Category Archives: Italian

Squid Ink Tonnarelli with Clams

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Squid ink or cuttlefish ink, is that one special ingredient that gives homemade pasta a mild briny taste of sea without being too “fishy”.  Squid ink tonnarelli paired with fresh clams and the sweetness of the skillet fried shishito  chili peppers dressed in a light cream, makes for a tantalizing dish with a dramatic presentation that will surely impress your dinner guest.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
10 to 15 fresh shishito peppers
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 dozen little neck clams, scrubbed
1 pound squid ink tonnarelli (click here for the recipe)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

For the Peppers:
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet until oil is shimmering. Add the peppers and cook them, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister, 10 to 15 minutes. When done, remove them from the skillet toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slice and set aside to cool.

For the Sauce:
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic, parsley and crushed red pepper and cook until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the wine, cream, salt, white pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the clams, cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes; as the clams open, transfer them to a covered bowl and set aside. Continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thin consistency, 8 to 10 minutes.

For the Pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the Dutch oven. Stir in the cooking water over low heat, tossing until the pasta is al dente, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the clams and shishito peppers to the pasta, garnish with parsley and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
Squid ink can be purchased on-line at various gourmet specialty shops such as La Tienda.

If time is of the essence or it making your own pasta is just too intimidating, you can also use store bought squid ink pasta that can be found in most local grocery stores and supermarkets. Several handmade dried varieties of squid ink pasta can also be purchasedfrom on-line stores to make for a quick and easy meal in no time.

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Brodetto

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This fisherman stew was inspired  by the local cuisine found along the coastal city of Ancona, Italy. This rustic dish simmers the seafood in a garlicky tomato sauce and  is served with a crusty bread. Many Italian coastal towns have their own version of this dish, which often features the catch of day. Brodetta was original conceived by fisherman to use up the smaller fish that they did not sell at the market that day.  While brodetto is similar to the  classic French  fish  stew, bouillabaisse, traditional  Italian recipes call for 13 fish as in recognizing Jesus and his 12 apostles in attendance of the Last Supper. The stew can be made with any type of fish, shellfish, including mussels and clams and either with octopus or calamari (squid). The key to making this particular recipe is to cook the shellfish and fish in stages. If you are shopping at your local markets and cannot find the listed seafood in this recipe, always choose sustainable varieties that are in season.

Serve 6

Ingredients:
6 (1-inch-thick) ciabatta slices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
One 32-ounces jar tomato sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 pound mussels, scrubbed
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
12 ounces cod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
12 ounces skin-on snapper fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounces raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces cleaned squid, bodies cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:
Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 4 inches from heat. Brush bread with olive oil, and place on a baking sheet. Broil until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping halfway through. Rub toast with 1 garlic clove and keep warm.

Thinly slice remaining 4 garlic cloves. Heat 1/4 cup oil over moderately high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and sliced garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and vinegar; bring to a simmer. Add mussels and clams; cover and cook until mussels open, about 5 minutes. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. (Discard any that do not open.) Cover pot and cook until clams open, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove clams with a slotted spoon and place in bowl with mussels.

Season cod, snapper, and shrimp with salt. Add to pot, cover, and reduce heat to moderate; simmer 6 minutes. Add squid, cover, and cook until fish are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley, mussels, and clams. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until shellfish are heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and garlic toast.

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Pappardelle with Butternut Squash, Radicchio and Fennel

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Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients:
9 ounces of  Pappardelle pasta (home made or commercially prepared)
2 cups butternut squash, diced
2 cups fresh radicchio, shredded
1/2 cup fresh fennel, shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese  (optional)

 
Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for 1 minute stirring occasionally. Add the squash and sauté for 5-6 minutes on high heat until the squash is golden and crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the radicchio and vinegar, lower the heat and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the Pappardelle according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Transfer the Pappardelle to the pan adding a little of the pasta cooking water to loosen if needed, then add the remaining oil and toss to combine.

Add the fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Divide among plates, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or grated Pecorino cheese if desired.

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Orecchiette with Broccoli

Photo Credit: http://www.emikodavies.com

Orecchiette originates in the sunny southern province of Puglia, Italy, where the weather is warm and the crops plentiful. This pasta’s round, concave shape led to its name, which means “little ears” in Italian. The ridged exterior and cup-like interior captures chunky sauces and scoops up small vegetables, making orecchiette perfect to serve with sautés—sautés that begin, of course, with extra virgin olive oil, of which Puglia is the largest producer of in Italy.

