Sunday, December 5, 2010

Anatra con Zucca e Vin Santo


This is a very simple looking & tasting dish, that has a lot of attention to detail in order to make it truly special. Reminiscent of Northern Italian cooking, we incorporate some of my favorite flavors of the holiday season. If you can't find vin santo or it's not in your budget, there are plenty of other dessert wines you could use such as: jorge ordonez, marsala, etc.

TT = to taste

Serves 4

For Duck & Sauce:
4 Duck Breasts, scored
2T Duck Fat
2 cloves garlic,
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup Duck Stock, or Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Vin Santo
1T Butter, unsalted
TT Salt
TT black pepper

Method:
Heat duck fat in large skillet over med low heat
season duck breasts with salt & pepper
place breasts in pans skin side down
cook low and slow until fat renders and skin crisps, about 15 minutes
once rendered properly turn up heat to med high to crisp skin
turn over and remove duck from heat
baste the duck with the fat
remove duck from pan after a minute or so after it was flipped
allow duck to rest for 5-10 minutes
remove excess fat in pan and save leaving 1T of fat left in the pan
Add the garlic clove & rosemary and return to stove over medium heat
add vin santo and reduce by half
add duck stuck and reduce until sauce consistency (50-80%)
add the butter and season with salt if needed
By the time the sauce is complete, the duck shall have finished resting

For Squash:
1 small butternut squash, split in half & seeds removed
1 cinnamon stick, broke in half
3T butter
TT Nutmeg, freshly grated
TT Cinnamon stick, freshly grated
TT salt

Method:
preheat oven to 350F
place squash in roasting pan, cut side up
place 1.5T of butter in each dug out spot of the butternut squash
place 1/2 cinnamon stick on top of the butter
season cut side with salt
pour 1-2 cups of water into the roasting pan
cover pan with aluminum foil
place in over for 1 hour or until squash is fall apart tender
remove cinnamon stick
scoop out flesh along with the butter & put into food processor
season with a little fresh cinnamon & nutmeg as well as salt if needed
puree until very smooth
set aside and keep warm

Finish Plating:
Spoon some of the butternut squash puree on the plate.
slice the duck and plate over the puree
spoon sauce over and around the plate
serve immediately

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Insalata Emiliana


This is a recipe that uses some very decadent ingredients from Emilia Romagna to make a very simple yet luxurious salad. If you don't have homemade bread, you can always use any well made country loaf as a substitute.

TT = to taste

Serves 4

6 cups mesclun mix greens
4 slices prosciutto di parma
12 fresh figs, quarterd
1/8# parmigiano reggiano
4T 25yr Balsamic Vinegar, or best possible quality
2 cups homemade or store bought bread cut into 1/2"-1" croutons
Extra virgin olive oil
TT salt
TT coarse ground black pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 400F
toss croutons with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
sprinkle with a pinch of salt
toast in the oven until golden brown (5-10mins)
toss greens with the vinegar and a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
season with salt and pepper
lay a slice of prosciutto down on the plate
divide salad evenly among the plates
garnish with croutons & figs
use a vegetable peeler and shave off thin slices of the parmigiano reggiano on top of the salad
serve immediately

Vitello alla Valle d'Aosta


This is a refined take on a classic dish from this region. Traditionally this recipe calls for a veal chop that is topped with fontina(the most notable cheese of the Aosta Valley) and served with polenta. Instead I take a fresh seasonal approach to it by sitting the chop on top of a grilled corn puree.

TT = to taste

Serves 2-4 people

Corn Puree:
2 ears of sweet corn
1/4 cup cream
TT salt

Method:
Pull back husks leaving them intact, and remove silks
cover corn back up with husks and place in water for an hour
Preheat gas or charcoal grill on high
place corn in the husk on grill and char all over until corn is tender and has a little charring going on, NOT A LOT
remove from grill and discard the husks
cut corn of the cob and place in small sauce pan
add cream and then simmer med low on stove for 20-30 mins until corn is super tender and there is only a slight amount of cream left
transfer mixture to a blender season with salt and puree until smooth
strain through chinois or fine strainer
taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary
cove & set aside
reheat over low heat on the stove while the chop is resting

Veal chop:
2 Veal Rib Chops, about 1-1.5# each
1/4-1/2# fontina cheese, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, not peeled, pounded once with hand
4 lg. sprigs of thyme
3T butter
TT coarse salt
TT coarse pepper

Method:
Remove veal from refrigerator and allow to temper for half hour
Preheat cast iron pan on high
season veal chops with salt & papper
add 3T of canola or grapeseed oil to pan once smoking
turn on broiler
sear veal chops on one side until very well caramelized
turn over and sear for 10 seconds
turn off heat on stove
top veal chops with fontina cheese
add butter and garlic cloves & transfer to broiler
cook for 5 more mins or so until veal has reached med rare and cheese is caramelizing
remove from broiler and add fresh thyme to pan
baste the top of the chops with the brown butter
remove chops from cast iron pan and set on a plate to rest for 10-15 mins
while resting reheat the corn puree on med low heat until warm
stir occasionally so puree doesn't scorch
place a little of the warm puree on each serving plate
place the veal chop on each plate and serve immediately

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Insalata di Mare alla Siciliana


This is a fabulous fresh recipe that showcases the fresh flavors of Sicily. The pesto of Sicily usually has tomatoes in it which differs from the Ligurian style pesto that most people are familiar with. It matches beautifully beautifully with the seafood and the delicate zucchini blossoms. The result is a very bright and bold dish full of flavor and texture.

TT = to taste

For filling:
1/2# Sea Scallops, dry pack
1/2# Squid, tubes & tents cleaned
10 heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1t pine nuts, toasted
1/2 sm. garlic clove, minced
1T Capers, soaked and rinsed
1/2 lemon juiced, and zested
sea salt
10 zucchini blossoms, cleaned

Method:
Bring a small pot of water to a boil
drop basil in and blanch for 5-10 seconds
shock in ice water
squeeze dry
put basil in food processor with pine nuts and garlic
start blending
add extra virgin olive oil until thick paste forms
set aside
season scallops and squid with salt
sear separately in hot pan or on hot grill
scallops should be well caramelized and still rare to med rare
squid should have a little char and just barely cooked through
allow scallops and squid to rest on a plate
once scallops and squid have cooled, cut scallops into 1/4-1/3" dice
chop the squid
combine seafood in a bowl with the extruded cooking juices on the plates
fold in pesto, tomatoes, capers, Lemon juice & zest
season with sea salt if needed
Use a spoon or piping bag, and fill the zucchini blossoms with the seafood mixture

For Puree:
1 Large Eggplant
olive oil
sea salt
2T Marcona Almonds, peeled
1T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of Valrhona cocoa powder
Water if needed

Method:
Rub eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle all over with salt
place on sheet pan and put into preheated 350F oven and roast until mushy tender, about 45 minutes
remove from oven and allow to cool slightly
remove skin and place flesh in blender
add almonds and olive oil
Puree until very smooth, adding water if needed
Season and set puree aside

For Salad:
1/2 Fennel bulb, shaved paper thin
Spring Mix or Arugula, washed and dried
2 ripe Heirloom tomatoes, seeds only
2T Aged Red Wine Vinegar, Best Quality
1/2 lemon, juiced
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Coarse Black Pepper

Method:
Combine tomato seeds, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper
combine fennel and salad mix in a bowl
dress with vinaigrette and season if needed

For Finishing:
Set up steamer bath for squash blossoms.
Once water is boiling and steaming, place the stuffed squash blossoms on the perforated pan above the boiling water and cover
Steam until until blossoms are tender and filling is hot (about 3 minutes)
Carefully remove and set on individual serving plates
garnish with salad and the puree
Serve immediately

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pappardelle con Funghi, Pancetta e Bagna Cauda


This is a pasta dish that uses some favorite seasonal ingredients of mine. I've been really busy lately so this recipe is a few weeks late on the seasonality of the morel mushrooms, yet substitutions can easily be made. This dish emulates more of central to northern Italian cooking. More specifically, shows what Italians would make if they lived in Wisconsin. Everything is from the market. My pancetta is homemade, but the pork is from the market. This is also a slightly more refined recipe than most normal types of pasta dishes you would find. I suppose that is my creative license as a chef though.

