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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Seafood Chowder

Serve with Focaccia Bread and a Winter Salad. Recipes below.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cups seafood stock or clam juice
1 teaspoon seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 lb firm boneless fish fillets (such as halibut, cod, red snapper, sea bass, grouper), cut into small cubes
8 oz medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails removed and cut in half
8 oz sea scallops, halved
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir into the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until tender. Remove the cover and the salt, pepper, chili flakes, seafood seasoning, thyme, and tomatoes. Sir well.

Add the fish cubes, Cook stirring the mixture gently for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook for 2 minutes more or until the seafood is cooked. Add the cream, parsley, and remaining tablespoon butter, heating gently until the butter is incorporated. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve in large individual pasta bowls.

Winter Salad

Radishes are in season where I live and this week they came in jumbo sizes.

Ingredients

Dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad
4 cups arugula, washed well and dried
4 jumbo radishes or 8 small radishes (8 ounces), sliced thin

Directions

In a medium salad bowl, whisk together mustard and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 day.) Add arugula and radishes to bowl, and toss to coat. Serve salad immediately.

Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and black pepper, for sprinkling
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle or oval on a sheet of parchment paper. Place the dough and the parchment on a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle the dough with the garlic and rosemary. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

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stewcover

Traditional meat stews can add up to 1,000 calories per serving. The calories really depend on the protein used, as fatty cuts of meat contain more calories. The sodium level can also be off the charts, providing much more than the amount recommended per day. Watch portion sizes, also.

Ground turkey isn’t always the leanest choice – it depends on which part of the turkey is ground. And, while ground turkey breast is the leanest, it can end up rather dry after cooking. The best solution is a combination of white and dark ground turkey meat which will keep the meat moist while saving on calories.

A healthy version of traditional beef stew should use 4 ounces of beef per serving while adding lots of vegetables. To keep sodium under control use a low-sodium beef or vegetable broth. Seafood is also a good choice for stew. Lentils are also a good stew ingredient because they contains both healthy protein and carbs and they are filled with fiber to help keep you satisfied.

So, take control of the ingredients and make your own delicious, healthy stews. Since it is quite cold here in the south today, the Bean and Sausage Stew is on our menu.

stew1

Seafood Stew

8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili pepper, seeded and 
thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz can Italian diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 lb littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 lb frozen cooked crab claws
  • 1 lb cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 lb sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf 
parsley

Directions

In a 5-quart Dutch Oven, melt butter. Add onions and 
cook, stirring occasionally until onions soften slightly, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add celery, fennel, chili, oregano, thyme, basil and cayenne; stir to combine. Add wine, tomatoes, broth and clam juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak clams in cold water for 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to the stew pot.  Cover and cook until clams open, about 20 to 25 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Add crab claws, cover and cook until heated through, about 
10 minutes. Add cod and scallops. 
Cover and cook until the fish is firm, about 
5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

stew2

Easy Oven Beef Stew

Serves 6; 1 cup per serving

What makes this stew easy? Toss all the ingredients together in a Dutch oven, place it in the oven and forget about it for two hours or cook it all day in your slow cooker.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds lean boneless round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Pat meat dry with paper towels. In a large plastic bag with a tight-fitting seal, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add meat and shake until well coated. Shake off excess flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until just starting to smoke.

Add half of the beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, reducing heat if oil begins to smoke. Transfer beef to large plate.

Repeat with remaining beef and oil. Leave the second batch of meat in the pot after browning and add the browned beef on the plate and the remaining ingredients to the Dutch Oven. Mix well.

Cover, place in the oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is tender, stirring once or twice during the cooking time. Taste and adjust for salt. Serve hot.

stew3

White Bean and Sausage Stew

6 to 8 servings

Directions

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1/2 pound lean sweet Italian turkey sausage, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Place on a plate and refrigerate until the beans are cooked.

Add the tomato paste and oregano to the same pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and the bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sausage is hot. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

stew4

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans and Cauliflower 

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco®
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) frozen lima beans (no need to thaw)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped (1/2 – inch chunks) cauliflower (about 1/2 of a large head)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add chicken thighs and hot sauce; saute until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Add broth, lima beans, tomatoes, cauliflower and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the beans are tender. Serving size: one chicken thigh and one-fourth of the stew.

stew5

Pork and Vegetable Stew

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, medium, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup canned diced Italian tomatoes
  • 14 1/2 oz canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

Directions
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add pork pieces and shake to coat. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté pork on all sides, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Return sautéed vegetables to the Dutch Oven. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

Season with salt and pepper, garnish with basil and oregano and serve.


chowdercover

Summer is here along with just about every vegetable you could possibly want to cook. It is also the best time to make a delicious chowder. Chowder usually indicates a soup that is rich and creamy with chunks of seafood and vegetables. The term may also describe a hearty soup made with corn or chicken.

The most famous, of course, is New England Clam Chowder. It is believed that the word “chowder” evolved from the French word “chaudiere,” the name of the pot in which French fisherman would boil their catch of the day with potatoes and other vegetables. French settlers in the New England colonies introduced the culinary tradition to America. “Chowder” first appeared in a written recipe in 1751 and, by the 1800s, American cooks were using mostly clams instead of fish because of the abundance of shellfish in the northeast.

