Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Rice

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Tips On Grilling Shellfish

The flavor of shellfish benefits significantly from grilling. Removing the shellfish from the grill before they become too well done and rubbery is the biggest challenge. Watching closely for shellfish to turn opaque (non-transparent), removing them from the grill and serving them immediately are key to delicious tasting fish.

Prepare scallops for grilling by cutting off the curved shaped appendage that is attached to the side of the body, if still intact.

Prepare shrimp by removing the shell and the vein that runs along the back. Personal preference dictates whether to leave the tail on or off.

Marinating shellfish in a flavorful oil will help to prevent the tendency of the scallops and shrimp to dry out.

Two skewers work best to prevent the seafood from spinning or turning on the grill.

Grill shrimp on each side for 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the shrimp. Cook scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on their size.

Tips On Grilling Vegetables

Make room on the grill for vegetables. The caramelized, smoky flavor that comes with grilling does wonders for vegetables. A lot of veggies do well on the grill, but some really stand out — asparagus, corn, eggplant, squash, mushrooms, peppers and onions.

Most vegetables cook better and are less likely to stick if they’re marinated first or brushed lightly with vegetable oil.

For added flavor, sprinkle grilled vegetables with chopped fresh herbs. Cut the vegetables all about the same size for even cooking.

If you use wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for 20 minutes.

Marinade for the Shellfish and Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

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Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a measuring cup. Divide in half. Use one half for the shellfish and one half for the vegetables.

Grilled Shellfish Skewers

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For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sea scallops
  • 6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Marinade, recipe above
  • 2 double skewers
  • Green Goddess Dressing, recipe below

Grilled Vegetable Skewers

For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a Fennel bulb, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 of a Red Bell Pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small Zucchini, cut into 2 inch slices
  • Marinade, recipe above
  • 2 double skewers
  • Green Goddess Dressing, recipe below

Directions

Marinate the shellfish and vegetables separately for 30  minutes. Drain and thread the scallops on one double skewer and the shrimp on a second double skewer.

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Do the same with the vegetables. Save any marinade left in the bowl to use as a basting sauce.

Preheat an outdoor grill to high and grease the grill grates with oil.

Place the vegetable skewers on the grill first, since they will take longer to cook. Cook until the vegetables are tender, turning and basting them with the olive oil mixture occasionally, about 15 minutes.

After the vegetables have cooked for 10 minutes, place the shellfish skewers on the grill.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve the grilled shellfish and vegetables with the Green Goddess Dressing.

Green Goddess Dressing

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This may be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This dressing is also delicious drizzled over hard-boiled eggs.

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place the chives, parsley, anchovy fillets, tarragon and vinegar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  

With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream, scraping down the sides, and process until pureed. Add the sour cream and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Store in the refrigerator until serving time.

Brown and Wild Rice with Pecans and Thyme

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup brown and wild rice mix, without seasoning. (I use Lundberg rice)
  • 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock

Directions

In heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, saute the onion in oil until softened. Add rice and saute 2-3 minutes, stirring so it does not get too brown.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat to very low, cover and cook for about 50 minutes. (Check your rice package to see what the recommended cooking time is.)

After 50 minutes, check the rice. It should be slightly chewy with all the liquid absorbed when it’s done. Stir in the toasted pecans.

Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Serve hot.

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Portrait of Antonio Stradivari by Alton S. Tobey, 1971. Collection of Oberlin College Library, Oberlin Ohio. To learn more about the artist: http://www.altontobey.com/AA.html#ago

Cremona is a province in the Lombardy region of Italy and occupies the central section of the Padana Plain, so the whole territory is flat, without mountains or hills, crossed by several rivers and artificial canals, most of which are used for irrigation. The river Po, which is the longest Italian river, is a natural boundary adjoining the Province of Piacenza. The area is about an hour south of Milan by train.

