3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup toasted pecans halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 cups baby arugula
Toast the pecans in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.
Whisk in a medium mixing bowl: balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard. Add olive oil slowly, while whisking briskly, then season dressing with salt and pepper.
Place the arugula in a salad bowl; add some dressing and toss to coat. Add the pecans and cranberries. Divide the salad between 2 serving plates; top each with the crumbled blue cheese.
Seafood in Creole Sauce
Serve with Crusty Bread on the side.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 small bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small fresh chile pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken or fish stock or water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (Store-bought or see recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional (depending on how hot the chile pepper is)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or low carb flour
4 U.S. sustainably caught raw shrimp, 16-20 per pound
4 large sea scallops
8 oz red snapper, redfish, cod or haddock fillet, skinned and cut into 2 portions
For the sauce
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, creole seasoning, hot sauce if using and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until very thick. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and return to a gentle simmer.
Peel shrimp and set aside. Wash scallops and remove side muscle and set aside.
For the redfish
Whisk flour with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge fish, shaking off excess flour. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the simmering sauce. Cook shrimp and scallops in the same pan, turning once or twice, until pink and curled, 1 to 2 minutes adding the remaining oil if needed.
Transfer the shellfish to the sauce; simmer for 1-2 minutes. Serve in individual bowls.
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, or Jar and stir so that all the ingredients have been fully combined. Store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.
Clafoutis is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and with cream.
For Valentine’s Day, I use a heart-shaped layer cake pan.
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (2 oz./60 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb. (750 g) fresh cherries, pitted, or 1 1/4 lb. (625 g) frozen cherries, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Grease a round 9-10″ baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit on the bottom. Arrange the cherries on the bottom of the pan in a single layer and then set aside.
Combine the rest of the ingredients – except for sliced almonds – in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process on high speed until thoroughly blended; the mixture will be similar to a thin crepe batter.
Pour the mixture over the cherries and then sprinkle the sliced almonds across the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. If you find that the clafoutis browns too quickly, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Remove the pan from oven and let cool for a few hours then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
To make this dessert gluten-free and low carb:
1/3 cup sugar substitute
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup arrowroot powder flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh raspberries or blueberries
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Follow the directions in the recipe above.
Cauliflower Antipasto Salad
For the salad
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 ounces fresh small mozzarella balls
1-16 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into small cubes
4 ounces salami slices
4 ounces pepperoni slices
1 small red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
8 oz pepperoncini, drained and sliced into rings
4-5 oz oil cured olives
For the dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 clove garlic minced
Place the cauliflower florets in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 3-4 minutes or until as tender as you’d like. Drain and dry on paper towels.
Cut the pepperoni and salami slices into quarters.
Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl with the cauliflower.
To make the dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, oregano, basil, rosemary, and garlic until well combined. Taste and add additional lemon, herbs, or salt as desired.
Pour the dressing over the cauliflower salad and toss to coat.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop before serving.
Pesto & Fresh Tomato Pizza
Make the dough one day ahead.
2 1’2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup good quality store-bought or homemade pesto (Link to my recipe)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2 vine-ripened tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until they come to a ball around the paddle. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Coat the inside of a plastic ziplock bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag, seal, and place in the refrigerator until the next day.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator an hour before you want to make the pizza.
Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices. Sprinkle lightly with the salt and cover with more paper towels.
Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and place on paper towels to drain, This will prevent a soggy crust.
Set an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 500°F.
Oil a large pizza pan and spread the dough in the pan so that it touches the edges of the pan. Spread the pesto evenly over the pizza dough
Bake on the bottom rack for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with a few grinds fresh black pepper. Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes more. Cut into slices and serve immediately.
Makes 12 mini cheesecakes
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar or brown sugar substitute (I use monk fruit)
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granular sugar or granular sugar substitute (monk fruit)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sugar-free fruit jelly or jam (I used cherry)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the almond flour and the brown sugar. Add the melted butter to the bowl and mix until the almond flour is coated and the mixture is the texture of wet sand. Place about 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup,. Use a spoon to press the mixture down into the bottom of each muffin liner.
Bake the crusts for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.
Add eggs, lemon extract, vanilla extract and sweetener and mix until all ingredients are well combined and smooth. Divide the cheesecake mixture evenly between all 12 wells in the muffin pan. I use an ice cream scoop to measure equally. If using a silicone muffin pan, place it on top of a baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheesecakes are set. They will still be a little jiggly in the center.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pan on the counter for 20 minutes. Place a teaspoon of jam on top of each mini cake.