For Pasta:

Note: Make both doughs at the same time so you can roll them both out one after the other

-Standard Dough
1 1/2-3/4 cops AP Flour
3 lg. Eggs, room temp
1T EVOO
1t sea salt

Method
Make a well with flour & salt
Add the eggs & olive oil in the center
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 2 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
set aside and roll out ramp green dough

-Ramp Green Dough
1 1/2-3/4 cups AP Flour
2 Lg Eggs, room temp
1/2 cup ramp greens, lightly packed, then blanched, shocked & squeezed dry
1T EVOO
1t sea salt

Method:
Make a well with flour & salt
Add the eggs, ramp greens & olive oil to a blender & puree
Pour mixture in the center of the well
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 2 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
Place ramp green sheet on top of the standard dough pasta sheet and press them together
Roll out on setting 5 one time
Then one more time on the thinnest setting #6
You should have a sheet of pasta, green on one side & yellow on the other
cut sheets into 8" long
Use a fluted cutter and cut into ribbons 1"x8"
set pappardelle on parchment lined sheet tray dusted with some flour
cover with another sheet of parchment until ready to use

For Condimento:

1# Morel Mushrooms, cleaned & broken down into smaller parts yet are big enough to still hold some character
1/4 cup Cognac
1/2 cup pancetta cut into lardons
TT salt & black pepper

-Ramp Bagna cauda
4 Ramp Bulbs, with Purple stems, brunoise (1/8" dice)
3/4 cup Whole Milk
4T Butter
2T EVOO
1 container of Anchovies, rinsed & soaked in milk for 1 hour, drained then brunoise (1/8" dice)
1/2 Lemon, juiced

Method:
Make Bagna Cauda
heat butter and evoo in pan until butter milk solids brown
remove from heat immediately and pour into cold container and let cool
in a small pot combine the milk and bruinose ramps
cook over medium heat for 10 minutes making sure milk doesn't burn or boil over
remove from heat
add the butter & evoo mixture to the pot
add the anchovies and the lemon juice
taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary
let cool
In large saute pan add the pancetta and cook over low heat to render fat and crisp the pancetta (5-10 minutes) Pancetta should be crispy on outside yet succulent and tender on the inside
remove the pancetta from the pan yet keep the fat in the pan
turn up the heat to high
once just about smoking add the mushrooms
sear mushrooms so they get a nice rich brown color
turn heat down a bit and add the cognac
flame if you like & reduce until the cognac 75% evaporated and starting to get syrupy
season with a little bit of s&p
add the bagna cauda and bring up to temp
fold in the pancetta
taste for seasoning and adjust as desired
Bring 6qts of water to a boil
add 2T of salt
drop the pasta in batches
cook until it floats
let it cook for another 30 seconds then remove from water with a spider and add the pasta to the condimento
toss together
Adjust seasoning or consistency of the sauce if needed

For Garnish:
Ramp Greens, chiffonade
shaved Grana, sub Parmigiano

Serve pasta on individual plates
garnish with some of the shaved cheese & chiffonade ramp greens
serve immediately

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pane del Deserto

Here are a few different styles of artisinal breads that I make. Some are great with sandwiches. Some are great with butter & others are delicious with some good extra virgin olive oil.

Stecca - Very light airy crumb. Cracker like crust. It can have a variety of different toppings: Cheese, Sesame Seeds, Olive Oil & Sea Salt, Olives, Tomatoes, etc. Great for sub style sandwiches.




Pane al'Olive - Artisan round studded with good quality olives. The crust is brushed with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fleur de sel. Delicious toasted with some very good bold flavored olive oil.




Pane con Formaggi - Very light crumb, intense fermented aroma, filled with pungent raw milk cheeses. Great toasted with butter or just warmed on its own.





Birra Buia e Cumino - Northern Italian German influenced bread that has dark beer and caraway seeds in it. Light crumb, great with butter, great as a grilled cheese sandwich or as a reuben sandwich




Pane con Semi di Sesamo - Very simple flavored round, light crumb, topped with sesame seeds. Great with butter, extra virgin olive oil. Good for sandwiches, PB & J's.





Pane al'Diavola Pazza - This is my homage to the spicy cheese bread of Stella's Bakery. Mine is a rich & sweet bread that has aged provolone & young pecorino cheese in it. The crust is brushed with egg and topped with chili flakes. I serve it in the traditional way which is hot out of the oven and just torn into pieces with your hands.



Bachette del Deserto - Smaller versions of the famous French bread. They have a medium light crumb, very robust smell & taste, crunchy crust and are delicious with butter or as sandwiches.




Pane Inglese - Rustic Italian versions of english muffins. Light crumb, sweet, rich. Great with butter, jam, PB & J, sandwich bun & of course eggs benedict.



Pane Pancetta e Rosmario - Rustic bread that has my own homemade pancetta in it along with fresh rosemary. The top is brushed with olive oil & fleur de sel. Light crumb, very rich salty porky taste. Good toasted with good extra virgin olive oil



Pane Santo "Holy Bread" - Sweet bread that is flavored with dried cherries, raw cashews, honey, cinnamon & topped with oats. Great with butter & morning coffee



Ciabatta(e) - Classic rustic slipper loaf. Super light crumb, very crunchy crust, mild flavor. Great with olive oil, butter, or for sandwiches



Pane Seduzione - My take on the seeduction bread of whole foods. It has a denser crumb than some of my other breads because of the whole wheat flour yet it is lighter than the whole foods bread. There are sunflower, pumpkin, millet & poppy seeds in the bread. Great flavor & fantastic warmed with some butter.



Pane Miele Integrale - This is a honey whole wheat bread that has millet seeds & cracked wheat. It has a lighter crumb than traditional whole wheat bread yet not as light as some of my other breads. Great with butter or for sandwiches.



Bagels - Crispy crust with light & chewy crumb. I top them with some of my favorite garnishes.




Pane Uva Passa della Canella - Cinnamon Raisin Bread



Grissini - Artisan Italian Breadsticks flavored with parmigiano reggiano & sea salt



Pane Ricotta e Castagne - Ricotta & Chestnut bread that is topped with flax seeds. Great with butter, olive oil, more ricotta, or for sandwiches



Cudduredda - Artisan bread from Calabria that is in the shape of a giant doughnut. Good with olive oil. Best used as a table bread for special events

La Foresta Ricompensa - Verdure Primavera in Brodo


This is a very simple recipe that shows off the beauty of spring vegetables. This contorno is done in the style of Emilia Romagna, the home of Parmigiano Reggiano. Asparagus & fiddlehead ferns served in the famous broth of Emilia. It is usually made with a mix of chicken, beef, turkey or veal bones. The recipe changes with the different micro regional places you go to. To make it easy, I have just used a chicken carcass that is left over from a whole chicken I bought at the farmer's market. Then I garnish the vegetables with shaved parmigiano reggiano, the world renowned cheese of Emilia.