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The city of Cremona has a strong musical tradition. The cathedral, built in the twelfth century, provided a focus for musical activity and, by the sixteenth century, the town was the musical center of the region. Even now it attracts people to hear performances by ensembles and attend the many musical festivals and concerts. The city of Cremona is the birthplace of Stradivarius. The town became renowned for the violins and other musical instruments that were made here by many members of the Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri and Bergonzi families of luthiers, who were all prominent citizens of Cremona.

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The principal economic resources of the province are agricultural. Rice is grown with the help of water drawn from the canals. Other crops include maize (corn) and barley and to a lesser extent, soya and sugar beet. Grapes are cultivated, wine is produced and there is also a silk industry. The farms in the province are some of the most productive in the country. Beef and dairy cattle are raised here. Beef serves as a main ingredient for local dishes and the milk is used to create traditional cheeses, as well as butter and cream. The area is famous for its food specialities, such as nougat (Italian: torrone) and mustard, the famed Mostarda di Cremona, a sweet and spiced fruit preserve, served with the classic stew called bollito misto.

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Cremona’s location at the border of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna brings influences from both: charcuterie like cotecchino and salame; grana padana cheese; stuffed pasta specialties like marubini and tortelli di zucca and the tramezzini sandwich, made on spongy, white bread stuffed with ham, tuna, eggs and artichokes and slathered with mayonnaise.

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Rice became known in Europe, after being imported from Egypt and west Asia. It was known to Greece (where it is still cultivated) by returning soldiers from Alexander the Great’s military expedition to Asia. Large deposits of rice from the first century A.D. have been found in Roman camps in Germany and the Moors brought Asiatic rice to the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century. Records indicate it was grown in Valencia and Majorca. In Majorca, rice cultivation seems to have stopped after the Christian conquest, although historians are not certain.

Muslims brought rice to Sicily, where it was an important crop long before it is was grown in the plains of Pisa (1468) or in the Lombard plains (1475), where its cultivation was promoted by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, and demonstrated in his model farms. After the 15th century, rice spread throughout Italy and then to France, eventually reaching all the continents during the age of European exploration. Rice is a main component in Italian cuisine.

Veal and Rice Croquettes

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups (440g/14 oz) short-grain rice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup (50 g/l⅔ oz) grated Parmesan
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Dry breadcrumbs

Meat Filling

  • 1 dried porcini mushroom
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 125 g (4 oz) minced veal
  • 2 slices prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) white wine
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Directions

Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, without rinsing and cool.

Put the rice in a large bowl and stir in the egg, egg yolk and Parmesan. Stir until the rice sticks together. Cover and set aside.

To make Meat Sauce: Soak the mushroom in hot water for 10 minutes to soften, squeeze dry and finely chop.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the mushroom and onion; cook for 2–3 minutes until soft. Add the meat and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes until browned.

Add the prosciutto, tomato paste, wine, thyme and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the parsley. Set aside to cool.

With wet hands, form the rice mixture into 10 balls. Wet your hands again, pull the balls apart and place 3 heaping teaspoons of the meat sauce in the center of each.

Remold to enclose the filling; roll in flour, beaten egg and then breadcrumbs. Chill for 1 hour.

Deep-fry the croquettes in oil, two at a time, for 3–4 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while frying the remainder. Serve immediately.

Insalata di Riso

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Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 kilo / 1 pound of rice
  • 1 jar Italian condiriso (or half cup of canned corn and some chopped green olives and cocktail onions), drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of lemon
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth

Directions

Bring chicken broth and enough water to fill a pot large enough to cook all the rice, to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the rice and cook until tender. Drain.

While the rice is cooking, put the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice.

Add warm, drained rice to the vegetable mixture. Stir and let come to room temperature.

Taste and adjust for seasonings. Add as much pepper and lemon juice as you’d like.

Variations: You can add other herbs like basil and chives. Also add any other chopped raw vegetables, like zucchini or scallions, and/or tuna and feta cheese.

Risotto Ubriaco (Drunken Risotto)

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Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1  onion, finely chopped
  • 4  cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2  tablespoons/30ml olive oil
  • 1  cup/250ml smoked pork belly, diced into 1/2 inch (5mm) pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups/875 ml carnaroli rice, unwashed
  • 2  cups/500ml full-bodied red wine
  • 6  cups/1.5L light chicken stock
  • 2  tablespoons/30ml butter
  • 4  tablespoons/60ml grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Heat the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the diced pork belly and stir to mix well.

