Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

12265847_779290548826_2173721953493967764_oPumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Apple Chicken Meatballs
in a Spinach Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Sage Apple Chicken Meatballs
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Sage, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia Onion, minced
1/2 Granny Smith Onion, skinned & minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, coarsely ground
1 Egg
Olive Oil for cooking

Spinach Vermouth Sauce
6 cups Baby Spinach
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Sliced
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
1/4 cup Vermouth
2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 tsp Oregano
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Form into 1 1/2″ balls.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the balls to the oil, but do not over crowd them.
  • Let the balls cook a minute and then roll them to a raw side. Repeat until all sides are cooked. Let cook an additional minute so that they cook through. Remove to a plate and repeat until all meatballs are completed.
  • Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • Prepare the Sauce: Using the skillet that was used to cook the meatballs, deglaze with the Vermouth, and add the Butter.
  • Add the Onions and Apples, and cook till tender.
  • Add the Oregano and Crushed Red Pepper.
  • Toss in the Spinach until it wilts.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the Gnocchi and Meatballs and toss well.
  • Plate and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi.
This dish was inspired by a recipe that I found through a cooking club, but I decided to improve upon it and make it in my own way.

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Shrimp and Lobster Scampi

Shrimp and Lobster Scampi

Ingredients:
6 Rock Lobster Tails, shelled, meat cut in large chunks
1 lb Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
1/2 cup Butter
2-3 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
2/3 cup Vermouth
Juice of 2 Lemons
2 cups Broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Salt
2 cups Water (for steaming)

Directions

  • Bring the water to boil and place the Broccoli in a Steamer.
  • Sprinkle liberally with Salt, and drizzle the Olive Oil over them.
  • Close and steam for 3-5 minutes or until the Broccoli begins to turn bright Green. Set to the Side.
  • Pat the Shrimp and Lobster meat dry, and sprinkle the rest of the Salt, as well as the Cayenne Pepper on all sides of the meat.
  • Melt the Butter in a large skillet, and when the bubbles die down, carefully add the Shrimp and Lobster.
  • Cook thoroughly in the Butter on all sides, about 5-7 minutes on high heat, stirring often.
  • Carefully remove the Lobster and Shrimp to a bowl, leaving the Butter in the skillet. If there are small remnants of Lobster, that is ok.
  • Add the Garlic, Vermouth, and Lemon to the Butter. Be careful in case the flame rises.
  • Cook stirring for about 6 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Toss in the Lobster, Shrimp, and Broccoli.
  • Heat for another 3 minutes, tossing well.
  • Serve as is, or over Pasta or Rice.

Makes 4 Servings, 6 if you use over Pasta or Rice.

NOTES: I love this type of buttery, velvety, lemony, goodness of a dish. I would love to know from where in the world it really came from. In America, we tend to say it is an Italian dish, but so much of our Italian dishes are really in the “spirit of Italy”. In England, Scampi is a bar food made from a Prawn that is battered and fried–nothing like the dish we think of. The name Scampi is Italian in origin, though it refers not to the method of cooking, but rather to a lobster-like curved (ref. scampo) crustacean. The American version of Scampi uses Shrimp, though one often can find “Chicken Scampi”, suggesting that in America, we’ve lost the meaning of the word and use it to refer to the method of cooking it in a garlicky, lemony, butter and wine sauce. Nothing new there.

Italian Green Salad

Ingredients:
8 cups Mesclun Greens
1 cup fresh Basil, leaves only
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Kirby Cucumber, sliced
12-16 large Green Olives (stuffed is a plus)
1 small Red Onion, chopped
2-4 oz Prosciutto
2 Tbsp fresh Oregano
4-6 bocconcini Mozzarella, quartered
1/2 cup Pistachios, shelled
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette

Directions:

  • Prepare all items as listed above. For the Prosciutto, tear the slices into bite-size pieces. For the Onion, you can be artistic and thinly slice the pieces so that they are long and thin.
  • Mix all the ingredients together, except the Vinaigrette. I recommend mixing 2/3 of everything together, and then using the final 1/3 of the ingredients to decorate the top and make it look nice. This also ensure that when you toss the salad, everything does not end up on the bottom.
  • Serve in a large bowl with the Vinaigrette on the side.

