Monday, May 9, 2011

Insalata di Lettughe Misti e Coppa

I was walking through the farmer's market this past weekend and stumbled upon a vendor that had some of the most beautiful and flavorful lettuces. I decided to grab some different kinds to use. The great thing about these kinds of greens is that you can eat them raw or cooked, and they still pack a punch with flavor. In this application, I have used several different varieties in a super simple salad that again reflects the beauty and simplicity of Italian cooking.

TT = to taste

Serves 4

-1/2 bunch Yellow Mustard Greens
-1/2 bunch Red Mustard Greens
-1/2 bunch Mizuna Greens
-12 to 20 slices of Coppa, super thin(The coppa I have used is homemade, yet you can find plenty of decent coppa at the store. "Columbus" makes a decent coppa. You can substitute a different kind of salumi if you can't find coppa.)
-1 Lemon, juiced
-1/4 cup, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, best possible quality
-TT Maldon Salt or Fleur de Sel
-TT Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved with vegetable peeler for garnish

Cut greens in to smaller leafy pieces
Put greens in mixing bowl
Add lemon juice and the olive oil and toss
Season with salt and pepper
Arrange the coppa on 4 separate plates in a random fashion
Mound the greens in little pockets in the empty spaces on the plate(I like to keep the greens separate so you can taste their different personalities, yet you can mix them together if you want).
Garnish with the shaved parmigiano reggiano and a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Serve immediately

Friday, April 8, 2011

Asparagi al' Speck e Arancia

Asparagus are one of the first vegetables to come around in spring. This is a super flavorful appetizer that is great to serve for any party that leave your guests wanting more. It can be prepared well in advance so you can grill the asparagus last minute. Speck is essentially a smoked prosciutto. I like to use that here and grill the asparagus to intensify that smokey flavor. If you can't find speck, prosciutto will work just fine. Another seasonal touch you could do would be to substitute meyer lemons for the oranges in this recipe. Feel free to get creative with any of my recipes to make them your own.

For Asparagus:
2 Bunches Asparagus, preferably hand picked and from farmer's market
1/2# Speck sliced paper thin

If your asparagus wasn't hand picked, trim off the end woody part
Cut the speck in half or thirds the long way
wrap the speck around the asparagus as tight as possible
Preheat your charcoal or gas grill on high
You can coat the asparagus with a little oil to prevent sticking or lightly oil the grill for the same purpose.
Lay the asparagus on the hot grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, or until speck is crispy & caramelized and asparagus is just tender
Remove from grill and place on a serving platter
Pour vinaigrette over the asparagus and serve immediately

For the Vinaigrette:
2 Oranges, Zested & Juiced
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1t Fresh Thyme, Leaves only
splash of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Pinch of cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together to emulsify.
Set aside until ready to use

Monday, March 14, 2011

Burrata con Pane

This is a great antipasto or appetizer that would be a hit at any party. It is a lot simpler than it looks so don't feel intimidated by the making of cheese aspect. This is a very special cheese that is originally from Puglia(the heel of Italy). It has incredible texture and a delicious fresh lactic taste to it that can only be described as sublime. As with many of my recipes, they are all about the ingredients. That means choose wisely and don't settle for mediocrity.

Recipe Makes 9 Burrata Cheese Balls

1 loaf Lg. Peasant Bread (I use homemade, but you can always look for a nice airy crusty bread from your local bakery)
2# Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup Heavy Cream, best quality
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, best quality For Serving
Fleur de Sel or Maldon Sea Salt, For Serving
Fresh coarse cracked black pepper, For Serving

Divide the Mozzarella into 10oz and 22oz
Grate the 10oz with coarse grater into bowl
Pour the heavy cream in the bowl with the grated mozzarella
Season with a pinch of salt
Meanwhile Bring 2 qts of water and 1/2 cup salt to 170-180F
Drop the other mozzarella into the hot water
Lower the heat or just turn off
Let the mozzarella soften
use a large spoon or slotted spoon to help you remove some of the mozzarella from the hot water
The mozzarella should be pliable and strecthy
You want about a 2-3" size piece of mozzarella to work with
knead and stretch mozzarella until very elastic
add mozzarella back to water as needed to help it soften
stretch the piece of mozzarella a little wider than the size of your hand.
The mozzarella in the center should be about 1/16-1/8 inch thickness(almost able to see through)
Spoon about 3-4T of the grated mozzarella and cream mixture into the center
Enclose and twist the top part off enclosing the stuffing
transfer burrata to ice water
return remaining mozzarella to the hot water and repeat with the rest until all of the stuffing is gone.
You should be able to have 9 burrata balls with about a 1.5-2" ball if fresh mozzarella remaining at the end.
Each ball should weigh around 3.5-4oz
Remove each ball from ice water and let drain slightly
Transfer to air tight container. Cheese should hold for up to a week yet is best consumed day of.
Before serving pull cheese out of refrigerator for 30-45 minutes and allow to temper.
Slice the bread into 1/2" thick slices and toast gently
Place bread and cheese on a platter and drizzle with the olive oil
I put the coarse sea salt and pepper on the side with a little more olive oil so people can garnish their cheese and bread with as much or as little (salt, pepper, olive oil) as they like.
Serve Immediately

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Insalata di Parma

This is a great salad for this time of year. It is very light & elegant, as well as celebrates some of the local/seasonal delicacies of Emilia. It is a wonderful starter to any dinner. This salad is all based on good ingredients so try to refrain from using imitations.