Add the rice and toast it, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, for 2-3 minutes, until it is very hot but not browned.

Pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed or evaporated.

Add the chicken stock, a ladleful at a time, letting the rice absorb most of the liquid before adding more stock until the rice is tender but firm.

Be careful toward the end not to add too much stock –  the risotto should be creamy, not soupy. This process should take 16-18 minutes in total.

When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano; stir vigorously to fluff. Serve at once in individual bowls.

Italian Rice and Bean Soup

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped fine
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini white beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried  Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 cup rice
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook rice according to package instructions.

While the rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add garlic, onion and celery and cook until soft, for about four minutes.

Add stock, tomatoes and seasoning and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, stir in the beans and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cooked rice and serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese,

Radicchio and Fennel Risotto

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Ingredients

  • 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock
  • 90 g (3½ oz) butter
  • 225 g (8 oz) fennel, finely sliced
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 350 g (12 oz) arborio or carnaroli risotto rice
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) dry white wine
  • 175 g (6 oz) radicchio, shredded
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 15 g ( ½ oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15 g ( ½ oz) fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 75 g (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra to serve if liked
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan and keep hot.

Melt half the butter in a large, deep frying pan, add the fennel and shallots and cook gently for 5 minutes, until tender.

Add the rice and stir well until it is covered with butter. Add the wine and shredded radicchio and season with pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until the wine has evaporated.

Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and cook over a moderate heat, stirring, until it has been absorbed.

Continue adding the stock by ladle, stirring constantly, until it has all, or nearly all, been used and the rice is just tender. This should take about 18-20 minutes.

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, parsley, basil, Parmesan and the remaining butter.

Cover and leave to rest for 1 minute, then stir again. Serve with more Parmesan if required.

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Mardi Gras 2016 Pensacola, Florida

When you hear it is Mardi Gras time, you probably think of New Orleans and Rio with floats and parades and lots of carnival beads.

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But did you know that Mardi Gras is also one of the great Italian holiday traditions? The ancient Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a lot of food, drink and general debauchery. When the Christian religion emerged in ancient Rome, its leaders decided to use the pagan festivals to their advantage rather than try to outlaw them. Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter, starts a period of Lent fasting and abstinence in the Christian church. Knowing that a period of lean eating was coming, the idea of Carnival or Carnevale was born and it was combined with those ancient Roman feasts to create Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday”.  Originally, Carnevale  was just one day – the Tuesday immediately before Ash Wednesday. It was a day when families would cook luxurious, rich food in preparation for the forty days of the Lent.

Carnevale in Campania, Italy

Carnevale in Campania, Italy

The tradition was adopted by the French who gave it its present name and added the tradition of dressing up. By the end of the 17th Century, the Mardi Gras festival had come to America. The tradition of Mardi Gras then spread, literally, across the world.

In Italy certain foods are traditional for Carnevale. On the Amalfi Coast and throughout much of southern Italy there’s a migliaccio di polenta made with corn meal, sausages and grated cheese. Naples serves a very rich Lasagne di Carnevale. Throughout much of the Peninsula, however, Carnevale is an occasion for lots of sweet pastries – fried fritters of one kind or another that are quick to make and fun to eat. There are three broad categories made throughout Italy: Lombard’s Chiacchiere, Tuscany’s Cenci and Rome’s Frappe – all sound quite different but look and taste alike.

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In America, King Cake and classic Cajun and Creole favorites like Gumbos, Jambalaya, Hurricanes, Beignets, Étouffées, Moon Pies and Fried Po Boy Sandwiches are all traditional Mardi Gras foods. The next few days we will be celebrating Mardi Gras here on the Gulf Coast with lots of parades, parties and much food. The photos above are from the parade on Friday.

Want to celebrate Mardi Gras with delicious food but without all the fat and calories, try some of the makeover recipes below.

