enough to hold the fish and poke a few holes in it. Spray the foil with cooking spray and place the fish on top of the foil. Place the foil on a tray or plate to carry it out to the grill.
Slide the redfish fillets on the foil onto the grill and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. Top the fish, while on the grill, with Spinach Pesto after 4 minutes of cooking time and continue to grill until the fish is cooked to your liking. My redfish fillets only took 6 minutes to cook, so watch the cooking time carefully.
This sauce is also delicious over grilled chicken.
- 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1’2 teaspoon salt and
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Combine the spinach leaves, pine nuts, lemon juice and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse.
With the machine running, gradually add the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add the salt and pepper. Pulse.
Pour into a serving bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
Green Beans with Toasted Pecans
Pecans are locally grown in my area and fresh thin green beans are now in season where I live.
- 6 ounces blanched green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the pecans and toast them. Set aside on a plate.
Heat the oil in the same pan and add the red onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender.
Add the green beans and salt and pepper to taste. Saute the beans until hot. Add the pecans and serve.
Fennel and Potato Casserole
- 2 lbs new or red potatoes, peeled
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
- 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible and put them in a large bowl of cold water to keep them from browning.
Cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Slice the fennel crosswise as thinly as possible.
In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley and garlic.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Without draining the potatoes, use your hands to lift out about one-third of the slices and arrange them in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them slightly. (The water clinging to them will generate steam as they bake.)
Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Top the potatoes with half of the sliced fennel, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the fennel with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture and 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Repeat this layering process, ending with a top layer of potatoes. Season the top layer with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and some more pepper.
Top with the remaining breadcrumb mixture and the final 2 tablespoons oil.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Uncover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving.
As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the various regions of the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the townspeople and later for Americans nationwide.
Italians arriving in New Orleans often went to work first on Louisiana citrus farms or one of the state’s sugar cane plantations. But word got around that Birmingham offered a chance to earn wages in one of its factories. Attracted by the promise of better pay, many Italian immigrants left Louisiana for Birmingham. They were joined by fellow Italian immigrants who came directly from Sicily or other parts of Italy, or who may have spent some time in a northern city before deciding to head south to seek better paying jobs.
By 1910, Birmingham’s Italian population numbered almost 2,000 and was spread out over several neighborhoods. There was Little Italy in Ensley, a working class neighborhood associated with Tennessee Coal and Iron. There was the Italian community of Thomas, where Republic Steel was located. To the west lay another Little Italy, in West Blocton, where Italian immigrants mined coal and the town is known to this day for its Italian Catholic cemetery. Each community was anchored by a Catholic parish, supplying social and spiritual support and operating schools for Italian speaking children. Corner grocery stores, some of which grew into major supermarket chains, supplemented their owners’ income. Fig trees, small family gardens and even livestock kept Italian food traditions alive.
La Storia: Birmingham’s Italian Community exhibition at Vulcan Park and Museum
Vulcan is the world’s largest cast iron statue and is considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States. Both the Vulcan statue and the pedestal it stands upon, display the Italian heritage that is prevalent throughout Vulcan Park and the Birmingham community. Designed by Italian artist, Giuseppe Moretti, and cast from local iron in 1904, Vulcan has overlooked Alabama’s largest city from atop Red Mountain since the 1930s. Vulcan Park and Museum features spectacular views of Birmingham, an interactive history museum and Birmingham’s Italian immigrant story.
Italian Americans had a huge impact on not only Vulcan Park and the Museum, but also on the city itself. La Storia tells the story of Italian immigration to the city of Birmingham from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century. While the exhibit showcases prosperity for Italian immigrants, it also documents the hardships these immigrant families endured as a community and how they relied on faith and family to hold them together.
A traditional dish that is popular in Northern Italy—particularly in Lombardy. Alabama Italian chef/owner, Marco Morosini shares his expertise in cooking this comforting recipe. B-Metro Magazine December 2013
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 Spare ribs
- 8 Italian sausages
- 8 pieces pork rind (optional)
- 1 large head Savoy cabbage, shredded
Place the extra virgin olive oil, carrots, celery and onion in a large pan over low to medium heat. Brown for approximately five minutes. Add and brown the spare ribs. Add the pork rind. After five more minutes add the sausages. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Add the Savoy cabbage. Stir until all are well mixed. Sprinkle with salt and continue cooking for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Serve over polenta. Serves eight.
Few people associate the South with Italian immigration to America, assuming immigrants settled only in the urban Northeast. Yet, many communities throughout the United States have a significant proportion of Italian Americans. Immigrants gravitated to places where they could find work, whether it be in the garment industry, coal mines, farms, fisheries, canning factories or lumber mills. In the peak immigration years (1880–1910), the American South attracted its share of Italian immigrants.
