Tag Archives: italian recipes

A Reminder of My Childhood – Vitello Tonnato

Standard

When I was a young child, we used to visit Italy about every 3 years – mostly to see my grandparents, cousins, and aunts.  During those visits, I spent a lot of time with my Nonna Luigia.  Nonna was an excellent cook (in fact, she had owned a restaurant while my dad was growing up).  Every night we would be invited to Nonna’s house for dinner.  I was always amazed how she could cook up some great meals – all without having an oven.  She only had a small cooktop, but she’d whip up some delicious dinners.  One of those delicasies was Vitello Tonnato!  This is the perfect dish to enjoy on a warm summer evening.  Last night, on another warm summer evening, I decided to try my luck with this recipe.  As soon as I took my first taste, I was transported back to my Nonna’s little apartment many years ago!

FullSizeRender

Vitello Tonnato

The first part involves preparing the roast.  This should be done in advance so it has time to cool.

900 gram Veal roast, tied up (ask the butcher to do this for you)

2 carrots, cut in half

1 onion, cut into pieces

2 celery stalks, cut into pieces

Small bunch of parsley

1/4 liter white wine

Salted water

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the meat, wine and vegetables to the pot.  Cover and poach gently for approximately 1 hour.  Take the pan off the heat and allow the veal to cool down in the broth.  Reserve some of the broth for the sauce.  Wrap the roast in foil and place it in the refrigerator until it is completely cold. 

For the sauce:

200 g of tuna fillets packed in oil

3 – 4 salted anchovies

2 hard boiled egg yolks

2 T. capers

4 T. olive oil

Juice of l large lemon

4-5 T. of veal broth

Salt & pepper to taste

Blend together the tuna, anchovies, egg yolks and capers in a Cuisinart.  Pour in the lemon juice and olive oil and blend until smooth.

Add the broth bit by bit until you have a nice spreading consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

Cut up the veal into thin slices and arrange them on a large serving dish.  Coat with the sauce and sprinkle some capers on the top.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Tangy and delicious Italian Antipasto

Standard

A few weeks ago, I helped my mom make and can this recipe.  We made about 12 jars, which we’ll begin savoring in a few months, after the flavors have melded together!

11149477_10152737506557924_7132248829983695688_n[1]

1 cauliflower – cut into bite size pieces

1 red bell pepper – cut into strips

1 pound long skinny string beans – sliced about 2 in long

1 lb mushrooms – quartered

1 lb carrots – julienned slices about 1/4″ thick

1 bunch celery – cut into bite sized slices

64 oz white vinegar (will not use all of it)

1 1/2 c olive oil

1 jar capers

1 jar green olives with pimentoes

1 jar cocktail onions

1 jar cornichons

2 pkg frozen artichoke hearts

3 small cans tomato sauce

2 cups tomato juice

1/2 bottle Heinz 57

2 T Lea Perrins

Few drops of Tabasco

5 cans of solid tuna packed in oil

Salt and pepper to taste

******************************************************

Wash all mason jars and set aside with lids.

1.  Boil beans, carrots and celery in vinegar until just barely soft.  Add enough vinegar to barely cover the vegetables. Stir often.