BBQ Shrimp with Remoulade

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Traditional New Orleans BBQ Shrimp are usually cooked in 1 ½ cups of butter. See original New Orleans’ recipe from Mr. B’s.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 small bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 3/4 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Chopped parsley
  • Remoulade Sauce, recipe below

Directions

In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium high. Add celery, scallion whites and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add Creole seasoning and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add Worcestershire, lemon and shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink and coated with sauce, about 4 minutes. Garnish with scallion greens and parsley.

Serve with Remoulade sauce on the side.

Remoulade Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1  tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
  • 1  teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1  teaspoon sweet relish
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a small serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Creole-Style Black-Eyed Peas

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This dish gets its smoky flavor from lean Canadian bacon and ground chipotle pepper.

.Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 6 ounces sliced Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Directions

In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the water and black-eyed peas. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, cover, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.

Drain the water and return the peas in the saucepan. Add the broth, tomatoes, onion, celery, green pepper, Canadian bacon, garlic, mustard, chipotle pepper, Cajun seasoning and bay leaf. Stir together and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer slowly for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water, if necessary, to keep the peas covered with liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste..

Remove the bay leaf, pour into a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

Blackened Catfish with Creole Mustard

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Creole mustard is a spicy, hot mustard that you can usually find in the grocery stores.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Olive oil for brushing on the fish
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 (4 to 6-ounce) catfish fillets
  • 1 medium lemon, cut into 8 wedge

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the paprika, cayenne, salt, thyme, black pepper and sugar in a small bowl and stir to evenly combine; set aside.

Brush both sides of the fish lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with the blackening spice mixture. Press on the spices to make them adhere to the fish.

Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat until very hot and add the fish to the dry, hot pan. Cook the fish for 2 minutes.

Remove the fillets from the pan and place the fish, uncooked side down, onto a baking sheet pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until the fish is cooked.

Mix the mustard and softened butter together. Top each cooked fish with a little mustard butter and serve with lemon.

Chicken Jambalaya

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6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 stalks celery, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs, skin removed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 links pre-cooked Cajun-style andouille sausage or sun-dried tomato chicken sausage (about 6 oz), halved lengthwise, cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • One 14 1/2-oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onions for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add celery and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.

Add onion and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are almost tender, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until browned,

Stir in sausage, broth, 3/4 cup of water, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, paprika and cayenne. Stir in rice, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 50 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste and garnish with green onions.

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How to get back on track:

Have Breakfast

Not only does it reset your body by getting your metabolism going, but it also helps you set the tone mentally for a regular eating day.

Hydrate

Water helps you feel full, so you won’t be as tempted to carry your overeating into the next day.

Squeeze in Some Exercise

It will make you  feel so much better.

Have a Filling Salad for Lunch

The water in the veggies will help hydrate you and keep you feeling full until dinner.

Cook Dinner at Home

Go for clean foods, like a piece of broiled fish with roasted veggies and a whole grain like quinoa or barley. They’ll give you the nutrients you need and you won’t be hungry.Choose lean cuts of meat and avoid oversized portions. A serving of protein should be no more than 3 ounces (85 grams) — or about the size of a deck of cards — and should take up no more than one-fourth of your plate. Vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate. Whole grains make up the rest. Try a few meatless meals each week for added health benefits.

A few really tasty recipes follow to get you started.

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Roasted Vegetable Crepes

Crepes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces softened reduced fat cream cheese

Directions

To prepare the crepes:

Place flour in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk and water until smooth. Whisk

in eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter and salt. Let stand 10 minutes. (This allows the flour to absorb the liquid.)

Heat an 8 or 9 inch crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly brush the pan with some of the remaining melted butter.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into the center of the pan. Quickly tilt in all directions. (Batter should lightly cover the bottom of the pan.) Cook 30 seconds. Lift edge with a spatula to check doneness. Shake and jerk the pan by its handle to loosen the crepe. Turn crepe over and  cook 15 to 20 seconds. Second side will be spotty brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter and melted butter. Makes 10 crepes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare the filling:

Makes about 3 cups.