Chill for up to 24 hours before serving.
This past weekend, I had friends visiting us from Switzerland. I wanted to make a special Italian dinner for them. One that was not a typical Italian-American dinner but a dinner with dishes that are particular to Tuscany; one of their favorite places to visit. Dinner was big hit.
Italian Red Onion Soup with Parmesan Crisps
- Parmesan crisps, recipe below
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 cups vegetable broth
Melt the butter in a soup kettle and cook the onions, covered, for 10 minutes.
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Add the salt, pepper, honey and wine and heat until the wine reduces a bit.
Add the broth, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 2 hours. Serve in individual bowls garnished with the crisps.
Makes 6 crisps
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (Do not use cooking spray.)
Mound 3 level tablespoonfuls of cheese in 5 inch long strips about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Bake until the cheese is melted, soft and a very light golden color, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place the baking pan on a cooling rack. Do not disturb the crisps until completely cooled and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
Using a thin spatula or knife, lift the crackers from the baking sheet.
Make Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Sourdough Cheese Rolls
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sourdough starter (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 cup grated Italian cheese (half grated parmesan and half shredded mozzarella)
- 2 teaspoons salt
Combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, yeast, sourdough starter, sugar, butter, egg and salt in an electric mixer bowl. Beat 3 to 4 minutes.
Add baking soda to the whole wheat flour and blend into the flour-yeast mixture. Add cheese and remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth (5 to 8 minutes).
Place in a greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise until double (1 ½ to 2 hours). Punch the dough down. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil 2 baking sheets.
Divide the dough into 24 pieces and shape into balls. Place on the oiled baking sheets. Cover; let rise until double (25 to 30 minutes).
Bake at 375 degrees F about 20 minutes.
Grilled Italian Sausage with Grapes
- 2 pounds sweet Italian sausage grilled and cut into 2 inch serving pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound seedless red grapes, halved lengthwise
- 4 shallots sliced thin
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons excellent quality balsamic vinegar
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the grapes, shallots and broth and heat.
Stir pepper and salt into the grape-onion mixture and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the grapes are soft but still retain their shape, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
Reduce heat to medium, stir in the grilled sausages, wine and oregano and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the wine is reduced and the sausages are hot.
Arrange the sausages on a serving platter and spoon the grape mixture over the top. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and serve.
Quick Creamy Polenta
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, if using water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup quick cooking polenta
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring the broth and cream to a boil. Add salt and butter, then while stirring, slowly pour in the polenta.
Stir until there are no lumps, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer. After 5 minutes, stir in the Parmesan and turn off the heat. Cover the pan until ready to serve.
Italian Style Peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 16 ounces frozen green peas
- 1 tablespoon chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook about 5 minutes. Add frozen peas, and stir in stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover, cook until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes and serve.
Ricotta Cheesecake with Cherry Sauce
- Soft butter for the pan
- ½ cup crushed Amaretti cookies
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 pounds ricotta cheese, drained
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
- ¼ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups fresh or frozen dark sweet cherries, pitted
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter a 9 inch springform pan. Sprinkle the pan with amaretti cookie crumbles to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.
Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the ricotta, orange zest and sugar. Mix to combine. Beat in the flour.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the amaretto liqueur and salt.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about 75 minutes, until a light golden color.
Make sure the center is firm and the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, overnight or at least for 2 hours.
Remove the sides of the pan and serve with fruit sauce.
For the sauce:
Combine the water, lemon juice, amaretto, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a small pot. Whisk until smooth.
Add the cherries and stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
If you want to serve it warm, you may do so; simply let it cool until it is warm, not hot or cover and refrigerate to store.
Easy Homemade Jam
This is a basic jam recipe and it works with any fruit (other than citrus). You can make jam with whatever fruit grows well where you live. In each season, use the best fruit you can find.
Work in small batches. Three pounds of fruit will yield close to 2 ½ pints of jam. If you want more jars, make two small batches rather than one double batch. The quality of the jam will be much better.
You don’t need to process the jars in a boiling water bath for this recipe. Just store the jam in the refrigerator, where it will last for weeks.
You can also store the jam in the freezer. The Ball Company now makes great containers to store the jam in for the freezer.
The unprocessed homemade jam will not make you ill, because most jams are made from high acid fruits which are not susceptible to botulism.
