A quick dinner isn’t so quick, if you’re stuck washing a dozen pots and pans when you’re through. To me, nothing is worse than facing a mountain of dishes in the sink when dinner is over.
However, here is one solution – cook everything on a foiled-covered baking pan. This method ensures you won’t get stuck in the kitchen and it produces a great tasting dinner.
Orange Flavored Baked Chicken, Onions and Potatoes
The recipe is easily doubled or tripled depending on how many diners are at your table.
- 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon. dried chili flakes
- 4 small potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- One large sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves minced
- 4 boneless chicken thighs (about 6 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat and skin removed
- 3/4 to 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Finely grate 1 teaspoon orange zest and squeeze 1 tablespoon of orange juice from the orange. Stir together the juice, zest, oil, salt and the chili flakes in a small bowl.
Place the potatoes and onions on the baking sheet and brush them, on all sides, with some of the orange mixture.
Place the chicken in a medium bowl and pour the remaining oil mixture over the chicken thighs. Turn to coat well. Dredge the chicken in the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken.
Place the chicken on the foiled-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the thighs and vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables and chicken with the minced rosemary.
Note: The recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated until time to cook dinner.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes and onions over. Continue to roast about for 20 minutes more, until the chicken is crisp and golden and the potatoes are lightly browned in spots.
When the chicken is done, remove the potatoes and onions to serving plates and top with the chicken.
Remove the foil from the pan, carefully, and guess what……no pan to wash tonight.
Cucumbers in Sour Cream Dressing
Note: Salting the cucumbers draws out excess moisture and helps keep the salad from getting watery.
Makes 2 servings
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Scoop out the seeds from the halved cucumbers with a spoon and slice into ¼ inch thick half-moons.
Place cucumber and scallion slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and scallion slices and toss to coat.
Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
Reggio Calabria is a province in the Calabria region of Italy. It is the southernmost province in mainland Italy and is separated from the island of Sicily by the Strait of Messina. The Aspromonte mountain range dominates the western part and, with its long coastline, the province is a popular tourist destination during the summer. In 2018, the province will become the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria.
The province features three types of terrain. The west is mountainous with creeks and rivers flowing through the area. The lower hills are terraced for the cultivation of citrus fruits, olives and vines and the wooded areas are covered with chestnuts, beeches, holm oaks, pines and Sicilian firs. The southern part of the province has a coastal plain that extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Ionian Sea.
Eggplant is a favorite vegetable crop and it is prepared in a variety of ways: sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley; coated in egg and breadcrumbs and fried or and stuffed with salted anchovies and breadcrumbs. Sweet peppers, artichokes, zucchini, onions and mushrooms are all abundant.
Coastal waters are rich in tuna, swordfish, sardines and anchovies and in the mountain areas pork is the main meat of this area. There are countless salamis and sausages, as well as all types of homemade pastas. Pecorino is made by every family that owns sheep. The luxury of sweets is usually reserved for holidays.
The food is simple: pastas and vegetables, complemented by olive oil and sausages. Think of various shapes of dried pasta like spaghetti or penne topped with colorful sauces made with combinations of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. All these ingredients frequently make their way into hearty soups.
The province was devastated by the 1908 Messina earthquake. This was followed by a series of tsunamis that brought further damage. In the 1950s there was a mass migration of rural people from Reggio Calabria and other provinces in southern Italy to the cities of Rome, Milan and Turin in the north. They were driven by poverty, the poor soil of the region and the chronic lack of employment opportunities. The Italian government responded by making Catanzaro the regional capital and arranging for the regional assembly to be held at Reggio. A new port was built and it has become a busy container terminal that processes more than three million shipping containers each year. New roads have been built to handle the resulting increase in traffic.
The region is famous for the production of the Bergamot orange. The bergamot orange (pronounced /ˈbɜːrɡəˌmɒt/) is a fragrant fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon. Citrus bergamot is commercially grown in southern Reggio), where more than 80% is produced. Bergamot peel is used in perfume for its ability to combine with an array of scents to form a bouquet of aromas which complement each other. About one-third of all men’s and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil. Bergamot essential oil is popular in aromatherapy. Bergamot is also used in many skin care creams.
An essence extracted from the aromatic skin of this sour fruit is used to flavor Earl Grey tea. It is often used to make marmalade, particularly in Italy. Carpentierbe, a company based in San Giorgio Morgeto, near Reggio Calabria, makes a digestive liqueur derived from bergamot marketed under the name Liquore al Bergamotto.