Place zucchini, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, thyme and pepper. Roast 30 minutes or until tender.

Spread 2 tablespoons of cream cheese on half of each crepe. Top with about 1/3 cup roasted vegetables. Fold in half, then in half again. Serve with a green salad.

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Winter Vegetable Stew 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large red onion, cut crosswise into 1/3 inch thick rounds
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red skinned or yellow gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips–peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • Flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to a casserole dish.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add potatoes and butternut squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to the roasting pan. Repeat the cooking process using another tablespoon of oil and the acorn squash and parsnips.

Add the broth to the skillet and bring to a simmer over high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the broth over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and add the marjoram. Cover and cook the vegetables in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until just tender when pierced. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve with a slice of crusty country bread.

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Tomato, Zucchini and Eggplant Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or mashed
  • One 14-ounce loaf Italian bread, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a colander, toss the eggplant and zucchini with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain well and gently squeeze out any excess liquid.

In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the garlic. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic-infused oil.

Tear the bread into 2-inch pieces and line the bottom of the baking dish with the bread, fitting the pieces tightly together. Drizzle the bread with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and sprinkle the bread with half of the basil leaves.

In a medium bowl, toss the eggplant and zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes over the bread, overlapping them as necessary. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese and drizzle with the remaining garlic oil.

Bake the gratin for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown and the bottom of the bread is golden brown. Remove the vegetable gratin from the oven and let stand until cooled slightly, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining basil, cut into serving pieces.

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Italian Style Stuffed Peppers

4 servings

Directions

  • 4 medium bell peppers
  • 1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup drained, canned whole Italian tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought tomato sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Slice off the stem end of peppers and remove and discard seeds and membranes. Submerge the peppers in a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes; drain.

Brown ground beef and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drain on paper towels.

Return meat mixture to the skillet. Add tomatoes, breaking them into pieces with a spoon, and cook until the liquid evaporates. Remove meat mixture from heat; stir in wild rice, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning.

Spoon 1/2-cup portions of the mixture into the peppers; sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and cheese.

Place peppers in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon tomato sauce over peppers and return to oven until heated.

healthyeating5

Broccoli Swiss Quiche

6 servings

Easy Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Quiche Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces reduced fat milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions for making the crust:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Into 8 or 9 inch Quiche pan or pie plate, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Combine the oil and milk in a measuring cup and pour over the flour mixture.

Mix with fork till all the flour is dampened.

Press dough evenly against the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Crimp edges.

Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until the pastry is set and dry.

Remove the pie plate from the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Directions for the Quiche Filling:

In a mixing bowl whip eggs with a wire whisk and stir in the broccoli, shredded Swiss cheese, milk, garlic, onion, salt and pepper; stir until blended.

Assembling the Quiche:

Pour into baked pastry crust. Place the tomato slices on top of Quiche mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until Quiche tests done in center. Protect pastry crust with foil at the end of the cooking time to prevent over browning.

Cool on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

opinion1


sidedishescover

Once you determine your holiday main course, the next decision focuses on side dishes to accompany your meal. As we sift through family favorites and long forgotten recipe books, we mentally calculate how long each dish will take to prepare and do we have enough oven, stove and refrigerator space to cook and store everything. Delicious side dishes do not need to be complicated or expensive. In fact, with a little planning, most side dishes can be made with 5 or 6 common ingredients and prepared in a short amount of time.

Choose recipes that call for in season fruits and vegetables. These generally cost less than out of season produce. Winter favorites include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rapini, collard greens, spinach, fennel, cabbage, sweet potato, squash, yams, parsnips, kale, spinach, pomegranates, pears, clementine oranges, cranberries and apples. This way your side dishes will taste fresh.

Don’t select side dish recipes that require an oven, if you are also roasting meat at the same time. If oven space is limited, choose recipes that can be prepared on the stove top.