2. Add cauliflower and add more vinegar if needed.

3. Add peppers and mushrooms.  (Again, check vinegar level…but don’t add too much vinegar.

4. Add artichokes.

5. Boil until vegetables are al dente.

6. Remove vegetables, reserving vinegar. Can use a colander with a bowl underneath to catch the vinegar.

7. Return vinegar to pot and add oil.

8. Add Heinz 57, tabasco, Lea Perrins, tomato juice and sauce, salt and pepper.

9. Bring to a boil. Taste and adjust as needed. (Usually Heinz 57 is the key!)

10. Return vegetables to the pot.

11. Strain all jarred vegetables and add them in (discard liquid from jars).

12. Break up tuna and add it in (include oil from can).

13. Bring to a boil and cook until it’s all cooked al dente.

14. While hot, ladle antipasto into the clean jars, making sure to fill them up with liquid.

15. Wipe clean the rim with a per napkin. Make sure it is dry.

16. Place lid, and while holding it down, secure the rim tightly.

17. When all jars have been filled, clean them and check that all the rims are secure.

18. Place them upside down to cool on a rack. DO NOT TOUCH THE RIMS ANYMORE!

19. Once cool, turn them over and store them in a cool location.

Asparagus & Eggs – A Very Seasonal Menu

Standard

FullSizeRender

Italians are really good about eating vegetables when they are in season!  In fact, Italy has recently been voted as the country in Europe that has the freshest menus.  So, it goes to reason, that now that asparagus season is in full swing, recipes featuring fresh asparagus are taking over.  Even though we can usually find asparagus at all times of the year, it’s always nice to eat it when it’s at its peak.  So, last week while I was at the Farmer’s Market, I decided to pick up a bunch and make it my favorite way – with some fried eggs and Parmesan cheese.  There is no simpler, yet more delicious, way to eat it!

You can cook the asparagus any way you like, but I like to just cook them in some olive oil in a pan until they are soft but not mushy.  I then fry up some eggs, trying to keep the yolks intact.  That gooey egg yolk is what makes this dish so delicious!  I then place my fried eggs (with runny yolk) on top of my asparagus and sprinkle it with some Parmesan cheese.  Such a simple meal but oh so good!

Going Against the Grain – A Gluten Free Italian Cookbook!

Standard

Going Against the Grain

Being that I am not gluten-intolerant, I wasn’t sure I’d be a good candidate to review this beautiful cookbook by Nuccia Ardagna, a celiac patient who happens to have deep roots in Italy!  But because I am following the Dash diet which emphasizes lots of vegetables, fruit and lean meats, I knew that I would love these recipes!  Nuccia, like me, grew up in an Italian family where Mamma and Nonna were excellent cooks, and therefore we know what good food is all about!  When Nuccia was diagnosed with celiac disease, she wasn’t about ready to give up all that she loved!  She learned to adapt the recipes so that she could still enjoy them without compromising on the flavor. And now, she’s brought those wonderful recipes to us in her new gluten-free cookbook Going Against the Grain.

The book is beautifully laid out.  She starts off with an introduction to celiac disease – how to diagnose it and how to live with it.  This is useful information for those diagnosed or those that think they may have this disease.  After these introductions, her chapters are laid out by course – appetizers, first courses, second courses, side dishes, sweets, and bonus stuff!  The recipes are clear and she has included gorgeous photos with each recipe that makes your mouth water looking at them!  As soon as I received my book, I couldn’t wait to begin trying some of them.  The first one I tried was the Insalata Mista Piccante con Asparagi (Spicy Mixed Salad with Asparagus).  If you like the bitter taste of radicchio and crispy asparagus, you will love this fresh and healthy salad!  As my mom always said, bitter lettuces clean the blood!  Whether that’s true or not, you do feel healthier after eating them!

The other recipes I tried were main courses:  Pollo Ripieno con Mortadella and Coniglio al Forno.  I made some substitutions in both of these recipes, but I don’t think they detracted from the savoriness and flavor.  In the Pollo Ripieno recipe I decided to substitute prosciutto for mortadella.  Good mortadella is difficult to find near me (unless I go into SF North Beach), so rather than buy not so good mortadella, I used Italian prosciutto (which is easily found at my local Trader Joe’s).  This substitution may have led to the dish becoming more salty, but since I’m a salt-aholic, this was not a problem 🙂  My absolute favorite recipe from this book, though, and maybe an all-time favorite recipe, was the Coniglio al Forno!  Instead of rabbit, I used chicken drumsticks – again, mostly because they are more readily available.  The ease of this recipe and the flavor make this an absolutely perfect recipe suitable for everyone – family and guests!

