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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Naples

National Archeology Museum of Naples

National Archeology Museum of Naples

The National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, has one of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman artifacts, including mosaics, sculptures, gems, glass and silver and a collection of Roman erotica from Pompeii. Many of the objects come from excavations at Pompeii, Herculaneum and nearby archaeological sites. The collection includes works of the highest quality produced in Greek, Roman and Renaissance times. It is the most important archaeological museum in Italy. Charles III of Spain founded the museum in the 1750s. The building he used for it had been erected as a cavalry barracks and later was the seat of the University of Naples until it became the site of the museum.

Some of the highlights include:

A major collection of ancient Roman bronzes from the Villa of the Papyri is housed at the museum and includes the Seated Hermes, a sprawling Drunken Satyr and a bust of Thespis.

Mosaics covering the period from two centuries BC until the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD and mosaics that were parts of floors and walls in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae are displayed. Many of the mosaics include figures from Greek paintings. The most well-known are the mosaics from the House of the Faun in Pompeii. The museum’s collection also includes a number of important mosaics recovered from the ruins of  several Vesuvian cities. This includes the Alexander Mosaic, dating circa 100 BC, and depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. Another important mosaic is of the gladiatorial fighter depicted in the mosaic found at the Villa of the Figured Capitals.

mosaic

Dog Mosaic

Secret Cabinet – This room was created in the early 1800’s to house the museum’s many sexual items. It was closed for many years but reopened in 2000. The Secret Cabinet (Gabbinete) or Secret Room is the name the Bourbon Monarchy gave the private rooms in which they held their fairly extensive collection, mostly derived from excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Access was limited to only persons of a mature age. After the revolution of 1848, the government of the monarchy proposed the destruction of these objects, fearful of the implications of their ownership, which would tarnish the monarchy’s reputation. The, then, director of the Royal Bourbon Museum had access to the collection terminated and the entrance door was sealed with three different locks, whose keys were held respectively by the Director of the Museum, the Museum Controller and the Palace Butler. This censorship occurred in 1851 when even nude Venus statues were locked up. The entrance was eventually walled up in the hope that the collection would vanish from memory.

In September 1860, when the forces of Garibaldi occupied Naples, he ordered that the collection be made available for the general public to view. Since the Royal Butler was no longer available, they broke into the collection and restored viewership.  Censorship was again imposed during the era of the Kingdom of Italy and continued into the Fascist period, when visitors to the rooms needed the permission of the Minister of National Education in Rome. Censorship persisted through the postwar period up to 1967, abating only after 1971 when the Ministry was given new rules to regulate requests for visits and access to the section. Completely rebuilt a few years ago with all of the new criteria, the collection was finally opened to the public in April 2000. Visitors under the age of 14 can tour the exhibit only with an adult.

Frescoes come from the walls in Pompeii. Covering a period of about two centuries, the frescoes are excellent examples of Roman painting. They cover a variety of themes, including mythology, landscapes and scenes of daily life.

Temple of Isis  is a special exhibit that holds wall paintings removed from the temple in Pompeii, as well as artifacts from the temple.

Pompeii Model

Pompeii Model

Pompeii Model was made in the 19th century and is a model of the city that helps the visitor visualize what it looked like before the eruption.

Sculptures of Greeks and Romans are housed in a large collection at the museum.

Coins and Metals  are displayed in six  rooms containing more than 200,000 coins and medals from Ancient Greece, Rome, medieval times and the Bourbon era.

Prehistory and Early History rooms cover objects related to the Bay of Naples from paleolithic times to Greek colonization in the 8th century BC. There’s a section on Etruscan occupation of the area.

The museum has the third largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Italy, after the Vatican Museum and the Museo Egizio in Turin. It is made up primarily of works from two private collections, assembled by Cardinal Borgia in the second half of the 18th century and Picchianti in the first years of the 19th. In the recent rearrangement of the galleries the two collections have been exhibited separately, while in a connecting room other items are on display, including Egyptian artifacts from Pompeii and other Campanian sites. In its new layout the collection provides both an important record of Egyptian civilization from the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 B.C.) up to the Ptolemaic-Roman era.