The juice and zest can be used to flavor cookies, cakes, yogurt and custard. Bergamot oranges pair well with other citrus fruits, seafood, ricotta, mild salad greens, avocado and fresh herbs such as dill, basil and tarragon. Bergamot oranges will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Makes 2 (450 g/1 lb) jars
- 1 lb (500 g) bergamot oranges (about 3 medium)
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
Separate all the seeds from the fruit and place in a muslin bag or in cheesecloth and tie closed.
Puree fruit, skin included (but not the seeds), in a food processor.
In a large heavy bottom pot, add the citrus fruit mixture, juice, bag with seeds and water.
Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until the peels are translucent, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the mixture rest for 2 hours. (It helps to release the pectin and essential oils from the rinds).
Add the sugar to the citrus fruit mixture, bring it to a boil again and reduce to slow simmer. Stir from time to time to make sure that the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
The marmalade will take about 15-20 minutes. Scoop out the muslin bag, squeeze any liquid out of it and give the marmalade a good stir. Remove from the heat and check if it is set.
To test, spoon a teaspoon of hot marmalade onto a small plate. Transfer it to a freezer for 1 minute. Then, tilt the plate to see if the jam “wrinkles.” If so, it’s done.
(If you use a candy thermometer, the temperature should be around 221 F/105 C).
Once the marmalade is cooked, ladle into clean jars and twist on the lids tightly. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
Bergamot Orange Custard Cups
- 4 ounces sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated Bergamot orange zest, plus extra for garnish
- 4 large eggs
- 4 ounces freshly squeezed Bergamot orange juice
- 10 ounces heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the sugar and orange zest on low until thoroughly mixed.
Add the eggs, then the orange juice and then the cream, mixing on low for several seconds after each addition until just combined.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Divide the mixture among 6 ramekins and place them into a roasting pan.
Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake for about 25 minutes, or until just set.
You can tell that the custards are done when they jiggle like gelatin.
Remove the custards from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream garnished with orange zest.
Orange Roasted Chicken
- Zest of 5 bergamot oranges
- 1 cup bergamot orange juice
- 3 finely minced garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped herb mixture (rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, bone-in, skin-on
- ¼ cup butter, softened and room temperature
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 bergamot orange, cut into thick slices for garnish
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Herb sprigs for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine half of the orange zest with the orange juice, garlic, herbs and olive oil. (Set aside the remaining zest for later.)
Stir to combine and pour into a very large zip-lock bag. Add the chicken pieces and move them around to ensure they’re all coated with the marinade.
Seal the bag and place into a bowl (in case it leaks) and then into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter with the paprika and the remaining orange zest.
Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and place them in a 9 X 13 X 2-inch baking dish. (Set aside the marinade in the bag.)
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and then using your hands rub the butter mixture under the skin of each chicken piece and on top of the skin.
Pour the marinade over the chicken and add the orange slices. Place the baking dish in the oven and roast the chicken until it’s cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Baste the chicken several times during cooking.
Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
Fresh Fruit Salad
Use additional in season fruits, if you would like to add them.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons bergamot orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh bergamot orange juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 cups fresh bergamot orange segments
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, optional
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, orange zest, orange juice and water.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pan from the heat, strain through a sieve into a small bowl. Let cool completely.
In a large serving bowl, combine the fruit and mint. Add the orange syrup, stirring to combine. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
Sprinkle with almonds, if using, before serving.
This coming weekend is Memorial Day and the official start of BBQ season. That means lots of ribs, burgers, steaks, kebabs and corn on the cob. If you are going to invite friends over, it will take some planning. What if you are not in the mood for cooking for lots of folks this weekend? Well don’t. You can still have that BBQ shindig, but for just 2 or 3. This is what we will be having at our Memorial Day BBQ.
Grilled Ham Steak with Pear Topping
I am not a huge fan of ham steak, but my husband is, so over the years I have worked on making ham steaks taste good. I learned that to make the meat tender, it is important to marinate the steaks overnight. To avoid a dry end result, cook them quickly on the grill and make a flavorful topping. Here is my recipe and it works for us.
- Juice of one orange – (save the orange rind for the braised carrot recipe below)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 fully cooked boneless ham steak (1- 3/4 pounds)
- 1 Bartlett pear, cored and diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup of pecans
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the marinade ingredients. Add ham; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.
