Saturday, January 28, 2017

CHICKEN VESUVIO

This is my version of the traditional Chicago Italian-American dish. Everyone loves a one-pot meal or in this case, a one-baking pan meal. I cooked this in a large roasting pan even though I only had 3 very large chicken breasts. It is important to have the chicken and potatoes in one layer, to ensure even browning. After baking, I transferred the dinner to a prettier baking pan suitable for the table and for my photo.



4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or whole chicken legs
1 T balsamic vinegar
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
4 lemons
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 T freeze-dried oregano or 3 T fresh oregano leaves
½ cup Sicilian or Spanish olives, cut in half
¼ cup capers, drained
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the chicken in a large baking pan.
Brush balsamic vinegar over the chicken.
Add the potatoes to the pan and scatter on the olives and capers.

Squeeze the juice from three lemons into a small bowl.
Add the garlic, olive oil, and oregano.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Pour evenly over the chicken and potatoes.

Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and baste with pan juices.
Return to oven and continue to bake another 30 minutes, until chicken is brown and potatoes are golden and tender.

Transfer chicken and potatoes to a platter, pretty baking pan, or individual plates.
Slice the 4th lemon into thin slices and tuck in between potatoes and chicken.
Pour pan juices over and serve with a green vegetable or salad.

Serves 4

Friday, January 27, 2017

TUSCAN PANZANELLA SALAD

Panzanella roughly translates to bread (pane) small basket (zanella).This salad is especially wonderful when tomatoes are in season. If you want the salad to be a complete meal, add a can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans to the salad for protein.



Croutons
2 cups roughly chopped Italian bread

Place bread croutons on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F oven. 
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Remove and set aside.

Salad
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
¼ cup drained capers
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 T chopped oregano leaves
1 T chopped basil leaves

In a large salad bowl, add the above salad ingredients and the bread croutons. 
Toss to combine.

Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
½ t Dijon mustard
¼ cup white wine or champagne vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a canning jar, add the above vinaigrette ingredients, screw on the top, and shake vigorously.

Pour as much as you want over the salad and gently toss to combine. You will have enough salad dressing for another salad.


Serves 4

Thursday, January 26, 2017

GORGONZOLA, ROSEMARY, & WALNUT CRACKERS

These are delicious cracker to serve with fruit. You can freeze the tightly wrapped log before baking. Remove from the freezer a couple of hours before baking.


½ cup walnut pieces
8 T unsalted butter, softened
8 oz Gorgonzola cheese, softened
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 t sea salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
2 t minced fresh rosemary

1 egg beaten with 1 T water

Pour walnuts in a dry skillet and toast until lightly golden brown.
Place toasted walnuts in a food processor and process until finely chopped, but don't make walnut butter out of it.
Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cheese together until smooth. 
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt, pepper, and rosemary. 
Mix for 1 minute.  
Alternative, you can do this in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. 

Turn dough out onto a piece of wax paper. 
Roll into a 10-inch long log. 
Brush the log with the egg wash.
Spread the walnuts out and roll the log in the walnuts, pressing lightly. 

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least for 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the log into thin slices and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly brown.  

Cool and serve at room temperature with grapes and figs.

Makes about 12 to 15 crackers





TERESA LAPETINA GRECO - 'Big Mamma'


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CHICKEN SCALLOPINI WITH MUSHROOMS

Chicken breasts and mushrooms in a wine sauce over spaghetti and . . . it's dinner in 30 minutes.




8 oz spaghetti
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half, lengthwise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil, divided
3 T unsalted butter, divided
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup white wine or dry white vermouth
½ cup chicken stock
Juice of ½ lemon
2 t capers, drained
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped parsley, for garnish

Place chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap on a plastic cutting board and gently pound with a mallet or rolling pin to an even thickness.
Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place flour in a shallow bowl and dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.
Place dredged chicken back on the cutting board.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add half of the olive oil and butter.
Brown chicken on both sides for about 4 minutes on each side.
Place chicken on a baking sheet and keep warm in a 225 degree F oven.