Serves 4

1 Head Radicchio, leaves pulled off and cut in half or 1/4 to resemble little boats
1 Head Belgian Endive, leaves pulled off to resemble little boats
4 slices of Prosciutto di Parma, very thin
1/4-1/2 Pomegranate, seeded
Pamigiano Reggiano Cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler
25yr Balsamic Vinegar or best quality available
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Coarse Cracked Black Pepper
Sea Salt

Lay a slice of prosciutto on each plate
Scatter the endive & radicchio on top
Sprinkle some of the pomegranate seeds on each plate
Sprinkle just a pinch of the salt on the greens
Sprinkle the plate with the cracked pepper
Scatter the Parmigiano Reggiano on each plate(5-7 pieces per plate)
Drizzle each plate with some of the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil
Serve Immediatley

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Turtej cu la Cua alla Castagne con Sugo Fagiano

This is a great pasta to warm up the winter months with. It is hearty, yet light at the same time showing the great balance that Italian cuisine possesses. This is a great way to use leftover chestnuts from the open fire. Since the filling has a delicate flavor the sauce has to be just as delicate not to overwhelm the pasta. For that reason, I have used pheasant for the sauce. Duck, quail, squab or goose would be too strong in this case.

Serves 4

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
1.25 cup AP Flour
2/3 cup Chestnut or hazelnut Flour
2 lg eggs
pinch of salt
water if needed

Mix ingredients together
knead for 5-10 minutes
wrap in plastic and let rest for an hour
Roll out dough to second thinnest setting
cut dough into 2"x3" rectangles
place 1t of filling in the center of each rectangle
starting with the longer end facing North/South, pull the top left corner down and towards the middle
then do the same with the top right corner down towards the middle
then bring the left side down and towards the middle
then the right again for 3-4 times each total to have a braided shape
pinch and slightly stretch the bottom piece into a little tail about 1/2 inch long (cu la cua = with a tail).
Repeat with remaining pasta
Place the ravioli on a parchment lined sheet tray sprinkled with flour
Once they are all on, place sheet tray in freezer for 1 hour to dry and harden the ravioli

For Filling:
85g Roasted Peeled Chestnuts
100g Ricotta Cheese (preferably homemade - see recipe on this blog)
1 lg egg
1 sm. clove garlic minced
TT salt
TT cracked black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor
puree until smooth
taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary

For Sauce:
1 Pheasant around 3.5-4#, cut into 8 pieces(wings, breasts, legs, thighs)
1/2 yellow onion, sm dice
1 celery rib, sm dice
1/2 carrot, sm dice
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1 qt chicken stock(preferably homemade ro low sodium)
2T Butter, unsalted
2T olive oil
TT salt
TT fresh ground black pepper

Heat butter and oil in dutch oven over med - med/high heat
season the pheasant with salt and pepper
sear the meat skin side down and all over until golden brown
add the onions, carrots, celery & garlic and saute until softened over medium heat
add thyme and rosemary and saute for one minute
add the red wine and reduce by 1/2
add the chicken stock and bring to a boil
lower heat to simmer, cover and braise for 1-2 hours(meat should be very tender
remove pheasant from the dutch oven and pick the meat from the bones
Save skin, bones & carcass for making stock.
Skim any fat that renders in the cooking liquid
return pheasant to dutch oven
simmer and reduce liquid by half
taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary
set aside and keep warm.

Serving & garnish:
parmigiano reggiano
sage leaves fried in butter until crispy if desired

Bring 6 qts of water and a 1/4 cup of salt to a boil
drop the pasta in batches and cook for 4-5 minutes
Heat the pheasant sauce over medium heat
Once pasta is ready, drop the pasta into the sauce and cook for 1 extra minute.
Be careful when tossing the sauce and pasta together so you don't break or tear the ravioli.
Transfer pasta with sauce to individual plates.
Garnish with shaved or grated parmigiano reggiano and a few fried sage leaves
Serve immediately

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Linguine con Granchio

This has to be one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. It is so simple, so fresh, & so flavorful. It is perfect for this time of year when you want to feel like you can eat lighter after all the hearty dishes that winter usually brings. This also calls for one of my favorite citrus fruits, buddha hand. It is from SE Asia, and is in season from late November - January. It isn't necessarily Italian, yet Italy has many citrus fruits that we don't even have available in the U.S.

Serves 4

TT = to taste

1# Linguine
2 King Crab Legs(3/4# each), Meat Picked of Shell
6 Cloves of Garlic, Sliced paper thin
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2T Butter
1/4 cup White Wine
TT sea salt
TT chili Flakes
TT Buddha Hand, freshly grated (You can substitute lemon if you cannot find buddha hand)
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Bring 6 qts of water and a handful of salt to a boil
Add the pasta to the water
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat
add the garlic cloves and saute for a minute
add the chili flakes and the white wine
add the butter and the crab and heat through
Once pasta is a minute from al dente, remove from the water and add to the sauce & toss together for last minute while cooking
add a little pasta water to pan if needed to loosen the sauce
add the grated buddha hand and parsley and toss
Transfer pasta to serving plates
add a last drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil if desired
serve immediately

Monday, January 10, 2011

Salumi Misti

Here is a variety of the different types of salumi(cured meats) that I make. They are great to make during the fall and keep well over the cold winter months.

Bresaola - Cured beef tenderloin with fall spices from Piemonte
Salame Trentino - Salame from NE Italy flavored with garlic, beer & caraway
Salame al'Alba - Salame from Piemonte flavored with nebbiolo wine, fall spices & truffles
Finocchiona - Tuscan salame flavored with fennel pollen, fennel seeds, chianti, peppercorns & garlic
Duck Prosciutto - Cured duck breast in a similar style of prosciutto with salt, sugar, herbs & spices
Coppa - Spicy cured pork shoulder
Pancetta - Un-smoked cured rolled pork belly flavored with herbs & spices

Not Pictured:
Nduja - Spicy smoked spreadable salame from Calabria(Southern Italy)
Lardo Colonnata - Cured pork fat back with rosemary, juniper, garlic & other spices