Padua is a province in the Veneto region of Italy. It is home to some of the masterpieces from the Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture period and the towns of Cittadella and Montagnana are famous for their well-preserved Medieval city walls. There are also many ancient and historic villas in the countryside. The hills offer a relaxing naturalistic site often covered with woods, while the eastern slopes offer ancient spa sites, such as Terme Euganee, Abano Terme, Montegrotto Terme, Galzignano Terme and Battaglia Terme. There is a small part of the Venetian Lagoon lying inside the province, the Valle Millecampi (“one-thousand-fields valley”) that includes naturalistic routes for cycling or horse-riding.
The University of Padua was founded in 1222 and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second oldest in Italy. In 2010 the university had approximately 65,000 students and in 2013 was ranked “best university” among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students.
From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. During this time, the university adopted the Latin motto: Universa universis patavina libertas (Paduan Freedom is Universal for Everyone). Nevertheless, the university had a turbulent history, and there was no teaching in 1237–61, 1509–17 and 1848–50.
The Botanical Garden of Padova, established by the university in 1545, was one of the oldest gardens of its kind in the world (after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). In addition to the garden, the university also manages nine museums, including a History of Physics Museum.
The University began teaching medicine from the day it was founded and played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body. The university houses the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe, dating from 1595.
Since 1595, Padua’s famous anatomical theater drew artists and scientists studying the human body during public dissections. Anatomist Andreas Vesalius held the chair of Surgery and Anatomy and in 1543 published his anatomical discoveries in De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The book triggered great public interest in dissections and caused many other European cities to establish anatomical theatres.
The university became one of the universities of the Kingdom of Italy in 1873 and, ever since, has been one of the most prestigious in the country for its contributions to scientific and scholarly research. In the field of mathematics alone, its professors have included such figures, as Gregorio Ricci Curbastro, Giuseppe Veronese, Francesco Severi and Tullio Levi Civita. On 25 June 1678, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, a Venetian noblewoman and mathematician, became the first woman to be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Padua’s cuisine has its simple roots in the vegetable garden, the farmyard and the vineyard, Farmyard products include: the well-known Paduan hen, Polverara hen, goose, guinea-hen and capon.
All varieties of chicory are cultivated in the countryside of Padua and include the Variegated Castelfranco, Early and Late Red Treviso, Red Chioggia or Red Verona varieties, are always present in the cooking proposals of the restaurants of Padua. Their soft and slightly bitter taste is particularly appetising in risotto dishes.
Padua is a producer of both the white and of the green species of asparagus. Boiled eggs and asparagus or risotto with asparagus are part of the springtime cuisine.
Like the rest of the Veneto region, Padua is a land of well-known vineyards. DOC wines are produced in five areas of the province.Wines events and exhibitions are usually organized for spring and autumn.
Since Pre-Roman times olive trees have been cultivated in the Euganean Hills. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced in the area is under the protection of the Association of the Regional Park of the Euganean Hills. The color of the oil is typically golden green, obtained by using cold-pressing techniques and bottling after careful decanting without filtering.
Montagnana is renowned for its ham, a tradition rooted in the rural population, called, prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana, by the locals. The sweet taste, the tenderness, the pink color and the unmistakable smell guarantee the identity of this product, so much so, that these properties were granted by the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) seal and are now safeguarded by the Consortium of the Prosciutto Veneto Berico Euganeo, based in Montagnana. On the third Sunday of May, Montagnana organizes Piacere Montagnana, the festival of sweet ham.
In summer Padua produces its excellent cheeses in the northern grazing areas and among them are Grana Padano, Montasio and Asiago.
The cooking traditions of Padua are passed on to the generations that follow with only slight changes to adjust to more modern tastes and likes, while preserving the old recipes.
Tramezzini are very common in Padua. They are stuffed triangular sandwiches made of chewy white bread and usually served with a glass of Prosecco.
- 1 can mushrooms
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Slices of Prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 slices bread
Remove the crust from the bread.
Chop the mushrooms.