The first immigrants to the Delta in the 1880s, were hired to repair levees or as farm laborers on the plantations. Some of these families became peddlers selling goods to farmers. In 1895, some Italians crossed the Mississippi River to work in the Arkansas Delta. They were mostly from central Italy and experienced in farm work.
The late 19th century saw the arrival of larger numbers of Italian immigrants, who left Italy seeking economic opportunities. Some Italians from Sicily settled as families along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Gulfport, preserving close ties with those from their homeland. They worked in the fishing and canning industries. Others were merchants, operating grocery stores, liquor stores and tobacco shops. The seafood (and small shipyard) industry of Biloxi was mainly owned by the family of Andrew H. Longino – Governor of Mississippi from 1900 to 1904, who was the first governor of a southern US State to be of Italian heritage.
Life was very challenging for the immigrants. They found the adjustment to the South’s climate especially difficult; Italian farmers did not have experience with cotton and sugarcane crops and many immigrants died as a result of malaria. While some of the settlers remained in the Delta, bought land and became cotton farmers, others moved to Italian communities in northern Missouri, Alabama and Tennessee.
The Italian Americans were often victims of prejudice, economic exploitation and violence. The Delta states were no exception. Mississippi and Louisiana became a worldwide symbol of Anti-Italianism. In the twentieth century, mainly after World War I , the Italians were slowly accepted and integrated into society. The food and restaurant industry was one of the areas where they gained acceptance and economic success.
Italians developed a distinctive cultural life in the Delta, preserving traditional ways from their Italian ancestry and, yet, adapting to the culture of the American South. Families continued to make wine and cook Italian food with recipes long passed down from their grandmothers.
Italians established restaurants that helped popularize Italian food in the region. Greenwood, in particular, has several restaurants with deep Italian connections. Lusco’s and Giardina’s both trace their ancestry to families from Cefalu in Sicily. Charles and Marie Lusco were first generation Italian immigrants, who established a grocery store in 1921. Local cotton farmers spent time there, playing cards in the back of the store, eating the dishes that Marie prepared and drinking Charles’s homemade wine. Lusco’s emerged from a grocery store into a restaurant because their food became popular. Patrons and customers began requesting the sauces made in the restaurant to take home. As a result, Lusco’s began bottling and marketing the three most requested salad dressings and sauces.
Beef and Spinach Lasagna
Mississippi Farm Families recipe.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 32 oz (4 cups) homemade spaghetti sauce
- 14 ½ oz can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and well-drained
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 10 uncooked lasagna noodles
- 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large nonstick skillet, brown the ground beef 8 – 10 minutes until no longer pink. Pour off the drippings.
Season with salt. Add tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and red pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese and egg.
Spread 2 cups beef sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Arrange 5 lasagna noodles in single layer completely covering the bottom. Press noodles into sauce.
Spread entire ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and top with 2 cups beef sauce.
Arrange remaining noodles in a single layer and press lightly into sauce. Top with remaining beef sauce.
Bake in 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes or until noodles are tender. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Tent lightly with foil. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting into 12 servings.
Galveston was called the “Ellis Island of the West” as it was the primary point of entry for European immigrants settling in the western United States. By 1910, there were more than 1,000 Italian immigrants living in Galveston. The language barrier and discrimination caused the Italian immigrants to stick together. Most of the southern Italians were fishermen, laborers and farmers, while the northern Italians tended to be businessmen. The northern Italians used their business skills to set up small, family owned shops. At the time, half the grocery stores in Galveston were owned by Italian families, who made up only 2 percent of the population. “There was an Italian grocery store on every street corner,” said Anthony Piperi, 89, who remembers those days well. Piperi said those who did well in business formed benevolent societies to help the new immigrants and the less fortunate get a foothold. “Fifty percent of them owned some kind of small business,” Piperi said. “By the second generation, everybody had a lawyer or doctor in the family.”
The reason the Italian community did so well, he said, was that it put a premium on education. Everybody in the second generation tried to get an education, he said, because their parents knew what it was like to try to make it without one. The emphasis on education allowed those children to have great mobility and freedom — a mixed blessing. “The families spread out,” Piperi said. “A brother would get a job in Houston. Somebody else would get a job in New York.” An American Army captain whose father was an immigrant, said one of the many things about the Italian experience in Galveston was how quickly many of the immigrants succeeded in their new American life.
Joe Grasso from Sicily pioneered the shrimp industry along the Texas Gulf Coast. Arriving in Galveston in 1906, he worked as a fisherman and saved his money to buy a boat. For 15 years he sold shrimp as bait to fishermen and, then in the 1920s, he began freezing shrimp to export to Japan, creating a successful business.
