Archive for category recipes
As we mentioned before, Italy is certainly a stickler for eating what’s in season – and even though there some things you can find all year round, don’t expect to see certain dishes on the menu unless the temps are reading 25°C or above! One of my favorite dishes (hot or cold) is stuffed zucchini. There are all kinds of thoughts on how these are to be made – only use the round zucchini – no some insist on the long ones that look like boats. Then there are those who do an all veggie stuffing (rare) – those who prefer the fresh ricotta cheese and then the traditionalists that use only ground beef. THEN. There are the recipes that have them with toasty breadcrumbs or lounging in fresh homemade tomato sauce. The difference as like trying to pin down the true recipe for Tex-Mex Chili or define the perfect Italian leather handbag . . . obviously somethings are better left un-mentioned. My favorite consists of the long zucchini with ground beef (and a heavy does of sauted zucs) sprinkled with a mix of crunchy breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, surrounded by a thick (but not too heavy) fresh tomato sauce…and though they can be quite tempting while hot . . . even when they are chilled . . . I find I can’t resist!!
It would certainly appear that tomatoes are the obvious the first signs of spring / summer in Italy. Though you can find these red globes all year round it is clear that the flavour is only available with the warm temps. Then all of a sudden a pomodoro is a work of art, a succulent, juicy absolutely delicious ingredient to be used everywhere. But no where is as enjoyable as the infamous tri color plate which practically yells ITALY where ever you see (or eat) it. After preparing a cool refreshing dish of Proscuitto e melone, only the caprese ranks up there with ease and taste bud satisfaction.
Last week, as I was doing my food shopping there was as a young, sassy gentleman shopper (obviously not well trained in how to stack food items precariously without loosing any.) I had the unfortunate front row position as he dropped a container of mozzarella (the fresh kind that rest in their own milk before eating.) Everyone within a two meter radius was spattered with the watery white liquid . . .and you would have thought that all of us would have oozed out a groan and looked at the gooey mess on our Italian leather shoes, Italian leather handbags and pants . . .
But alas, not the Italians.
All eyes were riveted to the 4 plump mozzarella balls that rolled to the floor. And believe me when I say, you don’t need to practice ESP to know what they were thinking . . . it was the look of desperation that glowed from their eyes. I am sure each and everyone of them was thinking to themselves, “che peccato, that there was no way to save those little white balls from being trashed.”
Then there was the collective glare at the poor soul who committed this crime. One little old lady looked at him and with a voice full of contempt - “Vergognati!” (you should be ashamed of yourself!)
There is no limit to the number of food dishes that the Tuscan’s enjoy as soon as the warmer temps announces the advent of spring and summer. As amazing as it seems to me – an American ex-pat, living in Tuscany – I always marvel over the fact that certain dishes are not to be found year long on the menu. You don’t eat gelato in the winter (who says!!) and you won’t find a long list of several other Italian favorites outside of the designated seasons. I have gone around the Pierotucci Leather Factory, asking our craftsman and women what dishes they are day dreaming about . . . I did this right about lunch time and as soon as the bell rang at 12:30 several bolted for the door!
First on our list of delicious meals for the summer has to be the sweet juicy cantaloupe melon with slices of cured ham – - – better known as proscuitto. This sweet and salty mix is rather unique in the Tuscan menu, however they seem to find it very refreshing for the warm months. Cantaloupes start to show up in the markets as soon as the temps rise, and as the summer progresses they are found more frequently. This is actually one of my favorites to serve – - because its sooooo easy.
What do you think? Is this one of those Italian summer dishes that you day dream about?
It is one hundred percent IMPERATIVE that no matter where I am in the world, Thanksgiving is celebrated. After three years living in Italy, I’m not unrealistic about what this means. I will of course have to use substitutes and since I’m in Italy pasta dishes will definitely be intertwined throughout my Thanksgiving Day feast. If anything, it makes for a very unique Thanksgiving experience and an even more delicious meal. I like to think of it as “Grazie Giving” or properly without my “Itanglish”, ringaziamento.
I always liked lasagna and coming from an Italian-American family, both my mom and grandma cook up some mean lasagna. But I have to say, it wasn’t until I actually moved to Italy that I fell head over heels for this exquisite dish. In Tuscany (since every region has their own twist on the dish) it’s made using a bechamel sauce and it makes the lasagna creamy and rich. I swear I could eat it just about every day!