Italian chowders and stews are usually made with seafood. The true story of cioppino begins with ancient Mediterranean fishermen who created the first fish soups and stews. These recipes were adopted by seamen and the recipes used local ingredients. Cioppino belongs to the same tradition as a chowder and a bouillabaisse. American cioppino is a story of immigration patterns, ethnic heritage and local adaptation. Food historians, generally agree, cioppino originated in California (in the San Francisco Bay area) and the group of Italian fisherman credited for the recipe immigrated from Northern Italy, specifically Genoa.

East Coast Italian Americans were fond of Manhattan Clam Chowder and put their special touches to it.

chowder1

Italian American Clam Chowder

Serves 8

Ingredients

Medium-sized hard-shell clams provide the flavor for the broth and the tender clam meat for this hearty soup. Instead, the broth is briny and clean tasting with flavors from the sea standing out.

If you do not want to fuss with fresh clams substitute 4 cups of clam broth and 16 oz of canned clams.

Ingredients

  • 8 pounds clams, medium-sized hard-shell clams, such as cherrystones, washed and scrubbed clean
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 1 ¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 28-32 oz. can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves , chopped

Directions

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the clams and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 5 minutes, uncover, and stir with a wooden spoon. Quickly cover the pot and steam until the clams open, 4-5 minutes. Transfer the clams as they open to a large bowl; cool slightly. Reserve the cooking water.

Holding the clams over a bowl to catch any juices, sever the muscle that attaches the clam to the shell and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Discard the shells. Cut the clams into 1/2-inch dice; set aside.

Pour the broth that collected in the bowl into a 2-quart glass measuring cup, holding back the last few tablespoons of broth in case of sediment; set the clam broth aside. (you should have 5 cups; if not, add some of the cooking water to make this amount. Rinse and dry the pot, then return it to the burner.

Fry the pancetta in the empty pot over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the pancetta is crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, carrot and celery, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, fennel seeds and pepper flakes and saute about 1 minute.

Add the reserved clam broth, bottled clam juice, potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the reserved clams and season with salt and pepper to taste; discard the bay leaf. (Chowder can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot.) Stir in parsley and ladle the chowder into individual bowls. Serve immediately.

chowder2

Corn and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups red potatoes,unpeeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 8 ounces cream-style corn
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp and remove to a plate. Crumble when cool enough to handle. Add the onion and cook in the bacon drippings over medium heat until the onion is lightly browned and tender.

Stir in flour until blended into the mixture.

Add chicken broth and stir to blend.

Add diced potatoes, corn and cream-style corn, pepper and hot sauce.

Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Cover, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender.

Add milk and cook, covered, for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top.

Serve warm with crusty bread.

chowder4

Summer Vegetable Chowder

Servings 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrot
  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced potatoes
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1⁄2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces light cream cheese

Directions

In a large soup pot on medium heat, sauté the onions in the butter and oil for 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the celery, cover, and cook until just soft, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots, potatoes, water or stock, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.

With a strainer or slotted spoon, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked vegetables and set aside in a blender or food processor.

Add the green beans, bell peppers, and zucchini to the soup pot and cook until the green beans are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, simmer for 2 more minutes, and then remove from the heat.

Discard the bay leaf.

Puree the reserved vegetables with the milk and cheeses to make a smooth sauce.

Stir the sauce into the soup and gently reheat.

chowder3

Summertime Fish Chowder

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup clam juice or fish stock
  • 1 cup no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp. dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus additional for optional garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups water, as needed
  • 1 lb. firm-fleshed white fish, skin removed, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Add potatoes and carrots, stir, then add fish stock and tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add just enough water to cover potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add fish and stir. Cook until fish is opaque and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While fish cooks, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Do not let it boil. Add milk to soup mixture and stir. Keep at low temperature.

To serve, ladle into shallow bowls. Top with chopped parsley and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

chowder5

Chicken and Summer Squash Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds summer squash, diced
  • 1 piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil

Directions

Saute onion, celery and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot. Add chicken and sauté until lightly brown. Add broth and Parmesan cheese rind.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Add squash and simmer until the squash is tender. Remove the cheese rind.

Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended; add to soup. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese, basil, salt and pepper.


colddinner

BEGINNING OF WINTER — By Leonid Afremov

The best winter recipes will warm you up inside and out, will warm your home and make your house smell fantastic.

Soups, stews, casseroles and chili are very versatile dishes. Not really in the mood to cook after a long day at work? Let your crock pot do the work for you. There are lots of crock pot recipes out there for stews, roasts, chicken, chili and more.

Even if your recipe doesn’t call for it, it’s easy to add or substitute any veggie or lean meat that you have in the refrigerator. These types of recipes usually make a lot of servings. You can always freeze leftovers in individual containers, so you’ll have a quick, pre-portioned meal for another day.

Below are five dinners guaranteed to help you warm up.

colddinner1

Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Polenta

This dish is perfect for a cold winter night and is a complete meal all in one bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from a 14-ounce can)
  • 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups polenta or coarse/ medium cornmeal
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccoli rabe for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Cut into 2-inch lengths.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage links and cook, turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut into slices.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine; bring to a simmer. Add the sausage slices, tomatoes, broth, thyme and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, parsley and pepper to the sauce; bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the polenta in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until very thick, about 20 minutes. Serve in individual pasta bowls and pour the sausage/broccoli sauce over the top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

colddinner4

Winter Fish Chowder

Serve with some delicious crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 dozen mussels, scrubbed
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 slices of bacon, finely diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces white fish fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with the water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over moderately high heat until they open, 3 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Add the clams to the saucepan, cover and cook. As the clams open, transfer them to the bowl. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels and clams from their shells and coarsely chop them.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the bacon to the pan and cook over moderate heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Add the celery and the remaining onion and garlic. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, then gradually whisk in the potato cooking water. Bring to a boil, whisking, and cook until thickened slightly.