Museo di Capodimonte

Museo di Capodimonte

Museo di Capodimonte is located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples, Italy. The museum is the prime repository of Neapolitan painting and decorative art, with several important works from other Italian schools of painting and some important ancient Roman sculptures This museum has the largest collection in Italy aside from the Uffizi — and yet you don’t have to vie for space in front of its masterpieces. The Capodimonte contains pieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian, Bellini, El Greco, Artemisia Gentileschi, even an Andy Warhol painting of Mt. Vesuvius erupting… among others.

Napoli_-_Museo_di_Capodimonte_(salone_da_ballo)

The collection can trace its origins back to 1738, when King Charles VII of Naples and Sicily (later Charles III, king of Spain) decided to build a hunting lodge on the Capodimonte hill, but then decided that he would instead build a grand palace, partly because his existing residence, the Palace of Portici, was too small to accommodate his court and partly because he needed somewhere to house his Farnese art collection, which he had inherited from his mother, Elisabetta Farnese, the last descendant of the sovereign ducal family of Parma.

Over the years the palace was enlarged and filled with more art. In 1787, on the advice of Jacob Philipp Hackert, a laboratory for the restoration of paintings was created. After the palace passed in 1861 to the House of Savoy, further pieces were added to the art collections, appointing Domenico Morelli as consultant for new acquisitions. They also added an extensive collection of historic firearms and other weapons. In 1866, the boudoir of Maria Amalia of Saxony was transferred to Capodimonte from the Palace of Portici and in 1877 a Roman era marble floor was brought in from a Roman villa on Capri. After the end of the monarchy, the palace became a national museum in 1950.

Naples museum

Cappella Sansevero

The Cappella Sansevero (also known as the Capella Sansevero de’ Sangri or Pietatella) is a chapel north of the church of San Domenico Maggiore, in the historic center of Naples, Italy. Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero. The building was converted into a family burial chapel by Alessandro di Sangro in 1613 (as inscribed on the marble plinth over the entrance to the chapel). The Prince of Sansevero also included Masonic symbols in its reconstruction. Until 1888 a passageway connected the Sansevero palace with the chapel.

Cappella Sansevero Interni Cristo Velato

Christ Veiled under a Shroud

Christ Veiled under a Shroud

The museum contains works of art by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century including sculptures of the late Baroque period. The chapel houses almost thirty works of art, among them sculptures made of a marble-like substance that, in whole or in part, was invented by Raimondo, who also participated in the design of the works of art in the chapel. The Veiled Truth was completed by Antonio Corradini in 1750 as a tomb monument dedicated to Cecilia Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, mother of Raimondo. A Christ Veiled under a Shroud (also called Veiled Christ) was completed in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino. It is a masterpiece of expression — even though there is a veil covering the face.

The ceiling, the Glory of Paradise, was painted by Francesco Maria Russo in 1749. The original floor (most of the present one dates from 1901) was in black and white (said to symbolize good/evil) in the design of a labyrinth.

In the basement there is a painting by the Roman artist, Giuseppe Pesce, Madonna con Bambino, dating from around 1750. It was painted using wax-based paints of Raimondo di Sangro’s own invention. The prince presented this painting to his friend Charles Bourbon, King of Naples.

macchine-anatomiche-cappella-sansevero

There are also “anatomic models” of 18th century people whose skeletons, arteries and veins have all been preserved to this day. However, analysis of the “blood vessels” indicate they are constructed of beeswax, iron wire and silk.

 

naples_1742999c

The Bay of Naples

Neapolitan Cuisine

Ask any Italian where the best pizza in Italy comes from and the answer will be — begrudgingly — the same: “Napoli.” Here’s where pizza was invented and, since the 19th century, the Neapolitans have raised it to a fine art.

Pizza is far from the only food Naples does well. Its fritti (fried offerings), seafood and pastas are top-notch, too. But the one thing you can’t miss are the baked goods. Thanks to Naples’ mixed heritage — from the 12th to 19th centuries, the French, Spanish, Austrians and Bourbons all claimed control at some point — its pastries have picked up the best of all foreign influences, such as baba, zeppola, sfogliatelle or around Easter time – the pastiera.

Neapolitan pizza

 Naples-Style Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sugar (⅞ oz.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (½ oz.)
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 5½ cups “00” flour, (1 lb. 12 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (¾ oz.)

Directions

Combine sugar, oil, yeast and 2 cups cold water in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, 8-10 minutes. Mix flour and salt in a separate bowl.