Makes: 4 Servings.

NOTES: They say a good salad is a sign of a good chef. I dunno if I qualify or not, but here is my ideal salad. It is light and fresh, and you can tweak it to your guests tastes and needs. I find this salad is bright and cheerful and full of colors–and tastes like Spring. For the Olives, I recommend getting some stuffed with Garlic or Anchovies–adds a depth of flavor. If you are going to stuff them yourself, do it a few days a head of time, and let them soak in the brine.

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone e Crema – Chicken Scaloppine

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Rosemary
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
4 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
1/8 cup Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Heavy Cream

  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the Chicken in the Flour and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Add the Garlic, Herbs, Lemon Juice and White Wine to the Skillet and de-glaze. (watch as it may flame up…not bad, just be careful!).
  • Add the Heavy Cream and Butter and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon, Wine and Cream sauce

NOTES: An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto; no Heavy Cream.
Chicken Francaise – similar with breaded Chicken and Lemon slices, no Heavy Cream.
Chicken Picatta – similar with caper lemon sauce; no Heavy Cream.

Chicken, Mushroom, and Pastina Soup

Chicken, Mushroom, and Farfalline Soup

Ingredients:
1 Roast Chicken
2 cups Table Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Cannellini Beans, soaked over night
1 cup Baby Spinach, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped into disks
6-8 Green Onions, whole
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Olive Oil
6 cups Chicken Broth
1 tsp Rosemary, minced
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Sage, rubbed
1/2 tsp Thyme, ground
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 Lemons
1 cup Pastina of choice

Directions:

  • Remove the meat from the bones, and discard any bone and skin, or fatty pieces. Set to the side.
  • Trim the Green Onions at three inches from the bottom. Reserve the top, and cut the bottom whiter part into small pieces, about 1/4 a centimeter or 1/8 an inch.
  • Heat the Olive oil on medium heat in a large pot.
  • Add the Garlic, Carrots, and chopped part of the Green Onion. Lightly toss in the Oil and stir as they soften.
  • Add the Juice of 1 of the lemons, the Chicken Broth, the Salt, the Herbs, and Chicken.
  • Bring to a Boil, stirring often.
  • Add the Mushrooms, the drained Cannellini, and Spinach, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the Mushrooms start to shrink.
  • Next add a Pastina. Let it simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring often.
  • Dice the reserved Green Onion stalks. Add them and the juice of the remaining Lemon just before serving.

Makes about 6 servings.

NOTES: This is a fancy version of chicken noodle soup, with a healthy dose of extra protein and vitamins. Pastini are just mini pastas–my favorite being Farfalline (little butterflies), but you can use whatever mini-pasta you prefer or even larger pasta if you like.

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle – Sweet Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

Salsiccia Dolce con Peperoni e Cipolle

Ingredients:
6-8 links of Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced in strips
1-2 Peperoncini or Banana Peppers, sliced in strips
1 Yellow Onion, cut in wedges
2 cups Plum Tomatoes, diced
4-6 cloves Garlic, sliced
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Basil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Parmesan, shaved for garnish.

Directions:

  • Poke the Sausage with a fork one or two times.
  • Place the Sausage in a skillet on medium heat with the Water, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Only flip the Sausage once or twice. You are basically poaching the Sausage, but by the time it is cooked, the water will have evaporated.
  • Remove the Sausage to a broiling pan, and place in the Broiler.
  • De-glaze the Skillet with the White Wine.
  • Add the Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes and Herbs to the Skillet.
  • Heat through, stirring often so that nothing sticks or browns; about 5 minutes.
  • Check on the Sausage, and flip so that both sides get broiled.
  • Continue heating the Onions and Peppers for about 2-3 more minutes. If the skillet is small, and thus the mixture very deep, you should cover and let the steam help cook the Onions and Peppers.
  • Plate the Onions and Peppers on a platter, and then arrange the Sausage on top. Serve the Parmesan on the side.