This is a simple dish from Puglia in Southern Italy, traditionally always prepared with orecchiette and broccoli rabe. We prepared this dish using the more commonly found vegetable, broccoli. When buying broccoli, choose vegetables that have a uniform green color with no major brown or yellowing spots. The broccoli stem should feel firm and the crown should be tight and springy; soft stems or limp florets are a sign of old broccoli. Store broccoli in the crisper drawer in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Broccoli should keep fairly well for at least a week.

Orecchiette also makes a nice soupy pasta when cooked in the same water with potatoes and a big handful of arugula, and garnished with garlic and chili in olive oil. When you yell “Dinner!” your family and friends will be all ears.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli,  trimmed and cut into florets
1/4 cup water, or as needed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
A squeeze of fresh  lemon juice
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta

Directions:
To blanch the broccoli: Prepare a bowl of ice water and have it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a heaping teaspoon of salt. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge immediately in the ice water.If you would like softer vegetables, cook for an additional 30 secondss.

Saute the garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and a little water and cook,  stirring occasionally,  until the broccoli is bright green and soft, but still a little crunchy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkle of cheese. Stirring and cook until cheese is melted. Add a  squeeze of lemon juice and set it aside until the pasta is ready.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoon salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.

Add the pasta and 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to  the saucepan with the broccoli and toss until combined then serve immediately with a handful of grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.

 

Cook’s Notes:
Pecorino cheese can be substituted for the Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.

If fresh broccoli is not at hand, frozen broccoli that has been thawed and drained can be used in this dish. A 10 ounce bag will do.

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Chicken Cacciatore

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This version of the hunter style chicken will surely satisfy you soul on a cold winter’s day! Instead of the traditional bell peppers, carrots, fennel and celery were added to give this dish a another taste and also a twist of lemon at the end of cooking, makes it special too. For a heartier fare, serve this main course dish over polenta, pasta or mashed potatoes.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
8 Chicken Drumsticks*
8 Chicken Thighs*
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch celery, sliced, leaves reserved
2 carrots, sliced*
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced*
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 Tablespoons roasted garlic
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine (or water)
One 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
1 bunch fresh thyme
4 cups chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 º F.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the olive oil, heating until the oil is shimmering. Add the chicken and cook, turning once until well browned on both side, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a clean plate. Add celery, carrots, fennel, onion and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook vegetables over high heat until the caramelize, stirring to prevent sticking. Add tomato paste and sauce and saute the mixture for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and using a wooden spoons, scrape the fond (brown bits) from the bottom of the pot.

Add the tomatoes, thyme, parsley and stock to the pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pot, cover and place it in the oven, in the center of the rack.

Bake until the chicken is tender as it falls away from the bones, 45 to 60 minutes.

To serve, remove the thyme and parsley and discard. Toss the celery leaves with the lemon juice. Divide the stew evenly among warmed wide shallow bowls and top with celery leaves. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes:
*Some substitutions can be made with this dish to suit your needs and what may be in the pantry or on hand in your kitchen.

Six to seven chicken quarters can be used instead of separated legs and thighs, which would be more economical and budget friendly.

Instead of fennel, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds serves as a great replacement.

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Lobster Fettuccine

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There is nothing like the simplicity of bringing together fresh ingredients for a spectacular meal.

We served this up, today, for Sunday Brunch.

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Artichoke, Tomato and Pesto Pizza

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Pappardelle and Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Bell Peppers, Asparagus and Basil

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Normally, I would make this dish with fettuccine, but looking in the pantry, there was none to be had. However, using up all the odds and ends of pappardelle and tagliatelle to make a full serving for four, there was enough of these two types of pasta to make this dish. Also note that red and yellow bell peppers aren’t just a colorful addition to a meal. They have a milder taste than their green counterparts, making them instantly more appealing to kids—and adults alike. A little asparagus and basil added just enough touch of green to the pasta. Serve this pasta dish the next time you’re in the mood for seafood.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
½  pound  fettuccine (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small red bell peppers, cut into ¼ inch strips
2 small yellow bell peppers, cut into ¼ inch strips
1 bunch of think stalk asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, butterflied
¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup chopped fresh basil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add a pinch of salt. Add pasta and stir with tongs to prevent the pasta from sticking.Test the pasta by tasting it
Follow the cooking time on the package, but always taste pasta before draining to make sure the texture is right Pasta cooked properly should be al dente (to the tooth)—just a little chewy.