Lasagna even has quite a significant history. Whoever thinks that lasagne is a dish fairly recent, they’re wrong.
Of course, at that time, the lasagna was not as we know it today, but consisted of a few strips of dough cut into squares, cooked in a pan or on a griddle and served with vegetables and cheese.
For many centuries, the lasagna invented by the Romans was called “Lasana” or “lasanum” which meant “vase” or “container”. That is, until the fourteenth century, when Francis Zambrini discovered for the first time that those pasta strips could be left intact and could even create layers that can be filled with cheese.
If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary, obviously, you know what my suggestions is. Try a wonderful Tuscan style lasagna recipe that will blow everyone away. Take a look at this recipe and if you don’t use it for Thanksgiving find another excuse to make it. I’m telling you, it’s delicious.
Lasagna Recipes are rich – but the trick is in the simplicity. The main ingredients that go into the composition are incredibly rich and flavourful and extremely satisfying is served seperately – so it is an art to mix them without creating a dish that is an overload for the senses. The jury is out for those who like it high or low (lots of layers or just a few) personally – I like it high!
Though there are thousands of variations the best (in my opinion) consists of my favorite meat sauce, Abundant bechamel sauce (on the liquidy side), shredded mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan cheese, Salt & Pepper q.b. and of course, sheets of pasta (best if it is fresh!)
First layer is bechamel, then pasta. Now if the beschael is liquidy enough I find there is no need to pre cook the pasta – and even these pre-cooked dry sheets work. However the fresh stuff is thinner which allows for a lot more layers to the lasagna Each layer should be a mix and match of its own – some only “sugo” (meat sauce), some only bechamel, then a little of this or a lot of that – every layer should be a surprise that when cooked melts together into perfection. The only layer that is a must – is the botton and top both only bechamel.
Cover the dish in beschamel so that when finished it will have a golden brown top of lightly crunch wholesome goodness! Best if served tepid – if you srve right out of the oven it will slip and slide on the plate. And this is one of those dishes that is just as good (if not better) on the second day … but it’s also a lot like pecan pie… in that it never gets to the second day!
Nothing is quite as delicious as the Italian pasta …. except for maybe their wide selection of desserts. From early ancient time, Italy has been a big producers of sweets/deserts. Every region has their own traditional sweets and personal touch, However the main ingredients are being used always by all of them: honey, beet sugar and sugar cane. The deserts were prepared just for a special occasion of the family or religious events and it was picked just according to the season. Most of the Italian deserts are typical recipes made at home with natural ingredients. Also, all supermarkets, restaurants, bars and even special market events offer a big variety of Italian traditional deserts. Now, deserts are seen as part of everyday Italian meals. Some of the most traditional sweets found every where in Italy are: Tiramisù, dolci di mandorle, cannoli alla crema, but one of my favorites is the simple crostata made with “pasta frolla” a sweet type of pie crust.
CROSTATA CON MARMELLATA
100 grams all purpose flour
100 grams granulate white sugar
100 grams soft unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
your favorite jam
Place the flour and sugar on the table in a little moutain shape, create a hole in the top and break in the two eggs and baking soda. Slowly beat the eggs, bringing in the flour little by little. When it is ready you will have a solid dough – let it sit (preferably in the fridge) for about 20 – 30 min. Roll the dough and fit it into a shallow pie pan. Spread the jam on top of the dough and then if you have enough dough left over, you can put on a criss cross pattern.
This is a classic Italian dessert served with vin santo and … or …. grappa.
When I think about new food recipes, I always think Thanksgiving is the perfect time to share with family and friends the international experience I have had in the beautiful region of Tuscany, Italy. Living and studying abroad, I had the opportunity to learn simple and delicious dishes which I think are perfect additions to my families Thanksgiving dinner. My husband who is Italian and a great cooker has showed me several tips to keep in mind when I’m cooking Italian food. When we travel to visit my family for Thanksgiving, we bring always a new Italian dish for them to try.
Traditionally speaking, American’s top dishes of Thanksgiving is been always the same, roasted turkey filled with stuffing/dressing and side dishes such as cornbread, mashed potatoes, ham, cranberry sauce, gravy, yams (sweet potatoes). Adding amazing delicious plates to the table make this celebration even more especial.
