Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ITALIAN-STYLE PORK CORDON BLEU

Cordon bleu is a French dish and schnitzel cordon bleu is a German dish. I add Prosciutto di Parma and Fontina cheese to make it an Italian dish. Use any ham you wish and a good melting cheese. I served it with German dumplings called spaetzle, (pronounced SHPets-luh). You can find a spaetzle maker or hopper in most kitchen stores. The dumplings are easy to make and really delicious. If you prefer, serve the pork with buttered noodles and a green salad. I included my recipe for spaetzle.



2 large boneless pork chops
1 large egg
1 T (15 ml) water
½ cup (125 ml) plain dry bread crumbs
½ cup (125 ml) panko bread crumbs
½ t (2 ml) garlic powder
½ t (2 ml) paprika
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
Grape seed oil, for frying

8 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma ham
4 slices Fontina cheese

Butterfly the pork chops and place between plastic wrap and pound to a ¼-inch (6-mm) thickness.

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the water and set aside.
In another shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, and paprika.

Season pork with salt and pepper.
Add 4 slices of Prosciutto ham on top of each prepared pork chop.
Top with 2 slices of cheese.
Fold over in half and pound the edges to seal them.

Dip each filled pork chop in egg and then in the bread crumbs, pressing down to make sure crumbs adhere to the pork.

Preheat oven to 325 F (170 C) degrees.

Heat oil over medium-high heat.
Fry the pork on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Carefully flip over and fry the other side.

Place on a baking sheet and let cook in oven for another 10 minutes. This will ensure that the cheese will be melted inside.

Spaetzle
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ t sea salt
¼ t freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
¾ to 1 cup milk
4 T unsalted butter
2 T minced parsley

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and nutmeg.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs together with the milk.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture.
Mix the dough well and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Spoon dough into a Spaetzle maker with a stainless steel hopper.
Lower heat of water and set Spaetzle maker over the pot.
Press the noodles through the holes and into the simmering water.

Gently boil for about 3 minutes and then pour into a fine mesh strainer or colander back into the pot.
Toss with butter and minced parsley.

Serves 2





Monday, March 21, 2016

ROASTED EGGPLANT SPREAD - Crema di Melanzane

This is a very healthy antipasto spread for burschette or crostini. It is also a delicious spread with carrots or celery for a light lunch or snack. It's perfect for picnics because it is served at room temperature. If you don't have pine nuts (pignoli), substitute walnuts.


2 medium eggplants, peeled and chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
½ large sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 T (45 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil
½ t (2 ml) red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (125 ml) pine nuts or walnuts
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 to 6 large basil leaves
1 (14 oz/398 ml) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained in a mesh colander
3 T (45 ml) chopped Italian parsley
1 T (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 T (30 ml) finely chopped fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) degrees.

Toss the eggplants, bell peppers and onion in a bowl with the garlic, oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 35 minutes (save the bowl to use later). Stir once during roasting.
Meanwhile, lightly brown the nuts in a dry skillet. Do not walk because they burn easily.

When the eggplant mixture and nuts are cool, transfer them to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, and beans and pulse until the mixture is uniform but still slightly chunky. Spoon into the bowl and stir in the Italian parsley and extra-virgin olive oil.

Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the chopped basil, and serve with bruschette, crostini, or vegetables.










Saturday, March 19, 2016

POTATO, LEEK & GORGONZOLA SOUP

This recipe is a version of potato and leek soup but with an Italian twist. . .Gorgonzola cheese!


2 T (30 ml) unsalted butter
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil
3 large leeks, cleaned, white part diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
4 oz (125 g) Gorgonzola cheese, broken into small pieces
¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
1 cup (250 ml) half-and-half (half cream) or whole milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian parsley leaves, for garnish

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the olive oil.
Add leeks and sauté for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add potatoes, sprig of thyme, bay leaf, chicken stock, and cheese.
Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Stir in wine and simmer another 5 minutes.
Smash some of the potatoes on the sides of the saucepan with a spoon to thicken the soup.
Add the half-and-half or milk and season generously with salt and pepper.

Remove the sprig of thyme and bay leaves. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a couple leaves of the parsley.

Note: If you want a smoother soup, after removing the bay leaves and thyme, carefully use
          an immersion blender to blend the soup to the consistency you like.

Serves 4 to 6


Friday, March 18, 2016

SUNDAY RIGATONI WITH BEEF SHANK GRAVY

Here is a hearty Sunday Italian-American dinner from Mamaw. The beef is so tender and the marrow bones give the gravy so much flavor.              Buona domenica a tutti!


2 (28 oz/796 ml) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
2 lbs (1 kg) beef shank with marrow bones intact
2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
4 oz (125 g) pancetta or unsmoked bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 T (30 ml) tomato paste
½ cup (125 ml) dry red wine or water
½ t (2 ml) red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T (30 ml) chopped fresh basil
1 lb (500 g) rigatoni
Chopped fresh basil, for garnish
Freshly grated Grana Padano* or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

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

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, brown the beef shanks in a tablespoon of oil for about 6 to 7 minutes on each side. Do not turn the shanks until they are deeply browned. This will add flavor and allow the meat to release from the pan. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
Pour off any excess grease and add the rest of the oil.
Sauté the onion and pancetta for about 10 minutes over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, wine or water, red pepper flakes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then return the beef shanks to the pan and nestle them into the sauce. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in a 325 F (170 C) degree oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
Using tongs, transfer the beef shanks to a cutting board.
When cool enough to handle, shred the meat and place back into the pot. Discard the marrow bones. Reheat gravy and stir in chopped basil.
Boil the rigatoni in salted water for about 9 to 10 minutes, until al dente.
Drain rigatoni and pour back into the pot.
Add a couple of ladles of the gravy (with some shredded meat) to the pasta and toss.
Spoon into warm pasta bowls, add a little more of the gravy and meat to the top of the pasta. Sprinkle with some chopped basil and serve with grated cheese.
Serves 4

* Grana Padano cheese is one of the world’s first hard cheeses; it was made by monks near Milan, Italy, in the 12th century.                                       Grana means “grain” in Italian, referring to the texture of the cheese.