Create dishes that mix red, green, yellow and orange-colored fruits or vegetables to form a medley of vibrant colors. You don’t need lots of ingredients to create delicious side dishes. You need ingredients that combine well together and offer a variety of flavors such as sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Try adding fruit to bitter greens for an interesting taste sensation, or spicy chilies to sweet squash. Often, one or two different spices or herbs are all you need to bring out the flavors in your dish. If you plan to have several side dishes available, try to select dishes that are different from one another in flavor, texture and overall presentation. Create one sweet, one spicy, one sour. Your guests will love the variety.

All these side dishes will be good accompaniments for the main dishes from Monday’s post.

sidedishes1

Chunky Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 of a small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Heat a pan with a lid or cover on medium; add diced onion and garlic; simmer until onions have turned slightly transparent (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile chop sweet potatoes into approximately 1 x 1 x 1 inch/cm chunks; add to the pan when the onions are ready, as well as the salt and cover the pan.

Allow potatoes to cook covered, for 20-30 minutes on medium heat until the potatoes are soft. Uncover and mix every 5-10 minutes in between. Add rosemary, cumin and cinnamon to the pan 10 minutes after adding potatoes.

sidedishes2

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Broccoli Rabe
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, lightly smashed, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh plum (Roma) tomatoes, peeled, seeded & cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or Italian parsley, chopped

Directions

Wash broccoli rabe and dry on paper towels. Remove the large tough leaves, leaving just the tender leaves and flower buds.  Cut off and discard the lower part of the stems, leaving the broccoli about 8-inches long and slice into 3 or 4-inch lengths.

Add olive oil and garlic cloves to a large heavy frying pan. Over low heat, slowly sauté garlic until golden on all sides. This can take about 10 minutes.

Add the broccoli rabe to the pan, tossing to coat with garlic and oil. Add tomatoes and toss for a minute or so to remove excess water from the tomatoes. Add chicken stock and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add lemon juice, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, salt & pepper.Taste for seasoning; adjust if necessary.

sidedishes3

Italian Rice & Savoy Cabbage

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) Vialone Nano or other short-grained rice, e.g. Arborio
  • 1 pound (450 g) Savoy cabbage
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (40 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • Salt & white pepper to taste
  • 4 cups (1 liter) beef broth, stock, or water, simmering
  • ¾ cup crushed Italian tomatoes

Directions

Strip off and discard any blemished outer leaves the cabbage may have. Separate the rest, rinse them and shred them.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot and sauté the chopped onion and celery. Add the cabbage leaves and continue cooking, stirring them about with a spoon, until they have wilted. Add a cup of hot broth to the pot, cover and simmer over a low flame for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice, add the remaining hot broth and crushed tomatoes, add seasoning and simmer until the rice reaches the al dente stage and the broth is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes.

Stir the cheese into the rice and check the seasoning.

sidedishes4

Leeks & Spinach Saute

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium leeks, white and lightest green parts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a large pinch
  • 4 cups (packed) washed and stemmed fresh spinach leaves, torn into smaller pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Directions

Trim the ends from the leeks. Slice the leeks across into thin rings (about 1/8-inch thick), discarding any woody stem in the center. Put the sliced leeks in a bowl and cover them with tepid water. Swish them around a bit and let them sit. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and transfer to a colander. Drain and rinse the sand from the bowl, return the leeks to the bowl and cover again with tepid water. Lift, drain and repeat one more time, leaving the leeks in the water with the last wash.

Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.  Lift the leeks out of the water and add them to the pan with whatever water is clinging to them. Season with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are limp and all of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are very lightly golden brown, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and a pinch of salt and fold or gently stir them in with the leeks until they are wilted, about 1 minute. Add the fresh thyme and the cream and remove the pan from the heat.

Gently stir until the cream is mostly absorbed into the dish and the thyme is well-distributed. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Taste for salt and serve.

sidedishes5

Creamy Fettuccine With Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini or shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half or light cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat, add salt and the spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Prior to draining the pasta reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the oil and butter. When the butter melts add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper to taste; sauté 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid. Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until the liquid evaporates.