Drain cooked pasta well in a colander. Set aside.

In a saute pan or skillet large enough to hold all the pasta after it has been cooked, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute.

Add the bell peppers and asparagus. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook for 2 more minutes to soften the vegetables.

Add the onion, garlic and shrimp to the saute pan. Cook and stir for 3 – 4 minutes, or until the shrimp just begin to turn pink (the shrimp should be barely done).

Add the red pepper flakes.Add the pasta to the saute pan with the peppers and shrimp.Cook and stir for 1 minute to heat through and incorporate the flavors. Add the basil and serve hot immediately.

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Cheesy Cauliflower Dippers

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Photo Credit: Super Health Kids, 2014.

Cauliflower is kind of a rockstar when it comes to eating well. Not only is it a delicious side veggie to include with dinners or a great veggie to serve raw on a veggie platter; it can also turn many of your favorite guilty pleasure foods into healthier, but still tasty, options. This idea from Super Healthy Kids is another great way for cauliflower to shine as a snack or meal. Check it out.

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided in half
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 ° F.

Rinse a head of cauliflower thoroughly. Then, roughly chop. Put chopped cauliflower into the food processor until it has broken down into very fine bits.

Heat an inch of water in a pot until it boils. Put the cauliflower mixture into the water and steam for 4-5 minutes. Cover with a lid while it cooks, but be sure to keep an eye on it so the water doesn’t boil over.

Once steamed, put cauliflower through a fine mesh strainer to drain the water. Use a spoon to squeeze as much water out as you can. Then, use a clean dry towel to squeeze out the rest of the extra water. Be careful though – water will be hot!

Combine cauliflower with the rest of your ingredients (using half the mozzarella and none of the Parmesan). Mix until well combined.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Spoon cauliflower mixture onto parchment paper and form a kind of “loaf” with your hands – recipe should form a rectangle that’s about 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake for another 10 or so minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Remove from oven, slice and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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Tiramisù with Strawberry Sauce

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Photo Credit: NickStellino.com, 2017

Recipe adapted from:

Nick Stellino
Cooking With Friends, 2011

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients
For the Tiramisù:
2½ cups strong coffee, cooled
½ cup Kahlúa coffee liqueur
2 packages ladyfingers cookies
9 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1¾ cups sugar, divided
1½ pounds mascarpone cheese
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup sweet cocoa powder

For the Strawberry Sauce:
(Yields 1 Cup)
One 10-ounce package whole frozen strawberries, partially thawed
2 tablespoons crème de cassis liqueur
¼ cup sugar

Directions:
Mix the cold coffee and the liqueur in a large bowl. In batches, dip the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture. You want them to be moist on the outside but still crunchy on the inside.

Beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar until the mixture is thick enough to form a long ribbon when you lift the beater out.  Note: If you are concerned about using raw eggs, once you have beaten the egg yolks, cook them in a double boiler, whisking constantly until they become as thick as a custard cream. Be careful not to overcook them, or they will become scrambled eggs. After cooking the yolks, proceed with the recipe.

Add the mascarpone and beat for 2 to 3 more minutes. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar a bit at a time, until they form stiff peaks and have a glossy sheen, about 4 minutes.

Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture until the mixture is all the same color. Add the vanilla and chopped semisweet chocolate, and gently fold them into the mixture.

In a 9 x 17-inch glass baking dish, assemble the dessert. Layer the bottom of the dish with the soaked cookies. Top with a layer of the mascarpone-chocolate mixture. Repeat the procedure to make 1 more layer.

Using a flour sifter, cover the top of the tiramisù with a thin layer of sweet cocoa powder.

Place the tiramisù in the refrigerator and let it rest for at least 5 hours; it’s even better if refrigerated overnight.

To make the strawberry sauce, place the frozen strawberries in a food processor. Add the cassis and sugar. Pulse until pureed. Taste and adjust for sweetness of needeed. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth-like strainer to remove the seeds and pour into a small serving container until the tiramisù is ready to serve.