In the same skillet, over medium-high heat, add the rest of the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine, chicken stock, and lemon juice and cook another couple of minutes.
Add the capers, the rest of the butter, and the Parmigiano cheese.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, boil spaghetti in salted water for 7 to 8 minutes.

Add drained spaghetti to 2 warm plates.
Top with chicken cutlets and spoon on the sauce and mushrooms.
Garnish with parsley and lemon slices.

Serves 2



Sunday, January 15, 2017

PAN SEARED SCALLOPS WITH PANCETTA & VERMOUTH

If you've ever been to Digby, Nova Scotia, you probably have eaten those wonderful large scallops. They are harvested from the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest and lowest tides in the world. These scallops are so sweet and tender. If you can't find them, buy East Coast sea scallops.




Low tide at the Bay of Fundy

2 oz (60 g) pancetta, diced
10 Digby or East Coast sea scallops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T (15 ml) unsalted butter
1 T (15 ml) extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 shallot, finely diced
½ cup (125 ml) dry Italian vermouth
Juice of ½ lemon
2 T (30 ml) unsalted butter

Fry pancetta in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer to a plate and discard the grease.

Rinse scallops under cold water and place on a double layer of paper towels.
Pat completely dry.
Season scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.

In the same large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.
Add the scallops in a single layer, not touching each other.
Brown on one side for about 2 minutes.
Do move scallops until they are brown, you can peek under one to see.

Turn scallops over with tongs and brown on the other side for another 2 minutes.

Remove scallops to a plate and set aside.

Lower heat in skillet to medium-low and sauté the shallot for 2 minutes.
Add the vermouth and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook for a minute or two, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the two tablespoons of butter, then return the scallops to the pan and cook another few seconds to warm the scallops. Do not overcook the scallops.

Serve scallops over risotto, polenta, or mashed potatoes and spoon sauce over and top with diced pancetta.

Serves 2




Friday, January 13, 2017

CLASSIC CAESAR SALAD

The Caesar Salad was created in the 1920s by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant and restauranteur. My recipe uses a hard boiled egg yolk to avoid any concerns about the possibility of salmonella bacteria in eggs.

Lee's Kitchen Hints: To crisp up any limp lettuce, first soak the leaves in a bowl of luke warm water for 5 minutes. This allows the cells (or pores) in the lettuce to soak up the water and become plump. Drain the lettuce and now soak in ice cold water for another 5 minutes. This allows the cells to close and the results will be crisp lettuce. Spin dry and place in a salad bowl. Any leftover lettuce can be refrigerated in a plastic baggie with a paper towel wrapped around the lettuce.


2 cups (500 ml) cubed (½-inch) crusty Italian bread
1 T (15 ml) extra-light olive oil

2 heads Romaine lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces

Dressing
1 large egg
2 to 3 anchovy fillets (depending upon your taste)
3 cloves garlic
2 T (30 ml) champagne or white wine vinegar
2 T (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 t (10 ml) Dijon mustard
½ t (2 ml) Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 T (45 ml) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) degrees.

Place pieces of bread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil.
Mix around on the baking sheet to coat cubes with some of the oil
Bake in oven until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Stir after 4 minutes.
Remove and transfer croutons to a plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, place egg in a small saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and turn off heat.
Let egg sit in hot water for 12 minutes.

Place Romaine in a large salad bowl.

When egg is cool enough to handle, remove yolk from egg and place yolk in the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Discard the egg white or save for another use (I chop it up and put it in my dog's homemade food).

Add the anchovies, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, Worcestershire, and grated cheese. 
Process until smooth. 
With motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil.
If the dressing seems to thick, add a tablespoon or two of water and process again.

Drizzle dressing over lettuce and toss to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the croutons, and toss again.

Divide between 4 salad plates and add some shaved Parmigiano.

Serve with lemon wedges.


Serves 4