Thursday, September 24, 2015

CANNELLINI BEANS WITH SWISS CHARD

Cannellini beans are popular in Central and Southern Italy, especially in Tuscany. They are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, folate, and a good source of protein. You can also serve this over pasta, rice, or polenta.


1 t (5 ml) extra-light olive oil
¼ lb (125 g) pancetta, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ cup (60 ml) oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and finely diced
½ t (2 ml) red pepper flakes
2 large bunches Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped
½ cup (125 ml) chicken stock or broth
2 (14 oz/398 ml) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for finishing
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large skillet, sauté the pancetta in the oil until crisp. 
Add the onion and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes.
Sauté a couple more minutes. 
Add the chard and chicken stock or broth and simmer about 5 minutes.
Add the beans and season with salt and pepper.
Simmer another few minutes, to heat through.

Transfer to a serving platter or 4 warmed plates.
Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and add a little grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Serves 4 as an entrée or 6 as a side dish (contorno).



Monday, September 21, 2015

MONTEFALCIONE, AVELLINO, CAMPANIA, ITALIA


Ernesto Noviello (Ernest Novello) was born in the little village of Montefalcione on 2 Aug 1895.  He was only fourteen years old when he first arrived in New York on 12 May 1910 as a stowaway, he claimed with a twinkle in his eye. He finally arrived in New York on 28 Feb 1913 at the age of 17, on the ship "Cedric" from Napoli, Italy.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TUSCAN BAKED TOMATOES

In September, gardeners have an abundance of tomatoes. Here is another delicious way to serve them. I used a combination of orange, yellow, and red tomatoes, but you can use all red tomatoes. Tomatoes are native to South and Central America. In 1519, the Spanish explorer, Hernán Cortés brought seeds back to Europe. Europeans thought the fruits were poisonous because of their bright shiny appearance. It is believed they were yellow in appearance and the Italians called them pomi d'oro, which translates to apples of gold.
Many people believed that Thomas Jefferson brought the seeds to America, but it was more than likely Jewish merchants who were widely involved in trade and were of Spanish and Portuguese descent.


6 slices crusty Italian bread or good white bread, broken into chunks
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup (125 ml) chopped Italian parsley, divided
2 T (30 ml) chopped basil
1 t (5 ml) fresh or dried thyme
1 t (5 ml) chopped fresh or dried rosemary
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
½ t (2 ml) sea salt
1 t (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
6 oz (185 g) Pecorino Romano cheese, cut into small chunks
8 medium size tomatoes
Extra-light olive oil, for drizzling
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) degrees.

Place bread, garlic, most of the parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and Pecorino cheese in the bowl of a food processor.
Puree until mixture is a fine ground consistency.

Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and discard.
Push out the seeds and pulp with your fingers into each pocket and discard.

Using a spoon, fill the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture.
Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with the extra-light olive oil.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
Turn on broiler and broil for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 4 - as a contorno (side dish)




Friday, September 4, 2015

STROMBOLI

Whenever I make a Stromboli, I think about Stumpo’s Italian Grill in Cape May, NJ. Stumpo’s has since closed but a family member, Rosemary Stumpo, still runs a B&B in Cape May, called the Delsea. We stayed there several times in the 1980s.
Stromboli originated in the Philadelphia area and is filled with meats, peppers, mozzarella, provolone, and Parmigiano cheeses. 
Tomato sauce should be in the stuffing and on the side.
Calzone originated in Naples, Italy and is filled with meats and ricotta cheese. Tomato sauce is served on the side.


Dough
1 cup (250 ml) luke-warm water
2 t (10 ml) active dry yeast
1 T (15 ml) extra-light olive oil
3 cups (750 ml) all-purpose flour
1 t (5 ml) sea salt

In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast.
Set aside until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
Add the oil and half of the flour and stir to combine.
Add the rest of the flour and salt and mix well.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turning over to oil the top.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
Punch down the dough and place on a 13-by-18-inch (33-by-45 cm) baking sheet.
Let rest for 10 minutes, then roll and stretch the dough to cover the entire baking sheet.

Filling
1 Italian sausage, removed from casing
½ green bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
¼ medium onion, thinly sliced
Tomato sauce, already prepared
4 oz (125 g) provolone cheese, sliced
3 oz (90 g) capicola ham, sliced
3 oz (90 g) Genoa salami, sliced
4 oz (125 g) mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 T (30 ml) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

While the dough is resting, cook the sausage in a little extra-light olive oil until no longer pink.
Add the peppers and onion and slowly cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
Spread about ½ cup (125 ml) of the tomato sauce on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
Add the sausage mixture and layer on the provolone, ham, salami, and mozzarella.
Sprinkle with Parmigiano.
Roll the dough into a long cylinder, with the seam on the bottom.
Let rest on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes, to rise.

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) degrees.

Cut a few slits on the top and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until golden on top, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
Slice thickly and serve with some tomato sauce on the side.

Serves 2 to 4