In a bowl, stir together the mushrooms, cream cheese, parsley, lemon juice and pepper until creamy. Spread a layer of mushrooms on each slice of bread.
Top four pieces of bread with some ham. Turn the other four slices upside down on top of the other one. Press and cut diagonally.
Risotto con gli Asparagi
- 5-6 cups homemade or purchased low sodium broth
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups rice: Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup Grana Padano grated cheese, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pour the broth into a pot and heat. Keep at a simmer.
Trim and discard the tough woody stems of the asparagus (usually about an inch). Slice the spears crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces. Leave the tips intact.
Place 1 tablespoon of butter and the extra-virgin olive oil into a heavy-bottomed 5-quart pot.
Add the onions and cook over med-high heat for a couple of minutes, until transparent.
Add the sliced asparagus (reserve the tips for later use) and salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are soft and slightly golden in color.
Add the rice and “toast”, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until the rice acquires a light golden color.
Add the white wine and stir for one minute, letting it evaporate. Add a couple of ladles of hot broth to the rice and lower the heat to medium. Add the asparagus tips.
Stir every 30 seconds or so. Keep adding broth, ladle by ladle, as soon as the liquid is absorbed, slightly covering the rice each time, until the rice is cooked.
You will need approximately 5 cups of broth, but it depends on the rice variety, so be prepared to add more or less.
Cooking time for the rice will be 14 to 18 minutes, depending on the rice variety used. The final consistency of the risotto should be creamy.
Turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup cheese and heavy cream.
Rest for one minute and serve with freshly ground black pepper and the reserved cheese.
Paduan Chicken Cacciatore
Authentic Chicken Cacciatore doesn’t use tomatoes. It was a traditional Italian dish that hunters could easily make in the field if they needed to cook a meal.
- 1 Padua chicken
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 20 mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup Prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana, diced
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 sage branch
- 1 thyme sprig
- Dash red wine vinegar
- Chianti red wine
- Chopped parsley for garnish
Cut the chicken up into smaller pieces.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Brown in a hot skillet with some olive oil. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and brown gently. Add the diced prosciutto and place the chicken back in the pan.
Add the herbs and vinegar and allow it to evaporate.
Add enough red wine to cover the chicken. Simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone.
Serve with either polenta or slices of bread and with steamed or roasted vegetables on the side. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Grass-fed red meats are leaner and contain proportionally more of many important nutrients that relate to good health. Because grass-fed beef has less fat and marbling (which help keep the juices in the meat), the meat toughens much more rapidly and, therefore, requires more careful cooking. This means it’s essential to rely on a thermometer rather than timing to ensure you don’t overcook the meat. Choose spice rubs or marinades that are oil or herb based, and plan to serve all tender cuts of steak medium rare. Cook the steak to an internal temperature of 120 degrees and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
A grass-fed steak should be exposed to high direct heat for no more than 2 minutes per side. After that, in order to guarantee tender and juicy meat, it should be removed from the flames and allowed to finish in indirect or low heat. If you are cooking the steak on the grill, simply move it off the flames and put it on the side of the grill that is not lit, close the grill cover and allow the meat to cook for about 5-7 minutes per pound. During that indirect time, the internal muscle fibers will come up to temperature slowly without contracting too tightly and toughening. Also, the proteins and sugars will have time to caramelize over the surface of the meat, giving the steak that characteristic glossy look and rich taste.
If you are cooking it indoors, once the steak has seared in a hot skillet, transfer the skillet to a 300 degree F oven for about 5-7 minutes per pound (or a 200 degree F oven for about 10 minutes per pound).
- 2 grass-fed, bone-in ribeye or NY strip steaks, about 14-16 oz each
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme
- 4 cups loosely packed baby arugula
- Italian vinaigrette (your favorite)
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Lemon wedges
Cooking the steak:
Coat the steaks in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for one hour.
Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates. Once the grill is hot, turn off one burner or move the hot coals to one side.
Place the steaks over the hot (direct) side of the grill and cook for two minutes. Turn the steaks over and cook for two more minutes.