My first idea was to keep in my new Italian culture and Italians love to have an antipasto (appetizer) before the main course – I thought I would try one (or two or three or …. ) with my family. For Thanksgiving dinner, we will love to prepare two of our favorite antipasto (appetizers) polpette di melanzane (literally this means little balls of fried eggplant) and bruschetta with pomodoro e pepperoni.
I have used my husband and I’s recipe but the photos have been borrowed, to give you a better feel.
POLPETTE DI MELANZANE (4 people)
half cup of flour
half of cup of cornbread
salt, black pepper,
Peel the eggplants and cut them into small pieces.
Place it in a big bowl with hot water. Let them boil until they are a little tender.
Remove them from the water and let them cool for a few minutes.
Mash them with a folk or use a mixer until rich the puree.
Add the rest of the ingredients eggs, flour, cornbread, cheese, parsley, salt, garlic and black pepper and mix well. Make small ball about the size of a nut. Fry them in a large pan until browned. Put them over a piece of napkins to drip the oil. Ready to serve warm!
BRUSCHETTA WITH POMODORO AND PEPERONI
1/2 medium each red, yellow and green pepper
2 small tomatoes, the riper the better … but not too ripe
extra virgin oil olive
salt and pepper
This is best done a little bit ahead of time so that the flavors can mix and mingle together. Cut the tomato and the peppers into small cubes – I think the smaller the better! Then place in a bowl with garlic, some fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Some people add fresh basil or oregano – either one goes perfectly with this dish. Personally, I like to toast the bread so that it soaks up all yummy juices from the tomatoes, olive oil and spices! If you really love garlic (and I do!) you can take a clove of garlic, you don’t even need to peel it, and rub it on the toasted bread – it will increase the garlic flavor.
What’s your family’s favorite antipasto for Thanksgiving?
It has been awhile since I have posted recipe ideas. When living in Italy many think that our lives revolve around food. Well this is one assumption that isn’t too far off the mark. Average conversations between Italians tend to involve questions such as: “what do you think you will eat for lunch today?”, “Will you eat pasta for lunch or dinner?”, or my own personal favorite “Will we be able to eat a three course lunch during our two hour lunch break?”. Not only is the love of food the common denominator of all conversations, it is the very glue that binds this country. Italians are very proud of their culinary heritage, and though the cuisine changes from region to region, Italians still prepare their fare using the same ingredients they have used for centuries. That being said, it is fairly difficult to find exotic non-Italian ingredients in the average supermarket. Ergo, all recipes I use for dinner ideas must be “Italy Friendly”.
First up is the appetizer: Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms courtesy of Allrecipes.com
This recipe almost 100% Italy Friendly. The only difficult ingredient may be the sour cream, which I have been able to find in Tuscan supermarkets called Esselunga, albeit it sports a German label. I suggest a Greek plain white yogurt in case sour cream is unattainable. Not only is this recipe super delicious, but is also time conservative. The only culinary skills needed to execute this appetizer are chopping and mixing. Filling the mushroom tops could be tricky, and potentially messy. Avoid this dilemma by using a plastic sandwich bag. Fill the bag with the mixture leaving one bottom corner empty. Cut out the corner to create a hole about the size of a US dime. This will allow you to pipe the mixture into the mushroom tops in an easy and efficient manner.
The entrée is a Basil-Garlic Pork Chop also courtesy of Allrecipes.com. This recipe may not be friendly to the non-pork eating cultures of the world, but anyone who has been in Italy knows that pork is the main staple in meat products, from cold cuts to main dishes! Therefore finding a decent cut of pork is fairly easy in just about any Macelleria (butcher shop). Basil and Garlic are used as the base of the marinade with a dash of lime juice and oil. What could be more Italian? This quick main dish has a total start to finish time of about 1 hour, and is greatly complemented with a grilled zucchini side dish which you can prep while your chops are marinating! Grill them together for less hassle!
This light flavorful dinner deserves a light flavorful dessert, so no heavy chocolate cakes here! This easy Allrecipes way to whip up some Baklava really breaks the myth that Baklava is hard to make. Phyllo dough is extremely easy to find in just about any supermarket in Italy. I suggest using Pistacchio and Hazlenut (commonly known as nocciola) for your pound of chopped nuts. Vanilla extract could be a bit problematic, so use an actual vanilla bean which seem to be easier to find. The prep and baking time of this dessert correlates fairly well with the appetizer and entrée. This light dessert will definitely keep the Mediterranean spirit of your dinner alive without weighing you down!