Brodo:

1 chicken carcass
1 large carrot peeled and cut into large chunks
1 onions with peels cut into large chunks
3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
1 garlic bulb cut in half
1 T black peppercorns

Method:
Add all the above to a large pot
cover with cold water
slowly bring to simmer
simmer for 4-6 hours skimming occasionally
DO NOT BOIL!!! - stock will become cloudy
Carefully strain stock being careful not to push down on bones or this might make stock cloudy again.

Vegetables:
1# Farm Fresh Asparagus, cut into 2"-3" pieces
1# Fiddle head ferns,
Pamigiano Reggiano
1 sprig of fresh thyme
juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2T butter
Salt & Pepper

Method:
bring cold water to a boil, no salt
add asparagus to boiling water and blanch for 1-3 minutes depending on preferred doneness.
shock in ice water
repeat process with fiddlehead ferns.
shock in water
bring 2 cups of brodo to poaching temperature(160-180F)
drop in vegetables to heat through
add the butter, thyme & lemon juice
toss until butter has emulsified
season with salt and pepper
transfer to serving bowl
using a vegetable peeler, shave the parmigiano reggiano right on top of the hot vegetables so it tempers and just melts into the dish.
Serve immediately

Monday, February 22, 2010

Insalata di Radicchio, Parmigiano Reggiano e Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale


This is a super simple salad that signifies the beauty of Italian cuisine. More specifically, that of Emilia Romagna. Radicchio is one of the few seasonal winter lettuces during this time of year. The bitterness of the radicchio matches wonderfully with the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar. This is another one of those recipes where sub par ingredients yield a sub par dish. So be sure to get the best possible ingredients all around. When you are only putting 3 or 4 ingredients on a plate, there is nothing to hide behind.

Serves 2-4

TT = to taste

1 head of Radicchio, core removed and thinly sliced(about 1/4")
Parmigiano Reggiano
3T of 25 year Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin olive oil, best quality available and preferably from Emilia Romagna
TT salt
TT freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Put the radicchio in a mixing bowl
drizzle in the vinegar and season with salt & pepper
taste for seasoning
transfer radicchio to individual plates
using a vegetable peeler, shave the parmigiano reggiano over the top of the salad
drizzle some best quality extra virgin olive oil over the top
serve immediately

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lune Grandi con Tuorlo, Ricotta e Tartufo


This is a classic recipe for ravioli common in some of the northern regions of Italy(Toscana, Emilia Romagna, Lombardia). Being that the ravioli filling is so rich, you would only serve one raviolo at a time. When you are using so few ingredients, you really have to make sure that you are using the best ingredients or the dish will just not be as good.

Makes 5

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
3/4 cup Semolina Flour or AP Flour
1 Egg, room temp
pinch of salt
1t olive oil

Method:
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
Try to make sure that the pasta is as wide as the machine will take
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 two times, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
take pasta sheet and put a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling on the pasta sheets about 2 1/2" apart
use a spoon to make a nest in the center of the filling
carefully lay the egg yolk in the nest
brush water around the filling to help the sheets stick together
cover the sheet of pasta with the other layer
use an old 28oz can of tomato sauce as the pasta cutter
press the around the filling to get all the air bubbles out
press the cutter on top of the pasta to form the moon shape
place the ravioli on a sheet pan lined with parchment and dusted with flour
you may need to re work some of the extra dough again through the pasta machine to get more ravioli made
cover the ravioli and hold until ready to cook

For Filling:
1 1/4 cups homemade ricotta cheese, recipe is on this blog(or substitute a good quality imported ricotta)
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1-2t white truffle oil
5 egg yolks, farm fresh
TT salt
TT pepper

Method:
drain ricotta for 15 minutes
put ricotta in mixing bowl
stir vigorously with wooden spoon so ricotta becomes soft
stir in the cheese, truffle oil, salt and pepper
set aside

For Sauce & Garnish:
1 stick unsalted butter
15 sage leaves
grated parmigiano reggiano
white truffle oil

To finish:
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
in a large nonstick pan put the butter in and cook until melted and hot
drop the sage leaves in and fry until crispy
remove leave and put them on a paper towel to drain
cook butter until milk solids have browned but not burnt and remove from heat
cook pasta for 2-3 minutes
remove carefully from the boiling water and place in the saute pan yolk side up
finish cooking the rest of the ravioli in the same manner
you can add a little bit of the pasta water to the saute pan to help this the sauce a little and help it adhere to the ravioli
once it is all cooked off heat the brown butter and pasta together for little bit spooning the sauce over the ravioli.
transfer to individual plates
garnish with 3 sage leaves each, a touch of grated parmigiano reggiano & the very little drizzle of white truffle oil
serve immediately.

(If you have fresh truffles you can substitute those for the truffle oil)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stufato di Agnello


This is a recipe that shows the cuisine of the interior cooking of the islands of Italy (Sardegna & Sicilia). Along the coast, you'll see that fish and seafood are king, yet on the interior there is a lot of lamb, goat & game eaten. Here is a rich stew that combines bright citrus flavors with the winter vegetable and legume bounty.

TT = to taste

1 1/2# Lamb stew meat (leg of lamb cut into cubes)
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Red Onions, julienne
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 celeriac, peeled and med dice
4 carrots, peeled and 1/4" slice discs
1 can of 28oz whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed by hand or with spoon
1 cup Nero D'Avola(Sicilian Red Wine)
2 cups Lamb Stock (substitute veal stock, beef or chicken stock)
1/2 Lemon Confit (preserved lemons - Homemade or Moroccan grocery stores ), seeds removed & med dice
pinch of saffron
2 sprigs of rosemary, tie together with thyme
4 sprigs of thyme, tie together with rosemary
15 oz can chick peas, drained & rinsed
1 bunch of lacinato kale, rib removed and diced, leaves cut into 2" squares
TT salt
TT pepper

Method:
heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over med-high
season the lamb with salt & pepper
once oil is just starting to smoke, add the lamb
sear the meat all over, then remove
turn heat to med low
add the onions and cover
after 5 minutes, stir the onions and break up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan
continue to cook the onion for about 20-30 minutes until well caramelized
add the garlic and saute for 5 minutes
add the wine, the tomatoes, lemon confit, saffron, herbs, lamb & stock
bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
cover and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally (make sure it is simmering and not boiling vigorously)
add the kale, celeriac & carrots & simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally
add the chick peas & simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally
taste for seasoning and adjust with salt & pepper as according
check for tenderness with the lamb and vegetables
remove the herb bundle and discard
if they are not quite tender enough to your liking you can simmer for an additional 30 minutes or so. (It should be tender though)
Transfer to individual crocks and serve with a slice of grilled or toasted crusty bread(if you like you can grate some pecorino cheese on the top)
serve immediately

Monday, February 15, 2010

Braciole di Pollo con Patate Arrosti


This is a delicious recipe for stuffed chicken. Italy is not a big sauce culture. I truly believe that when you can use delicious proteins cooked properly, you don't need any sauce. The animals have so much flavor on their own that you don't want any kind of sauce that masks the flavor. I have used mushrooms here that are cultivated year round, yet you can substitute any other seasonal mushrooms you like. Treating the whole chicken as a roulade isn't always what Italians like to do. Yet the Sicilians love to roll things. The addition of the Sicilian dessert wine, marsala, makes this a true taste of the famous southern Italian isle.