Move the steaks to the indirect side and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the steaks register 120 on a n instant meat thermometer. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
Cooking the mushroom topping:
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add add the shallots. Cook for one minute and then add the sliced mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until their moisture evaporates.
Add the remaining ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
For the salad:
Arrange the arugula on a serving platter and drizzle lightly with Italian vinaigrette. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Place the grilled steaks on top. Spread the mushrooms over the steaks.
Serve with lemon wedges.
Sourdough Dinner Rolls
These rolls are delicious with the steak and round out the meal.
Yield: 8 rolls
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) yeast
- 1/3 cup cracked wheat or other whole grain
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast, cracked wheat and salt.
In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, combine the water, honey and the oil. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, until warm (but not hot).
Add the warm water mixture and the sourdough starter to the dry ingredients. Beat for 4 minutes on medium speed.
Gradually add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time, and switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease the top. Cover lightly with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press or “punch” down to remove air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 4×6-inch rectangle; then, starting with the longer side, roll up each rectangle tightly, pinching the edges and ends to seal.
Place shaped rolls onto a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled again, about 1 more hour. Near the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
With a sharp knife, make a lengthwise slash down the center of each roll and brush or lightly spray with cold water.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crusty and brown. Remove the rolls from the baking sheet and cool on a cooling rack.
July has an abundance of vegetables and fruits available, so I try to incorporate as many as I can into my weekly menu. I made a few dinners last week that utilize these seasonal fruits and vegetables and I hope you like them as much as we did.
Veggie Packed Frittata
Serve with a mixed green salad and some hot biscuits.
- 1 lb parboiled potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 links pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced thin
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- Half of a small onion, thinly sliced
- 6 mushrooms, sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
- 6 asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
- 8 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
Heat an oven broiler.
Heat oil in an ovenproof 12″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sliced sausage, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and onion until the vegetables are soft, 3–4 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
Stir in the sliced potatoes and salt and pepper. Stir in half the basil and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes.
Sprinkle the cheese on top and place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until set and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil before serving.
Summer Melon Salad with Grilled BBQ Shrimp
Last week my CSA had melons aplenty. I received two Crenshaw and one yellow watermelon. So I came up with a few recipes to make. The melon salad is in this post and next week, I will share the melon soup recipe I made. When you make the salad try to use two different types of melon for contrast. I also like the balance of the tangy grilled shrimp with the sweetness of the fruit salad. I also served this salad dinner with some homemade cornbread. See the recipe for Cheddar Cornbread here.
For the salad
- 4 cups Crenshaw melon, peeled and seeds removed
- 4 cups yellow watermelon, peeled and seeds removed.
- 2 cups red grapes, halved
- 1 cup toasted pecans, toasted
For the shrimp
- 12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/4 cup Peach BBQ sauce, see recipe here
- Lemon quarters for garnish
Basil Honey Dressing
- 3 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a blender. Set aside in a serving bowl.
For the melon salad
In a mixing bowl combine the two types of melon with the grapes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, mix the melon and grape mixture with the toasted pecans and a little of the basil dressing. Serve additional dressing with the salad.
For the grilled shrimp
Prepare an outdoor grill for medium hot heat or heat an indoor stove-top grill.
Thread the shrimp onto skewers and brush them lightly with BBQ sauce. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill directly over the heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the skewers and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take care not to overcook. Remove them to a plate and serve with lemon quarters, the melon salad and cornbread.
Stuffed Zucchini with Fresh Basil Pesto Spaghetti
Basil is so plentiful this time of year, so I try to think of different ways to use it in my summertime cooking. Of course, freezing basil pesto for the winter months is also another option. It is also a great addition to salad dressing and omelets, as in the recipes above.
For the eggplant
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 link pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon dried Italian bread crumbs
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
For the spaghetti
- 8 oz spaghetti
- 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto, see recipe here
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cut a thin slice off the top of each zucchini. With a small spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) remove most of the flesh from the zucchini without cutting into the outside. Chop the cut slice and the flesh.
Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped zucchini, chopped sausage and the garlic. Saute until the zucchini is completely cooked and has lost its moisture.
Add the onion, bell pepper and tomatoes, cook until soft. Add enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together, about 2 tablespoons.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the cheese and fill the hollowed out zucchini shells with the mixture.
Place the stuffed zucchini in a small baking dish. (The zucchini can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated until baking time.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil. Pour about 1 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and the zucchini shells are tender.
For the spaghetti
While the zucchini are baking, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.
Return the drained pasta to the cooking pot and add the pesto with a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce a bit.
Add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Mix well and serve alongside the stuffed zucchini.
Turin (Torino in Italian) is an important business and cultural center in northern Italy and the capital of the Piedmont region. The city has a rich culture and history, and is known for its numerous art galleries, restaurants, churches, palaces, opera houses, piazzas, parks, gardens, theaters, libraries, museums and other venues. The city currently hosts some of Italy’s best universities, colleges, academies, lycea and gymnasia, such as the six-century-old University of Turin and the Turin Polytechnic. It is often referred to as the Automobile Capital of Italy and the Detroit of Italy, as it is the home of Fiat and Alfa Romeo.
Alfa Romeo Automobiles, an Italian car manufacturer, has been involved with car racing since 1911. The company was owned by Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale between 1932 and 1986. It became a part of the Fiat group In 2007 and the Alfa Romeo brand was transformed into the current Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy.
Originally, the company was founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq, with some Italian investors. In late 1909, the Italian Darracq cars were selling slowly and the Italian partners of the company hired Giuseppe Merosi to design new cars. In 1910, a new company was founded named A.L.F.A., initially still in partnership with Darracq. The first non-Darracq car produced by the company was the 1910 24 HP, designed by Merosi. A.L.F.A.who ventured into motor racing with drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24-hp models.
The firm’s initial location was in Naples, but even before the construction of the planned factory had started, Darracq decided late in 1906 that Milan would be more suitable and a tract of land was purchased in Lombardy where a new factory was erected.
In 1915, the company came under the direction of Neapolitan entrepreneur Nicola Romeo, who converted the factory to produce military hardware for the Italian and Allied war efforts. In 1920, the name of the company was changed to Alfa Romeo. In 1921, the Banca Italiana di Sconto, a backer for Nicola Romeo & Co, went bankrupt and the government stepped in to support industrial companies affected by the failed bank, among which was Alfa Romeo.
In 1933, the state ownership was reorganized under the name of the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) by Benito Mussolini’s government. The company struggled to return to profitability after the Second World War and turned to mass-producing small vehicles rather than hand-building luxury models. In 1954, it developed the Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine, which would remain in production until 1994. During the 1960s and 1970s, Alfa Romeo produced a number of sporty cars but struggled to make a profit and so it was sold to the Fiat Group in 1986.
Alfa Romeo has competed successfully in many different categories of motor sport, including the Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sports car racing, touring car racing and rallies. The first racing car was made in 1913, three years after the foundation of the company, and Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. The company gained a good name in motor sport, along with a sporty image. Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team, before becoming independent in 1939. It holds the world’s title of the most wins in the world.
Once motor sports resumed after the Second World War, Alfa Romeo proved to be the car to beat in Grand Prix events. The introduction of the new Formula One for single-seat racing cars provided an ideal setting for Alfa Romeo’s Tipo 158 Alfetta and Giuseppe Farina won the first Formula One World Championship in 1950. Juan Manuel Fangio secured Alfa’s second consecutive championship in 1951.
The track in the photo above was built on the roof of the factory that opened in Turin’s Ligotto district in 1923. The factory’s assembly line began at the ground floor and ended on the top-level, where cars were taken for a test run around the track. Spiraling ramps inside the building allowed the cars to be driven back down and into showrooms. The factory closed in 1982, after which Fiat held a competition for its redevelopment. Architect Renzo Piano, whose work includes the New York Times building and London’s “vertical city,” the Shard, secured the commission. His workshop transformed the old factory into a public space complete with shopping center, theater, hotel, convention center and art gallery. A helipad and bubble-shaped, blue glass meeting room were added to the roof to cater to interested business travelers. You can still visit the rooftop test track, but the days of cars looping around the course are gone.