Add the potatoes and the half and half and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and fish and simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the fish is just cooked, 3 minutes. Add the mussels and clams and pour in their reserved cooking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom; stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley. Serve the chowder in bowls.

colddinner2

Gnocchi-Meatball Bake

A salad is all that is needed to complete this meal.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 16 – ounce package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion, divided
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned  bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in marinara sauce; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground beef, ¼ cup chopped onion, egg, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder and fennel seeds. Shape meat mixture into 24 equal balls, about 1 inch round.

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and the remaining onion; cook about 7 minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to the bowl with the gnocchi.

In the same large skillet heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F), turning occasionally. Transfer meatballs to the bowl with the gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.

Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

colddinner5

Tuscan Kale and White Bean Stew

A meatless option.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered (2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bunches kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)
  • 1 15.5-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan and the 2 teaspoons of olive oil in small bowl. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter in large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms; increase heat to medium-high. Stir, cover pan, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Uncover the pan, add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, or until wilted.

Add beans, broth and 3/4 cup water. Cover, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by about three-quarters. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Heat broiler to high. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over stew and broil 3 minutes, or until topping is golden.

colddinners3

Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Serve with a vegetable side dish for a complete meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/4 inch
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices prosciutto, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add prosciutto and cook until crisp. Remove to a mixing bowl.

Add spinach to the skillet and stir until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer wilted spinach to the bowl with the prosciutto. Add cream cheese, Parmesan and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir until thoroughly combined..

Divide spinach mixture evenly among the chicken breasts and spread over the surface. Roll up chicken, dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Place chicken rolls seam side down in the prepared pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon on marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken rolls 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese melts.


dutch_oven_campfireWEB

Dutch ovens are cylindrical, heavy gauge cooking pots with tight-fitting lids that can be used either on a range top or in the oven. The heavy metal or ceramic construction provides constant, even and multi-directional radiant heat to the food being cooked inside.

The term “Dutch oven” is something of a misnomer in that the pots are neither Dutch nor actual ovens. Rather, it refers to the casting process developed in Holland by which brass vessels were cast in dry-sand molds. In 1704, an Englishman by the name of Abraham Darby traveled to the Netherlands to observe how the thick-walled cast-iron pots were made and, eventually, patented a similar process for use in England and its American colonies.

A Dutch oven has the advantage of using one pot from start to finish — you can sear protein in the same pan you use to braise. When using a Dutch oven, you can braise on the stove top or in the oven. Almost any cooking task can be performed in a Dutch oven.

All of my recipes below are cooked on top of the stove but you could easily finish the braising process in the oven. Cover and place the Dutch Oven on the middle of a rack in an oven that has been pre-heated to 300° Fahrenheit and follow the cooking times below.

How to Make Dutch Oven Recipes in a Slow Cooker.

Converting from a Dutch Oven to a slow cooker is easy. If a recipe has any searing, sauteing or deglazing steps, complete those steps in a pan on the stove top. After adding the liquid, transfer everything to the slow cooker. For recipes that call for either stove top simmering or an oven temperature of 300 degrees F or more, set your slow cooker to HIGH. For recipes under 300 degrees F, use the LOW setting. Slow cookers prevent liquid from evaporating, so sauces come out thinner than in a Dutch Oven.

SLOW COOKER DUTCH OVEN
12 hours/Low 3 hours/325° F
10 hours/Low 2 1/2 hours/325° F
8 hours/Low 2 hours/325° F
6 hours/Low 1 1/2 hours/325° F
5 hours/Low 1 hour, 15 min./325° F
4 hours/Low 1 hour/325° F
4 hours/High 2 hours/325° F
3 hours/Low 45 min./325° F
3 hours/High 1 1/2 hours/325° F
2 hours/Low 30 min./325° F
2 hours/High 1 hour/325° F
1 hour/Low 15 min./325° F
1 hour/High 30 min./325° F

pork_and_zucchini_stew_hr

Quick Cooking Pork and Vegetable Stew Italiano

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, medium, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup canned diced Italian tomatoes
  • 14 1/2 oz canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil , torn
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

Directions

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add pork pieces and shake to coat. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté pork on all sides, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Return sautéed vegetables to the pot. Add zucchini, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until pork is tender. Stir in basil and oregano, season with salt and pepper and serve.

italian-vegetable-stew1-940x600

Italian Vegetable Stew

6 servings

Ingredients

  • Half of a 1-lb. loaf sourdough bread, torn into 2” pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 bunch collard greens, center ribs and stems removed
  • 1 bunch Tuscan or other kale, center ribs and stems removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz can diced Italian tomatoes
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 15-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig marjoram or oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan (for serving

Directions

Scatter bread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Let stand at room temperature to slightly dry out, about 2 hours.

Cook greens separately in a large pot (Dutch Oven) of boiling salted water until slightly softened, about 3 minutes per batch. Cool. Squeeze out excess water; roughly chop. Set aside.

In the empty pot heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and leek; stir often until softened, 8–10 minutes.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, beans, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf and reserved greens; season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld and soup thickens slightly, 40–50 minutes. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf.