TT = to taste

4# Farm raised free range chicken
1/2# Shiitake Mushrooms, stems removed
1/3 cup pancetta cut into lardons
1/2 of a large red onion, julienne
1 cup marsala wine
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
2# baby red skin potatoes, quartered
extra virgin olive oil
TT salt
TT pepper

Method:
In a large saute pan over med heat, add the pancetta, onions, and 2T of olive oil
saute for 10-15 minutes until the onions are softened and caramelized
add 3 of the sliced garlic cloves, the mushrooms and half of the chopped thyme
saute for 5 minutes
add the wine and cook until fully reduced (around 5-10 more minutes)
season with salt and pepper
remove from heat and allow to fully cool in refrigerator
De-bone chicken while leaving skin and muscle intact(if you don't feel comfortable doing this you can have your butcher do this or skip this process and stuff the cavity with the mushrooms mixture.)
To do this, cut down the back side of the chicken(opposite the breast side)
use you boning knife to separate the skin and meat from the carcass
pop the legs and wings out of the joint
scrape the meat from the legs and wings on the inside being sure not to tear the skin
save all of the bones and giblets for making stock
lay the chicken skin side down on cutting board
use a meat mallet & pound the muscles to tenderize it
season the meat with salt and pepper
place the stuffing mixture on the meat
starting at one end by the legs and wings section and roll it towards the other legs and wings section to form the roulade
use kitchen twine and tie up the roulade to help hold its shape and cook evenly
once tied season the skin with olive oil, salt & pepper
take 1/4 of the chopped fresh thyme and spread it on the skin
preheat oven to 475F
dress the potatoes with some olive oil, salt & pepper
place the chicken in the center of a roasting pan
place the potatoes around the chicken
Once oven is heated, put roast into the oven and roast until the a thermometer registers 155F (around 40-45 minutes)
remove from the oven and transfer chicken roulade to cutting board to rest for 10-15 minutes
once you remove the chicken from the pan, add the rest of the garlic and thyme to the potatoes and stir together
put the roasting pan back in the oven for a few minutes to heat up the garlic and herbs
remove the pan from the oven and taste the potatoes for seasoning and adjust if needed
once roast is done resting, remove the twine and slice into 1" wide pieces
spoon some of the potatoes on to individual plates
place a couple slices of the chicken roulade on top of the potatoes
if you like, you can spoon some of the pan juices on top of the chicken or a little drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
serve immediately

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Perciatelli con Ricci di Mare


This is a classic sea side pasta that symbolizes what Italian is all about. Using fresh ingredients and preparing them simply. This recipe uses one of my favorite seafood prepared two different ways to show the different textures that sea urchin can take on.

serves 4

TT = to taste

1# dried perciatelli or bucatini
120g Sea Urchin
2T extra virgin olive oil
1T chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
TT salt
TT pepper

Method:
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water
heat the olive oil on medium in a large saute pan
add the chili flakes and garlic and saute for 2 minutes
add half of the sea urchin and saute for 1 minute
once pasta is 1 minute away from being al dente, remove it from the water and add it to the saute pan
toss together with a little bit of the pasta water for last minute
add the parsley and the lemon juice and toss together
season with salt and pepper if needed
transfer to individual plates
garnish pasta with the rest of the of the raw sea urchin, a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and a bit more flat leaf parsley
serve immediately

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Coniglio alla L'Indiano di Venezia


This dish is a combination of the cultures. Since Venice was such a big port for the spice trade, many of the flavors from India made their way into the dishes of Venice. this is an upscale take on a dish that might be made by an Indian living in Venice. Some of the flavors in this dish don't seem quite Italian, yet certain parts of Italy really have adopted the different spices and made them part of the cuisine.

Serves 2

TT = to taste

For Rabbit:
1 Rabbit, loins and rib section only
Garam Masala Spice Rub (preferably homemade)
TT Salt
olive oil

Method:
trim the silver skin of the loin piece
cut around each rib to remove any fat or meat
use butchers twine, wrap around the individual bones and slide off tip to remove any excess fat left on the bones
tie the loin to the bottom of the rib section to create a frenched rack look
repeat with other section so you have two racks of rabbit
cover the racks with the spice rub mixture
allow to marinate for a couple hours
season racks with salt
heat olive oil in medium saute pan over med-high heat
once just smoking, add the racks flesh side down to brown
flip over after a couple minutes and transfer to 350F oven for a couple minutes to cook through, shouldn't take any longer than 5 minutes in oven

For Vegetable:
1 head Radicchio, cut into 8 pieces, core still intact
1 cup fresh Orange juice
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2T olive oil
TT salt
TT pepper

Method:
heat the olive oil in pan over med low heat
add the garlic and saute until softened and just turning the lightest golden brown
add the radicchio and saute for 1 minute
add the orange juice and cook until the orange juice has reduced by about 75%
radicchio should be nice and tender
season with salt and pepper

For Sauce:
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice of 1/8 of a lemon
1t grated ginger
pinch of chili flakes
TT salt
TT pepper
ice water

Method:
combine mint, cilantro, lemon juice, ginger and chili flakes in food processor
while running slowly pour in a little of the ice water until sauce is pesto consistency
season with salt & pepper and set aside until ready to use

Finish:
While cooked rabbit racks are resting add the radicchio to the pan that the rabbit cooked in to heat through and pick up extra flavor
transfer the radicchio to individual plates
top the radicchio with the racks and serve with the mint pesto
serve immediately

Zuppa di Cipolle



This is a recipe for one of my favorite soups of all time. The rich combination of a good beef or veal stock with the sweetness of the onions is a masterpiece to behold. Then topping it with some good bread and cheese, just makes it the perfect soup to warm up with during these cold months. The trick to making the dish a success is to really kill the onions. A proper onion soup takes hours to make not minutes.

