Category Archives: Food

Italian Street Food (Spotlight Review)

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Italy’s classic recipes are well known the world over, but few are aware of the dishes that reign on the flourishing Italian street-food scene. Hidden behind the town squares, away from the touristy restaurants, and down back streets are little-known gems offering up some of Italy’s tastiest and best-kept secret dishes that the locals prize.

ITALIAN STREET FOOD is not just another Italian cookbook; it delves into truly authentic Italian fare—the kind of secret recipes that are passed down through generations. Learn how to make authentic polpettine, arancini, stuffed cuttlefish, cannolis, and fritters, and perfect your gelato-making skills with original flavors such as lemon and basil or affogato and aperol. With beautiful stories and stunning photography throughout, ITALIAN STREET FOOD delivers an authentic, lesser known take on a much loved cuisine.

Where to Buy the Book:

Rizzoli  ~  Amazon

Meet The Author:

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Paola Bacchia is one of Australia’s most popular Italian food bloggers. On her blog, Italy on My Mind, she shares family memories and their connections to food. It won awards for best food blog in 2013 and 2015 from ITALY Magazine. Paola returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food, its traditions, and innovations.

 

Connect to the author: Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Risotto with Chives

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As I’m trying to watch my carb intake, I don’t eat much rice…but every once in a while, a good creamy risotto is such comfort food!

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice

1 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 c. white wine

3 to 4 cups chicken broth, warmed

1 c. grated parmesan cheese

2 T. butter

Truffle oil or truffle salt

I package chives, minced

2 T. parsley, minced

Directions:

Heat some olive oil in a pot. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and sauté a few minutes. Pour in the wine and stir constantly until the wine evaporates. Add the broth, one scoop at a time, and cook until the broth is incorporated. Continue in this manner until the rice is tender.

Add in the parsley, chives, butter, and parmesan cheese. Stir for a while and add some pepper and either the truffle salt or the truffle oil. Stir and serve.

Top with some more Parmesan cheese, if desired.

La Macedonia di Frutta

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Nothing reminds me more of the summers I spent in Italy as a young girl than La Macedonia! My aunt used to prepare for me a HUGE bowl of this delicious fruit salad, with all the freshest summer fruits she could find. She used to stare in awe as I finished off a whole bowl of it. “How can such a tiny thing eat so much Macedonia?”, she’d wonder.

Since those days, I’ve always been a big fan of summer fruit salads. I like to throw whatever fresh fruit I have and mix it up with just a little bit of lemon and orange juice, and a tiny pinch of sugar. When I had my first child, in August of 1986, summer was in full bloom and it seems like I survived on Macedonia di Frutta! I lost all my pregnancy weight, plus 4 pounds, within 2 weeks of having my baby! Was it the Macedonia di Frutta or just the fact that I was a first-time mom and was so nervous I forgot to eat!

Skinny Eggplant Parmigiana!

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I know, you’re probably thinking that just because Eggplant Parmigiana is a vegetarian dish that it would be low-cal! Actually, that’s not the case when it’s made in the traditional way. Usually, the eggplant slices are breaded and then fried in oil to crisp them up before layering them with the tomato sauce and cheese. But in this recipe, that frying step is eliminated…thus cutting out lots of fat!

Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
Serves 6
About 200 calories per serving

2 large eggs, whisked with about 2 T of water
1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan type cheese (I used Trader Joe’s Asiago), plus 2 T.
Some dried spices like Oregano and Basil
Some salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 1/2 cups shredded lite mozzarella cheese  
About 3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (I used the one I made here)

1.  Sprinkle some salt on both sides of the eggplant slices and let them sit for awhile until they release some of their water.  Dab off the water.

2.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3.  Mix together the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, and spices in a bowl.

4.  Dip each eggplant round into the egg mixture and then coat it with the breadcrumb mixture and place them on a cookie sheet that has been coated with cooking spray.

5.  Place the eggplant slices in the oven for about 25 minutes (or until the eggplants are slightly tender).

6.  Turn the broiler on and brown the eggplant slices on both sides, being careful not to burn them.  You want them to be a little crispy.

7.  When the eggplant slices are browned, remove them from the oven.  Turn the heat to 400 degrees.

8.  Coat the bottom of a baking dish with some marinara sauce.

9.  Place half the eggplant rounds in a single layer on top of the sauce.

10.  Sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese over the eggplant.

11.  Repeat with more sauce, eggplant and finish with the cheese.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on the top.

12.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.  Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Prosciutto & Melon – A Perfect Combination

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Last night, after having eaten a big lunch for Father’s Day, we decided to have a light but tasty meal. I had a cantaloupe melon that was at that perfectly ripe stage, right before going bad! Ha! Ha! It was deliciously sweet! So I decided to pair it with some prosciutto! That combination of sweet and salty was the perfect light meal.

Prosciutto and melon is a classic summertime appetizer in Italy and has been so for centuries! Evidently, melon was considered a “dangerous” fruit back in Medieval times. It’s properties of being cold and juicy were not a good thing (maybe that’s why my Nonna used to forbid me to have ice cold water in the dead of summer because it would give me indigestion!). Anyway, to counterbalance the danger of the cold and juicy melon, it had to be combined with something warm and dry – like prosciutto! Hence, the delightful combination was born – thankfully something good came out of those dark ages!

Pasta Cacio e Pepe

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This was the most simple pasta sauce to prepare…and it was absolutely delicious! Traditionally it is made with long thin noodles, but my orrechiette (little ears) was delicious as well (even though some will think I committed a sacrilegious act by using the incorrect pasta shape!!) This dish is a typical Roman dish and the important thing is to reserve some of the pasta water in order to make the sauce! The starch in the water helps the sauce bind to the pasta.

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta – I used orrechiette (little ears), but I think anything would work well

200 g. pecorino romano – freshly grated (Trader Joe’s has a great one!)

Pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the pasta as directed.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese into a large bowl.

Add some of the pasta water, a little at a time, to the grated cheese. Mix it up until it melts into a nice consistency. Do not make it runny!

Add the cooked pasta and lots of pepper. Mix well and serve

Italy Meets Asia…Like Marco Polo!

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We all know that Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy from his travels to the Orient….so, why not combine the two cultures to make some exquisite pasta delicacies?  That is exactly what I did last weekend.  My mom, the native Italian, actually came up with the idea.  We live in California in an area with a very heavy Asian presence, therefore Asian specialty markets abound!  Asian staples are easily found in the local supermarkets.  We decided to make agnolotti, a sort of ravioli, with Sue Gow wrappers – a kind of very thin wonton wrapper.

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This is fresh and the pasta sheets are round and very thin! Just perfect to wrap around some great Italian filling!

Realizing I didn’t have the real filling meats (veal, beef, sausage), but having the desire to make the agnolotti RIGHT now (do you ever get those “want to make something right now” moments? – if so you’ll understand!), I decided to raid the freezer and refrigerator to see what I had readily available. I found some ground turkey and frozen spinach, along with pancetta and parmesan cheese and a couple of eggs to hold it all together…and voila!!! A delicious filling was created, I’ll have to say! I took a round wrapper, filled it with the filling, used a little water around the edges, and crimped the edges together. The finished product was a little half moon of heaven!

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I cooked them up in a brown butter-sage sauce and they were a big hit!

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So the next time you want to make some “homemade” stuffed pasta, look no further than the Asian section of the supermarket!