With motor running, slowly add flour mixture; mix until a smooth dough forms, 8-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

Divide dough into 4 balls; transfer to a greased 9″ x 13″ dish; brush tops with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 48 hours.

Salsa di Pomodoro Fresco

Ingredients

  • 2 (28-oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes, packed in purée
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Directions

Remove each whole tomato from the can and reserve 3 cups of the purée. Cut the tomatoes in half and, using your fingers, remove and discard the seeds (don’t rinse).

Place the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until just crushed but not puréed. (Alternatively, crush the tomatoes by hand or pass them through a food mill.)

Transfer the tomato sauce to a bowl and stir in the reserved 3 cups of purée and salt.

Pizza Margherita

4 pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Naples-style pizza dough
  • Fine semolina, for dusting
  • 1 recipe Naples-style pizza sauce
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • Olive oil

Directions

Place a pizza stone under the broiler; heat for 30 minutes.

Working with the 4 batches of dough, dust 1 ball dough with semolina. Using your fingertips, press dough into a 10″ circle about ¼” thick, leaving a 1″ crust around the edges.

Hold dough straight up, and with fingertips circling crust, slide fingers around crust in a circular motion as you would turn a steering wheel until dough in the center is stretched to about ⅛” thick; transfer to a semolina-dusted pizza peel.

Spread ½ cup sauce over dough and distribute a quarter each of the cheese and basil leaves; drizzle with oil. Slide pizza onto the stone; broil until the  cheese melts and the crust is puffed and charred in spots, 3-4 minutes.

easy-lasagna

Lasagne alla Napoletena

Also known as carnival lasagna, a traditional southern recipe from Naples.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. (gr.170) lasagne (fresh homemade lasagne pasta, if possible)
  • 8 oz. (gr.225) Italian sausage
  • 4 oz. (gr.115) mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz. (gr.225) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 10 oz. (gr.300) ripe tomatoes or whole canned, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (gr.30) butter
  • 4 tablespoons (ml.60) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Small bunch of basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

In a saucepan heat the olive oil and brown the onion. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes at low heat. Add the minced basil.

Brown the Italian sausages in a skillet on all sides. Set aside to cool. After cooling, remove the casing and thinly slice the sausage.

Dice  the mozzarella cheese. Slice the hard-boiled eggs.

In a mixing slightly beat the egg together with the Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Oil the bottom of a lasagna pan and lay 3 noodles crosswise. Spread with some of the tomato sauce, some diced mozzarella, some ricotta, a few tablespoons of the eggs and cheese mixture, some slices of the hard-boiled eggs and some pieces of the Italian sausages. Repeat the layering procedure until all ingredients are used.

For the last layer cover with just the noodles and spread the top with softened butter. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and bake the lasagna for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let lasagna rest for 5 minutes. Cut and serve.

zuppapesce28plated29_edited-11

Neapolitan Zuppa di Pesce 

The Neapolitan version will almost always include one or more kinds of mollusks such as squid, baby cuttlefish or octopus, clams or mussels or both, and a variety fish with fins. The fish was usually the local catch, so many local varieties of fish, most of them small and some quite bony but flavorful, can be added to the pot. Larger fish can be cut into serving or even bite-sized pieces. The most typical fish of all is scorfano, called ‘scorpion fish’ in English. (Scorfano is also typical of the Tuscan cacciucco and some of the Adriatic brodetti.) Triglie—red mullet—is also a common addition. But any firm-fleshed fish that lends itself to simmering will do: monkfish, snapper, catfish, sole. Less typical of this kind of fish soup are sea scallops and shellfish but they are nice additions.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

For the tomato base:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 peperoncino (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • Olive oil
  • A can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • A splash of white wine
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley, chopped

For the seafood (in the order they should be added to the pot):

  • An assortment of mollusks, such as squid, baby cuttlefish or octopus, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • An assortment of firm-fleshed fish of your choice, such as monkfish cut into large chunks
  • Shrimp, crayfish and/or sea scallops
  • Clams and/or mussels

Directions

Sauté the garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the peperoncino.  When the garlic is just barely beginning to brown; add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper (going light on the salt since the shellfish will be salty) and add some of the chopped parsley. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, or until the  sauce begins to reduce. Add a splash of white wine.