Serves 4

TT = to taste

4 1/2 - 5# of yellow onions
4T unsalted butter
1T AP Flour
1/2 gallon of dark beef or veal stock (preferably homemade)
4 sprigs of thyme
4-8 slices country bread
2 garlic cloves
TT salt
TT papper
8 slices of Comte cheese (substitute asiago, fontina, piave vecchio, gruyere, trugole) plus more if needed
TT red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
extra virgin olive oil

Method:
peel onions and cut into julienne
in a 6 qt dutch oven on low heat add the butter and onions
saute covered stirring occasionally adding water if needed to keep onions from burning and cook until onions are very caramelized and are almost 1/6-1/8 there original volume. (4-7 hours)
once onions are very caramelized and ready
add flour and cook for 5 minutes
add stock, thyme & bay leaf
bring to simmer
cook until reduced by 1/3 and soup becomes thick
season with salt, pepper and vinegar
remove thyme and bay leaf an discard
ladle soup into large oven proof soup crocks about 2/3-3/4 full(around 20oz crocks)
grill bread until well marked or toast or broil until toasty
cut tips off the garlic cloves and rub the garlic cloves on the bread slices to infuse bread with the garlic flavor
drizzle bread with a little extra virgin olive oil
cut bread into cubes
place cubed bread on top of soup
top bread with the cheese
place crocks under the broiler and cook until cheese becomes nice and melted and crispy
remove from broiler and allow to cool slightly
serve immediately

Mlinzi con Polpetti di Anatra


This is a take on a classic dish from Istria(NE Italy, Now part of Croatia). Mlinzi or Mlinci depending on the dialect are an irregular shaped oven dried pasta. The sheets are rolled out and then baked in the oven until crispy. Then they are broken into smaller pieces and boiled until tender. They are typically paired with a goose or duck ragu. I have served them with meatballs that are made out of duck. What you are left with is a delicious pasta that reminds you of the old days.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
2 1/2 cups Unbleached AP Flour
1 cup Semolina Flour
5 Lg. Eggs Room Temp
3T Olive oil
1T salt

Method:
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
Place sheets on baking sheets and put into 350F preheated oven and bake until golden brown and crispy (about 10 minutes)
Remove from oven and break into small irregular shapes
Set aside until ready to use

For meatballs:
2 Magret duck Breasts about 2# total weight
6 oz pancetta
2 1/2 cups day old bread cubes
2 eggs
1 cup dry cherries
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, small dice
1T fresh chopped rosemary
2T grappa
1 cup grated Montasio Cheese (substitute parmigiano reggiano)
TT salt
TT black pepper
4-6T Rendered Duck Fat

Method:
Remove the fat and skin from the duck breasts
trim the fat off of the skin and reserve each
place the duck breasts, fat from duck breasts & pancetta in the freezer for 1 hour
Place meat grinding attachments in freezer for 1 hour
saute the onions and garlic together on med heat in a 1-2T of olive oil or duck fat until softened
transfer to refrigerator to cool
Assemble the meat grinder
cut the duck breasts and pancetta into cubes
run the duck, duck fat & pancetta through the coarse setting on the meat grinder.
place the ground meat in a mixing bowl
soak the bread in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes
squeeze the excess water out of the bread
add the eggs, cherries, onions, garlic, cheese, bread, rosemary & grappa to the meat
season with salt and pepper
form into meatballs a little larger than a golf ball in size
heat the duck fat in a large saute pan over med-high heat
cook the reserved skin in the duck fat to render out the excess fat from the skin
(the skin cracklings can be save as a garnish for pasta dish if you like)
once hot enough add the meatballs in batches and brown on both sides (a couple minutes per side
Proceed to sauce part of recipe

For Sauce:
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup grappa
2 cups duck stock (substitute chicken stock)
TT salt
TT papper

Method:
strain out some of the duck fat so there is a 2-3T left and reserve the rest for later use
add the tomato paste to the duck fat and cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until emulsified and paste has darkened (10-15 minutes)
add the rosemary, grappa & duck stock
bring to boil and reduce by 1/3
add the meatballs to the sauce and transfer to the 350F oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until meatballs are done
remove the meatballs and reserve warmed, skim off any rendered fat and season to taste with salt and pepper
keep sauce warm
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
cook until pasta is tender 3-5 minutes
transfer to sauce and toss together
repeat until all pasta has been cooked off
transfer cooked pasta to individual bowls or plates
garnish with meatballs and a little grated montasio or parmigiano reggiano cheese
serve immediately

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pappardelle con Ragu alla Alto Adige


This is great recipe that shows the tremendous diversity of Italian cuisine. This is a rich short rib ragu in the style of Alto Adige(NE Italy, Austrian/Swiss Border). It may seem very non-Italian to most people, yet one thing you'll find that is truly unique about Italian cuisine is that the closer you get to the borders, the more the food changes.

TT = to taste

For pasta:
2 1/2 cups Rye Flour
1 cup AP Flour
5 Lg. Eggs, Room Temp
1T sea salt
2T whole milk

Method:
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
Cut pasta into strips 3/4"-1"X8" with fluted cutter
set on parchment lined sheet tray dusted with some flour
cover with another sheet of parchment until ready to use

For Ragu:
2 flanken Beef Short ribs
6 oz pancetta or speck cut into matchsticks
6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 onions, medium dice
1/2 can of whole peeled san marzano tomatoes with juices
1 bottle of beer (I like to use pale ale, but you can use whatever kind you like)
1 1/2 cups of veal stock
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of sage
1T caraway seeds
1 large carrot, peeled & med dice
1 large parsnip, peeled & med dice
TT salt
TT black pepper
Grated montasio cheese for garnish (substitute vecchio, parmigiano reggiano or grana padano)

Method:
in a dutch oven on med-low heat, add the pancetta and cook until crispy and fat has rendered
remove the pancetta from pan and leave the fat
season the short ribs all over with salt and pepper
turn heat up to med-high
add short ribs to pan and sear all over until nicely browned
once browned remove from pan and set aside
lower the heat to med-low
add the onions and saute for about 15-20 minutes until nice and browned
add the garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes
add the beer, tomatoes, stock, pancetta, short ribs, herbs & caraway seeds to the pan
cover and bring to a boil
place in 250F oven and braise for 2 hours
remove from oven
remove short ribs and cut into medium dice
skim any fat that rendered on top of braising liquid
add the carrots and parsnips to liquid and simmer until tender about 40 minutes
add the short ribs back to pan and bring up to temperature
most of the liquid should have completely absorbed into the meat.
should be thick and hearty, not runny. If so continue to reduce uncovered until thicker

Finish the dish:
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
scoop a little of the ragu into a large non stick pan and heat over low
once all pasta begins to float remove from water and add to non stick pan with the ragu and toss together
repeat with remaining pasta until it is all cooked off adding more ragu as needed
add a little bit of pasta water to non stick as needed if ragu becomes too thick
transfer finished product to serving plates and garish with some grated cheese
serve immediately

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bistecca con Patate Fritte


This is a take on a classic bistro dish. You would find this all over France as well as Italy. The part of this dish that is truly Italian is the making of the pan sauce. The French tend to make sauces like this over the course of hours, yet this one can be done in the time that the steak is resting. In addition to the delicious steak, I have included a recipe for fried potatoes. These have to be one of my most guilty pleasures. I don't have them often, but there is nothing quite as good as homemade fries done right.