Remove the pan the from heat.  Add the hot cooked pasta, half & half and cheese to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until needed for moistness and continue to toss. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

I-wish-you-a-Merry-Christmas-Message


The Piazza Barberini menorah designed by Galia Raccah and engineer Daniel Raccah is an architectural marvel weighing 6,878 pounds and standing at 22.5 feet. (Photos: Francesca Di Majo, public relations office of Rome)

The Piazza Barberini menorah designed by Galia Raccah and engineer Daniel Raccah is an architectural marvel weighing 6,878 pounds and standing at 22.5 feet. (Photos: Francesca Di Majo, public relations office of Rome)

Hanukkah (also Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights. The word Hanukkah means rededication (hanu kan). Today, the celebration honors the hard-fought victory for freedom. It is an eight-day holiday. The first night usually includes a big family dinner and after dinner the family gathers to light the menorah candles. Blessings and songs are part of the ceremony.

Given its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah has taken on holiday importance in the United States and in many other countries where Christmas has been commercialized. It is traditional to exchange gifts with friends and relatives on each night of Hanukkah. With over thirty-thousand Jews calling Italy home, it isn’t surprising that Hanukkah is celebrated just as passionately as Christmas.

No festivities are complete without delicious treats and the Jewish communities celebrate with a fried feast. Fried Chicken, fried eggplant, latkes (potato pancakes) and sweet fried dough fritters are all part of an Italian Hanukkah meal.

Italian Hanukkah Specialties

hanukkaheggplant

Melanzane alla Giudia (Jewish-Style Eggplant)

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Cut the eggplant into quarters lengthwise. Cut out the seeds and much of the flesh, leaving about ½-inch along the skin. Cut the eggplant into bite sized pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Add the eggplant and stir to coat in oil. Cook, partially covered and stirring often, until tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

hanukkahcheese

Fried Cheese with Tomato Sauce

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and saute over high heat until transparent, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, add sugar and saute until tomatoes are very soft, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cool. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Cheese

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, finely diced
  • 6 eggs, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 sprigs parsley, stems removed
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup flour
  • Oil for frying

Directions

Melt mozzarella in a double boiler set over, but not touching, simmering water. Pour the cheese into the large mixing bowl of an electric mixer and beat in 2 eggs.

Add 1/4 cup bread crumbs, oregano, one clove of the garlic and salt. Mix well.

Press cheese mixture into 8-inch square glass dish. Cover and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Lightly beat remaining 4 eggs in bowl. Blend in vermouth. Set aside.

In a processor or blender, process remaining bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and remaining garlic. Set aside.

Cut cheese mixture into 1 1/2-inch squares (about 15 pieces). Dip each into flour, then egg mixture and finally into bread crumb mixture to coat evenly.

Place on paper towels and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees F in heavy skillet or deep fryer. Fry cheese pieces, a few at a time, until evenly golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute.

Drain on paper towels. Serve at once with the tomato sauce.

hanukkahchicken

Fried Chicken Cutlets, Italian-Jewish Style

This is an adaptation of “Pollo Fritto per Chanuka”, a recipe from Edda Servi Machlin’s, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, (Dodd, Mead & Co.)  This is a traditional Hanukkah dish in Italy.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges or tomato sauce for serving

Directions

Combine the salt, nutmeg, garlic salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chicken cutlets evenly on both sides with the mixture.

Place the cutlets in a shallow bowl or container. Mix the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small measuring cup and pour over the cutlets, lifting them to make sure that the liquid reaches all surfaces.

Cover and let the chicken marinate for an hour or place in the refrigerator for up to several hours. Move the cutlets around once in a while to insure evenness of seasoning.

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pan. Place the flour and beaten eggs in separate pie plates or shallow bowls.

Coat the cutlets in flour and then in the beaten egg.  Fry in the hot oil over moderately high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Serve immediately or place in a preheated 400-degree F oven with the door slightly open (broiler-style) for up to 10 minutes, in order to keep warm and crisp. Serve with lemon wedges or tomato sauce.

hanukkahpolenta

Polenta Squares

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Marinated grape tomatoes, optional

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Add polenta slowly, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until polenta comes away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While still hot, spread polenta about 1-inch thick onto an oiled baking pan. Cool, cover and refrigerate until cold and firm, several hours or overnight.