Makes 6-8 Sausages

NOTES: This dish is great by itself or divided into Hoagies. You can use Salsiccia Piccante (Spicy Italian Sausage) if you prefer. Additionally, you may choose to top with Mozzarella, though I think the crunchy nutty flavor of the Parmesan can’t be beat. You can also do the Sausages on the Grill. If you do this, you can cook the Peppers and Onions in the Skillet starting with the adding of the Wine.

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Sautéed Spinach Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 lb Baby Spinach, cleaned
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced length-wise thinly
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
Juice of 1 Lemon
6-8 Tbsp grated Parmesan, or equivalent shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions

  • Heat the Oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Add the Crushed Red Pepper and Garlic, and saute for 30 seconds to let the oils infuse with the Olive Oil. Stir, and do not let it brown.
  • Add the Baby Spinach with tongs.
  • Let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to wilt, using the tongs to stir so none burn.
  • Squeeze the Juice of the Lemon over the Spinach, and toss.
  • Plate the Spinach and top with the Parmesan.
  • Keeping in mind, the Parmesan can be salty, season to taste.

Makes 4 Servings.

NOTE: I love sauteed spinach, but prefer to use Baby Spinach because it usually comes prepackaged, cleaned, and is easier to eat. I like mine Lemony, Garlicky, with a mix of Hot from the Crushed Red Pepper soothed by the nutty, salty Parmesan. This is also a very QUICK side dish to make, and can often be done with oil used for accompanying chicken dishes–so less mess!

Scaloppine di Pollo al Vino Bianco con Limone – Chicken Francaise

Chicken Francaise

Ingredients:
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Butter
3 clove Garlic, thinly sliced vertically
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Corn Starch
Juice of 2 Lemons
1 Lemon, thinly sliced horizontally
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped fine

Directions:

  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs and dried Herbs.
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet and place on a cookie sheet in the oven on the lowest setting, just to keep it warm.
  • Remove the Oil, and wipe it clean.
  • Heat the Butter on-low medium heat
  • In a small bowl combine Broth and Corn Starch, whipping until there are no lumps.
  • Add the Garlic, Wine, Broth, Lemon Juice, and Lemon Slices to the pan.
  • Simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly so to not burn about 5 mins.
  • Place the Chicken on Serving platter and cover with the Lemon Slices and Wine Sauce and garnish with the Parsley

NOTES: I have tried to find a definitive answer as to whether or not this dish is French or Italian–since one usually sees it in Italian restaurants in America.  No one including the infamous Wikipedia seem to agree.  I would guess is that it is an Italian-American dish that is influenced by the French style of cooking with Wine and Butter.

An easy way to pound the chicken flat is to place it between two sheets of cellophane with a little bit of olive oil. Take the back of a skillet and pound flat (or use a meat mallet if too heavy).

Variations:
Chicken Marsala – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Marsala wine, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto.
Chicken Piccata – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Capers.
Chicken Scaloppine – similar, flour-dredged Chicken with Cream-based lemon sauce.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
2 cloves Garlic, minced fine
2 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Heavy Cream
4 oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
2 Tbsp Asiago vecchio, grated
1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  • In a sauce pan on medium heat, add the Garlic and Butter. Cook until the Butter is melted.
  • Stir in the Flour and make a roux, and let cook for about 3 minutes
  • Stir in the Heavy Cream
  • Add the Nutmeg, Gorgonzola, and Asiago, and heat until melted.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

NOTES: This sauce goes well with Gnocchi, Penne, Farfalle, Orecchiette, or Conchiglie–pretty much any pasta that has a place for the creamy sauce to collect. You can also make it with Shells, and bake it with a bread-crumb and herb topping. The first time I had Gorgonzola sauce was, oddly, in Stirling, Scotland. I fell in love with it immediately. I still claim that the best I ever had was at that little Italian place in Stirling.