TT = to taste

For steak:
1 Ribeye, prefereably bone-in, 16-22oz
TT Fleur de Sel or Kosher Salt
TT Coarse cracked black pepper
olive oil or grape seed oil or canola oil

Method Day 2:
Pull steak out and let rest at room temp for 30-60 minutes
Use a cast iron pan if you have one. If not, no big deal, a stianless steel saute pan will work too
season the steak with salt and pepper
Het the pan until it starts to smoke
pour in 2-3T of oil
place steak in hot pan laying it away from you so you don't splash oil on yourself
Allow to sear until nice and dark brown on one side (3-5 minutes)
once seared flip steak over and transfer to preheated 350F oven and cook until medium rare (around 125F). (maybe 5 minutes in the oven)
Once done pull steak out and transfer to plate
allow to rest for 15 minutes

For Potatoes:
4 lg. Russet or Idaho Potatoes
2qts Peanut Oil
TT Fleur de Sel or kosher salt
TT black pepper

Method Day 1:
At 8 AM Peel all the potatoes, and place in cold water and refrigerate
At 8 PM Cut the potatoes into batonnet or a little smaller and place in a new batch of cold water and refrigerate overnight

Method Day 2:
Do this first part while raw steak is sitting out at room temp
1st Part) Heat the oil in a deep dutch oven or thick bottom pan that can take the heat of the oil
DO NOT FILL THE POT MORE THAN HALF WAY OR YOU COULD HAVE A BOIL OVER... NOT GOOD!!!
Use a candy thermometer to judge the temp of the oil
heat oil to 300F
Once oil is ready drop potatoes in batches so you don't overcrowd them and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Pull potatoes out and place them on a towel lined plate or sheet pan to cool
2nd Part) Once steak is resting, raise the oil temp to 375F
drop the potatoes in and cook until nice and brown
pull them out and place them on a towel
immediately season them with salt and pepper

For the Red Wine & Rosemary Reduction:
1 cup red wine
2 cups veal or beef stock, homemade or low sodium
2 sprigs rosemary
1 T black peppercorns
1 oz Veal demi glace
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Method Day 2:
While steak is resting, use the same pan you cooked the steak in
place it on the stove top and the garlic, rosemary & peppercorns and saute on high until garlic gets golden brown(it wont take long)
add the wine and reduce for 1 minute, break up any bits that stick to the pan from the steak cooking
add the stock and the peppercorns and reduce until thickens to sauce consistency.
season with a little salt if needed
strain the sauce into a small bowl
and keep warm

For Aioli:
1 garlic clove, grated on microplane
1 egg yolk
1/2 t red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
TT salt
TT black pepper

Method Day 2:
make while the raw steak is sitting out at room temperature
Combine garlic, egg yolk & vinegar in mixing bowl
whisk until yolk starts to become frothy
while whisking vigorously, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream.
careful not to pour to fast or the aioli will break
whisk until until all the oil is incorporated
it should be thick like mayonaise
season with salt and pepper
refrigerate until ready to use

For Finishing Day 2:
Assemble the dish
On a platter, place the rested steak down, the fried potatoes & the sauces. The Reduction for the steak and the aioli for the potatoes
Serve Immediately

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quaglie al' Speck con Insalata di Pere, Radicchio e Aceto Balsamico


This is a very interesting dish that takes an Italian thought process on food, yet prepares it in a way that is more Native American. I take succulent quails and wrap them in smoky speck and then roast them on cedar planks. What you're left with is an intoxicating aroma that tantilizes your nostrils and makes you not want to wait for the food to be done. I have paired them with a seasonal bitter-sweet salad component that has a little drizzle of 25 year balsamic vinegar on it. Quite delectable!!!

TT = to taste

For quail:
4 semi boneless quails (substitute squab or cornish hens - cooking times would change though)
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sage leaves
4 large slices of speck (smoked prosciutto, you could substitute prosciutto)
TT salt
TT black pepper
2 cedar planks

Method:
place cedar planks in water for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably more if you can
let quails stand at room temp for a half hour
once ready preheat the oven to 450F
once oven is heated, place the planks in the oven for about 5-10 minutes to heat up
take the quails and disperse the herbs evenly on top of the breast meat
season quails with salt and pepper
wrap one piece of speck around each quail and drizzle the quails with a little olive oil
once planks have heated, pull them out and brush them with a little olive oil to keep the quail from sticking
place 2 quails on each wood plank and place them in the oven
roast them until the breast meat is medium (around 15 minutes)
once done pull them out and allow to rest for 10 minutes
transfer to individual plates along with salad
serve immediately (once serving you can drizzle the quail and salad with a little good extra virgin olive oil if you like).

For salad:
2 pears, peeled, cored & thinly sliced
1 head radicchio, cut in half, cored & julienne
6T good extra virgin olive oil
2T 25 year balsamic vinegar
TT salt
TT pepper

Method:
While quail is roasting, make the salad
In a mixing bowl combine the radicchio, pears, olive oil & vinegar and toss together
season with salt and pepper to taste and toss together
taste for seasoning and adjust accordinly
set aside until quail is done

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cannelloni di Cervo


This is a great way to use up some venison that is leftover from the hunting season other than making sausage with it. This is a very rich and complex ragu recipe that is mixed with homemade ricotta and parmigiano reggiano to make a delicious filling for this rolled stuffed pasta. This is a little more traditional for something you'd see in Northern Italian cooking yet takes a Southern Italian twist by using pasta as opposed to using crepes. This serves as a great appetizer for a special winter occasion or holiday meal. This is a time consuming process so feel free to do it over a couple of days to save you time. The ragu and ricotta can be made the day before and the pasta and finishing touches can be done before your guests arrive. All you will have to do come party time is pop it in the oven.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
1# or 3 1/2 cups Semolina Flour
5 Lg. Eggs, room temp
3T extra virgin olive oil
1T salt

Method - Day 2:

combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
cut dough with a knife into 5" squares
Bring 6 qts of water to a boil
add 2T of salt
drop pasta in batches and cook until pasta floats
once floating, immediately plunge sheets into ice water
once cold pull sheets out of ice water and pat dry
continue to finishing steps

For Ricotta Cheese:
1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
1 pint Buttermilk
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream
pinch of salt

Method - Day 1:
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan on low heat and bring to boil
once boiling turn off heat and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes
pour through cheesecloth lined strainer and let rest for 20 minutes
transfer to airtight container and refrigerate over night(if you want, you can do entire process in one day)

For Ragu:
2T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Pancetta cut into lardons or matchsticks
3# Venison Roast
2 red onions, diced
3 carrots (for store-bought) cut into 1/4" thick discs
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 6oz can of tomato paste
3 cups red wine (Malbec, Barolo, Barbaresco)
3 cups Venison Stock (sub Veal stock, or beef stock, preferably homemade)
1 2.5oz pkg. Veal demi glace
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate (preferably Valrhona)
TT coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher)
TT coarse black pepper (tellicherry)
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1 Sachet (cheesecloth wrapped & tied with following ingredients inside):
* 2 sprigs rosemary
* 4 sprigs thyme
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 10 Juniper Berries
* 6 Cloves

Method for ragu - Day 1:
pull venison roast out, and let rest at room temp for 1 hour
In dutch oven, heat the olive oil on low heat and add the pancetta
pre heat oven to 250-275F
cook until nice and crispy about 10-15 minutes
remove pancetta and turn heat up to high
season roast all over with salt and pepper
add roast to pan and sear all over so meat is dark brown on all sides
remove roast from pan and lower heat to medium low
add onions and saute reduced in volume by 3/4 stirring occasionally about 20-30 minutes (onions should be nice and browned but not burnt)
add the carrots and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes
add the tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes until paste has browned
return the roast and the pancetta to the dutch oven
add the wine, stock, demi glace & sachet and bring to a boil
once boiling cover and put into the oven
roast for 3 hours turning meat venison roast over every hour to ensure even cooking
after 3 hours remove from oven
pull out the venison roast and cut into bite size pieces
pour liquid into gravy separator, keeping all the vegetables, pancetta and sachet still in the dutch oven
add venison back to dutch oven and pour the cooking liquid minus the fat, back into the dutch oven
turn stove on to med-low and simmer uncovered until liquid has reduced until almost fully absorbed into meat and vegetables stir occasionally to prevent bottom from burning(about 45 minutes-1 hour)
turn off the heat, remove sachet, and stir in the dark chocolate and the chopped rosemary and thyme
allow to cool completely
transfer to air tight container and refrigerate overnight(if you want, you can do entire process in one day)

