Tuesday, August 14, 2018

GRILLED CHICKEN PAILLARD WITH ARUGULA & SHAVED PECORINO

Chicken Paillard is pounded thin so that it cooks evenly. I prefer to grill mine on a grill pan and make a lemon dressing to drizzle over the bed of arugula and tomato salad and then a little over the chicken. This is a quick and delicious weeknight dinner.




2 boneless, chicken breast halves
Avocado oil

Lemon Dressing
1 t Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 T white wine vinegar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Spring mix lettuce
Arugula
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

Cut each chicken breast in half, crosswise. 
Arrange two pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap. 
Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken evenly to ¼ inch thick. 
Place on a platter and repeat with the rest of the chicken. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Brush avocado oil on both sides of chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill chicken for about 4 minutes on each side.

Place salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour some of the dressing over and toss to combine.

Divide salad between two plates.
Add two chicken cutlets on top of each plate and season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with the rest of the dressing.

Add a few shaved pieces of pecorino and serve. 

Serves 2


Monday, August 13, 2018

MUSSELS WITH GARLIC & WHITE WINE

This is a delicious and simple recipe to make. You won't find it better in any restaurant. Buy the best and freshest mussels you can find which makes all the difference.

Lee's Kitchen Tips: 
Ask your fishmonger if your mussels are wild or cultivated. If they are wild, make sure they have beards attached. Do not remove beards until just before cooking. Removing the beards causes the mussels to slowly die. Wild mussels have a slightly stronger flavor. Cultivated mussels do not have any noticeable beards and have a more delicate taste. 






2 lbs fresh mussels, beards attached
2 T unsalted butter
2 T avocado oil
2 large shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
1 t fresh thyme leaves or ½ t dried thyme
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving
Crusty Italian bread

Scrub the mussels with a brush under cold running water. 
Place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large heavy pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. 
Add shallots or onion and sauté for 5 minutes.                                                                  
Add garlic and sauté another minute. 
Add the thyme, and red pepper flakes.                                            
Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the wine and bring to a boil. 
Remove mussels from the refrigerator and using "kitchen-only" pliers, remove beards.
Add mussels to the pot, cover, reduce heat and simmer until shells open, about 5 to 6 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.
Ladle into a warm serving bowl or two smaller warm bowls and garnish with parsley.
Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread for dipping.


Serves 2


Thursday, August 9, 2018

PIZZA CALABRESE

Calabria is in the most southern region of Italy, forming the "toe" of the peninsula. They are known for their spicy Calabrese salami. This recipe is for 3 8-inch pizzas or 2 12-inch pizzas. I have a system where I bake two at a time, and I definitely use a timer. Make your dough about 30 to 36 hours before you want to serve the pizzas. The slow rise in the refrigerator gives the dough a more complex flavor and crispier crust.




Pizza Dough
¾ cup lukewarm water
1 t active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached bread flour 
t fine sea salt

Pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough 
hook. You can also do this in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
Sprinkle in yeast and let proof for 10 minutes, until the yeast is creamy and foaming.

With the mixer running, slowly add the flour alternating with the rest of the water and salt.

Continue to mix until a ball forms, about 10 minutes

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until dough is soft and not 
sticky. 
Divide dough into 3 or 2 equal balls and place on a lightly oiled tray or small baking sheet. 
Lightly oil the tops of each ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 36 hours, if possible.
You can also place each ball into a zip-lock plastic bag and refrigerate.

Remove from refrigerator and let the dough come to room temperature before shaping.

Form each ball of dough to an 8-inch round (for 3 pizzas) or 12-inch round (2 pizzas). 

Place on lightly oiled pizza pans.


Simple Pizza Sauce

1 T extra-light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
1 (28-oz) can Italian peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, hand crushed
1 t fresh or freeze-dried oregano
1 t chopped fresh or freeze-dried basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the garlic for one minute.

Pour in the tomatoes and add the oregano and basil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Gently simmer 30 minutes.

Pizza Assembly

Simple Pizza Sauce
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lb ball mozzarella, broken into pieces or sliced
12 thin slices spicy Calabrese salami
Fresh basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 450 F degrees.