Add the seafood starting with the varieties that take the longest to cook, then progressing to those that take less time. Begin with the mollusks, since they will take some time to cook. With baby cuttlefish, let them simmer about 10 minutes before adding any other fish. Octopus or mature squid (cut up into bite-sized pieces) will take much longer, usually about 30 minutes. Then add the fish and let that cook for another five minutes. Finally, add the clams and mussels and simmer them just until they open. Sprinkle with a bit more finely chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.

pasteria

Ricotta Neapolitan Easter Pie (Pasteria)

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 qt whole milk
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • All-purpose flour, for pan
  • 3 lbs fresh ricotta cheese, drained 3 hours or preferably overnight
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Directions

Boil milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice, cinnamon, salt and the vanilla bean. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 30 minutes or until rice is very tender and has absorbed all the liquid.

Remove pan from the heat. Stir in ¾ cups granulated sugar. Cover. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Discard vanilla bean.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform  pan.

In a large bowl, mix the rice mixture, ricotta, whole eggs, egg yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until golden on top and almost set in the center. Cover with foil if starting to brown too much.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack. When cake has completely cooled, run a knife around edge to loosen. Gently remove ring.

Transfer cake to a serving platter. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

 

 

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Bay of Naples

The recorded history of Naples begins in the 7th. century BC, when the nearby Greek colony of Cumae founded a new city called Parthenope. Precisely why the inhabitants of Cumae decided to expand is not known for certain, but the Cumaeans built Neapolis (the “New City”) adjacent to the old Parthenope. At about the same time, they prevented an invasion attempt by the Etruscans. The new city grew thanks to the influence of the powerful Greek city-state of Syracuse in Sicily and, at some point, the new and old cities on the Gulf of Naples merged to become a single inhabited area.

Naples became an ally of the Roman Republic against Carthage. The strong walls of Naples held off Hannibal’s attack. During the Samnite Wars the city, a bustling center of trade, was captured by the Samnites. However, the Romans soon took it from them and made Neapolis a Roman colony. Neapolis was respected by the Romans as a place of Hellenistic culture, where people maintained their Greek language and customs and where elegant villas, aqueducts, public baths, theaters and the Temple of Dioscures were built. A number of Roman emperors, including Claudius and Tiberius, maintained villas in or near Naples. It was during this period that Christianity came to Naples and the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, are said to have preached here.

Naples, a Crowded City

Beaches in Napoli

In the sixth century Naples was conquered by the Byzantines and it was one of the last territories to fall to the Normans in 1039. In 1266 Naples and the kingdom of Sicily were given by Pope Clement IV to Charles of Anjou, who moved the capital from Palermo to Naples. In 1284 the kingdom was split in two and stayed that way until 1816, when they would form the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In between, Naples had been under the rule of Spain, Austria and the Bourbons and, briefly, a Jacobin republic. Finally, in October 1860, it became part of the new Italy.

Stock Photo: Herculaneum excavations 9, Naples, Italy. Image: 948150

Herculaneum excavations, Naples, Italy

The Neapolitan painter Massimo Stanzione poses a woman in festive local costume (ca 1635) with a market chicken: only the rich ate chicken on an ordinary occasion

During World War II, Naples was more heavily bombed than any other Italian city. Although the Neapolitans did not rebel against Italian fascism, Naples was the first Italian city to rise up against German military occupation and achieved liberation by October 1, 1943. The symbol of the rebirth of Naples was the rebuilding of Santa Chiara which had been destroyed during an Allied air raid. Special funding from the Italian government helped the economy to improve somewhat, including the rejuvenation of the Piazza del Plebiscito and other city landmarks.

Naples is rich in historical, artistic and cultural traditions with its own distinct cuisine. Neapolitan cuisine was influenced by Arab, Norman, Spanish and French cultures since all ruled Naples at some point in time. What has resulted is a unique half-sophisticated, half-folk cuisine. Many Neapolitan recipes are elaborate, take time to prepare and use seasonal produce. New World food imports added potatoes, peppers, beans, coffee and, especially, tomatoes to the cuisine. The pizza originated here and is eaten, like so many other delicious local foods, out on the street.

Selling Pizza on the Street

Flattened flour cakes — early pizzas — were made out of wheat flour, olive oil, lard and herbs and garnished with cheese. As for a much later ingredient, the tomato: after the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Spaniards brought them to Europe. In southern Italy tomatoes were easy to cultivate. The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692.

Considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries, modern pizza is attributed to Raffaele Esposito of Campania, Naples. In June 1889, Esposito baked a pizza in honor of visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Italian flag inspired Esposito’s recipe and contained green (basil), white (mozzarella) and red (tomatoes). Moistened with splashes of extra virgin olive oil, it was named Pizza Margherita to flatter the Queen, and it set the standard for pizzas to come. Consequently, from 1889 on, Naples became the “pizza capital of the world”.

Naples isn’t only about the pizza. With delicious food that ranges from fried treats to decadent desserts, the food of Naples can satisfy any food lover. The fertile volcanic soil of Campania combines with a perfect climate to produce the best fruit and vegetables in Italy. Dishes like eggplant parmesan, stuffed peppers and pasta e fagioli have been around for hundreds of years. Rich sauces like Neapolitan Ragu have been used to create some of the best pasta dishes in Italy. Like most of Italy, though, pastas mixed with vegetables, instead of expensive meats and seafood, helped feed people during hard times.

Zucchini alla Scapece

Seafood Pasta

Eggplant

Regular red and yellow peppers are widely used, and a local variety of small green peppers (not spicy), peperoncini verdi, are usually fried.

Salad is a side dish, especially seafood ones. Lettuce, and more often the incappucciata (a local variety of the iceberg lettuce but more crispy), is mixed with carrots, fennel, rucola and radishes, traditionally the long and spicy ones, which today are more and more rare; almost completely replaced by the round and sweeter ones.

Black olives used in Neapolitan cooking are always the ones from Gaeta.

Meat is not used as frequently in Neapolitan cooking as in the cuisine of Northern Italy. The most common kinds of meat used in Neapolitan cooking are:

  • sausage or pork liver, rounded in a net of pork’s fat and a bay leaf
  • trippa (tripe) and other more humble cuts of pork or beef, like pork’s foot and cow’s nose
  • braciole, pork rolls stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and parsley, fixed with toothpicks and cooked in ragù
  • lamb and goat are roasted, usually with potatoes and peas, typically around Easter
  • rabbit and chicken, often cooked alla cacciatora or pan-fried with tomatoes
  • beef or other red meat with tomatoes, cooked for a long time to tenderize an inexpensive piece of meat, as in Carne Pizzaiola

Neapolitan cooking has always used an abundance of all kinds of seafood from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Recipes use either less expensive fishes, in particular anchovies, or fishes of medium and large size, like spigola (European seabass) and orate (gilt-head bream), presently sold mainly from fish farms. 

  • Cicenielli, baby fishes, very small and transparent, prepared either steamed or fried in a dough
  • Fravagli, few centimeter long, typically fried
  • The baccalà (cod) and stockfish, imported from northern Europe seas, are either fried or cooked with potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, as well as crustacea (mainly shrimp).
  • Shellfish cozze (mussels), vongole (clams), cannolicchi, sconcigli are used in many seafood meals.

And let’s not forget the desserts. Struffoli, sfogliatelle and pastiera cheesecake all come out of Naples.

Make Some Neapolitan Inspired Recipes At Home

Cauliflower, Olive and Caper Salad                                                                                                                                    

A traditional Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner always begins with a family version of the following salad, which is actually an antipasto.

It can also be made with any of the following: tuna, pitted black olives, mushrooms, artichokes packed in oil, capers, peppers and cornichons, and a dressing made with lemon juice and olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • Coarse salt
  • 2 lbs. whole cauliflower, washed and drained
  • 3/4 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives
  • 1/3 cup capers, rinsed and dried
  • 3/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup red peppers packed in vinegar, rinsed, dried, and sliced into julienne strips
  • 8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and cut into pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Fill a large saucepan with water; add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the cauliflower head gently into the water.

Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Test the cauliflower – it should be al dente, not overcooked.

Drain, cool, and break into flowerets.

Put the cauliflower in a large bowl and add the black olives, capers, green olives, red peppers, anchovies, and pepper to taste.

Mix together the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the salad.

Toss gently, being careful not to break the flowerets.

Taste for salt and add more, if necessary.