Just before serving, gently stir bread into the soup. Divide among bowls, top with Parmesan and drizzle with oil.

DO AHEAD: Stew can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing. Store bread airtight at room temperature.

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Spicy Cioppino

For 2

Ingredients

  • 6 fingerling potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika (or half cayenne and half smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 fresh plum tomatoes seeded and finely diced
  • 1 white fish fillet (cod, halibut, grouper) diced (about 8 ounces)
  • 6 sea scallops and 6 peeled shrimp, patted dry 
  • 6 mussels and 6 small clams
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley and/or basil
  • Sourdough bread

Directions

Place potatoes in a Dutch Oven, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon oil onion, garlic and jalapeno to the pan and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 4- 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, add seasonings, salt and pepper, wine, clam juice and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels and cook until the shellfish open.

Season fish, shrimp and scallops with salt and pepper. Add the fish, shrimp and scallops, cooked potatoes, cream and capers to the pot, return to a simmer and cook until heated through and white fish is cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve with sourdough bread.

1201se-cf-italian-beef-stew-m

Italian Beef Stew

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8-ounce package whole cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 3/4 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch Oven.

Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

Add half the beef to the pan; sauté 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from the pan to a bowl. Repeat procedure with oil and beef.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 45 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add wine to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of the pan (about 5 minutes). Return meat to the pan. Add tomatoes and the next 6 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and stir in sliced carrot. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and parsley.

chickpea-stew-646

Chickpea and Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, sliced into ½ inch thick lengths
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup diced, drained roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups 1′ cubes country-style bread
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to low and add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add oregano, tomato paste and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute. Add reserved, browned chicken with any accumulated juices, along with bay leaves and 4 cups water. Scrape up any browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 10-12 minutes.

Add chickpeas to the pot; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add diced red peppers. Stir in lemon juice; simmer for 1 minute. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Divide bread cubes among bowls. Ladle stew over. Garnish with parsley.

 


3 lentils

Although they may be cheap, lentils are very nutritious, filling and very flavorful. From a nutritional standpoint, they are rich in fiber and in iron and are, consequently, ideal for people suffering from anemia.

Lentils have been a source of sustenance for our ancestors since prehistoric times and lentil artifacts have been found on archeological digs dating back 8,000 years. As a plentiful source of protein, lentils were found on the tables of peasants and kings alike and the poor, who could not afford fish during the season of Lent, substituted lentils.

Thought to have originated in the Near East and/or the Mediterranean area, lentils are small disks resembling a flat baby pea. When halved, dried lentils resemble their split pea cousins. They grow two to a pod and are dried after harvesting.

In Italy two major types of lentils are grown: the hiemal strain matures in late summer and produces larger seeds that are more delicate in flavor, whereas the minus strain matures in the spring and has smaller seeds.

Lentil Plants

Lentil Plants

In addition to playing an important role in soups and other first course dishes, lentils are a traditional Italian accompaniment for sausages. Lentils are served on New Year’s Day in Italy because their shape brings to mind tiny coins and people eat them in the hope that they won’t want for cash during the rest of the year.

There are hundreds of varieties of lentils, with as many as fifty or more cultivated for food. They come in a variety of colors with red, brown and green being the most popular. Lentils have an earthy, nutty flavor and some varieties have a slight peppery taste.

Select lentils that are dry, firm, clean and not shriveled. The color of lentils you choose will depend on your usage, but in general, the color should be fairly uniform. Canned lentils are also available, but it is just as easy to cook your own.

If your recipe calls for a lentil that will retain its shape when done, common brown lentils are the usual choice. Brown lentils still have their seed coat and have not been split. Most red, yellow and orange lentils tend to disintegrate with long cooking because the hulls have been removed. Slightly sweet in flavor, these are best reserved for pureed soups or stew thickeners. Other choices include French lentils which are olive-green and slate-colored. These will cook up the firmest. Persian green lentils will turn brown as they cook and become tender while still retaining their shape. Considered the most flavorful (and most expensive) are the French Puy lentils, which also retain their shape.

Lentil Flour, 20 oz

You may be able to find lentil flour in some specialty markets. It is used in India to make a fermented dough for bread.

Dried lentils have an indefinite shelf-life, yet another reason why our ancestors kept them as a staple food. With age, the color may fade a bit, but the flavor will not deteriorate. Store lentils in a sealed package or airtight container in a cool, dry place.

red-lentil-jar

Cooked lentils may be refrigerated up to one week in a sealed container. Cooked lentils may also be frozen up to six months. However, they may fall apart when reheated, if not handled gently.

These measures will help you determine how many lentils you need for your recipe.

• 1 cup dry lentils = 2-1/2 cups cooked
• 1 pound dried lentils = 2-1/4 cups dry
• 1 pound dried lentils = 4 servings
• 1 pound dried lentils = 5 cups cooked

Lentils are a natural in soups and stews and also make a great cold salad. The high protein content in lentils makes them an excellent meat substitute.
Lentils need no pre-soaking and cook much more quickly than other dried legumes. To cook lentils, simply pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Add salt once the lentils are completely cooked. Acidic ingredients such as wine or tomatoes can lengthen cooking time. You may wish to add these ingredients after the lentils have become tender. Older lentils will take longer to cook because they have lost more moisture. Do not mix newly purchased lentils with old ones. They will cook unevenly.