Turin cuisine shows the influence of its closeness to France in its use of butter and complex sauces. This area is also the home of solid chocolate, bread sticks (called grissini) , risotto and some of Italy’s most renowned wines, including Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera d’Asti. Italian vermouth, in Italy an aperitif, is another product of Turin and Turin is still the headquarters of many vermouth manufacturers, the most famous of which is Martini and Rossi.
Anchovies are used in many dishes. Bagna Caôda is a sauce made of garlic, olive oil, butter, anchovies and occasionally truffles. The sauce is served in a small earthenware pot that is kept hot while it is served. Vegetables are then dipped in the sauce.
A typical beef stew, bollito misto is usually made with four or more meats. Beef and chicken are staples of the dish, as is some type of sausage. These ingredients are often mixed with other meats that are available. The stew is served with a green sauce made from parsley, garlic, anchovies, olive oil and other ingredients according to the preference of the cook.
Turin, Italy is perhaps best known for the white truffle, a rare food that is sought by cooks around the world. Rare is the person who can afford white truffles as they generally sell for between $2,500 and $3,500 per pound. The white truffle season runs from September through December. During the season many towns around Turin have truffle fairs and auctions where you can often get tastes of regional dishes made with truffles.
- 10 anchovies in salt
- 1 bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley
- Two handfuls of fresh basil leaves
- 1 peperoncino (small hot chilli)
- 1 hard-boiled egg yolk
- 1/2 cup of good virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic
Wash the anchovies very well under cold running water to remove the salt. Remove the bones and allow the anchovies to dry.
Cook the garlic cloves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
Put the garlic into a food processor with all the other ingredients except the anchovies and puree until smooth.
Put a little of the sauce onto a serving dish and layer the anchovies over it. Put some more sauce on top.
Let rest at room temperature for at least 1 or 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
Pasta with Mushrooms
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 oz pancetta, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 lb assorted mushrooms (Portobello, Crimini, Common White, etc.), thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 lb. long pasta (spaghetti, linguine, etc.)
- 4 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
Combine the dried porcini and the wine in a small bowl and soak for thirty minutes.
Fill a large pot with four to six quarts of water and bring the water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt to the water and stir. When the pasta is al dente, drain and pour onto a serving bowl.
Heat a large saute pan to medium high heat and add the pancetta. Cook until slightly crisp.
Add the butter and allow it to melt. When the bubbles have subsided, add the fresh mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until the juices have all but evaporated.
Raise the heat to high and add the porcini and wine. Add in the shallots and the thyme. Saute, stirring frequently until the wine has nearly evaporated. Add salt & pepper to taste and the cream.
Allow the sauce to boil until it has reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat.
Pour all of the mushroom sauce over the pasta and toss well. Garnish with the chopped parsley.
Chicken Torino Style
- 2 slices prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese
- 2 slices mozzarella cheese
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a baking dish.
Sauté the garlic in a medium ovenproof skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil until light brown.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cut a slit in each chicken breast and fill the pocket with 1 slice of mozzarella, 1 tablespoon of Gorgonzola cheese and half of the sautéed garlic.
Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each chicken breast.
In the same skillet used for the garlic, brown the chicken in the butter and remaining oil for about 2 minutes on each side.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Makes eight 6-ounce servings
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
- 3/4 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
- 12 egg yolks
- 4 sheets (12 grams) gelatin
- 12 ounces (340 grams) gianduja chocolate*, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup lightly sweetened whipped cream
- 1/2 cup chopped and toasted hazelnuts
Heat the milk, cream and half of the sugar in a saucepan.
Whisk together the remaining half of the sugar and the egg yolks until the mixture lightens in color. Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water.
Once the milk mixture is hot, temper the yolk mixture by adding a little of the milk mixture at a time and whisking together until both mixtures are combined.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium heat, stirring slowly and constantly. Heat the mixture to 175° F or until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat.