Note: This may be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Pasta Caprese with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella                                                     

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. fresh, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb pasta, preferably penne
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • A pinch of hot red chili pepper 

Directions:

An hour before your meal:

Using a wooden spoon, mix the mozzarella, tomatoes, oil and vinegar, garlic and hot pepper in a deep bowl. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with a clean dishcloth and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.

Cook the pasta, al dente, drain the pasta and return to the warm pasta pot.

Add the basil to the tomato mixture, toss well and pour the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Mix well. Check again for seasoning, pour into serving bowl and serve.

Spicy Neapolitan Fish                                                                            

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs. fish fillets
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup kalamata olives or cracked green olives, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts

Directions

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.

Add half the fish to the skillet and sauté until just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer fish to a platter.

Repeat with the remaining fish.

Add parsley and crushed red pepper to the skillet; sauté 1 minute.

Add wine, tomatoes, olives, garlic, capers and artichoke hearts; sauté until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2 minutes.

Season sauce with salt and pepper; spoon over fish.  This dish is often served over spaghetti.

Neapolitan Rum Baba

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 8 oz. (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup of milk, warmed

Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup white rum
  • 1 teaspoon of rum extract

Cake Directions:

Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy.

Add the flour and baking powder sifted together.

Beat in the butter and milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pour the ingredients into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Syrup Directions:

In a small saucepan cook the sugar in the water until syrupy.

Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and rum extract.

Unmold the cake and spoon the rum syrup, slowly, all over the cake until all the syrup soaks into the cake. You can also brush the syrup on with a pastry brush.



                                                                             

Calzone

Calzone is a turnover with ingredients similar to pizza. The making of calzones started in Naples, Italy in the 18th century. The name came from the baggy pants worn by men during the time.
The ingredients of calzones usually consist of mozzarella, ricotta, tomato sauce, and other pizza toppings. It is folded over and shaped like a crescent moon before baking or frying. There are many versions of calzones, some are small and some huge, with a variety of stuffings.

Because of its size and its resemblance to sandwiches, calzones are a popular street food that can be eaten while on the go. Sandwich-sized calzones are often sold at Italian lunch counters or by street vendors because they are easy to eat while standing or walking. Fried versions, typically filled with tomato and mozzarella, are made in Puglia and are called panzerotti.  Somewhat related is the Sicilian cuddiruni or cudduruni pizza. This is stuffed with onions (or sometimes other vegetables such as potatoes or broccoli), anchovies, olives, cheese, mortadella, then the rolled pizza dough is folded in two over the stuffing and the edge is braided, prior to frying.

In the United States, calzones are characteristically made from pizza dough and stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Traditional calzone dough consists of flour, yeast, olive oil, water, and salt. The dough is folded into a half-moon shape or formed into a spherical shape and baked or fried. After cooking, calzones are typically served smothered in marinara sauce or topped with a combination of garlic, olive oil, and parsley. A Sicilian-American version, Scacciata, is similar to a calzone but is filled with either broccoli or spinach and potatoes, onions, and sausage.

Stromboli

A stromboli is related to a calzone, but it is more of a sandwich than a pizza. The most common ingredients that comprise the fillings are various types of cheese, Italian meats, like salami and capicola, and sometimes vegetables. It is rolled into a loaf, not folded before baking. Stromboli make great appetizers, especially at a Super Bowl party.

It would be completely understandable, were you to assume, that the only stromboli you are familiar with is the stuffed bread filled with a variety of salami and cheeses. But if you look at a map, you might realize that Stromboli is the name of a tiny island north of Sicily and west of the toe of the Italian peninsula. Best known for its active volcano, the island lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea. However, the Italian island may have played a role in the naming of the sandwich. The origin of the Stromboli is a bit unclear, but it seems to date back to around the 1950s.

The Island of Stromboli

Unlike the calzone, it does not originate from Italy, but from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Spokane, Washington depending on which story you believe. Unless you’re a fan of 1940′s black & white films, you would probably not associate it with a wildly popular Swedish movie star and a Philadelphia suburb pizzeria.

A 1950 movie about a refugee who marries a Sicilian fisherman but can’t cope with the harshness of her new life.

The Philly version:

In 1948 director Roberto Rossellini cast Ingrid Bergman in his drama, Stromboli, about survivors of World War II trying to make a life on the isolated island. Although the film, released in the U.S. in 1950, received only mixed reviews, it caught the attention of people who might never have had any interest in Italian cinéma verité. The Hollywood tabloids and newsreels made sure that movie fans around the world knew that everyone’s favorite actress of the time was having a love affair with her director. The real volcano on Stromboli and the film, were eclipsed by the sensation, of what was then, the scandalous Bergman-Rossellini affair.