For finishing:
3 cups grated parmigiano reggiano, plus extra
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup or less cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona)

Method - Day 2:
In a mixing bowl, combine the ragu with the ricotta and 1 1/2 cups of the grated parmigiano reggiano
Mix together until homogenous
place around 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the filling onto each cooked and cooled pasta square
Roll up to form the classic cannelloni shape
take stick of butter and lightly grease pyrex dishes
place the cannelloni in the pyrex dishes
take the remaining butter and break apart with your fingers over the top of all the cannelloni
take the remaining 1 1/2 cups of parmigiano reggiano and sprinkle that over the cannelloni (cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until guests arrive)
pre heat oven to 450F
once oven is ready, unwrap the plastic and place the cannelloni in the oven and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the cannelloni are nice and browned and crispy on the top
remove from the oven and grate some parmigiano reggiano over the top, sprinkle with some more of the rosemary and thyme if you like
place the cocoa powder in a strainer and dust the tops of the cannelloni with just the lightest amount of the cocoa. (Don't put on too much or it will over power the flavor of the rest of the dish).
scoop cannelloni out of pyrex and onto individual plates or serving platter
serve immediately

I like this with a glass of complex malbec or a glass of barolo

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pollo Arrosto con Verdure Invernale


This is another classic Italian recipe that shows what real Italian cooking is all about. Using a few simple ingredients and letting the farmer's market dictate what you are cooking instead of a recipe. In this recipe I have used brussel sprouts, collard greens, onions & garlic. As I said before, feel free to use your own favorite vegetables as long as they are in season and look good. Italians consider it their birth right to have the best ingredients possible. So if you go to the market or store and the brussel sprouts or the collard greens don't look fresh, get something else that looks good. Don't ever feel like you have to be a slave to the recipe.

TT = to taste

For the Chicken:
4 - 4 1/4# Free Range Farm Raised Chicken
TT Fleur de Sel or Kosher Salt
TT Coarse Ground Black Pepper

For the Contorno:
1# Brussel Sprouts, cut in half
1 Lg. Bunch Collard Greens, ribs removed and diced, leaves cut into 3"x3" pieces
1 Lg. Red Onion, julienne
1 Garlic Bulb, cut in half
1 cup Dry White Wine
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
TT Salt
TT black pepper

Method:
Remove Giblets and Reserve
Season chicken cavity and all over skin with salt and pepper and truss
Let rest at room temp for 1 hour
Pre heat oven to 250F
Heat 6T of Olive Oil in Large Saute Pan or Paella Pan over high heat
Add chicken and brown all over until nice and golden brown
remove chicken from pan and set aside then lower heat to med-low
add the giblets and saute until golden brown
add add garlic cut side down and cook until cloves are golden brown (about 3 minutes)
remove garlic and set aside
add onions, brussel sprouts and collard greens and saute for 5 minutes
Add the herbs and toss through
season to taste with salt and pepper
add wine and cook for 1 minute scarping up any brown bit that stuck to pan
*If using paella pan, add garlic back to pan and use collard greens and onions as a bed for the chicken. Then place in the pre heated oven
*If using a saute and roasting pan, remove the vegetables from saute pan and add to roasting pan. Again use the collard greens and onions as a bed for chicken. Then place in pre heated oven.
Roast until meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 160F
Remove from oven and allow chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes
Remove and discard giblets... or save for making stock
transfer vegetables and chicken to a platter
serve immediately

Pappardelle con Tartufi e Burro Nocciola


This is a simple seasonal Italian recipe that is a true classic. Wide ribbon noodles with truffles. The rich aroma of the truffles marries wonderfully with the brown butter and the pappardelle. If you can't find the fresh truffles you can always use the canned truffles, truffle oil, or even mushrooms.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
1# or 3 1/2 cups Semolina Flour (substitute AP Flour)
5 lg. eggs, room temp
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1T fine sea salt

Method:
combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
take finished pasta sheet and cut with fluted pastry cutter or a knife into strips 1"x8"
place on parchment lined sheet tray dusted with flour
repeat process with remaining dough

For Condimento:
1 large black truffle, shaved (you can use white truffles, summer truffles, truffle oil, or mushrooms as a substitute)
1 stick of unsalted butter
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
TT salt
TT black pepper

Method:
bring 6qts of water to a boil
add 2T of sea salt
heat butter in large non stick saute pan until just browned, not black!!!
add the thyme and turn off the heat
drop pasta in batches and cook until it floats
add the cooked pasta with a little bit of the pasta water(helps loosen the sauce if needed) to the brown butter and toss together
Repeat process with remaining pasta
Once all pasta is cooked off add the cheese, the shaved truffle and the salt and pepper if needed
transfer to individual plates and garnish with some more truffle, cheese and thyme
serve immediately

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Amaretti


Here is a recipe for the delicious Amaretti cookies of Northern Italy. Most prominent in Lombardia & Veneto, these delicious almond flavored cookies can be used in a number of ways. You can eat them as is. You can put them on an ice cream sundae, or one of my favorite and classic ways of eating them, is chopped up on top of pumpkin ravioli.


Amaretti Cookies

Makes 15 cookies

1 ¼ c blanched peeled almonds
1 ½ t cornstarch
½ T confectioners sugar
2 egg whites room temp
Pinch of salt
1/3 c plus 2T granulated sugar
1.5 T Amaretto
½ c. turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Method:
Combine almonds, cornstarch, salt & confectioners sugar in food processor
Pulse until finely ground
In mixing bowl whip egg whites till frothy
Whip while slowly adding sugar until stiff peaks form
Whisk in amaretto
Fold almond mixture into egg whites being careful not to deflate the whites
Place 1 heaping tablespoon per cookie on a parchment lined sheet pan
Top cookies liberally with Turbinado sugar
Bake cookies in 300F oven for 15 minutes until slightly brown and starting to crack
Drop temperature to 200F
Open oven door for a minute so oven temperature drops
Close over door and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until cookies are crispy all over
Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool slightly
Transfer cookies to rack to allow to cool completely
Once cool, transfer cookies to airtight container or serve immediately

Anatra Arrosto con Melagrana e Tarrasaco


Duck has to be one of my favorite proteins. It has the delicious crispy skin and divine fat. Lets not forget about the fact that it has such sweet & flavorful meat. It puts me in a happy place every time I think of this succulent bird. In this recipe, I have taken a nice seasonal approach by combining the duck with bitter dandelion greens and the sweet and sour pomegranate seeds. They both play off so well and add a lightness to the super rich duck meat. Duck can be a little tricky to make, but when done right, there are few things better.