lentil-salad-ck-1142011-x

Lentil and Herb Salad

Lentils are popular across Italy, where they are grown in Umbria in the north and Puglia and Sicily in the south. Technically not a “bean,” lentils are legumes. Unlike beans, lentils require no soaking, so this salad is quick and easy to prepare. Serve as a side salad or add a cup of diced mozzarella and it makes a light main dish.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Place lentils in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

Place lentils in a large bowl. Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients (through pepper). Add vinegar and oil; toss well. Serve at room temperature.

zuppa-lenticchie-e-spinaci

Italian Lentil Soup with Rice and Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200 g) short-grained rice
  • 1 cup (200 g) lentils
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed and cut into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • One whole onion
  • 1 rib celery, cut in half
  • 1 cup plain tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Rinse the lentils and cook them for 30-45 minutes in 2 quarts of water with the onion and celery.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the lentils with a slotted spoon and strain the broth, discarding the celery. Reserve the broth and onion separately.

Slice the onion and sauté it with the oil and the garlic for 3 minutes; add the tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more. Add the lentils, the spinach and the lentil broth. When the soup comes to a boil add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is done, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

lentils sausage

Lentils with Italian Sausage

10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry lentils
  • Cold water
  • 2 pounds fresh italian sausage, sweet or hot
  • 3 cups homemade or low sodium canned chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, diluted in a little water

Directions

Wash lentils well by soaking them briefly in water and changing the water at least once. Put them in a 2-1/2-quart saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until not quite done, about 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, pierce the sausages in several places and then put them in a small saucepan. Add the chicken broth and place over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 40 minutes. From time to time, skim off and discard foam and fat that rise to the top. When sausages are done, remove the pot from the heat and let them sit in the broth while you finish the lentils.

Warm the oil in a medium skillet and saute the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and sage in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are done.

Drain the sausages, saving their liquid. To the lentil pot, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and add the tomato paste. Mix gently using a wooden spoon. Add 3/4 cup of the broth in which you cooked the sausages. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.

To serve, arrange the sausages on a platter next to the warm lentils.

lentil pasta

Pasta with Lentil Bolognese

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1- 28 to 32 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (juice reserved)
  • 1 1/4 cups dried green lentils
  • Coarse sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound shaped pasta, such as cavatappi or rigatoni
  • Pecorino cheese, grated or shaved
  • Fresh basil, chopped

Directions

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook slowly until the vegetables soften and turn golden, about 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the tomato paste. Cook until the mixture dries out a bit, about 3 minutes. Pour in the reserved juice from the tomatoes and cook, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid has reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Season with the oregano,crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and simmer until the lentils are tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the lentils. (If the sauce begins to dry out, add additional water as needed.) Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain. Serve with the lentil sauce, sprinkle with the pecorino and garnish with basil.

seafood_stew_lentils

Seafood Stew with Lentils

Ingredients

For the Fish Stock:

  • 1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 2 and 1/4 lbs (1 kg) white fish or white fish bones and heads, gills removed
  • Salt

For the Stew:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) cooked lentils
  • 9 oz (250 grams) fish and seafood cut into serving pieces, such as sea bass fillets, prepared squid, peeled prawns, peeled langoustines (small lobsters or use lobster claws) and scrubbed clams
  • 28 oz can crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, chopped
  • 1 fresh basil sprig, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Prepare the Fish Stock:

Pour 3 pints (2 liters) water into a large saucepan, add the herbs, onion, carrot, celery and peppercorns and season with salt.

Gradually bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, let cool.

Add the fish bones and return to the heat, bring just to the boil;  lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the fish bones cool in the stock for a stronger flavor. Strain the stock.

Prepare the Stew:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet and add 1 tablespoon each of the celery, carrot and onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir in the lentils and cook for a few minutes more.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a shallow saucepan and add the remaining celery, carrot and onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add the sea bass and the squid. Increase the heat to high and cook for 1 minute, then add the prawns, langoustines, clams and lentil mixture.

Pour in the strained fish stock, tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the fish is tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley and basil. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

beef lentils

Braised Chuck Steak with Savory Lentil Stew

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef chuck blade steaks, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Heat a large deep skillet with a cover over medium heat until hot. Add the beef to the skillet and brown evenly. Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste.

Add water, onion and bay leaves to the skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer 1-1/4 hours.

Add lentils, carrots and Italian seasoning to the skillet; return to a boil. Continue simmering, covered, 30 to 45 minutes or until lentils and beef are fork-tender.

Discard bay leaves before serving.

 

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The images above on the Italian Heritage Mural are part of the life work of Italian immigrant Gino Sbrana, who started his American life in San Francisco as a vegetable peddler. By 1911, he had launched a large photographic studio, Pisa Foto, at Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco. Later Gino founded a studio in Oakland and, in 1919, settled in San Jose. Not content to confine his artistry to the formally posed studio portrait, he traveled over the Bay Area countryside with his large wooden field camera, using soft light on the shady side of barns or under large oaks to capture his fellow countrymen. Gino posed them in the coastal mist with machetes poised to harvest cauliflower, perched atop their brand new motorcycles, assembled by trucks loaded with produce from the fields, sleeves rolled up and holding their “vino”.