Meanwhile, in a small town south of Philadelphia, another drama—one with far greater consequences for Italian-American gastronomic history—was about to unfold. Nazzereno Romano, owner of Romano’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria in Essington, Pennsylvania, rolled up some cheese and cold-cuts in his pizza dough. He baked the loaf and then sliced it to expose the attractive, flavor-packed spiral within. ‘Nat’ Romano is reported to have asked his customers what he should call his creation. We can imagine that a copy of The National Enquirer might have been at hand because the sources claim that someone blurted out “Stromboli” and the name stuck.

Make the Bread Dough

Basic Dough for Calzones or Stromboli

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or Eagle Ultra Grain flour or 1 ½ cups all purpose flour and 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • Cornmeal, as necessary, for dusting pizza peel.

Directions:

In a large bowl of an electric mixer combine yeast with water and sugar and stir well to combine. Let rest until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil, and mix well with the paddle attachment to thoroughly combine. The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch.
Transfer to the dough hook and knead dough for at least 5 to 7 minutes, to form a smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3-quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

Divide dough into 2 portions for stromboli or 4 portions for calzones and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired for recipes below.

Meat and Cheese Calzone

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe basic dough, prepared for calzones
  • 2 ounces finely chopped proscuitto or 2 ounces finely chopped Genoa salami or 2 ounces finely chopped pepperoni
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Cornmeal, for dusting pizza peels

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a medium bowl combine the proscuitto and the next 6 ingredients. 

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form into 4 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4 (10-inch) circles.

Divide filling evenly and place in the center of 1 side of each circle, then fold dough over the filling to meet edges of the filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Lower heat to 475 degree F. Transfer calzones to a pizza peel (sprinkled with cornmeal to help facilitate moving dough). Transfer to the preheated pizza stone and bake until crispy and golden brown, usually 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings and the thickness of the crust). Remove from the oven with a metal spatula and serve immediately.

Vegetarian Calzone

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped frozen broccoli florets, defrosted and drained or a 10 oz. package of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 recipe basic dough, prepared for calzones

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Combine broccoli or spinach and the next seven ingredients in a medium bowl. 

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form into 4 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4 (10-inch) circles.

Divide filling evenly and place in the center of 1 side of each circle, then fold dough over the filling to meet edges of the filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Lower heat to 475 degree F. Transfer calzones to a pizza peel (sprinkled with cornmeal to help facilitate moving dough). Transfer to the preheated pizza stone and bake until crispy and golden brown, usually 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings and the thickness of the crust). Remove from the oven with a metal spatula and serve immediately.

Meat and Cheese Stromboli

Recommend a healthier alternative for Italian Cold Cuts, such Applegate Farm products made without nitrates.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bread dough balls, prepared for stromboli
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced salami
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced mortadella (or ham)
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced, mozzarella or provolone cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Transfer one ball of bread dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle.

Cover the dough rectangle with half the meat and cheese leaving a 1/2 inch border. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll the stromboli into a log (jelly roll style).  Seal the dough by pinching firmly with fingertips on sides and ends. 

Place on a cornmeal coated pizza peel. Using a pastry brush coat the top of the bread with the beaten egg mixture. Carefully place stromboli on preheated stone, turn down oven to 400 degrees F. and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Vegetarian Stromboli

Ingredients:

  • 2 bread dough balls, prepared for stromboli
  • 1 -12-oz. bottle roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry and cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or other black olives
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced, mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
  • Basil or baby spinach leaves
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Transfer one ball  of bread dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle.

Cover the dough rectangle with a layer of basil or spinach leaves, half the cheese slices, half the roasted peppers, followed by half the olives and half the Italian seasoning leaving a 1/2 inch border. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll the stromboli into a log (jelly roll style). Seal the dough by pinching firmly with fingertips on sides and ends.  

Place on a cornmeal coated pizza peel. Using a pastry brush coat the top of the bread with the beaten egg mixture. Carefully place stromboli on preheated stone, turn down oven to 400 degrees F. and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.



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