Ring all of the excess water out of the gelatin and immediately add to the heated mixture. Stir until it is incorporated.
Strain half the heated mixture over the finely chopped chocolate and slowly whisk together until the mixture combines. Strain the remaining half of the heated mixture over the chocolate mixture and whisk together.
Add the vanilla extract and combine.
Pour into serving dishes. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chopped hazelnuts.
*Cooking Notes: Gianduja chocolate is available at most gourmet food stores. If you are unable to find gelatin sheets, you can substitute 1 package (a scant 1 tablespoon) of the powdered gelatin. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for softening the gelatin in water, then add to the heated mixture before straining over the gianduja.
Chianti, Italy, is the Classico wine region in the province of Tuscany, Italy. Chianti” is the name of the wine region but the wine from Chianti is known as Chianti Classico, to distinguish it from other Chianti wines that come from areas of Tuscany outside the Chianti region. Stretching between Florence and Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, the Chianti wine region is highly romanticized area with its terracotta-roofed towns and vineyards stretching across sun-draped hillsides. However, you no longer will find the straw-wrapped wine bottles readily available. Today, Chianti vintners produce excellent, nuanced wines that are worthy of elegant surroundings.
The Chianti DOCG covers all the Chianti wine region and includes a large stretch of land encompassing the western areas of Pisa near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Florentine hills to the north, the province of Arezzo in the east and the Siena hills to the south. These vineyards overlap the DOCG regions of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Any Sangiovese-based wine made according to the Chianti guidelines from these vineyards can be labelled and marked under the Chianti DOCG should the producer wish to use the designation.
The first definition of a wine-area called Chianti was made in 1716. In 1932 the Chianti area was completely re-drawn and divided in seven sub-areas: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina. Wines labelled “Chianti Classico” come from the biggest sub-area of Chianti, that includes the original Chianti heartland. Only Chianti from this zone may boast the black rooster seal (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the Chianti Classico Consortium, the local association of producers.
During the 1970s producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti. In 1995, it became legal to produce a Chianti made completely from Sangiovese grapes. For a wine to retain the name of Chianti, it must be produced with at least 80% Sangiovese. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4–7), may be labelled as Riserva. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements (lower yield, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labelled as Chianti Superiore, although Chianti from the “Classico” sub-area is not allowed to be labelled as “Superiore”.
The Antinori family has been producing wine in the region since the 1300s. The family company, Marchesi Antinori, is planting for the future. In the fall of 2012, a new, architecturally stunning winemaking facility, called Antinori nel Chianti Classico, was inaugurated. And in March of the following year, the glass-and-steel complex opened to the public for tours of its elegant cantina and grounds. “The idea was to bring the heart of the company back to the countryside where the wine is produced,” says Antinori, who represents the family wine business’s 25th generation. “We wanted to have a winery which was not a monument, but integrated in the landscape.”
The facility includes a 129,000-square-foot, multilevel winery, with an energy-efficient gravity-flow system and naturally cool underground barrel rooms that have yet to need air-conditioning. In addition, the new location houses the company’s headquarters, an auditorium, boutique, restaurant, museum, olive oil mill and a facility for producing sweet Vin Santo. Its most dramatic features are the glass-walled tasting rooms that rise above the cathedral-like barrel cellars and the exterior onion-peel staircase that climbs to a terrace built on a swooping 70-foot roof overhang.
Is identified in one of three ways (see below):
The region or sub-region will always be located next to the classification level
Classification (DOCG, DOC, IGT, Vino da Tavola)
This is never next to the classification and often indicates that the wine is a blend of grapes, as in the case of a Super Tuscan wine.
Italian wineries will often use words like Tenuta, Azienda, Castello or Cascina in their name.
What makes Chianti the perfect food wine?
Chianti, a red blend from Tuscany, is as essential to Italian cuisine as extra virgin olive oil.
When you think of pairing Chianti with food, most people think of pasta and it is a perfect combination, but there is so much more that you can pair with Chianti.
