Sunday, December 20, 2020

ITALIAN SNOWBALL COOKIES

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe many years ago and I make them every Christmas.  My husband still loves them.


 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
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 on medium speed to combine.
Add flour and salt and continue to beat.
Mix in pecans with a spoon.
Form into small balls and place on two baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes. 
Roll in confectioners' sugar while still slightly warm.

Store in an air tight container.

Makes about 3 dozen

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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.
1 cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 T water
1 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



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

SPAGHETTI ALL'AMATRICIANA

This is one of the simplest and most delicious pasta sauces. In Rome this tomato sauce is served with bucatini, which is a hollow version of spaghetti; it's like a straw with a tiny hole. The sauce originated in the small town of Amatrice, about 2 hours northeast of Rome. In Amatrice, they prefer spaghetti. Sadly, an earthquake destroyed almost the entire historic town.



6 oz guanciale or pancetta, diced
1 T extra-light olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-oz) cans 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
½ lb bucatini or spaghetti
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.

Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente, about 8 minutes. 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.

Pour the drained pasta back into the pot and add some of the tomato sauce, as needed.
Toss to combine and spoon pasta into 2 warm pasta bowls.
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.



Sunday, November 8, 2020

FARFALLE WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGES, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES, & FENNEL

This is one of my Go-To meals on a weeknight.  It is so delicious, you may want to serve it for company. . .after this pandemic is over. This recipe includes Italian sausages (pork or turkey), sun-dried tomatoes, and fennel. Farfalle (pronounced fa-FAR-lay) translates to "butterflies". Get the onion, fennel, peppers, and garlic chopped up on a cutting board ready to toss into the skillet. Dinner in under 40 minutes!



2 T extra-light olive oil, divided
1 lb mild or hot Italian sausages

1 T sea or kosher salt, for the pasta water
1 lb farfalle (butterfly) pasta

1 large sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh basil, chiffonade or torn
½ t red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup red or white wine
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into bitesize pieces

1 bunch Italian parsley, trimmed and chopped
½ cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the sausages for about 15 minutes over medium heat until brown on all sides. I put a splatter screen over my skillet to keep most of the grease from popping out on the stove.
Remove to a cutting board and discard grease and carefully wipe out or wash out skillet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt.  
Boil the farfalle pasta for 10 minutes, until al dente.
Save 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.  

Drain pasta and set aside.

In the same large clean skillet add the rest of the oil and cook the onion, fennel, and peppers over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring as needed.  
Add the garlic and cook another minute. 
Add the wine and cook another minute.

Cut the sausages into ¼ inch circles and add to the skillet along with the sun-dried tomatoes.  
Add 1 cup of the pasta water and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
Spoon in the pasta and add the basil, red pepper flakes and parsley.  
Toss to combine and add more pasta water, if needed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the grated cheese and spoon pasta into 4 heated pasta bowls.
Serve with extra grated cheese at the table and a green salad...and of course a glass of vino rosso (red wine) or vino bianco (white wine).

Serves 4

Saturday, October 31, 2020

SHREDDED BEEF SANDWICHES WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS & PEPERONCINI

This sandwich makes a delicious dinner accompanied with a salad or soup. There is enough left over for another couple of dinners or lunches. The entire house had the amazing aroma of that chuck roast slowly cooking in my oven for hours.  You can use a slow-cooker, but brown the meat first.




2 T extra-light olive oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
½ to 4 lb chuck or rump roast trimmed of excess fat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef broth
1 T liquid beef bouillon concentrate
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 T fresh oregano sprigs or freeze-dried
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
Provolone cheese, sliced
Golden peperoncini in a jar with juice
Buttered and toasted Italian hoagie rolls

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, for about 20 minutes until caramelized; stirring often.
Remove and set aside in a bowl and cover.

Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper.
To the same pot, add the other tablespoon of oil and brown the roast on both sides.

When brown, add the beef broth, beef concentrate, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and juice from the ½ the jar of peperoncini.
Cover with a lid and bake in a 275 degree F oven for 6 hours.

