Category Archives: Italian

Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomato Relish⠀

salmon

Fresh ingredients like basil, lemons and later summer cherry tomatoes, shine in this easy dish that is so easy to make………and yet,  your family and friends will be impressed for such and elegant meal!⠀

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:⠀

For the Salmon:
One whole salmon fillet, with skin on,  2 – 2.5 pounds
1/2 lemon, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil⠀
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh  marjoram leaves⠀
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, finely minced⠀
Kosher salt, to taste⠀
Freshly ground black pepper⠀
1/4 bunch whole fresh basil, for garnish
Lemon slices, for garnish

For the Roasted Cherry Tomato Relish:
3 pints cherry tomato⠀
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
A few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar ⠀
1 small bunch basil, cut into chiffonade⠀

For the Relish:
Preheat oven to 450° F.

Toss cherry tomatoes, garlic, shallot and thyme with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the tomato mixture out in a single layer and roast, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst, 20–25 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

Add the tomato mixture to a large bowl, along with the red onion, balsamic vinegar and basil. Toss the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Salmon:
Preheat the oven, set to broiler.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using clean paper towels, pat the salmon dry and place on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, mix the dried herbs and garlic powder with the olive oil. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the salmon.

Place the salmon in the oven and cook under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300° F. Place the lemon slices over the salmon and return it to the oven and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the salmon is easily flaked with a fork, depending on the thickness of the fish and the temperament of the oven. Be careful in not to overcook the salmon.

To serve, carefully lift the salmon along with the parchment paper and place on a large serving platter. Top the salmon with the roasted cherry tomato mixture, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh basil leaves.

Cooks Notes:
This recipe is so versatile that  any thick fillet or fish steak can be used  in  the place of salmon. Excellent substitutes are swordfish and halibut.

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Sausage and Clams With Polenta

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Serves 4
Ingredients:

For the  polenta, See the following recipe
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bunch broccoli rabe, florets chopped, or 1/2 head escarole, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut into chunks
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup dry white wine
16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Prepare the polenta and keep warm, until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and broccoli rabe, season with salt and pepper and cook until the broccoli rabe is slightly tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the sausage to the pot and cook until just brown, breaking it up with a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes.

Add the clams; cover and cook over medium-high heat until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes (discard any that do not open). Return the broccoli rabe to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Divide the polenta among bowls and top with the sausage-clam mixture and cooking liquid. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

 

Creamy Polenta

 Serves 6

 Ingredients:
5 cups water, milk, or chicken or vegetables stock (See Cook’s Notes)
1 cup medium or coarse yellow cornmeal (See Cook’s Notes)
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil

 

Directions:
Pre-soak the  cornmeal, which requires advance planning but cuts cooking time roughly in half, combine water with cornmeal in a large mixing bowl and let stand, covered, at room temperature overnight. When ready to cook, scrape soaked cornmeal and water into a large saucier or saucepan and set over high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Let boil, stirring frequently, until polenta thickens enough that it starts to  sputter or “spit”. Lower heat immediately to prevent spitting and continue to cook, stirring frequently with a spoon or silicone spatula and scraping bottom to prevent scorching, until polenta becomes thick and pulls away from side of saucepan, for  about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Stir in butter or olive oil using either a spoon, silicon spatula, or whisk. If the polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove the lumps. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until fully incorporate and no lumps remain.

Serve right away with accompaniment of your choice, or scrape into a vessel and chill until set, then cut into pieces for grilling, searing, or frying.

Cook’s Notes:
Any medium or coarse cornmeal will work here, whether the package says “polenta” or not; avoid instant polenta, which promises a quick cooking time in exchange for sub-par flavor and texture.

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Rosemary Garlic Roasted Chicken

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Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 skin-on, chicken thighs
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 heads garlic
4 to 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 slices sourdough bread, toasted
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions:
To marinate the chicken, add the buttermilk  to a large bowl, followed by the  chicken, Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Allow the chicken to marinate  overnight for best results.

Heat the oven to 425 º F.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin-side down, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Separate the heads of garlic into cloves but do not peel. Flip the chicken; add the garlic and rosemary to the skillet and transfer to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through but still moist, 15 to 20 more minutes.

Place the bread on a platter and top each slice with a chicken thigh. Add the vinegar to the skillet and scrape up any fond ( browned bits) with a wooden spoon. Add 3 tablespoons water and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce and garlic over the chicken and bread.

Cook’s Notes:
You can squeeze the garlic out of its skin and spread on the chicken or bread.

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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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