It’s a great compliment to strong-tasting poultry dishes, spiced lamb or even beef (as long as it’s not overly fatty). If you are looking for a good wine with pizza, Chianti is a good choice.
Chianti’s is a perfect accompaniment for lasagna. It’s higher acid level stands up well to Lasagna’s rich tomato sauce and it has enough flavor to stand up to sausage or meat that is often part of the dish.
A rich meat sauce made with a tomato and wine base pairs with Chianti.
Roasted Leg of Lamb
The herbs used to flavor the meat pair perfectly with the slightly acidic nature of Chianti.
It was first created in San Francisco by the fishermen whose diet was pretty much limited to whatever they caught at sea and didn’t sell. Trading with other fisherman for different types of seafood brought variety and, in the process, created one of the world’s favorite seafood stews. The brininess brought by the seafood along the tomato flavor are the ideal compliment for Chianti.
Pair pizza with Chianti. Chianti is light enough to not overwhelm pizza Margherita’s simple flavors of basil, tomatoes and cheese.
Main Dish Recipes to Serve with Chianti Wine
Pork and Mushroom Ragu
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 oz pancetta, minced
- 2 lbs boneless pork ribs, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- One 16 oz can peeled tomatoes, in their juice and chopped
- 1/4 flat leaf parsley, minced
- 1 lb package pappardelle pasta
In a small saucepan, bring the beef broth to a boil. Soak porcini mushrooms in the boiled broth for 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the porcini, chop them and set them aside. Reserve the broth.
Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Add a layer of pork ribs and brown the meat on all sides, about 3 – 5 minutes per side. Remove the browned pork, set aside and repeat with the remaining pork until all the pieces are well browned.
Pour off any remaining fat from the pan. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cremini mushrooms and cook until they are softened and most of the released juices evaporate. Add the garlic, onions and carrots and cook until softened, about 6-8 minutes.
Add the wine, meat, reserved porcini beef broth, chopped porcini mushrooms and tomatoes to the pot. Mix well and bring it to a brisk simmer.
Cover and adjust heat to a low simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Stir frequently, add 1/4 cup of water as needed to keep it moist.
Cook the pappardelle pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain. Mix the pasta with the ragu and top with the parsley.
Chicken and Sausage Skewers
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2″ pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz. thin sliced prosciutto, cut each slice in half
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh Italian sausage cut into 2″ pieces
- Sage leaves
- 12 skewers
Over low heat in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and the chopped rosemary leaves. Once the oil and rosemary start to sizzle, remove from the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature (can be done 4 days in advance).
Whisk 1/4 cup of the rosemary oil with the white wine vinegar; add the chicken pieces and marinate for 30-60 minutes. Reserve the remaining oil.
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and lightly season with salt and pepper. Wrap each piece of chicken with a piece of prosciutto.
Alternate the chicken and sausage on the skewers, placing a sage leaf between them. Each skewer should have about 2 pieces of chicken and 2 pieces of sausage to make 12 skewers.
Refrigerate the kebabs until ready to cook. When ready to grill, brush the chicken and sausage with some of the remaining rosemary oil.
Heat a grill and create a low heat section. Cook the skewers over low heat and turn frequently to avoid burning, about 5 minutes on each side. Brush with more rosemary oil if the meat appears dry during cooking.
Alternatively, the skewers can be cooked in the broiler until they are browned.
Classic San Francisco Cioppino
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 rib of celery, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
- One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups clam juice
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon each dried basil and dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
- 1 large cooked Dungeness crab (about 2 pounds), cracked and cleaned, still in the shell.
- 2 pounds fresh halibut fillet or other firm-fleshed white fish, cubed
- 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 dozen mussels OR clams OR oysters OR a combination of those, depending on what is available
In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over low heat.
Sauté the celery, onions and garlic until soft (about 5 minutes). Add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the seafood and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for one hour. Add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Add the white fish and shrimp. Simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Add mussels and simmer for 3-5 minutes more, until the shells open. Discard any mussels that do not open.
