Wednesday, May 23, 2018

ITALIAN ANTIPASTI

Castelvetrano olives, red grapes, Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,
Prosciutto di Parma, Genoa salami, Calabrese salami, and Brown Turkey figs. . .a feast for the eyes and little bites for the stomach.



BENNY GRECO c1940, PORTSMOUTH, VIRGINIA


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

PIZZA WITH CAPICOLA HAM

Capicola, capocollo, or coppa, is a traditional Italian cold cut (salume) made from pork.





One recipe Casa Pizza Dough (in my cookbook), or use already-prepared pizza dough
One recipe Casa Pizza Sauce (in my cookbook), or use store-bought pizza sauce

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
4 oz capicola ham, thinly sliced
2 t extra-virgin olive oil 
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Lightly oil two pizza pans.
Preheat a pizza stone in middle rack of oven for 15 minutes.

Place a ball of dough onto the center of each pan. Use your hands to stretch, form, and flatten each ball of dough to a 12-inch round. 

Spread a ladle of pizza sauce on the rolled-out pizza dough, leaving a border all around. 
Sprinkle with a little Parmigiano cheese, 4 slices of the mozzarella cheese, and 4 slices of ham. 
Place pizza pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bake 5 minutes; then slide the pizza directly onto the heated stone and bake another 10 to 12 minutes.

Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and add a garnish of basil when finished baking.


Makes 2 pizzas


Friday, April 20, 2018

CLASSIC TIRAMISÙ

Tiramisù roughly translated means "pick me up" or "lift me up". It is a traditional dessert from Italy made with espresso, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, Savoiardi (ladyfingers), and a custard called zabaglione. Every Italian mamma has her own recipe. I was fortunate enough to enjoy one made by my friend Giuseppina Cappiello in Positano.






Espresso Syrup
1 cup brewed espresso, or 2 T instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
¼ cup plain brandy, or coffee liqueur (Kahlua), or almond liqueur (Amaretto)

Zabaglione
4 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
2 T plain brandy or your favorite liqueur

1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream

24 Savoiardi Ladyfingers 
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix together the espresso and your favorite brandy or liqueur and let cool.

Make a double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
Do not let the bowl touch the simmering water.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in the double boiler using a hand-held electric mixer until tripled in volume, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove bowl from heat and beat in the brandy and mascarpone until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream until well combined.

Quickly dip both sides of each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture.
Line a 9-inch pan with the ladyfingers. You will have to cut some to completely fill the pan.
Spread half of the mascarpone filling on top.
Dip the rest of the ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over the filling.
Spread the remaining mascarpone filling on top.
Cover and refrigerate 6 hours.

Let tiramisu stand a room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Dust with cocoa and garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Serves 9







Tuesday, April 17, 2018

FOUR CHEESE STUFFED PASTA SHELLS

This is another classic Italian-American pasta dish. Jumbo shells are usually found in boxes, in the pasta aisle of your grocery store. My kids loved this dish growing up. You can also add some fresh chopped spinach to the cheese filling if you wish.


Tomato Sauce
2 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil 
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ t red pepper flakes 
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 cans (28 oz) whole peeled Italian tomatoes 
3 T tomato paste
1 T freeze-dried or chopped fresh basil
½ cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Four Cheese Filling
16 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces, saving half for topping shells
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup minced Italian parsley
2 T minced fresh basil
¼ t grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb jumbo pasta shells
Chopped fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Grated cheese, for serving

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onion and red pepper flakes for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores.
Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

To the saucepan add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and wine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile in a bowl, mix together the Four Cheese Filling and set aside.
Next boil the pasta shells in a large pot of salted water, for about 8 minutes.
Gently remove the shells to a bowl with ice-cold water, then gently pour into a colander and let drain. Try not to tear the shells.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a tablespoon, spoon a generous amount of filling into each shell and set aside on a platter or pizza pan.
When the sauce is finished simmering, spoon a ladle or two into the bottom of a baking dish or two smaller baking dishes.
Arrange the shells in the baking dish and add a small piece of mozzarella on top of each.
Cover with parchment-lined aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes.
One baking dish can be frozen, if using two, before baking for another dinner.

To Serve:
Spoon a ladle of hot tomato sauce into each warm pasta bowl. Add 4 to 5 stuffed shells and sprinkle with grated cheese and garnish with basil.

Serves 4 to 6

Friday, April 6, 2018

SICILIAN SALAD

This healthy salad is sure to please everyone in your family. We love this with pizza.


Dressing
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour vinegar into a jar fitted with a tight lid or in a small bowl.
Add the olive oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Shake the jar or whisk to combine.

Salad
Enough mixed salad greens or arugula for 4 servings
1 bulb fennel, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 few fennel fronds
1 navel orange, peeled and sections removed with a paring knife
1 red grapefruit, peeled and sections removed with a paring knife
½ cup pitted black Sicilian or Italian olives, coarsely chopped
½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
¼ cup drained capers
¼ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.
Drizzle the salad dressing on top and toss again.

Serves 4

Monday, April 2, 2018

ZUCCHINI & FENNEL SALAD WITH SHAVED ASIAGO CHEESE

Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable. I have grilled it and added a vinaigrette. I've also cooked and baked it. Raw zucchini is also delicious and is so healthy. Zucchini and fennel are low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.


4 medium size zucchini, rinsed and ends cut off
1 large bulb fennel, rinsed
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
2 T champagne or white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Asiago cheese, shaved
Fennel fronds, minced

Using a mandoline on a thin setting, shave the zucchini, lengthwise, into a large bowl.
The zucchini will look like ribbons. If you don't have a mandoline, you can do this with a sharp knife.
Do the same with the fennel.

In a small bowl, add the zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic.
Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour vinaigrette over zucchini and fennel. Toss to combine.
Using tongs, place on a large serving platter and add some shaved asiago cheese and sprinkle with fennel fronds.
Season again with salt and pepper.


Serves 6