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, 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.



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

Sunday, August 23, 2020

SPICED ESPRESSO FRAPPE

This Sunday with breakfast, we felt like having a refreshing iced coffee with chocolate hazelnut spread and the little kick of grated ginger.  Make your coffee the night or day before and pour into 2 plastic ice trays so they are ready to go in the morning.  The sugar is optional. . .it may be sweet enough for you without.


3 cups freshly brewed espresso coffee or strong coffee, cooled and frozen into cubes (2 ice trays)
2 cups almond milk
¼ cup granulated sugar (optional)
½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread (I use Nutella)
½ t freshly grated ginger
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t freshly ground nutmeg

Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into 4 chilled glasses and serve with a straw.

¼ cup brandy can be added for an after dinner dessert-frappe



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

SPAGHETTI WITH PESTO SAUCE - Spaghetti al Pesto Genovese

In this recipe for Pesto sauce, I added some spinach to tone down the strong flavor of basil and to make it even healthier and the color brighter.
You can make it with just basil leaves and just one type of grated cheese. . .the choice is yours, but this is delicious!



½ cup pine nuts (pignoli)

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 cups packed basil leaves, about 3 large bunches
1 cup packed baby spinach, about 1 small bunch
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb spaghetti

Place pine nuts in a non-stick skillet and over medium heat, toast the nuts until golden.  Do not walk away because they burn easily.  Let cool.
Pulse pine nuts in a food processor until they are completely smooth.  Scrape down the sides from time to time.
Add olive oil and garlic and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped.

Chop basil and spinach very roughly, then add to the processor.  Pulse, stopping every few seconds to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Scrape pesto into a bowl and add the cheeses and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water for 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente.
Drain spaghetti, reserving about ½ cup of the pasta water.
Pour pasta back into the pan, add some of the pesto, add some of the pasta water to slightly thin the sauce.

Serves 4





Tuesday, July 28, 2020

LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP SCAMPI & HERBS

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
Normally I do not recommend cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. Save the good stuff for salad dressing, pasta salads, and finishing on already prepared food. This dish is cooked over medium heat and you can use extra-virgin olive oil if preferred.

Extra-virgin olive oil has a smoke point of around 375 degrees F.

Avocado oil has a smoke point of around 400 degrees F.
Peanut oil has a smoke point of around 435 degrees F.




½ lb linguine
4 T unsalted butter
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ to ¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or white vermouth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup minced Italian parsley
2 T minced chives
6 large basil leaves, minced

Cook the linguine in boiling salted water until al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Save ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil.
Add the diced onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and shrimp.
Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, wine, parsley, chives, basil, and pasta water.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil for a minute, then add the cooked and drained linguine.
Toss to combine.

Divide between two warm pasta bowls and serve.

Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a first course (primi piatti)




Monday, July 20, 2020

SPAGHETTI ALLA PUTTANESCA

In the Italian language, a puttana is a "lady of the night." This pasta dish is quick and easy to make. Perhaps that's how it got its name...because the ladies of the night could make this quickly between customers. I smash up the anchovies along with a clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle, and it gives that wonderful flavor without being overpowering. If you want more anchovy flavor, use one or two more. You can find the Italian olives in most supermarkets and of course in any Italian market.  


¼ cup extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ cups pitted and chopped Italian green olives, preferably Cerignola or Castelvetrano
1 cup pitted and chopped Italian black olives, preferably Gaeta or Lugano
¼ cup capers, drained
3 to 4 anchovies, mashed in a mortar and pestle or use about 1 T anchovy paste
4 cloves garlic, mashed in a mortar and pestle or minced
½ cup Italian white wine (Frascati, Orvieto, or Pinot Grigio)
2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
1 ½  lbs spaghetti
½ t red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling 
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a large pot, sauté the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add the olives, capers, mashed anchovies, and garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and hand-crush them, removing the hard center cores.
Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, but save ½ cup of the pasta water.

Add some of the reserved pasta water to slightly thin the sauce, if needed.