Remove from oven and carefully transfer roast to a cutting board.
Cut away the string on the roast and let cool a few minutes.

While roast is cooling, pour the beef broth from the pot through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan. Keep warm on the stove.

Using two forks, shred the beef completely and place in a medium saucepan and keep warm on the stove. Discard any fat still left on the roast.

To Assemble
Place a generous amount of shredded beef on the bottoms of the toasted rolls.
Add some of the caramelized onions.
Top with cheese and place under a broiler for just a couple of minutes; long enough to melt the cheese.
Top with a few peperoncini, trimmed of stems.
Serve with individual small bowls of the beef juice for dipping the sandwiches.

Serves 6 to 8

Saturday, October 10, 2020

PEAR TART - Crostata di Pere

 Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. The cows are fed special grasses filled with herbs and flowers so they produce milk that is perfect for making this cheese. Mascarpone cheese can be found in grocery stores in 8-ounce (250-ml) containers.






1 ¼ cups pastry or all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 t finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of sea salt
4 T cold unsalted butter (½ stick), cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup cold cream or half-and-half (half cream)

Place the flour, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
Add the butter and pulse a few more seconds.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk and cream until combined.
With the motor running, pour the egg yolk mixture down the feed tube of the food processor and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Turn out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up, flattening and forming the dough into a disc. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry out to fit a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Press the dough carefully up the sides, then roll off overhang with your rolling pin and remove.
Cut a round piece of parchment paper, to fit in the bottom and up the sides of the dough. Place over the dough and add about 2 cups pie weights or dried beans on top of the parchment paper. 
Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
Let cool slightly and remove paper and weights.

Mascarpone Cheese Filling
¾ cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ t pure vanilla extract
1 T all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, and flour until well combined. Pour into the cooled tart shell and smooth the surface.

3 medium-size ripe Anjou or Bosc pears
¼ cup unsalted hazelnuts, chopped
2 T granulated sugar

3 T apricot jelly
2 T Calvados or peach brandy

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.

Peel and cut the pears in half and remove the core with a melon baller or a spoon.
Arrange in the tart shell with the narrower ends pointing towards the center.
If necessary, trim the pears to fit into the tart.
Scatter the hazelnuts over the pears and sprinkle the sugar on top.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until golden and the pears are soft.

Heat the apricot jelly in a small saucepan, or microwave it just until warm.
Turn off heat and add the Calvados or peach brandy and mix to combine.
Brush over the pears.

Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cut each slice with a half pear on top.

Serves 6


BIG MAMMA (TERESA LAPETINA) AND HER SON, DANTE (DONDY)

 

Monday, September 21, 2020

PHILLY CHEESE STEAK SANDWICHES

There has always been the debate over the type of cheese used on a Philly Cheese Steak.  The three popular cheeses are Provolone, Swiss, White American, and the one I would never use - Cheez Whiz.  Cheez Whiz was introduced because of convenience.  I would say that the Provolone is my favorite cheese to use, but love all three.  





1 lb boneless Rib Eye Steak or New York Strip
½ t onion powder
½ t garlic powder
2 t avocado oil or other high smoke point oil
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper

Place steak in the freezer for about 2 hours. 
Slice the steak as thin as you possibly can with a sharp knife and then chop the meat.
Place in a bowl with the above ingredients, toss to combine, and refrigerate for one hour, while caramelizing the onions.

1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
8 thin slices Provolone cheese, divided
1 o 2 T mayonnaise
2 Hoagie Rolls 

In a large cast-iron skillet, sauté onion in oil over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until soft.  

Chop up 4 slices of the Provolone cheese and set aside.

Spoon onions into a bowl set aside. 

In the same skillet cook steak on high heat for about 3 or 4 minutes, until brown.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the onions back to the skillet with the steak and add chopped cheese.  Mix well in skillet.

Open rolls and place under a broiler for just a couple of minutes to brown. Be careful not to burn. Spread both sides of rolls with mayonnaise.

Divide the steak mixture between the 2 rolls, then top with the rest of the cheese slices.  

Heat under broiler for about one minute, or until cheese is melted but not burned.

Serves 2