Heat an outdoor grill. Brush the grates with oil
On a sheet of heavy-duty foil large enough to hold the diced pears, place the diced pears and pecans in the center of the foil. Dot with the butter and sprinkle on the brown sugar and ginger.
Close the foil into a package and place on the grill Cook for 10 minutes before placing the ham on the grill.
Drain the ham from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Rotate the pear packet on the grill.
Grill the ham steak over medium-hot heat for 3 minutes on each side, basting frequently with the reserved marinade.
Remove the pear packet and spoon the pear sauce over the ham.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt and pepper; make a well in center of flour mixture.
Whisk together the buttermilk, honey and eggs. Add to the flour mixture and gently incorporate the dry ingredients. Mix in the cheese.
Place the butter in an 8-inch baking pan and place the pan in the oven until the butter melts. Remove the pan from oven and tilt to coat bottom and sides.
Pour the batter into the buttered pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Let cornbread cool 15 minutes before cutting.
Braised Carrots and Fennel
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¾ lb carrots (1 fresh bunch; about 6 or 7) – cut into matchsticks
- 1 fennel bulb – ends trimmed, bulb cut in half, each half cored and cut lengthwise in 1/8″ slices
- 2 strips of orange zest – 1″ x 4″ long
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds – crushed in a mortar
- 5 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the butter, olive oil and honey. Stir well and add the carrots, fennel, orange zest and fennel seeds.
Toss until the slices are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the fennel starts to soften, tossing occasionally.
Add the orange juice, salt and pepper. Toss quickly and reduce heat to between medium and medium-low. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Uncover the pan. Raise heat to high and fast-simmer until the juices have all evaporated, about 5 minutes. Remove orange zest and stir in the dill.
Lemon Coconut Cupcakes
- 18.5 oz pkg. Lemon Supreme cake mix
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and very soft
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- Cupcake liners
This frosting is very stable and does not melt or weep at room temperature like many standard whipped cream frostings or change in any way under refrigeration.
- One 8 oz pkg low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- 2 cups cold heavy (whipping) cream
- Sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Coat muffin cups with cooking spray and place a cupcake liner in each.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cake ingredients. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Using an ice cream scoop fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting
Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and coconut extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth.
While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times, while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.
Spread each cupcake generously with the frosting and top each with sweetened coconut. Press the coconut lightly, so it sticks to the frosting. Chill until serving time.
Passover is a celebration of freedom that is appreciated not only by Jews, but by people all over the world. The Jewish community has long been a significant part of the Italian heritage and culture, as has been their celebration of this important holiday. Since the 2nd century BC, Passover festivities, in Italy, include religious rituals, family gatherings and, of course, food. Through the years, the Italian Jewish community, has developed an Italian style in preparing Passover dishes.
Even though the basic tradition of a Passover Seder remains the same, such as drinking four cups of wine and eating matzo, etc., the Italian influence can be recognized on the Seder table in Italy, as follows:
Maror and chazeret – bitter herbs are used to symbolize the bitterness of slavery.
Haroset all’Italiana – a paste-like mixture of ground dates, oranges, raisins and figs, which are substitutes for the traditional Charoset, a brown compound that stands for the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build pyramids.
Antipasto of bresaola, air dried beef with arugula and lemon.
Stracciatella – an egg-drop soup, is a substitute for the hard-boiled egg that is a mourning food in the Jewish faith, but also signifies the cycle or circle of life.
Carciofi alla Giudia – Jewish style artichokes are fried and are a specialty of the Roman Jewish community.
Marzoh Lasagna (Mazzagne) is prepared with vegetables, matzot and lamb meat.
Lamb is part of the meal because it represents the sacrifice before the destruction of the Temple. Many of Rome’s Jews arrived there just after the time of the destruction of the second Temple and brought (and kept) many of the ancient traditions.
Insalata Sefardita – a salad of romaine, dill and green onions with red wine vinaigrette.
Zucchini Tomato “Lasagne”
- 2 cups raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups good-quality sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), soaked in water for at least 2 hours
- 1 medium ripe tomato, diced
- 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Pinch hot-pepper flakes
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup raw pistachios
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Garnish: whole basil leaves
Place the pignoli nuts, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times, until thoroughly combined.