Children in Columbus Day Parade, 1925

The first Italian wave, to arrive in California (1850 –1924) came from five parts of Italy: Genoa in Liguria, Lucca in Tuscany and a few provinces of Piedmont, Sicily and Calabria. Driven mostly by poverty in their homeland, many had no formal education and spoke little English. What they did bring were the skills gained as peasants and fishermen in Italy and, then, used those skills creatively in America. An advantage they had over their countrymen who had settled on the eastern seaboard was that California was not as developed as the eastern states and needed people with their work ethic and vision to help it grow. The first wave found California a diverse economy. When they proved unsuccessful in their search for gold many became wine growers, vegetable farmers, boarding house operators, merchants, loggers or fishermen. One well-known “failed” goldminer, Domenico Ghirardelli set up a tent in Stockton selling supplies and confections to miners. His sweets were so popular that in 1852 he opened the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in San Francisco. By 1880 the fishermen from Genoa and later from Sicily could be found throughout the state and by 1910 Italians were said to control 80% of the fishing industry in California. 

Buon Gusto Sausage Factory, Columbus Avenue, 1926

Many chose to settle in small towns, gravitating to work in agriculture, initially as market gardeners, fruit growers and nurserymen. They raised crops that were sold in nearby cities and mining camps. It was during this time the wine industry started to develop. It was California’s suitability for grape growing that drew many of the Italians to this area. The Italian Swiss Agricultural society was a cooperative formed by Andrea Sbarboro in 1881 to aid Italian and Swiss immigrants with settling into their new land. Hiring peasants who had worked in the vineyards in Italy, the society gave them a fair wage, free wine and stock shares. Although the wine industry has changed over the years, Italian Americans still play a very significant role, owning or managing 15 percent of California wineries, including three of the largest and ten of the oldest. 

After the Civil war in the 1860’s, more Italian immigrants began to settle in North Beach and parts of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Many put down roots, established businesses and raised families. The Genoese came to dominate banking, truck gardening and grocery wholesaling.The Lucchesi from Lucca in Tuscany were merchants, produce vendors and peddlers, who opened small retail outlets, restaurants and produce stores at the base of Telegraph Hill. In the 1880’s the Sicilians followed and took over the fishing industry, settling around Fisherman’s Wharf at the northern end of North Beach.

San Francisco, a city born in the excitement of the Gold Rush of 1849 and a city noted for its gourmet restaurants, was also the city of Italian provincial restaurants that served their clientele dishes in a congenial atmosphere reflecting the universal belief among all Italians that food and the pleasure of eating meals shared with relatives or friends remains essential to maintaining kinship ties. For Italians, the quality and quantity of food eaten by a family has always symbolized the economic earning power of the menfolk and the family’s social position guarded by the women. Equating food with family life was the formula recreated in San Francisco’s osterias and trattorias, where patrons felt the reverence Italians demonstrated towards their food. San Francisco’s first Italian restaurateurs introduced the city to the cuisine of northern Italy. Although the city’s Italian community was small from the 1850’s through the 1880’s, it was the largest in the United States and characteristic of the pattern in Italian immigration.

Catering to the specific appetites of this varied patronage, there was a blend of hearty foods which aimed to satisfy all the provincial palates. Ravioli and cioppino for the Genoese; beans for the Florentines along with rigatoni and grilled meats; veal ragu, for the Tuscan palate; saltimbocca for the Romans; risi e bisi (rice and peas) and scampi for the Venetians; bollito misto for the Piedmontese and zabaglione for the Sicilians–these delicacies not only pleased the various provincial tastes, but, in a far corner of the American West, Italian proprietors laid the groundwork for a restaurant industry which would contribute to San Francisco’s recognition as a gourmet city. At the same time, these restaurateurs set the stage for social interaction within a society represented by the cosmopolitan tastes of a transient frontier community. Notable among these pioneers were six provincial Italian restaurateurs: Frank Bazzurro, Giuseppe Campi, Stefano Sanguinetti, Frank Luchetti, Giuseppe Coppa and Angelo Del Monte. Each paved the way for successive generations of Italian restaurateurs who would continue to promote respect for the Italians through the medium of food.

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Local Italians led the founding of the Farmers’ Market at Market and Duboce

Genoese Frank Bazzurro came to San Francisco in 1852, where he purchased for fifty dollars, the schooner “Tam O’Shanter,” one of hundreds of ships abandoned in San Francisco Bay and opened his restaurant. Utilizing crabs, which were plentiful and one of the cheapest foods in the city, Bazzurro introduced San Franciscans to the Genoese delicacy, Cioppino – the Italian version of bouillabaisse. Bazzurro moved his restaurant from this waterfront location twice, once because the area was reclaimed by the city and the land filled in and the second time because of the destruction caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire. Bazzurro relied upon bountiful resources from the bay and the city’s outlying truck farms to prepare his provincial specialties.

San Francisco Bay provided as much fish and shellfish (most of which was caught by Genoese and Sicilian fishermen) as was found in the Mediterranean Sea. Dungeness crabs, oysters, clams, squid–which became calamari in the saute pans of Italian cooks–were in abundance, as was cod for baccala and salmon and striped bass were perfect for fish meatballs. From the fertile soil of the city’s truck farms and the ranches along the Peninsula where the Tuscan and Genoese farmers settled, grew the vegetables essential to the provincial Italian diet, such as artichokes, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, fava beans, Swiss chard, cardone and the aromatic herbs: garlic, anise, sage, fennel, oregano and sweet basil. As the city spread out from the waterfront towards Montgomery Street and along Broadway bordering “Little Italy,” Italian restaurants opened their doors. Offering menus of inexpensive and informal home cooked food, they captured the gastronomical hearts of San Franciscans.