I can highly recommend this cookbook – whether your are trying to follow a gluten-free diet or not!  In my opinion, the ingredients are so healthy and nutritious that everyone would benefit from cooking this way!  Kudos to Nuccia for taking an obstacle and working with it to continue enjoying delicious Italian cuisine!

Meet Nuccia with this interview!

How did you do research for your book?

Writing a book about celiac disease does require research mainly because new studies come out on the disease all the time, and with that new information. With regards to the medical part of the book, that certainly did require extensive research. For this, I used various resources; primarily books and reputable online organizations involved in the study of celiac disease. However, much of the first part was drawn from personal experience as well. I also reached out to TME (Topic Matter Experts) for added credibility and was delighted to have worked with a renowned doctor and his staff where they provided valuable direction and useful critique of my work. That same doctor also honored me by providing an exceptional foreword for my book! The recipe part was the most extensive and the part that took the longest time. There was the cooking, writing up the recipes and of course, the pictures, which that in itself was a big project. We wanted to make sure that they came alive through the pages of the book. All in all, cover to cover, it was a lot of hard work and one that I would do all over again if I had to!

Where do you get inspiration for your recipes?

The inspiration really came from my very own home and my precious family. I grew up as a child not having much. My parents worked really hard trying to build a life for us here in Canada. That stemmed from them growing up in Sicily in the 1940’s at a time where earning a ‘lira’ was extremely difficult. Because of that, they were forced to make do with whatever they had on hand. That usually involved coming up with creative ways to feed the family yet another day with leftovers, and using whatever was in the pantry which most of the time, wasn’t very much at all. I share some of those special ones and they mean a lot to me simply because every time they made such a dish it would be accompanied by a touching story. Over the years, these dishes have been tweaked and passed on from generation to generation where many of these traditional ones are known all over the world and served in many restaurants as well. I am so proud to be a part of that!

Do you have another profession besides writing?

Why yes! I love writing but I also love to blog which is related to writing right? I blog about beauty, fashion and anything that I think we women would love to know about. My blog really started out as a hobby, blogging about anything related to women but just recently, due to my diagnosis with celiac disease I’ve transitioned over to ‘lifestyle’ blogging. Now, in addition to the ‘girly’ talk, I also like to share recipes, gluten-free product reviews and information on celiac disease. Whenever I get the opportunity, I try to do put together some YouTube videos as well.

What is your next project?

I am working on a new book and simply because I felt there was a need out there in the market to educate those who entertain family and friends on how to prepare gluten-free meals. This can be daunting to those who have no clue on what that entails. With these ones in mind, I am co-authoring a book that will focus solely on how to entertain gluten and dairy free and will feature incredible simple to elaborate menus fit for any occasion, whether simple or formal. Stay tuned!

Favorite travel spot?

I actually have two and both for very different reasons. I love traveling to Italy (from North to South) because of the rich history, family, incredible beaches, art, fashion, breathtaking landscapes and of course the food! Need I say more? While I haven’t gone back in a few years, we are planning a trip for 2016 so that we can bring our son to show him where his family is from and introduce him to his cousins and aunts. There’s truly something magical about reminiscing about old times over a glass of wine overlooking the vineyard.

However, when I want to relax, unwind, and not do a thing, I like to head south. I have visited many Caribbean islands, but for some reason, my family and I are drawn to the southern hospitality of Myrtle Beach, SC.  This may surprise some but we just love getting the best of both worlds, meaning, we get to enjoy the beautiful beaches, warm weather and at the same time we get enjoy many of the commodities we are used to here at home.

There are tons of beautiful places to visit around the world and who knows, my favorite travel spots may change in the future.

Nuccia Ardagna

Everyday Celebrations – A Guest Post

Standard

I am pleased to introduce you to this new Italian cookbook as well as the author, Maria Loggia!  Enjoy….e Buon Apettito!