I made Blackberry Jam using this recipe. It is definitely worth making because the jam has such a fresh and distinct blackberry taste. Not at all like processed jam.
For 2 1/2 pints
- 3 pounds ripe fruit, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon
Clean and cut the fruit as you would for making a fruit salad or fruit pie. For example: remove the caps from strawberries and cut into quarters; or peel, pit and slice peaches into pieces; or trim rhubarb and chop it into chunks.
Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.
The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove the seeds before proceeding with the recipe.
For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one scant cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Stir to combine and taste. Very tart fruit (such as sour cherries, some plums or blackberries) might need a little more sugar. Very sweet fruit (such as white peaches) might need a little more lemon juice. Adjust to taste.
Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.
Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled saucer in the freezer for one minute.
When ready, the cold jam will form a light skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it and it will cling to the saucer when you tilt the saucer upright.
If the cold jam is too runny, bring the pot back to a boil for another minute or two, stirring constantly, then check the set again.
When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Fresh Strawberry Syrup
Delicious over pancakes, cheesecake, ice cream or crepes.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-pint strawberries, stems and leaves removed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat; stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Place half the berries in the jar of a blender; add the syrup. Puree until smooth and pass through a fine sieve or colander.
Chop remaining berries; stir into the strawberry puree. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or freeze in small containers.
Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.
- 2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons butter
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and either lightly grease 12 -15 muffin cups or use paper liners and spray the insides of the papers.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.
Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.
To make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Summer Fruit Salad
Use summer fruits that are in season. I used about 6 cups of cut fruit in this recipe.
Fruit, sliced or cut into cubes
Mint-Lime Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
For the syrup:
Stir together the sugar and mint and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice, and cool 30 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into an airtight container. Cover and chill syrup 4 hours.
For the salad:
Gently toss together the fruit in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup Mint-Lime Simple Syrup, and gently stir to coat. Taste to see if the fruit needs more syrup.
Serve immediately, or cover and chill until serving time.
Peach Barbecue Sauce
This recipe makes one of the best tasting BBQ sauces I have made. It is especially good for grilled chicken.
Yields 4 cups.
- 2 cups peeled and chopped very ripe peaches, about 4 medium peaches
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons onion salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled
Process peaches in a blender 1 minute or until smooth and pour into a medium saucepan. Add all the additional ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.
Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a few cubes at a time, until incorporated. Refrigerate covered until needed.
The Province of Vicenza is located in the Veneto region of northern Italy. The city of Vicenza is the capital of the province and it is a thriving and cosmopolitan city, rich in history and culture with many museums, art galleries, piazzas, villas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi.
Founded in the 2nd century B.C., Vicenza came under Venetian rule from the early 15th to the end of the 18th century. The architectural work of Andrea Palladio (1508–80), gives the area its unique appearance. Palladio’s urban buildings, as well as his villas scattered throughout the Veneto region, had a decisive influence on the region’s development of architecture. His work inspired a distinct architectural style known as Palladian, which spread to England, other European countries and North America.
The region was once under Napoleonic rule and, later, became part of the Austrian Empire. In 1848, however, the populace of Veneto rose up against Austria and the area received the highest award for military valor for the courage it displayed in the uprising. Later, as a part of the Kingdom of Lombardy, the province was annexed to Italy after the 3rd war for Italian independence.
Vicenza was a location of major combat in both World War I and World War II and it was the most damaged city from Allied bombings in the Veneto region.
In the 1960s the region experienced a strong economic development caused by the emergence of small and medium family businesses. In the following years, the region’s economic development grew and huge industrial areas sprouted around the city.
Vicenza is home to the United States Army post Caserma Ederle (Camp Ederle), also known as the U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza. In 1965, Caserma Ederle became the headquarters for the Southern European Task Force, which includes the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Behind the classical Palladian buildings, you will also find a more ancient Vicenza that goes back to the days of a less established social order. The daily strife and power struggles between rival families was well-known to Shakespeare’s audience. If you walk down some of the smaller streets, you may still come across tall bulky houses with defensive turrets, each bearing the family’s coat of arms, and built to defend their ancestral rights and families. The combination of such towers that still watch over the town, led to Vicenza being known as the “City of a Thousand Towers”.
