Wednesday, July 24, 2019

FIGS WITH GOAT CHEESE, ROSEMARY, & PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA

Ernest Novello (his Americanized name) had a fig tree in his backyard in Richmond, Virginia. I believe it kept him close in heart to his Italian heritage. Figs are the fruit of the Ficus tree and are an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium. They also contain prebiotics which helps support the pre-existing good bacteria in the gut. Don't eat too many at one time due to their laxative effect. Figs should not be washed until ready to eat. The variety I used is called Brown Turkey. 


6 Brown Turkey figs, stems cut off and figs cut in half, lengthwise
4 oz log of goat cheese, room temperature
2 t fresh rosemary leaves, minced
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 oz Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Place the figs, cut side up, on a work surface.
In a small bowl, mix together the goat cheese, minced rosemary leaves, and black pepper.
Using a small spoon, add a small amount on top of each cut side of the figs.

Tear small pieces of Prosciutto and place a little on top of the goat cheese.
Place figs on a serving platter and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

You can serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Let come to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4 to 6 as appetizers


MASCARPONE AND RASPBERRY ICE CREAM

When raspberries are in season, why not make ice cream with mascarpone cheese? If you love raspberries, you will love this ice cream.



4 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup mascarpone cheese
1 t pure vanilla extract
½ cups heavy cream or half-and-half
1 cup chopped fresh raspberries

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a heat-proof bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk for about 5 minutes.

Place bowl in a sink with some cold water. 
Whisk for another 2 minutes to cool the mixture down.

Stir in the vanilla, cream or half-and-half, and the raspberries.

Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Spoon into a covered container and place in your freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serves 6

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

LEMON SORBET WITH PROSECCO - Sgroppino al Limone

Traditionally, sgroppino is a refreshing aperitif that is said to have originated in Venice, Italy and is served blended, but this is another way to serve it as a dessert. With the abundance of lemons on the Amalfi Coast, I think it could have been invented there. This is so refreshing on a warm summer evening.




1 cup chilled Prosecco
¼ cup chilled plain or lemon-flavored vodka 
Good-quality lemon sorbet

Fresh mint leaves


Pour ½ cup Prosecco into each champagne flute or Irish coffee glass. 
Equally, divide the limoncello and vodka into each flute or glass.
Add 2 to 3 scoops of lemon sorbet.

Top with mint and serve immediately.

Serves 2 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

BAKED EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA WITH PROVOLONE & SWISS CHARD

The eggplants are so crispy and are baked in the oven.  I made a marinara sauce with canned cherry tomatoes and sautéed some Swiss chard and that was spooned under the marinara sauce. I peel the eggplant leaving stripes; otherwise, the peel can be quite chewy.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
I saved the larger slices for the dishes and just had a few smaller ones for my husband to enjoy, plain, right out of the oven.



Baked Eggplants
2 large eggplants, partially peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices.
½ cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 T water
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cherry Tomato Marina Sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 14-oz cans cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Swiss Chard
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed of middle stems and chopped 

In a shallow bowl, add the flour and season generously with salt and pepper.
In a second shallow bowl, whisk the egg with the water.
In a third shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, panko, and grated Parmigiano.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle some oil on a large baking sheet pan and set aside.
Dip eggplant slices in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg mixture and finally in bread crumb mixture.
Place eggplant slices on the baking sheet and drizzle a little more oil on top.
Bake for 20 minutes, flip each one over, and bake another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more Parmigiano and add a piece of provolone cheese on top.
Place back in oven for cheese to melt, about 3 to 4 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over low heat and sauté
the garlic red pepper flakes for a minute or two.
Add the cherry tomatoes and mash lightly with a fork or potato masher.  Leave the tomatoes mostly whole.  Simmer for 20 minutes, add basil and season with salt and pepper
Set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, add the olive oil and sauté
the Swiss chard until soft, about 5 minutes.  
Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Set aside and keep warm.

To Assemble
Spoon half of the chard in the middle of a plate.
Ladle on some cherry tomato sauce.
Add 4 slices of the eggplant and garnish with basil, if desired.

Serves 2




Tuesday, May 28, 2019

EGGPLANT CAPRESE-STYLE

This makes an excellent side dish (contorni) or lunch with a glass of red wine.  No need to salt eggplant before baking.  They get deliciously crisp with just a little oil.




Tomato-Basil Salad
1 cup cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch basil, rolled up like a cigar and thinly sliced (chiffonade)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Eggplant
2 medium eggplants, washed
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 ½ cups Italian breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Italian cheese (your favorite)
¼ t red pepper flakes

8 slices fontina cheese

In a small bowl add the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and a third of the basil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir to combine, cover and set aside on your counter.

Cut the two rounded sides off of the eggplant and then slice each one into four slices, lengthwise, leaving stem on.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a baking sheet with oil and set aside.
Place flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.
In another shallow bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water.
In a third shallow bowl, add the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and red pepper flakes.

First, dip a slice of eggplant in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess.
Next, dip it into the egg mixture, coating both sides and finally into the breadcrumb mixture; pressing down on each side to coat completely.

Arrange them on the baking sheet and drizzle with a little more oil and place in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip over with a spatula and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and add the fontina cheese to each eggplant slice.  Place back in the oven and bake for another 2 to 4 minutes, just until the cheese has melted, but not browned.
Transfer to a serving platter and spoon on the tomato mixture and garnish with the rest of the basil.