Preheat a pizza stone on the bottom rack of oven for 15 minutes. 
Alternatively, you can just bake pizzas on pizza pans.

Spread a ladle of tomato sauce on each pizza dough.

Sprinkle each with a tablespoon or two of Parmigiano cheese.
Add a few chunks of the mozzarella to each.
Add 4 to 6 slices of Calabrese salami to each.

Place one pizza pan on bottom rack and bake for 5 minutes.

Slide the crust directly onto the stone and bake for another 10 minutes.
In the meantime, place another pizza on the middle rack after the first pizza has been cooking on the stone for 5 to 7 minutes.
I do an assembly-line of pizzas this way, definitely using a timer.

Remove from oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.


Makes 2 to 3 pizzas


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.



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

PORCINI MUSHROOM RAVIOLI ALL' AMATRICIANA

If you cannot find guanciale or pancetta in your supermarket, use unflavored bacon. I bought my porcini ravioli at a local pasta store on the island owned by Max Del Vecchio.




6 oz  guanciale or pancetta, diced
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
½ t red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-oz) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes
¼ cup Pino Grigio or other dry white wine
2 t chopped fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ lb (12 oz) fresh porcini ravioli
2 T freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the pancetta and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the oil and sauté the onion and red pepper flakes for 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.

Pour the 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, wine, basil, and season to taste with salt and 
pepper. 
Simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Just a few minutes before the pasta sauce is finished, boil the ravioli in salted water until they float to the top of the water, about 3 to 4 minutes. 

Remove ravioli with a large slotted spoon or a spider to two warm pasta bowls.
Save a little of the pasta water to add to the sauce.

When the sauce is finished simmering, stir in a little of the pasta water and the grated cheese.

Spoon some sauce over each bowl of ravioli.
Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle on a little more cheese and garnish with basil.

Buon appetito!


Serves 2 with plenty of sauce left over.




Wednesday, August 1, 2018

CASA LASAGNE BOLOGNESE AL FORNO

I use a combination of Asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in this lasagne. Asiago is similar to Parmigiano because it has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor. The Ragù is enough for two lasagne or enough for another meal or two with pasta. I start out making the Ragù one to three days before I assemble the lasagne. Many times, I freeze the unbaked lasagne to have another evening. Just remember to bring it out to defrost before baking.




Ragù

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil, divided
¼ lb pancetta, diced
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ lb ground pork
½ lb ground veal 
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 (13-oz) can tomato paste

4 T unsalted butter

2 cups whole milk
2 t dried oregano
8 leaves fresh basil, torn or chiffonade
¼ t nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic 
until fairly fine; like a minced soffritto.

In a Dutch oven, add the 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook the soffritto over medium heat 
for 10 minutes. Spoon mixture into a very large bowl and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven over medium heat, add the rest of the oil and cook the pancetta until golden.
Add half of the ground beef and brown until crumbly, about 10 minutes.
As the meat cooks, break up any chunks with a wooden spoon into small pieces. 
Spoon into the large bowl with the soffritto
Repeat with the rest of the beef, then spoon into the bowl with the cooked vegetables.
Repeat with the pork and veal and brown; leaving in the pan.
Return the browned beef and vegetables to the pot.
Add the wine, stirring up browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 
Add the chicken stock, water, and tomato paste; mix in well.
Simmer very gently, partially covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter and rest of the ingredients and simmer another 15 minutes.


Besciamella (Béchamel)

6 T unsalted butter
6 T all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 ½ t sea salt
½ t grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foaming; add flour and cook, 
whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Do not brown.
Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil, while whisking constantly. Add salt and nutmeg, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and
simmer 2 minutes, until it thickens slightly.
Turn off heat and set aside.

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
Mix the above cheese together in a bowl.

1 lb fresh lasagne sheets


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


Spread a layer of ragù in the bottom of a lasagna pan. 

Cover with a sheet or two of pasta, a layer of besciamella, a layer of grated mixed Parmigiano and Asiago, and a layer of ragù.
Repeat 3 more times, ending with a layer of besciamella.

Sprinkle the last of the grated cheeses over the top.


Cover loosely with parchment-lined aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. 

Remove foil and continue to bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 to 12 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 6 to 8