Add the crab last and just heat through. Ladle the stew into large bowls and serve with crusty sourdough bread and lots of napkins.
- 1/2 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated provolone cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds, pounded to 1/8 inch thickness
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the filling over the flank steak covering it evenly. Starting at the shorter end, roll up the flank steak into a tight cylinder. Tie the roll with butcher’s twine (kitchen string).
Heat a large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the braciole. Brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
Carefully remove the braciole to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put the braciole back into the pan. Cover with a lid or foil and place in the oven. Bake turning the braciole every 30 minutes and basting with the tomato sauce.
After one hour uncover the pan and bake until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add more wine or water to the sauce if needed as it cooks.
Remove the braciole from the sauce and let rest for ten minutes. Remove the twine.
Slice the braciole into 1 inch thick slices. Transfer to a warmed platter. Spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with the basil and parsley.
Pining for a great steak dinner or celebrating a special occasion? A trip to s premium steakhouse will cost you the following:
Morton’s 3 course steak dinner for one is $150-160.
Ruth’s Chris price for just the cowboy rib eye is $50.
Gibson’s Steakhouse in Chicago – premium steaks average $40 to $60 per steak.
Dinner at less prestigious steak restaurants will be at least $90 per person.
If you make this special dinner at home, and I did, this is what it cost me:
Cost of a quality steakhouse dinner at home for 2 is less than $30 plus whatever your wine cost. These are prices for my area and the vegetables are in season and often on sale here
1 1/2 lb organic, grass fed French cut rib eye steak cost $22.50
Prices at the market this week:
$1.99 per lb for asparagus = $2.98 for 1 ½ lbs
5 lb bag of red potatoes on sale for $3.49 = $1.40 for 2 lbs needed for the recipe.
1 lb mushrooms were $2.49
Grilled French Cut Rib Eye Steak
This steak has several names, such as cowboy or tomahawk. The steak can be grilled over indirect heat or it can be baked in the oven,
It is a large steak and we will only eat part of it. However, I like having leftovers that I can use for a salad or a quesadilla later in the week.
- One 22 – 24 oz French Cut Rib Eye Steak
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
One hour before grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Season it liberally with the salt and pepper. Let it rest at room temperature until it is time to grill.
Set the grill up for direct and indirect heat.
Put the steak on the grill over indirect heat. Close the lid, and cook the steak, turning a few times during cooking. The steak is ready for searing when it reaches 115°F in the thickest part of the steak, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Brush the steak with some of the melted butter, then slide it to the direct heat side of the grill. Sear the steak until a brown crust forms on the steak. This should take about two minutes on each side, at which point the steak should reach 125°F for medium rare.
Remove the steak to a platter and baste i,t one last time, with the butter. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
Oven Baked Method
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the steak to the skillet. Cook until seared and golden brown, 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven..
Roast steak in the oven, turning halfway through cooking and basting frequently with the butter in the pan, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into steak registers 125° for medium-rare, about 15 minutes, or to your desired temperature.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Balsamic Sautéed Mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- Pinch Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the vinegar and the brown sugar in a small cup and set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a medium skillet and saute the mushrooms until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper.
Turn the heat to low and add the vinegar mixture. Cook, stirring, until the liquid reduces to a glaze consistency that coats the mushrooms, 15 to 20 seconds.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, ends trimmed
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Heavy duty foil
Lay the asparagus on a large sheet of heavy duty foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then with the garlic and lemon zest. Pour the melted butter over the asparagus.
Enclose the asparagus in the foil and seal the edges tightly. Place the package on the direct heat side of the grill while the steak is cooking.
Cook the asparagus for 8 minutes, turn the package over and cook another 8 minutes. Be careful opening the package because the steam will be very hot.
Warm Potato Salad
- 2 pounds red potatoes, ppelled and quartered
- 1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/4 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt to taste
Place potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan covered 2 inches by salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
In the same saucepan, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, capers, vinegar and red onion. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat.
Add the drained potatoes and toss with the warm dressing, celery and parsley. Salt to taste and serve warm.