TT= to taste

For Duck:
5# Duck, giblets removed
1 Blood Orange, cut in half
1 Bulb garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
1 cup Grappa
TT Fleur de Sel or Kosher Salt
TT Coarse ground black pepper

Method:
Using finger reach between the breast meat and the skin and separate as best as you can
use a sharp knife and prick the skin liberally all over the duck especially around the breasts and legs and thighs
cut off the excess fat around the cavity and the neck
stuff the cavity with the oranges, herbs, 1/4 of the pomegranate seeds, salt & pepper
truss the duck
season the outside of the skin liberally with salt and let sit at room temp for 1 hour
Preheat oven to 425F
Bring 4 qts of water to a boil, hold duck by the legs and briefly dip the duck in the boiling water. Try to get the legs dipped as well. This will help tighten the skin
Pat duck dry
Season with a touch more salt, then the black pepper
Place breast side up in roasting pan
Add the neck and the grappa to the roasting pan
Put in the oven and roast for 30 minutes(15-20 minutes in when some fat has rendered, add the garlic bulb.)
Flip duck over so breast side is down and roast for 30 minutes
Flip duck over again and turn on the broiler and cook until skin is deep brown color (about 10-15 minutes). Skin should be nice and crispy
Remove duck from roasting pan and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes
Remove the string from the duck

For Contorno:
1 Pomegranate, seeded (cut in half, invert over bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon to remove the seeds)
1 lg. Bunch Dandelion Greens, washed and cut into 3" pieces (sub swiss chard, rainbow chard, kale, escarole)
1/2 cup white wine
TT salt
TT pepper
1 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme

Method:
After the duck has finished roasting, make the contorno
In large saute pan take 4T of the rendered duck fat and heat over medium
Squeeze the garlic out of the roasted bulb
add the garlic from the bulb to the saute pan along with the herbs
add the greens and saute for 1 minute
add the wine and cook for another two minutes
season the greens with salt and pepper
transfer the greens, and the duck to a platter and garnish with the pomegranate seeds
Serve immediately

Cuscini con Cervelli di Vitello


This recipe came to me in a dream while I was laying my head down upon my fluffy pillow one night. This is an interesting pasta dish that you might find something similar to it if you were strolling through farming regions of Italy. It is a super simple pasta dish that shows the Italian way of thinking that nothing goes to waste. This pasta has to be one the easiest types of pasta to make that isn't store bought. Cuscini or "pillows", are a delicious chewy type of pasta that are very low in labor and ingredients. These pillows are used as the fluffy bedding for veal brains. That's right, veal brains. Now I'm sure most of you immediately turn your nose up at this concept of eating brains yet they truly are delicious. They have an incredibly mild taste and a super creamy texture that melts in your mouth. In this recipe, I have coated them in bread crumbs so you have two distinct textures working together.

TT= to taste

For Pasta:
1# or 3 1/2 cups of AP flour
1 1/4 cups water
1T salt
1T extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl until dough forms
knead for 5 minutes, then place in plastic wrap or ziploc bag for 30 minutes
pull dough out and place on floured cutting board
use a rolling pin to roll dough out to 1/4"-1/3" thickness
use a pizza cutter to cut pasta into 1"x1" squares
places on parchment lined sheet pan dusted with flour and set aside

For the Brains:
1# of veal brains soaked in cold water with 2T of vinegar for 2 hours, then membrane and blood vessels removed, then picked apart into bite size pieces
AP flour
1-2 Eggs
water
2 cups of breadcrumbs
TT salt
TT black pepper
2-3T extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Make breading station (plate for brains, plate for flour, bowl for egg wash, plate for bread crumbs, holding plate for finished product)
Season the flour with salt and pepper
whisk the egg/s together with a couple tablespoons of water or milk
dip the brains into flour and coat
then dip into egg wash
then dip into breadcrumbs
then place on finished plate
heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat
once hot add the brains and cook until breadcrumbs are browned and crispy (about 1-2 minutes per side)
remove and put on plate lined with paper towel

For Condimento:
1 Stick of unsalted butter
15 sage leaves
2-3T grated buddha hand (substitute lemon zest)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus extra grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
TT black pepper

Method:
Bring 6 qts of water to boil
add 2T of salt to water
drop the pasta in the water in batches
heat butter over medium heat in same large saute pan as the brains
once melted add the sage leaves and cook until the stop bubbling and are crispy
turn heat down to low and remove the sage leaves
add the garlic and saute for a minute(the butter should take on a brown color and nutty aroma, but should not be burnt or black. If you see the butter is getting to hot, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.)
turn off the heat on the pan
once all the pasta floats remove from the water and add it to the condimento and toss together using a little pasta water as needed to loosen sauce
repeat process with remaining pasta
once all the pasta is cooked off
add the grated buddha hand and the parmigiano reggiano and toss together
season with a little pepper
place the brains on top of pasta just to heat through
transfer pasta to individual plates
garnish with the veal brains, sage, a bit more grated cheese and zest
serve immediately

I like this pasta with chardonnay. The buttery and citrus notes of the wine work very well with the brown butter, the creaminess of the brains and citrus notes of the buddha hand.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Farfalle con Salsiccia e Romanesco in Crema


This is a fun pasta to make as opposed to always using the packaged variety. Farfalle or "Butterflies" is a great pasta for a thick chunky sauce such as this one. This recipe combines the rich flavor of sausage and a fennel and brandy flavored cream sauce paired with the sweet nuttiness of romanesco(roman cauliflower). I love the look of romanesco which resembles a bunch of little Christmas trees all scrunched together to form one big Christmas tree. I cook the romanesco in the Roman tradition which is a blanch free method that keeps all that delicious flavor and nutrients still in the dish as opposed to being lost in the cooking water. If you cant find romanesco at your local farmer's market, you can substitute cauliflower.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
3 1/2 cups semolina flour
5 lg eggs, room temp
3T extra virgin olive oil
1T salt

Method:
Make farfalle
Combine all ingredients for pasta dough
work together and knead for 5 minutes
wrap in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes
once rested cut into 6 pieces
keep all pieces covered while working with one of the pieces so the others don't dry out
Roll through hand cranked pasta machine kneading ten times through thickest setting (#1)
once kneaded roll through thickest setting (#1) three times
then drop down two setting to (#3)
roll through three times
then drop down two settings to (#5)
roll through once
Using a knife, trim pasta sheet into long strips that are about 2" wide
use a fluted cutter, and cut strips into about 3"-3 1/2" long
You should have rectangles around 2"x3" long with the shorter sides fluted edges and the longer sides straight edged
Take each piece and pinch the middle with one hand and with your other hand pinch the outsides tightly into the middle pinch part to form the classic farfalle shape
place on a parchment lined sheet tray dusted with flour
repeat with remaining pasta

For Condimento:
1 head Romanseco, cleaned and picked into florets
1# Italian Sausage, molded into several 3-4" thin patties & let come to room temp
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1T fennel seeds
1/4 cup Brandy
2 cups Half & Half, or heavy cream, or bechamel sauce
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
3T extra virgin olive oil
TT salt
TT black pepper

Method:
Heat the olive oil over high in a large saute pan
once smoking, add the sausage patties and allow to brown on one side really well
Turn patties over and quickly sear on other side only for 10 seconds or so.
remove patties from pan and lower heat to medium-low
add the romanesco and saute for 3 minutes
add the garlic, thyme and fennel and saute for 1-2 minutes
add the brandy, the cream & the sausage back to the pan
use a wooden spoon to break the sausage patties up into bite size pieces
slowly simmer sauce and reduced by half
season to taste with salt and pepper
Bring 6qts of water to a boil
add 2T of salt to the water
drop the farfalle in batches and cook until pasta floats for 30 seconds.
remove and add to the sauce and toss together
repeat with remaining pasta until it is all cooked off
add a little pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce
fold in half of the cheese
transfer to individual plates
garnish the plates with the remaining cheese
serve immediately