The thought of staying in doors on these beautiful summer days to cook a meal that is likely to overheat you is not a fun concept. The developer of those 30-min meal recipes had a sure hitter on their hands when it comes to sticky summer months. The quick solution might be to crank up the AC, but here in Italy that isn’t really an option. Not only do most apartments and houses not have central heating and cooling, but electricity is fairly expensive making conservation key. So instead of polarizing the cultural differences, I’ve decided to mix them. Below is a quick dinner idea that I compiled from the Better Homes and Gardens website. Minimal time in the kitchen, less overheating, and makes great leftovers!
Fast Chicken and Rice: This 10 min chicken and rice recipe has some flavors that definitely liven up the traditional concept. Stir-fry sauce, almonds, peas, and peanuts add loads of taste and crunch. It is hard to find ready made rice pouches like those sold in the U.S., so Italians beware! you will have to add on an additional 15 min for the time it takes to boil the rice. Tasty, quick, and total frig friendly.
No Recipe Dessert Nachos: There may not be a recipe, but there is a slight rubric. Use tortillas, or for us in Italy, find the thinest kind of piadina. These tend to be the refrigerated type. From there is just a matter of coating the tortillas with melted butter on one side, then sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over the butter. Bake till crispy. Then chose the types of fruit, nuts, and yogurt you want to top them off with.
And to drink? White Wine Sangria: I know most sangria lovers out there would probably be appalled by this considering sangria is a traditional red wine drink, however I think the white would ties together the dinner and dessert recipe better than the red. My only 2 cents of advice on this one: instead of using 2 trays of cubes, use one, and freeze the fruit before adding it in with the alcohol mix. The frozen fruit will work like ice cubes, but without the unwanted watering down effect.
This easy meal suggestion is simple to follow and time conscious. No long hours slow cooking chicken, or waiting for baked goods to finish before opening the oven and flooding your kitchen with unwanted heat. They are also ingredient easy. All ingredients listed can be found rather effortlessly in Italy making fusion food less of a hassle for all us expats! Buon Appetito!
Feeling The Easter Blues Pastel Style? There Is No Need To Miss This Food Indugent Holiday Just Yet!
Easter is the last holiday in the line up of indulgent holiday meals. This is usually the final caloric plunge we take before cutting back to salads and strapping on the weights to get ourselves ready for the summer bathing suit season. Therefore the half price easter candies and party favors are much more enticing. Why not stash away some malt robin eggs in the freezer, or some jelly beans for the occasion treat? This light hearted as well as light colored holiday is full of expectation for summer. So why whisk it away so quickly? Below are some recipe ideas we’ve come up with to help you continue your easter candy indugence for those steamy summer nights!
Robin Egg Cheesecake!
Instead of using the same old graham cracker crust, why not mix it up with some crush robin eggs? Malt balls are my family’s favorite, and overdosing just for easter doesn’t leave us satisfied! I have substituted 3/4 of the required amount of graham cracker with crushed robin eggs, I have also picked out the colored chocolate bits and added it to the cheesecake batter to add a splash of color for summer!
Better Homes and Gardens supreme cheesecake recipe
Peep Rice Crispy Treats!
This super easy recipe is a fun way to liven up the standard rice crispy treat! Substitute peeps, in whatever color you prefer, in place of marshmellows. 1 peep tends to be the same as 1 jumbo marshmellow. The extra colored sugar adds a bit more sweetness to this low cal treat. More color and more sugar, what kid would say no to that! A great addition to the summer cookout!
Kellogg’s Rice Krispy treat recipe
Jelly Bean Jello!
You might be thinking, “whoa, sugar overload!”, and you would be absolutely right! We are just following in the footsteps of the person who decided to put bits of bubblegum in bubblegum ice cream. Remember Jello also comes in sugar free low cal packs, so those few jelly beans wont break your diet. Pick your favorite fruit combinations and have fun! I’m a strawberry jello with pineapple jelly beans kind of girl!
Jell-O sugar free low cal recipe
And for all those expats in Italy like myself, here is a tip that is sure to catch your party guest’s eye.
Instead of using normal serving dishes for your desserts this summer use the halves of the chocolate pasqua eggs! Buy the eggs as small or as large as you like, carefully break the egg along the seam, and put the halves in the freezer until you are ready to use them. They make great serving dishes for tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, or a mascarpone inspired desserts. Too timid about breaking the egg? Heat up a knife and slowly move it along the seam to allow for easier separation.