Also, in the province of Vicenza and within easy reach, are the castles of two very renowned rival families. In the town of Montecchio Maggiore, one will find the remains of the hilltop fortresses that belonged to the Montecchi (Montagues) and Capuletti (Capulets), the legendary protagonists of the Romeo and Juliet saga. The elegant villas around Vicenza would make the area worth visiting even without the town. Several were designed by Andrea Palladio, but there are plenty of others to be visited. Among the most well-known is the Villa Valmarana ai Nani (‘of the dwarves’), so-called because of its decorative statues. Nearby is Palladio’s famous villa, La Rotonda, a charming and less formal house. The grand Basilica di Monte Berico, with its three Baroque facades, a painting by Veronese and the views from the hillside are impressive.
Here are some personal photos of the villa a dear friend lived in while working in Vicenza. She was kind enough to share these photos, so you may have a close up view of these magnificent structures and gardens. I am sure you will enjoy viewing them as much as I have.
Thank you to Dolly Alvarez Crooks for photos of my friend Barbara Ferg-Carter’s Vicenza Villa.
The Cuisine of Vicenza
The quality and variety of Vicenza’s local produce and cuisine, is on a par with the very best that Italy has to offer: white asparagus in Bassano, delicate black porcini mushrooms from the Berico hills, cherries of Marostica and the peas of Lumignano. These products have found their way into the traditional pasta, gnocchi and risotto dishes of the area.
The local specialty, Baccalà alla Vicentina, is made with salt-cured cod (stockfish) that is soaked for a couple of days and served with yellow or white polenta.
The most famous local cheese, is Asiago, which comes from Asiago, located in the Vicenza Alps.
The province has numerous wine producers, a third of which are DOC. The cabernet, merlot, tocai and pinot grape varieties are well established and traditional wines include: Durello, Torcolato, Recioto and Raboso.
Make dinner in the Vicenza style with the following recipes:
White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce
- 1 bundle white asparagus, cleaned & trimmed
- 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- Sea salt & pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 4 sprigs lemon thyme
- Lemon slices for garnish
Using a wide, deep pan bring enough salted water to cover the asparagus to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil for 5 minutes.
Drain the asparagus and place in an ice bath. Drain the asparagus and place them on a serving platter.
Using a small saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high and add the minced shallot. Saute for 1 minute, shaking the pan. Be careful not to burn the shallot.
Remove the pan from the heat, turn away from the stove and add the wine. Place the pan back on the burner and add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Continue to cook until slightly reduced.
Add a pinch of sea salt and a couple twists from a pepper grinder. Add the butter and continue to saute until the butter is melted and the sauce is shiny.
Drizzle the sauce over the asparagus and garnish with lemon thyme and lemon slices to serve.
Risotto with Peas
- 6 to 8 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups peas
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup grated Asiago cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh marjoram leaves, plus several sprigs for garnish
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; reduce heat and keep at a low simmer.
Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until they are softened and translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add rice; cook, stirring frequently, until it is thoroughly coated, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it is completely absorbed.
Using a ladle, add 3/4 cup hot stock to the rice mixture; stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it is absorbed.
Continue adding stock, 3/4 cup at time, stirring constantly after each addition, until the rice is mostly translucent but still opaque in the center and the liquid is the consistency of heavy cream, a total of 18 to 20 minutes.
About 12 minutes into the cooking time, stir in the peas. The rice should be al dente but no longer crunchy and the peas tender and bright green. The mixture will continue to thicken slightly when removed from heat.
Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the butter, cheese, chopped marjoram and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with marjoram sprigs.
Cutlets in Tomato Sauce
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium veal or pork cutlets or skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- Half of a small onion, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens. Add the cutlets and cook until golden on all sides, around 5-6 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and freshly ground pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Serve the cutlets with the sauce spooned over the top.
- One 16 ounce package frozen pitted dark sweet cherries, thawed or 3 cups fresh pitted cherries
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 1/4 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a blender or food processor combine the cherries and orange peel. Blend or process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve; discard the pulp. Measure 1 1/2 cups of the cherry mixture and set aside.
In an electric mixer bowl, combine the sugar and egg yolks. Beat on high-speed for 4 minutes. Set aside.
In a large saucepan the combine milk, cream and salt; heat just until simmering. Remove from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes.
Slowly stir 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Return all of the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and add the remaining milk mixture. Combine thoroughly.
Heat and stir for 5 to 6 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon (185 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Be careful not to let mixture boil.
Place the saucepan in a bowl of ice water; stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes to cool.
In a large bowl combine cherry mixture and the egg yolk-milk mixture, stirring until well mixed. Cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
Freeze the chilled mixture in a 2 to 4 quart ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the mixture to a covered freezer container and freeze in your regular freezer for 4 hours before serving.