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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

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Italians started coming to Chicago from Italy during the 1850s and by the 1940’s there was a significant Italian population of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the city. There are some stories about U.S. soldiers of Italian descent returning from Europe after World War II and experimenting with different pizza recipes, and eventually creating a deep dish pizza. The only problem with these stories is that deep dish pizza was being sold in Chicago in the early 1940’s, before the end of the war. The one story that is probably true is about a man named Sewell who created the deep dish pizza in 1943 at his bar and grill, Pizzeria Uno. It was so popular that he soon opened another place called Pizzeria Due. Soon other restaurants were serving deep dish pizza and the dish became popular. Soon Chicago became known for creating it and everyone, not just Italians, adopted it as a ‘Chicago’ food. (source FoodReference.com)

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

Ingredients

1 lb of your favorite pizza dough, at room temperature
16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz cooked Italian sausage, sliced thin
12 oz jar Mancini Fried Peppers with sweet onions or equivalent amount of cooked onions and peppers
2 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a deep dish pizza pan. (My pan is 10 ½ inches in diameter)
Turn the pizza dough out into the prepared pan and use the heel of your hand and your fingertips to press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan, then about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

When the crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and keep the oven temperature on 350 degrees F.
Add the toppings in the following order:
On the bottom of the crust place an even layer of cheese slices. Then add the sausage slices in an even layer. Top it with another layer of cheese slices. Then add the cooked peppers and onions. Top with a final layer of cheese slices. Pour the sauce over the top and spread it into an even layer, making sure it is covering all of the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges are golden and the filling is firm. Allow the pizza to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Oven Baked Corned Beef Brisket

Servings 4 -6 servings

Ingredients

2-3 lb corned beef brisket
4 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
1 large onion quartered
3 carrots each cut into 3 pieces on the diagonal

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place the brisket, fat layer up, in the middle of aluminum foil big enough to cover the whole brisket.
Spread the whole brisket with Dijon mustard. Then, evenly sprinkle brown sugar over the top and gently pet it on. Pat some onto the sides as well.


Add the onions and carrots to the sides of the brisket.
Bring the aluminum foil together and close it, covering the brisket loosely, leaving a little space between the brisket and the foil. Place the covered brisket into a rimmed roasting pan.


Bake it for 4-5 hours until very tender. Remove the meat from the foil and let it rest for a few minutes on a cutting board.
Be sure to slice the meat against the grain. Serve with the cooked cabbage, onions and carrots.

Butter Cooked Green Cabbage

Ingredients

4 servings

1 medium head green cabbage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Remove 8 large outer leaves from the cabbage head and reserve for stuffing or another recipe. Cut the remaining head in quarters and remove the core from each. Slice the quarters into thin strips.

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan.
Sauté the shredded cabbage on low heat for at least 15 minutes or until the cabbage becomes soft and tender.
Stir often and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the baked corned beef.


The idea for this tomato-based seafood stew comes from the fisherman from Genoa who immigrated to the US and settled in the Bay area of California. Cioppino was developed in San Francisco by these Italian immigrants who prepared a fish stew with what they had on their fishing boats from their daily catch.

Legend has it that requests were made as the boats came in for the day asking for any seafood to “CHIP IN ” to the pot; add Italian seasoning and hence the name: Cioppino (chip-EEN-o). Most food historians and cookbook authors don’t even try to fix the recipe in time, although all point to San Francisco as the place of origin. Cioppino wasn’t well-known beyond the Bay area (or at least outside of California) until after World War II. John Thorne…describes in the September/October 1996 issue of his newsletter, Simple Cooking, how he came upon a vintage (1921) cookbook that discusses cioppino in detail. That book, Fish Cookery, by Evelyn Spencer of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and John N. Cobb, director of the College of Fisheries at the University of Washington, offers a recipe for cioppino that had appeared three years earlier by H.B. Nidever in California Fish and Game. Thorne believes that it may be one of the first, if not the first, ever published.

In 1925 Nunzio Alioto, an Italian immigrant, set up a stall at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf to sell lunchtime provisions to the Italian laborers. His business grew and by 1932 he had constructed the first building at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson, by combining the fish stand with a seafood bar. After Nunzio passed away unexpectedly, his widow Nonna Rose and her three children took over the stall. In 1938 she installed a kitchen in the original structure and officially opened Alioto’s Restaurant. Their specialty was Cioppino.

Here is my version that I have developed over the years and one that suits my family’s taste.

Italian American Seafood Stew (Cioppino)

Serve with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups fish stock
2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes in juice, crushed
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 pounds firm, skinless fish fillets (such as red snapper, grouper, swordfish, tuna, mahi-mahi or halibut), cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb shrimp, deveined
1 lb sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup white wine
2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed and soaked to remove the sand

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, fish stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes.