Season to taste with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Add the chopped parsley, basil, and drained pasta; toss to coat.

Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with basil, and serve with grated Parmigiano cheese.

Serves 6



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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



Friday, May 22, 2020

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 or autumn evening.




1 cup chilled Prosecco
¼ cup chilled limoncello
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 

Monday, May 4, 2020

BRUSCHETTE WITH RCOTTA, ARUGULA, & PROSCIUTTO

This is now one of my husband's favorite bruschette.
Bruschetta (with an "a") is singular and bruschette (with an "e") is plural. Since it was just the two of us, I only made 4 appetizers. This also makes a nice lunch with a glass of vino.


1 loaf Italian bread cut into ½-inch slice
Extra-light olive oil for brushing onto each slice
1 whole clove garlic
Fresh whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of baby arugula
4 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Brush each slice of bread on both sides.
Heat a griddle or grill pan to medium-high heat. 
Grill the bread until brown on both sides.
Remove and rub the top side of bread with the garlic clove.
Spread with some ricotta, season with a little black pepper, add a few arugula leaves, and top with a slice of Prociutto.

Drizzle with a little exta-virgin olive oil and place on a platter or board and serve. Buon appetito!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

NEAPOLITAN PIZZA

Many years ago I served my first homemade, Neapolitan-style pizza to my husband and children.  The dough was pressed into a large sheet pan, like pictured.  It was served sizzling hot and speckled with sweet Italian sausage.  The crust was so crispy, even in the middle.  I made sure the anchovies were in two sections where my husband could easily pick them out.  My children and I do not particularly like them on pizza.  I once served a four types of pizza...Napolitan, Margherita, Pizza Bianca, and Riviera to my husband's parents and grandparents.  They loved them all!  My recipes for pizza dough and pizza sauce are on 9 Aug 2018 on this blog.



One recipe for pizza dough or already-prepared dough
One recipe for pizza sauce or store-bought pizza sauce

3 links sweet or hot Italian sausages, cooked, cooled, & sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
Pitted black Italian olives
Sliced pimiento green olives
1 green bell pepper, sliced into circles
Sliced sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
Thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
8 oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into small pieces
Freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Press dough into a sheet pan.
Ladle on some pizza sauce.
Top with some or all of the above toppings.

Bake the pizza in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Cut into 12 slices

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

ITALIAN ANTIPASTI

Antipasti translates to "before the pasta." It is a whole series of little bites while waiting for the next course. Puglia, Italy, is the land of antipasti, just like Napoli is the land of pizza.  



Wednesday, January 22, 2020

PAN SEARED SCALLOPS WITH PANCETTA & VERMOUTH OVER RISOTTO

If you've ever been to Digby, Nova Scotia, you probably have eaten those wonderful large scallops. They are harvested from the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest and lowest tides in the world. These scallops are so sweet and tender. If you can't find them, buy East Coast sea scallops.
I served them over risotto, but polenta or mashed potatoes would be equally delicious.




Low tide at the Bay of Fundy

2 oz pancetta, diced
10 Digby or East Coast sea scallops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T unsalted butter
1 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
1 shallot, finely diced
½ cup dry Italian vermouth
Juice of ½ lemon
2 T unsalted butter

Fry pancetta in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer to a plate and discard the grease.

Rinse scallops under cold water and place on a double layer of paper towels.
Pat completely dry.
Season scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.

In the same large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.
Add the scallops in a single layer, not touching each other.
Brown on one side for about 2 minutes.
Do move scallops until they are brown, you can peek under one to see.

Turn scallops over with tongs and brown on the other side for another 2 minutes.

Remove scallops to a plate and set aside.

Lower heat in skillet to medium-low and sauté the shallot for 2 minutes.
Add the vermouth and lemon juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook for a minute or two, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the two tablespoons of butter, then return the scallops to the pan and cook another few seconds to warm the scallops. Do not overcook the scallops.

Spoon sauce over scallops and top with diced pancetta.

Serves 2