Gradually add 6 tablespoons water and pulse until the texture becomes fluffy, like ricotta. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Using a mandoline slicer or vegetable peeler, shave zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices, then cut in half crosswise.
Cut the tomatoes in half and each half into thin slices.
Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with two layers of zucchini slices.
Brush the zucchini lightly with olive oil, spread 1⁄3 of the tomato sauce over it, and top with small teaspoons of pignoli filling and pesto, using 1⁄3 of each.
Add 1⁄3 of the tomato slices and sprinkle with 1⁄3 of the oregano and thyme.
Add another double layer of zucchini and repeat twice more with the tomato sauce, pesto, filling, tomato slices and herbs.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving. Garnish with basil.
Passover Spring Lamb
- 3 pounds (1.5 k) kid or spring lamb chops
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3-4 stems Italian parsley, leaves removed
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- The juice of one lemon
Tie the parsley stems together. Place the chops in a skillet with the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and water over low heat.
Simmer for about an hour, or until the meat is fork-tender, then remove and discard the parsley.
Whisk the yolks with the lemon juice, turn the burner off and pour the egg mixture over the meat. Give the skillet a brisk shake to mix in the sauce and heat for a minute or two. Serve at once.
- 2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ slices
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey⁄
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine the carrots, broth, sugar and salt in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the carrots are very tender, 20 minutes.
Drain the carrots, reserving the 1⁄4 cup of cooking liquid.
Heat the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 2–3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and place in a food processor along with the carrots and orange juice; purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add 1–2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid to make a smooth purée. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Italian Passover Cake
- 5 eggs, separated
- 2 cups almond meal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- Garnishes: Powdered sugar and chopped almonds
Grease a 10 inch springform pan or round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Whisk the egg yolks until light in color.
Beat in the rest of the ingredients, except the egg whites, ending with the almond meal. It will be very stiff at this point.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Fold one third of the egg whites into the almond mixture.
Fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture and pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan.
Remove from the pan and sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar and chopped almonds.
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.
Make Vegetables Taste Good
1. Use seasoning
- Salt and pepper vegetables as they cook. Add herbs.
2. Use olive oil
- Fat carries flavor and provides fat soluble vitamins which tend to be lacking in vegetables.
3. Don’t boil your vegetables
- One of the easiest ways to make vegetables taste bad is to boil them. Boiling is also problematic because your vitamins end up down the drain.
4. Roast, saute or stir fry
- Unlike boiling, dry heat methods of cooking help add caramelized flavors to your vegetables and remove excess moisture.
5. Use good quality vegetables
- Buy what is in season and, if possible, locally grown.
6. Use tasty condiments and garnishes
- Add condiments to make vegetables more palatable, such as chili powder or hot sauce, honey or agave, soy sauce, lemon or orange juice, Parmesan cheese, toasted breadcrumbs, bacon, pesto, tahini sauce, yogurt sauce, spices, fruit, mustard sauce, toasted nuts or salsa.
Try some of the recipes below that are easily managed on a weeknight and offer lots of flavor.
Carrot and Sweet Potato Bake
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Add the carrots and sweet potatoes to the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
Stir together cranberries, walnuts, orange juice, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.
Drizzle over the partially cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Gently stir until evenly coated.
Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices halfway through cooking.
Roasted Cauliflower Florets
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 2-1/2 pounds), cut into florets about 1-1/2″ wide*
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Place cauliflower florets into a Ziploc gallon bag, add olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake to coat well and pour out onto a rimmed baking sheet.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove foil and continue roasting another 10 minutes until florets are golden on one side. Carefully turn the florets over, sprinkle with cheese and roast an additional 10 minutes or until golden all over.
Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.
Broccoli with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
- 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring 1″ of water to a boil over high heat in a 4-quart saucepan. Place a small rack or steaming basket in the bottom of the pot.
Place broccoli on the rack in the saucepan; cover and steam over medium-high heat until bright green, about 3 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer broccoli to a serving bowl. Add pine nuts, vinegar, oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Serves 6 -8
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 cups shredded savoy cabbage (about 1 normal-sized head)
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Fresh ground black pepper
In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat; add onion, cabbage, garlic and brown sugar to the pan.
Sauté until the cabbage is limp, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth and thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan.
Cook, stirring a few times, for approximately 20 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Sautéed Kale with Cannellini Beans
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
- 1 large bunch kale (about 1 pound), stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 cup vegetable broth or low-salt chicken broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper; stir until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute.