Maria Loggia’s kitchen door is always open. Her home and garden are a gathering place for friends and family, who come to share her easygoing enthusiasm and generosity – and her inspired Italian cuisine. In this, her second book, Loggia celebrates the seasons with 16 sumptuous menus – from a spontaneous al fresco garden party to a slow-simmered midwinter feast and a traditional Sunday family lunch.

Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia is on a spotlight tour from July 14 to 18.

Author & Chef: Maria Loggia

Category: Non-fiction

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine, 176 pages

Publisher: Cardinal Publishing

Published: Oct 1, 2012

Amazon.ca * Cardinal Publishing * Amazon.com

 

Try One of the Recipes!

 

Petto di Pollo Farcito con Uva e Noci

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Grapes and Walnuts

 

 

Ingredienti

For filling:

1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter

2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

¾ cup (180 ml) walnuts, coarsely chopped

½ cup (125 ml) red seedless grapes, quartered

2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped fresh chives

2 tbsp (30 ml) bread crumbs

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

7 oz (200 g) soft goat cheese, cut in 6 slices

 

For chicken:

6 tbsp (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

6 bone-in chicken breasts, skin on

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tbsp (45 ml) unsalted butter, softened

1 orange, cut into wedges

3 sprigs fresh rosemary, each cut in half

5 bay leaves

To serve:

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

Preparazione

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

To prepare filling: Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and sauté shallots until soft, 1 to 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grapes, chives and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. Leave goat cheese aside for now.

To prepare chicken: Oil a 14-inch (35 cm) round earthenware tiella or roasting pan with 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the olive oil and set aside. On a baking sheet, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise slit in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. (This will form the pocket for the stuffing.) Rub remaining 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil into the chicken (including in the pockets). Divide stuffing equally among chicken breasts, stuffing it into the slit in each breast, and top with a slice of goat cheese. Pull the chicken skin over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Smear butter over the skin and season again to taste with salt and pepper.

Gently transfer chicken to prepared tiella. Scatter orange wedges, rosemary and bay leaves around chicken. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced. Then broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden. Drizzle with orange juice and serve warm with pan juices.

Serves 6

Tips from Maria:

Consigli di cucina (kitchen tips)

The chicken breasts can be assembled the day before, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. When ready to serve, bring chicken to room temperature and cook as instructed. Doing it this way allows the flavours time to meld together beautifully.

Che cos’è? (what is it?)

I’m convinced food tastes better when cooked in a shallow, glazed earthenware dish known in Italian as a tiella. I find earthenware dishes distribute heat slowly and evenly as the food cooks. Aromas and flavours are intensified and casseroles never stick or dry out.

To season a tiella: Before using your tiella the first time, immerse the dish in cold water to soak overnight. The next day, empty the tiella and wipe it dry. Rub the inside with olive oil and place in a preheated 300°F (150°C) oven for 1½ hours. Remove seasoned tiella from oven and place on a wooden board or thick tablecloth to cool. (If placed on a surface like granite or a cold stovetop, it will crack.) To clean a tiella, soak it in warm, soapy water, then scrub with a soft sponge.

 

Meet the Author

 

Maria Loggia is one of Montreal’s best-loved Italian cooking teachers. Her Tavola Mia cooking school in the village of Hudson is a warm, inviting place to learn about Italian cuisine. She also appears regularly on television, is featured in newspapers and magazines, and leads culinary tours in Italy.

Maria finds inspiration in her Italian heritage and draws on family recipes that go back generations. She founded Tavola Mia, her at-home cooking school in 1999. Through her study of Italy’s regional cuisines, which has included numerous sojourns back to her native country, she has acquired great expertise in the art of Italian cooking. Her passion, humor and dedication to excellence have made her an inspiring teacher. Using fresh local ingredients, Tavola Mia celebrates the seasons in authentic, irrepressible Italian style.

 

An Interview with Maria Loggia

 

Maria Loggia from Pierre Blais on Vimeo.

Enter the Giveaway!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thank you for supporting our authors!