Cut polenta into 2 inch squares and transfer to a large platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet and brown polenta, turning occasionally, until crispy on both sides, about 8 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining polenta, adding additional oil as needed. Serve immediately or reheat just before serving. Garnish with marinated grape tomatoes, if desired.

hanukkahricefritters

Sweet Rice Frittelle

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup medium-grain rice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Oil for frying
  • Granulated sugar for garnish

Directions

Mix rice and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the pan. As rice begins to cook, add 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and zest.

Cover the pan and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid and is reduced to a soft pudding, 20 minutes. Stir in butter and set aside to cool.

When the rice mixture cools, add egg yolks one at a time, then the vanilla and then the flour, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Heat oil in large saucepan to 360 to 375 degrees F.

Beat egg whites with dash of salt until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over them and continue beating until stiff.

Gently fold beaten egg whites into the rice mixture. (May be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to fry.)

Working in batches, drop batter by tablespoons into the hot oil and fry, turning once, until frittelle are crisp and brown, about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and roll in sugar while hot.


 

 

soupcover

As the weather cools, there’s nothing better than filling, warming soups loaded with a variety of gorgeous fall vegetables. The foundation of onion and carrots is enhanced with chunks of squash, potatoes and strips of hearty greens in a broth infused with herbs and spices. Here are a few easy, to make soup recipes, using seasonal ingredients for you to try. What is your favorite fall soup?

soup1

Autumn Chowder

Serves: 4

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 ears corn
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

In a large pot on medium, heat oil. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir until coated and thickened, about 45 seconds.

Cut corn kernels off the cobs, reserving cobs. Add corn cobs, broth, milk, coriander and thyme to the pot. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cobs.

Add corn kernels and sweet potato. Continue to cook until sweet potato is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in half-and-half, salt and pepper and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

soup3

Hearty Greens and Pasta Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic , chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion , chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 carrots , chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound) , roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch escarole (about 1/2 pound) , stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound dried bow tie (farfalle) pasta
  • 1 (3-inch) Parmigiano-Reggiano rind , plus grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish
  • 1/4 pound baby spinach

Directions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid is released and absorbed, about 5 minutes more. Add carrots and 8 cups water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Stir in chard, escarole, pasta and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until broth is flavorful and greens and pasta are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and season with salt and pepper.

Remove and discard bay leaf and cheese rind from soup then ladle into bowls, garnish with grated cheese and serve.

soup2

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin 
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, toasted

Directions

Lightly coat an unheated large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray. Add olive oil; heat over medium-high heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook and stir until leeks start to brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pumpkin, broth, pepper and cloves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. (Or use an immersion blender directly in the saucepan.) Return all of the pureed mixture to saucepan.

Stir in the milk, water and honey; heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.

soup4

Brown Rice Chicken Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion , chopped
  • 3 medium carrots , chopped
  • 2 stalks celery , chopped
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 whole boneless chicken breast , cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch of your favorite greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards) thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onion, carrots and celery and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, water, rice, chicken and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender.

Remove bay leaf and stir in greens and continue cooking until wilted and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add parsley, salt and pepper.

soup5

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots (about 4 )
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leek or chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • Sour cream

Directions

In a large covered saucepan cook squash, carrots, and leek in hot butter over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and thyme. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.

Place one-third of the squash mixture in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth. Repeat with remaining squash mixture. Return all of the mixture to saucepan. Or use an immersion hand blender.

Add white pepper and nutmeg; bring just to boiling. Add half-and-half; heat through. If desired, garnish each serving with sour cream.

 Note To My Readers

My blog, Jovina Cooks Italian, has reached a milestone. I now have 3000 followers who have the blog emailed to them on a daily basis. Thank you all for reading and commenting on my posts. I am truly appreciative.



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