Add kale by large handfuls; stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more, tossing with tongs to coat with the oil.
Add broth, cover and simmer until the greens are tender. Add beans; simmer uncovered until the beans are heated through and liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Stir in sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Ring in the New Year in Style
Pan-Seared Salmon with Linguine
Makes 4 servings
- Four 5 ounce pieces of fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, thawed and dried
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup finely chopped, pitted green olives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Pepperoncini peppers
- Cooked Linguine
Sprinkle salmon with salt. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add salmon. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish or until fish just flakes when tested with a fork, turning once. Transfer to a serving platter. Cover; keep warm.
For the pesto:
Add remaining oil to the skillet. Add onion and dried tomatoes; cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in cherry tomatoes, olives, basil, and crushed red pepper. Stir to heat through. Season to taste with salt.
Spoon tomato mixture over salmon. Top with additional fresh basil and serve with cooked pasta and pepperoncini peppers.
Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 pound domestic duck
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 small orange, quartered
- 1 stalk celery, cut up
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup orange liqueur
- ¼ cup mild-flavor molasses
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 cups blackberries
Adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse duck body cavity; pat dry. Rub cavity with the 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place orange, celery, onion, and thyme in cavity. Skewer neck skin to back; tie legs to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Brush duck with the 2 tablespoons orange liqueur.
Place duck, breast side down, on rack in a shallow roasting pan. Add the hot water to the roasting pan. Place in lower third of oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove roasting pan from oven; drain fat.* Turn duck, breast side up. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes more or until drumsticks move easily in their sockets (165 degrees F). Juices may still appear pink.
Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan whisk together orange peel, orange juice, brown sugar, the 1/4 cup orange liqueur, the molasses, ginger, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened and syrupy. Stir in 2 cups blackberries. Use a potato masher or fork to coarsely mash berries. Cover and set aside.
Transfer duck to a cutting board; let stand for 15 minutes. Discard stuffing mixture. Using kitchen shears, cut duck in half lengthwise. Cut each half between the breast and the thigh into 2 pieces. Drain fat from roasting pan. Arrange duck quarters in pan. Pour blackberry sauce over the duck. Return to oven. Roast in the 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes.
Transfer duck pieces to a serving platter. Pour any juices in the roasting pan over the duck pieces.
Makes: 6 servings
- 3 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved horizontally (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Garlic-herb cheese, see recipe below
- 1 ounce baby arugula or baby spinach (about 1 cup packed)
- ¾ cup jarred roasted red sweet peppers, drained well and chopped
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup purchased or homemade pesto
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken breast halves between pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each to 1/4-inch thickness.
Season one side of each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Spread each breast with the herb cheese to the edges. Top with arugula, peppers, and green onion.
Press down on toppings, then roll up tightly, starting from a short end; secure with toothpicks. Brush pesto over rolls. Transfer to an oiled 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center (170 degrees F). Let stand 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks and slice crosswise to serve.
GARLIC HERB CHEESE
Stir 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed and 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed, into 3 ounces of cream cheese.
Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter
Makes: 4 servings
- Four 8 ounce fresh or frozen lobster tails
- 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup butter, plus extra for serving
Thaw lobster tails, if frozen. Preheat broiler. Butterfly the lobster tails by cutting through the center of the hard top shells and meat. Spread the halves of tails apart. Place lobster tails, meat side up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.
In a small skillet cook garlic, orange peel, and chili powder in butter over medium heat about 30 seconds or until garlic is tender. Brush mixture over lobster meat.
Broil 4 inches from heat for 12 to 14 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque. Serve with extra melted butter.
Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 beef tenderloin steaks (filet mignon), cut about 3/4 inch thick
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup dry red wine
- ½ cup reduced-sodium beef broth
- 4 tablespoons finely shallots
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream (no substitutes for this dish)
- Salt and Pepper
Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter; reduce heat to medium. Cook steaks about 3 minutes per side or until medium rare (145 degrees F). Transfer steaks to a platter. Cover with foil; let stand for 5 minutes while preparing sauce.
Add wine, beef broth and shallots to the hot skillet. Using a whisk, stir and scrape up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced.. Lower heat to medium low.
Stir in cream; stir in the remaining tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until butter is melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the evenly sauce over steaks and serve immediately.