Equally patronized by working people and gourmets was Campi’s Italian and Swiss/French Restaurant located on Merchant and Sansome Streets. The restaurant, opened in 1859, bordered the city’s pungent fish and fowl markets. Managed by Natale Giamboni after Giuseppe Campi’s death, Giamboni was known as the “King of Hosts,” charming the ladies and remembering the likes and dislikes of his clientele. Italian-born financier, Andrea Sbarboro recalled in his 1911 memoirs, the early restaurant days of the 1870’s when all the Italian businessmen of Washington and Sansome Streets lunched at Campi’s. “At the time, I had for ten years been a steady patron and, for thirty years more, I have continued to eat at this restaurant.”

Campi’s rival was Sanguinetti’s Restaurant, which was in full operation by 1888. Once located on Vallejo Street and then on Davis Street, Sanguinetti’s chief clientele were the fishermen from the nearby Union Street wharf. One could get a bowl of thick minestrone, an entrée and a bottle of wine for twenty-five cents. For a nickel’s worth of beer, however, one also got a generous free lunch of spaghetti, Italian bread and fried fish. Two bartenders patrolled a line of ten beer barrels, drawing the brew slowly, first from one, then another and finally a third to fill a single glass from very small spigots. If drawn too quickly, the barrels’ pressure would turn the unique steam beer into froth.

Sanguinetti’s, owned by Stefano Sanguinetti, who later Americanized his name to “Steve,” was an attractive eatery with a low-beamed ceiling and dark walls. To give the restaurant an air of unconventionality, sawdust was spread on the floor. Writing for the Overland Monthly, Roland Whittle found the spontaneity of Sanguinetti’s to his liking and typical of Italian restaurants, he also liked their familial ambience. “One can drop into the little place almost any evening and hear the Italian folk song sung in the sweet, languorous music and tongue of South Italy,” he wrote.

Next door to Sanguinetti’s on Sansome Street was Lucchetti’s which opened in 1874 was a major competitor. Whittle put down the equally popular Lucchetti’s as “a large, straggling barn, uncomfortable in its fittings and devoid of artistic setting. The walls are devoid of ornament, except for gaudy advertisements of cigarettes and liquor,” he wrote. On Sunday nights, Lucchetti’s was in its glory, since that was when the Italian local fishermen who frequented the restaurant left the place to younger Americans eager for a night on the town. Their rowdy behavior indicated to Whittle that they were not interested in the fifty-cent meals of soup, fish, chicken, ravioli and spaghetti, but in a “mad, wild frolic” and “rough flirtations” with the ladies.

Coppa’s restaurant in the old Montgomery Block, 1910

Coppa’s, located in the Montgomery Block Building, was the most famous of all the city’s favorite Italian eateries before the 1906 earthquake and fire. Located close to the stock exchange, Coppa’s attracted brokers and financiers during the day, but once the sun set, it was the mecca for “Bohemians”. The food was rated above average, thanks to the culinary expertise of Giuseppe Coppa, the Turinese chef, who had trained in some of the city’s top restaurants. Although Coppa’s survived the earthquake and fire, the landlord raised the rent, forcing Coppa to relocate and, thereafter, open a series of mediocre restaurants.

The fanciest of Italian meals came from the Fior d’Italia, which opened at 504 Broadway on May 1, 1886, under the proprietorship of Angelo Del Monte. Specialties of the house that first year included risotto with clams (ten cents); tortellini (five cents); veal saute (five cents) and a squab casserole (forty cents). Double porterhouse steak-an American dish-was sixty cents.”

Del Monte took in a partner in 1896, a young immigrant known to his customers as Papa Marianetti, from Maggiano, a town between Lucca and Pisa. Like other Italian restaurants, the Fior d’Italia was a family operation that included Marianetti’s, two sons, George and Frank, who shelled peas, bused tables and washed dishes after school. The “Fior,” as the restaurant was known among San Francisco’s Italians, became the Italian community’s “in” spot, where important family events–weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, birthdays and first communions–were celebrated. The Fior d’Italia, presently located near Washington Square in front of St. Peter and Paul Church, was the city’s oldest surviving pioneer Italian restaurant. In 2012, after 126 years of business, Fior D’Italia served its last meal in San Francisco. Citing financial strain, the restaurant closed.

Certainly Bazzurro’s, Campi’s, Coppa’s, Sanguinetti’s, Lucchetti’s and the Fior d’Italia were not the only prominent Italian restaurants in San Francisco before the turn of the century, but they were the most popular among discriminating Italians and locals.These six restaurants laid the groundwork for a gastronomical industry that has profitably contributed to the economic structure of San Francisco. By 1900, when the influx of Italians increased, North Beach had become an eating paradise–at workers’ prices. Italian restaurants stretched along Columbus Avenue from Montgomery Street to Francisco Street, along upper Grant Avenue and along almost every side street between Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Source: The Argonaut, Volume 1, No. 1, Spring 1990

San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood, North Beach, is where you will find Italian cafes, restaurants, and shops. You’ll still hear lots of Italian spoken in North Beach and find:

  • Museo Italo Americano at Fort Mason: The museum has a small permanent Italian art collection that includes a beautiful Sicilian cart, changing exhibits, special events and lectures, books, DVDs, a gift shop, Italian language classes and children’s classes. The museum is open to the public daily, noon to 4:00, except Mondays, free.
  • Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco: 425 Washington Street – The cultural institute holds special events, weekly films on Tuesday evenings and lectures. They have exhibits and a large library and video library, Italian language classes. The Cultural Institute is open Monday-Friday, 9-5. They have a Saturday radio program at 8:00 am, Italian Culture around the Bay, on KUSF 90.3
  • A. Cavalli Italian Bookstore: 1441 Stockton Street off Columbus in North Beach – The store has been in business since 1880. They sell Italian books, magazines, greeting cards, videos and gifts. They now have a cafe, too. The store is closed on Sundays.
  • Molinari’s Deli: 373 Columbus Avenue in North Beach – Molinari’s has been in San Francisco for more than 100 years. It has lots of Italian imports including wines, meats, cheeses, pasta and dry goods. You’ll still see many Italians shopping there, ordering in Italian. It’s a good place for a sandwich. The deli is closed on Sundays.
  • Liguria Bakery: 1700 Stockton Street, in North Beach,

Italian Specialties From San Francisco

Cioppino

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 ½ cups whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
  • 10 leaves basil
  • 1 lb. cod, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 lb. cleaned calamari, bodies cut into ½″-wide rings
  • 12 oz. medium shrimp, deveined
  • 12 oz. bay scallops
  • 16 clams, cleaned
  • 16 mussels, cleaned
  • 2 2-lb. Dungeness crabs or snow crab legs, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chile flakes and garlic; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes and basil; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cod, calamari, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and crabs, cover with lid and cook until seafood is cooked through, about 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Pizza with Wild Nettles

Pizzas with wild nettles are very popular in the Bay area. Nettles grow wild all year in northern California, and chefs use them in as many ways as possible. Because raw nettles can make you itch, it’s best to handle them with gloves or tongs. Once cooked, the nettles lose their sting and have a deep, earthy flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups wild nettle leaves, baby spinach or kale
  • Semolina flour

Pizza Dough

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Peel outer skins from garlic bulb, leaving cloves attached. Cut off top quarter of the bulb. Place bulb, cut-side up, on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and seal foil tightly over garlic.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven; cool. Scoop out garlic pulp, mash and stir until smooth.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with a pizza stone on the bottom rack.

Blanch nettle leaves in salted boiling water 1 minute, drain and plunge into ice water. Remove nettle leaves from water, wringing out excess, and set aside. If using spinach, place in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at high 3 minutes. Set aside.

Sprinkle surface with semolina flour and roll pizza dough into a 12-inch circle.

Spread dough with mashed garlic (garlic won’t cover entire surface); sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano and thyme.

Roughly chop nettles and spread over thyme. Sprinkle mozzarella, provolone and fontina evenly on pizza. Carefully slide pizza onto the preheated stone; bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and crispy. Slice, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to taste.

Yield: makes 4 servings

Note: Place pizza on parchment paper—helps slide onto pizza stone.

 

Named after a historical term for “garlic”, The Stinking Rose offers contemporary California-Italian cuisine prepared and adorned with garlic – and strives to accommodate every palate. There is hearty fare for the truly adventurous, mild for the novice, and “sans “garlic for those finding the herb’s folklore and aroma more appealing than its taste.

This recipe is from their cookbook, The Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Francisco.  As the name implies, garlic is their featured ingredient.

Roasted Rabbit With Garlic and Olives

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 rabbits, cleaned, cut into pieces
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pitted assorted olives
  • 3 sprigs thyme leaves, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a shallow bowl, stir flour, salt and pepper together. Dredge rabbit pieces in flour mixture, completely coating meat on all sides.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Put rabbit in the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.

In a small bowl, toss the garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat completely.

Transfer rabbit to a baking dish and sprinkle with garlic, olives and thyme. Bake, uncovered, for about an hour or until the garlic cloves are golden brown and the rabbit is browned on the outside and opaque throughout.

Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in an abstract pattern on a serving platter and arrange rabbit on top. Scoop the garlic cloves and olives from the baking dish and sprinkle over the rabbit. Serve immediately.

 

SPQR is an acronym for Senatus Populusque Romanus and translates to “The People and Senate of Rome” and was the emblem of the Roman Empire. 

Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino at SPQR in San Francisco was born in the Midwest and raised in New Jersey, Accarrino began his culinary journey in high school working his way up from dishwasher to cook in small local restaurants. With the desire to receive formal training, Accarrino enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America, where in 1998, he received his Associate Degree in Culinary Arts.

He has trained abroad in Italy and worked for some of America’s best chefs including Todd English, Rick Moonen, Tom Colicchio and Thomas Keller. In late 2009 he moved to Northern California and joined the intimate restaurant SPQR as Executive Chef. Since his arrival, Accarrino has been named Star Chefs’ 2010 Rising Star for his “innovative vision, finesse and deeply satisfying cuisine,” and in 2011 he took top honors at San Francisco’s Cochon 555 competition. Accarrino was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as a semifinalist for “Best Chef: Pacific” in 2012 and the restaurant received its first Michelin star under his direction in the 2013 guide. He is also co-author of the book SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine, which was released in fall 2012.

Here is one of Chef Accarrino’s recipes:

Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 2 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more to garnish
  • 4 scallions, cut into ½″ slices
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Directions:

Heat butter and oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add poppy seeds; cook, stirring, until fragrant and shallots just begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Add buttermilk and cream; cook, stirring, until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving some cooking water, and add to the sauce in the skillet.

Add prosciutto, Parmesan, half the scallions and lemon juice; toss to combine, adding pasta cooking water if necessary to make a smooth sauce.

Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish; sprinkle with remaining scallions and more Parmesan.



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