The Galveston Shrimp Company was founded in 1978 by Rosario Cassarino, an immigrant from the Italian island of Sicily. For twenty years he and his wife, Giovanna, unloaded fish and shrimp boats at the historic Pier 19 and sold the catch of the day to Galveston locals and the visiting tourists. In 1994 their son, Nello, took over the daily operation and moved the company to a larger facility that was more accessible to highway transportation. The company began to shift its focus from a retail operation to a wholesale seafood company that now supplies retailers and distributors around the nation.
Chef Maurizio Ferrarese from Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook
Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco. This Gulf version using brown shrimp, redfish and blue crab make it a Texas-Italian Cioppino.
- 4 pounds uncooked heads-on shrimp
- One 4 pound whole redfish
- 8 live crabs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- Small can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups white wine
- 3 bay leaves
Shell the shrimp and filet the fish. Make a stock with the fish bones and head and the shrimp shells and heads. When the stock boils, add the crabs and cook until done, about ten minutes. Remove the crabs and allow to cool. Reserve the crab bodies and claws and return the rest of the crab including the innards to the stockpot. Simmer the stock for a total of 30 minutes adding water as needed, then turn off the heat. You should have 8 cups of stock.
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the green onion, garlic and jalapeño; saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes, wine and bay leaf.
Strain the stock and pour the strained liquid into the soup pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.
Cut the fish into 2 inch chunks. Add the shrimp, reserved crab and fish to the soup. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and some hot pepper sauce, if desired.
Serve with crusty bread and nutcrackers for the crab claws.
Italians flocked to New Orleans in the late 1800s because of the growing business of importing Mediterranean citrus into the port city. Many of these immigrants worked on the docks in the fruit district and, eventually, these workers opened grocery stores and restaurants around the city. Italians made up about 90 percent of the immigrants in New Orleans at the time and dominated the grocery industry. Italian contributions to the cuisine include “red gravy”, a red sauce thickened with roux that is used in everything from Creole Daube to grillades, stuffed artichokes and peppers. Today, the Italian influence in shaping Creole cuisine is unmistakable – Southern Italian and Sicilian ingredients fundamentally transformed the cuisine.
Joseph Maselli was a catalyst for countless American Italian activities in Louisiana, founding the first state-wide organization of American Italians that later became the Italian American Federation of the Southeast, an umbrella organization with over 9,000 members from the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Ten years later, he founded the Italian American Renaissance Foundation Museum and Research Library, the first of its kind in the South, which contains more than 400 oral tape histories, vertical files on 25,000 individuals and 5,500 American Italian books. Today, it has been renamed the American Italian Cultural Center. To honor Louisiana Italian Americans who have excelled in athletics, he founded the Louisiana Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Maselli focused his energy on civic endeavors and, in particular, on preserving the Italian culture and heritage and fighting against prejudice on behalf of all nationalities. Mr. Maselli was the publisher of the Italian American Digest which he founded to preserve immigrant values of family tradition, hard work and education.
Parmesan Crusted Breast of Chicken
Vincent’s Italian Cuisine/New Orleans
Vincent’s Italian Cuisine was founded in 1989 by native New Orleanian, Vincent Catalanotto. From a large, close Sicilian family, Vincent grew up eating wonderful food prepared by his parents who were both great cooks. The “little Italian place on the side street” quickly became Metairie’s hidden jewel. Vincent developed a menu that showcased the finest and freshest ingredients available. In fact, there are no walk-in coolers or freezers at Vincent’s – produce, seafood, meats and cheeses are delivered fresh daily. It wasn’t long before Vincent had more customers than chairs. A second location was added in 1997 on St. Charles Avenue near the Riverbend.
- 2 boxes (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, squeezed dry
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Sambuca Liqueur
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese
Mix ingredients together and set aside.
- 6 Chicken Breast Halves – boneless, skinless, pounded thin
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups Parmesan Cheese
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 cup Vegetable Oil
Dredge chicken in flour, dip in beaten eggs, then in parmesan cheese, pressing cheese into chicken until well coated.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan; add chicken and sauté until golden brown.
While cooking chicken, heat creamed spinach in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
Spread approximately 3 tablespoons of heated spinach on each dinner plate, then top with a cooked chicken breast.
Finish the dish with lemon butter sauce (as follows).
LEMON BUTTER SAUCE
- Juice of 2 small or 1 Large Lemon
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup dry White Wine
- 1 stick butter, cut up
- 2 tablespoons chopped Green Onions (tops only)
Mix lemon juice, wine and Worcestershire in a small saucepan and cook until reduced.
Add butter and green onions, stirring until butter is melted.
Drizzle over chicken and serve.
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