Friday, December 28, 2018

PASTA & BEANS - Pasta e Fagioli

This is the classic soup of pasta and beans from Southern Italy, especially popular in Napoli and the Amalfi coast. Don't be a fool...eat pasta fazool! It is truly amore!



2 oz pancetta, diced
2 T extra-light olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
2 T tomato paste
2 quarts chicken stock
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (3-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind 

2 (14 oz) cans cannellini beans with liquid
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ditalini or ditali pasta

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


In a large pot or Dutch oven, fry the pancetta over medium heat until golden.
Add the oil to the pot and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté another minute.
Add wine and simmer 3 minutes.
Add tomato paste, chicken stock, sprig of thyme, bay leaf, and cheese rind.
Simmer 20 minutes. 

Add beans and simmer 10 more minutes.
Remove the sprig of thyme, bay leaf, and cheese rind; season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Add pasta and simmer another 5 to 6 minutes.

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


Serves 4 to 6 




Saturday, December 22, 2018

ITALIAN SNOWBALL COOKIES

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe. I make them every Christmas. My husband, son, and daughter would be very disappointed if I didn't make them every year.


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 t pure vanilla extract
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ t salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Confectioners’ sugar for coating cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until fluffy. 
Add vanilla and sugar and beat to combine. 
Add flour and salt and continue to beat.
Mix in pecans with a spoon.
Form into small balls and place on two cookie sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool and roll in additional confectioners' sugar. You can also pour confectioners' sugar into a paper bag and gently toss cookies until well coated.

Store in an airtight container.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen (depending on the size you make them)



DELMONICO POTATOES

Delmonico Potatoes originated in the famous Delmonico Hotel restaurant in lower Manhattan, New York City, in the mid 19th century. I serve these potatoes with Delmonico steaks and sautéed mushrooms.



5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 T avocado oil
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T unsalted butter
1 T avocado oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ t grated nutmeg
½ cup chicken stock or broth
¼ cup half-and-half
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a food processor, fitted with a coarse grater, grate the potatoes.

In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the tablespoon of oil until soft, about 5 minutes. 
Add the garlic and sauté another minute. 
Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet add the two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of avocado oil. Cook the potatoes over medium heat for about 10 minutes until a little golden.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the onion and garlic mixture to the potatoes and mix through. 
Add the nutmeg and chicken stock and cook another couple of minutes. 
Add the half-and-half and half of the grated cheese and mix through.

Pour into a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. 




Serves 4 to 6

GRILLED DELMONICO STEAKS

Delmonico Steaks are grilled 1½ to 2-inch rib-eye steaks. Don't marinade the steaks for more than 20 minutes because the bourbon will cook the steaks. You don't have to go to Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City to have their famous steak and my version of Delmonico Potatoes. To test steaks for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer.
Rare - 125-130 F
Medium-rare - 130-140 F
Medium - 140-150 F
Medium well - 150-155 degrees F



2 (6-8 oz) bone-in or boneless rib-eye steaks

Marinade for Steaks
3 T bourbon
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 T honey
2 t Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.
Place steaks in a shallow bowl, fitted with a top.
Pour marinade ingredients over steaks and let marinade on your counter top for 20 minutes.
Turn the steaks over after 10 minutes.

Herb Butter
½ stick unsalted butter softened
½ t minced chives
½ t minced parsley
½ t minced thyme
¼ t minced rosemary
1 T minced shallot
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all of the herb butter ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Place on wax paper in a row and roll into a log, twisting the ends closed.
Refrigerate until ready to use and then cut a pat for each steak.
You can do this in the morning or a couple of days before you grill the steaks.
The butter also freezes well for future use.

If using a charcoal grill, prepare a pile of coals on one side of the grill.

Sear the steaks over the hot coals for 2 minutes on each side.
Move them to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook for another 10 to 12 minutes.
Do not flip over again.

When done, place on a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes.

Place the steaks on plates and pour the accumulated juices over each.

Add a pat of Herb Butter on top of each steak and serve.

Serves 2 to 4 (if thickly sliced into pieces)







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