Tag Archives: recipes

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.

Everyday Italian Cooking…Easy!

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My mom was watching me prepare dinner the other day and she blurted out, “You spend too much time prepping for your meals! Why don’t you make simple things instead of chopping, chopping, chopping!” Ha! Ha! Coming from an Italian Nonna, these words stung a little – I thought I was cooking something special and tasty, and in order to get all those good flavors, I had to spend lots of time prepping. But then, I thought back to my mom’s cooking – it’s always delicious and healthy…and a lightbulb went off that I don’t need to always spend so much time – healthy, tasty meals can be achieved with the simplest ingredients in the simplest manner possible. So I asked her how she cooked her chicken legs and thighs on the stovetop. This is her recipe – so delicious and, I have to admit, REALLY easy! You just need a little time to cook this slowly, but other than that, there really isn’t much to it!  I’m not going to add amounts for the ingredients because everything will be to taste!

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Ingredients:

Chicken pieces, such as drumsticks and thighs – skin removed but bone in

Desired spices – I use a combination of Italian seasonings, with pepper and a little salt

Butter

Olive oil

White wine

Directions:

Wash the chicken but don’t dry it.

In a skillet large enough to hold the chicken but not too large that the flavors can’t coat the chicken, place everything except the white wine in the pan.

Turn the heat to low and cover the pan. Let it cook slowly for about half an hour.

Look at it and see if the water has evaporated. If not and the chicken hasn’t developed any color yet, increase the heat just a tad. Cover and cook a few more minutes.

Check the chicken frequently and turn the pieces to evenly brown them. When all the water has evaporated and the chicken pieces have browned well, add a splash of white wine. Turn the chicken and evaporate down most of the wine.

A Reminder of My Childhood – Vitello Tonnato

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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!

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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.

An All-Time Favorite – The Crostata

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La Crostata is one of those desserts that is found everywhere in Italy!  When we last visited, it was present at every breakfast buffet we visited.  It is so simple, but yet so tasty.  I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t like it, do you?

My mom is a wonderful baker and all her Italian cakes are very genuine – no extra fluff – just pure goodness and made with everyday ingredients.  I, on the other hand, have a love-hate relationship with cakes.  I don’t like dealing with dough because, according to Mom, you have to feel the dough to know if there is enough flour or you need to add more!  I, obviously, don’t have the “feel” of the dough and end up usually getting frustrated.  But I decided to attempt my luck with this simple crostata.  My mom gave me her directions, but always looking for an easier way, I decided to “you tube” it!  They made it look so easy – just knead, chill, and roll it out with a rolling pin.  On YouTube, it rolled out perfectly and they were able to put it into the baking pan so easily.  “I can do that”, I thought.  So I made my dough without difficulty (for once!), chilled it, and took it out after about 45 minutes.  I began to roll it out with a rolling pin…and oh what a mess!  It kept sticking to the rolling pin and I wasn’t getting anywhere!  So, reluctantly, I decided to go back to Mom’s way of taking the dough and working it into the pan with your fingers.  I covered the whole pan and the sides and made it look really pretty!  And ….best of all, it was really easy!  I have to admit it, but Mom was right!  I guess Mom is always right 🙂  Maybe my daughters will agree!!

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Crostata di Marmelata

1 cube butter, cut up

1 cup flour

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Dash of vanilla

1/2 jar jam

Mix altogether and form a dough ball.  Cut off a little bit for the criss cross decorations on top. 

Lay the rest out in a buttered pan with your fingers.

Spread the jam on top.

Make criss-cross decorations with the remainder of the dough.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until golden.

Another Way with Risotto

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I seem to be posting lots of recipes lately, but it seems like all of a sudden, I’m discovering all these new ways of cooking up old Italian favorites (and I feel the need to share them!).  This one is for Risotto with Kale and Pancetta!  Now, who can honestly resist anything with pancetta?  Not I, that’s for sure!  And this recipe was no exception to the deliciousness (sp?) that pancetta gives to anything it’s added to.

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Risotto with Kale & Pancetta

1 cup Arborio rice

Olive oil

White wine

1/2 cup diced pancetta

1 bunch kale, chiffonaded

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 T. mascarpone

Red pepper flakes

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1.  Warm some olive oil in a pot.

2.  Add the rice and stir it around a bit.

3.  Add a splash of white wine and stir the rice while the wine reduces.

4.  Once the wine has reduced, add one ladle-full of chicken broth, and stir the risotto until the broth reduces.

5.  Continue in this method, adding one ladle full of broth at a time, until the risotto is cooked.

6.  While the risotto is cooking, take another pan and warm some olive oil in it.

7.  Add the pancetta, kale, and a dash of red pepper flakes (to taste)  to the pan and fry it up until the pancetta is crispy and the kale has softened.  Set aside.

8.  When the risotto is cooked (al dente), add the parmesan cheese and mascarpone to it and stir until the cheeses have melted.

9. Add the kale/pancetta mixture and stir until it’s all combined.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve HOT and enjoy with a good bottle of hearty red wine! 

You will love it!

Italy at Costco?

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For those of you that don’t live here in the USA, you may not be familiar with the Costco warehouses. They are huge buildings where you can shop for all sorts of products (from electronics, to food, to garage doors…and everything in between!). They are a membership only place (meaning that you have to pay a yearly membership fee in order to shop there), but the savings outweigh the cost of the membership (as long as you buy a lot!). They sell mostly in bulk, so if you don’t have places to store the items, it’s probably better not to shop there! I’ve been guilty of buying things (because they are such a deal) and then having them sit around in my pantry for years!

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But every once in a while, Costco has some pretty unusual, and very good, food products from Italy! It’s always fun to see what new things they have on the shelves.

Meandering in the freezer section a few weeks ago, I came across this frozen medley of wild mushrooms and asparagus – imported from Italy. I’m always up for anything “wild mushroom”, and then to have it be from Italy, I knew I had to try it.

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A few more aisles over, in the sauce aisle, I found another treasure from Italy – this porcini and truffle butter.

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Voila! A meal was beginning to form in my head for a tasty wild mushroom pasta dish!

Last night, that pasta dish came to be! I took 2 Italian sausages (also purchased in bulk at Costco), sliced them up and cooked them over medium heat in a frying pan. At this point, I didn’t add any oil or butter – I just dry cooked the sausages until they were done. Once done, I took them out of the pan and put them aside. Then I added some olive oil to my pan and sauteed some sliced garlic until fragrant. Then I added the frozen mushroom/asparagus mixture and cooked it, slowly, until it was all melted and some of the water was released from the mushrooms. I seasoned with salt and pepper, and added back the cooked sausages. I sautéed it a bit over low heat. I then added my cooked pasta (I used about 1/2 lb of egg noodles, but really any kind of pasta you desire would be great) and mixed it all together. Once it was all combined, I added a spoonful of the truffle/porcini butter and melted it in. You can adjust the amount of butter to your taste…it’s very flavorful, so a little goes a long way.

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I served it hot with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top. It was a hit with the famiglia 🙂 I love it when experiments work out!  This served up about 5 healthy portions.