Add the wine to a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the clams, turn the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Remove the clams as they open to a covered bowl. Discard any clams that do not open. Strain the juices in the skillet through a fine mesh colander. Set aside the clams and the strained cooking liquid.

Next add the fish pieces and shrimp to the tomato sauce, pushing them down into the liquid a little. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the opened clams and strained wine and heat for a minute or two.

Immediately scoop the stew into large bowls, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Italian bread.


Italian Chicken Bake

Serve with Italian bread to dip into the sauce and a green salad.

Ingredients

Serves 4-5

5-6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into one-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
5 jarred pickled peppers, seeded and sliced thin (1/2 cup), plus 2 tablespoons brine from the jar
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pa the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the sausage pieces to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until the vegetables are softened about 5 minutes. Add the pickled peppers, garlic, and oregano and cook, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Add broth and pepper brine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.

Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the sausage. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer in the skillet and add any accumulated juice from the plate. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the thighs register 175 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (handle will be very hot). Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls.


Mushroom Pork Chops

Servings: 2

Ingredients

2 (1 lb) boneless pork chops (each 1 inch thick) fat removed
3 tablespoons butter, divided
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small-medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sliced sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the pork into 4 cutlets and pound to a 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.
Heat a medium skillet and when hot, add 1 tablespoon butter. After the butter melts add the pork and cook for 2 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.


Add the remaining butter, onion, garlic, and mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook until the onions are tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the wine and cook until mostly evaporated. Add the chicken broth, sage, and thyme and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens. Place the pork chops in the sauce to heat. Serve over sautéed cabbage.

Sautéed Cabbage

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of a medium head of Savoy cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Directions

Melt butter in a deep frying pan. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the shredded cabbage and stir.
Lower the heat and continue cooking until the cabbage is silky soft.., about 20 minutes. Stir often. Season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans with Shallots

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
Salt
1 large shallot or 2 small, sliced into thin rings
Black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Cover beans with water and add a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander.
To the empty pan add the olive oil and the shallots. Cook until tender and soft. Return drained beans to the pan and add a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook for a minute or two to reheat the beans.


Servings 8

Ingredients

Taco Pie Filling

Ingredients

2 lbs pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons homemade (see recipe below) or store-bought taco seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
16 oz jar of salsa
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend for the topping
1 package of cornbread mix (ex. Jiffy)

Or For Low Carb/Gluten Free Cornbread Recipe

“Cornbread” Pie Crust

Ingredients

1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon Amoretti Sweet Corn Extract

Directions

For The Filling:

In a deep skillet, heat the oil and cook the ground beef until brown.

Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and continue to cook until the onion is tender.

Add the taco seasoning and salsa and cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is incorporated into the filling.

Taste and adjust seasonings per your liking and allow to cool a little.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally oil a 12-inch deep dish baking pan or cast iron skillet.

For the Cornbread:

Mix the package according to the directions. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and gently spread the batter evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

For the Low Carb/Gluten Free Mix:

Place the cheddar and cream cheese, eggs, almond flour, baking powder and extract in a food processor. Process until a thick batter forms.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and gently spread the batter evenly to the sides of the pan.

Top the batter with the taco meat and bake for 40 minutes. Add the cup of cheddar cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes more..

Let the taco bake cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, tomatoes, cilantro or black olives.

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl or jar, mix all the spices together. Store in an airtight container.

Serve with a

Garden Salad With Ranch Dressing: Recipe

Or Creamy Coleslaw: Recipe


Baked Chicken In Wine Sauce

2 servings

Ingredients

2 large skin on, bone-in chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, minced
4 oz white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, plus extra for the roasted chisken
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon flour, cornstarch or arrowroot
Chopped chives to garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium skillet heat 1 tablespoon butter until melted, then add the chicken, skin-side down. Brown on each side until golden, about three minutes per side, then remove to a greased baking dish just large enough to fit the chicken. Sprinkle each breast with salt, pepper and dried thyme. Place the baking dish in the oven and roast the chicken for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F.

When the chicken is almost done, add the remaining butter to the skillet and heat until melted. Add the shallots; sauté until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to release their liquid, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the thyme and white wine. Cook for a minute or two.

Combine the broth and cream in a large measuring cup. Whisk in the flour. Pour the mixture into the skillet and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened. Add the baked chicken breasts, skin side down, and simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes.
Turn the chicken over and sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Sautéed Savoy Cabbage

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of a medium head of Savoy cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 oz. butter
Salt and pepper

Directions

Melt butter in a deep frying pan. Add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is soft. Add the shredded cabbage.
Sauté the cabbage on medium heat for 15 minutes.
Lower the heat and continue cooking until the cabbage is silky soft.. Stir regularly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Zucchini Rounds

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place zucchini slices in an oiled shallow baking pan in one layer.

Brush each round with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.



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