Tuesday, December 11, 2018

ASPARAGUS, MUSHROOM, & CHEESE FRITTATA

If you would like to add a few breakfast sausage links to the frittata. Cook the sausages until done then cut into small pieces and add to the egg mixture. This frittata will serve 4 people. Add a fruit salad and toast and you have a complete breakfast.


10 asparagus, ends trimmed off and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
8 cremini or white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 shallots, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
8 eggs
½ cup chopped basil
½ cup grated asiago cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a non-stick skillet, add ½ cup water and blanch the asparagus pieces for 3 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl and set aside.
Pour out the water and add the oil to the skillet.
Cook the mushrooms over medium heat until golden brown.
Add the shallots and bell pepper and cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn off heat and set skillet aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the basil, grated cheeses, and asparagus.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the mushroom mixture.
Place the skillet into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

ITALIAN ANISETTE COOKIES

My husband's grandmother, Elisabeth Greco Noviello, always made these cookies at Christmas time. She colored the icing and formed the cookie dough into circles and 'S' shapes. I like the simple ball shapes with white icing and red and green sprinkles. My husband said it brings back his childhood when he smells them baking.


¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 t anise flavoring
1 t lemon zest
½ t salt
3 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
3 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. 
Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
Beat in anise, lemon zest, and salt. 
Add yolks and whole egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Reduce speed to low and add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating until fully combined.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls.
Transfer to a cookie sheet. 

Repeat with remaining dough. 

Bake until firm and lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes. 
Transfer to a cool cookies sheet fitted with a wire rack to cool.  

Place a wire rack on the baking sheets to catch any icing drips.

Royal Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 egg white
1 to 2 T milk
1 t anise flavoring
Red and green sprinkles

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients on low speed until smooth. 
You can also do this in a bowl using a wire whisk.

Dip cooled cookies into icing and add sprinkles while icing is still soft.
Let icing harden and then store in an airtight container.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies


Saturday, December 8, 2018

ITALIAN MERINGUE COOKIES

These Italian Christmas cookies do not contain butter, flour, or egg yolks and are another Christmas family favorite. They are so easy to make and totally delicious. You can also replace the vanilla extract with almond extract and replace the pecans for almonds. Save your yolks covered in the refrigerator for another recipe.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:

Make sure your mixing bowl is impeccably clean or the eggs whites will not form into stiff peaks.



5 large egg whites, room temperature
¼ t cream of tartar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
1½ cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. 
Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Beat in vanilla extract. 
Remove bowl from mixer and mix in nuts with a spoon.

Drop by a rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets lightly sprayed with cooking oil or line with parchment paper.
Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and let meringues stay in the oven for 1 hour, or until completely cooled.

Store in an airtight container.






Monday, December 3, 2018

QUICK TUSCAN BEAN SOUP

There’s nothing like a steaming bowl of hot soup to warm you on a cold autumn or winter evening. This soup is made with canned beans instead of dried beans, making it quick and easy to prepare. Any variety of white canned beans will be great with this soup, from the smaller navy bean to the medium great northern bean and the larger cannellini bean. 



2 oz pancetta, finely diced 
2 T extra-light olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with 
cotton butcher’s twine

2 bay leaves
8 cups chicken stock
3 (14 oz) cans great northern or 
any white beans, rinsed and drained 

1 (3-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a large pot or Dutch oven, fry the pancetta over medium heat until golden. Pour off most of the grease and discard.
Add the oil to the pot and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. 

Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, chicken stock, beans, and cheese rind.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for about 25 minutes.


Remove the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cheese rind. 

Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with grated Parmigiano cheese and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.


Serves 4 to 6 



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

LINGUINE WITH SPICY SHRIMP & CALAMARI SAUCE

My husband's favorite meal is pasta with seafood in a tomato sauce. This dish is somewhat spicy but you can adjust the heat by the amount of red pepper flakes you add. 






½ lb linguine
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t red pepper flakes
½ t freeze-dried or dried oregano
3 14-oz cans cherry tomatoes in sauce
½ cup white wine
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz medium calamari, cleaned
1 bunch Italian parsley, stems removed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a large skillet that will hold the pasta and the sauce, add the oil.
Over medium heat, sauté the garlic with the red pepper flakes for a minute.
Add the oregano, cherry tomatoes, and wine and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the linguine in salted water until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Save a little of the pasta boiling water.
Add the shrimp and calamari to the tomato sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
Add the parsley and about ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the drained pasta and mix to combine.
Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.

Serves 2



Friday, November 9, 2018

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 extra-light olive oil
2 oz pancetta, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely diced (optional)
½ t red pepper flakes
2 large bunches Swiss chard or baby kale, stems removed and chopped
½ cup chicken stock or broth
2 (14 oz) 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).



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

ROMAINE SALAD WITH ROMAN CACIO E PEPE VINAIGRETTE

This is one of our favorite weeknight salads, especially with an Italian meal.


Dressing
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 T white wine vinegar
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Place the above ingredients in a mason jar fitted with a tight lid and shake vigorously to combine.

Salad
2 bunches Romaine lettuce, chopped
A few red onion slices
A few English cucumber slices, cut in half

Place the lettuce, onion slices, and cucumber slices in a salad bowl. Toss to combine.
Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and toss again.