Antipasto di Pomodoro e Pesto – Tomato & Pesto Canapés

Antipasto di Pomodoro e Pesto

Ingredients:
5 Plum Tomatoes
4 slices Prosciutto
5 slices Provolone
6 Tbsp Basil Pesto

Directions:

  • Prepare the Tomatoes: Stand the Plum Tomatoes up, stem-side down. You will be “shaving” off the sides of the tomatoes–think 4 sides per Tomato. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice off each of the four sides with a gentle sawing motion. The pieces will look like little boats. Remove any seeds and membrane. Set to the side.
  • Prepare the Prosciutto: Do this to each Prosciutto individually. Lay each slice flat–the slices are generally rectangular in shape. You want to cut each piece into 5 smaller pieces. Set to the Side.
  • Prepare the Provolone: Cut each slice into quarters.
  • Plate the Tomatoes, inside facing up like a bowl.
  • Place a piece of Prosciutto into each “bowl”. I recommend rolling the small pieces and placing them into the Tomato neatly.
  • Place a piece of Provolone on top of the Prosciutto. It will extend over the edges of the Tomato.
  • Using two teaspoons, shape oblong dollops of Pesto. Place the dollop on the top, center of the Provolone, in the same direction as the Tomato slice.

Makes 20 pieces.

NOTES: The tongue-shaped slice of the plum Tomatoes make them perfect to fit in the mouth. The salty prosciutto, creamy sharp provolone, and basil pesto are amazing. I came up with this wanting to use up some left over tomatoes and pesto from another recipe. This is simple, and quick, and like I said, very flavorful.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro – Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:
1 Baguette
1/4 cup Parmesan
6-8 Plum Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1-2 cloves Garlic, whole
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2-3 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped fine
1 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Water for Parboiling

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil on your stove. There should be enough room for the tomatoes, but they should not yet be put in the pot.
  • Remove from the heat, and place the tomatoes in the hot water for 1 minute.
  • Using tongs, remove the tomatoes.
  • Carefully remove the skin with a knife; and then cut in half and remove the seeds and juice.
  • Dice the Tomatoes and set to the side in a large bowl.
  • Add the minced Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, Herbs, 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil, and Salt and Pepper to taste; Stir well, and leave to marinate.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Slice the Baguette into 1/4″ thick rounds, on a diagonal.
  • Using a pastry Brush, liberally brush on the 1/2 cup of Olive Oil. You may need more or less, depending on the baguettes.
  • Place in the oven and toast for about 5 minutes, or until the the bread begins to turn golden.
  • Remove the croutes from the oven, and while warm, rub the whole garlic over the tops of them.
  • Sprinkle liberally with the Parmesan. You may use less or more, depending on the size of the croutes.
  • When ready to serve, spoon the Tomato topping onto the croutes.

Serves about 10 as an appetizer.

NOTES: You can use bigger bread pieces and serve this as a salad or meal. With regards to serving as an appetizer, you can also choose to leave the tomatoes in a bowl with a spoon, and arrange the Parmesan croutes on a tray, and allow the guests to top their own. Bruschetta is a central Italian food, that consists of grilled bread with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, and other toppings like Prosciutto or grilled vegetables. I prefer the traditional tomato-basil relish, myself. This used to be my favorite appetizer when we would go to Italian restaurants–a special occasion as they were always expensive in Georgia. Who knew the food was so inexpensive and EASY to make!

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Use a Vegan bread and omit the Parmesan.

Prosciutto Asparagus

Ingredients:
6-8 oz Prosciutto, pre-sliced, cold
1 bunch Asparagus, woody ends removed
3-6 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
Water for blanching
Salt for water
Big Bowl of Ice Water for cooling

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of Salted Water to a boil.
  • Drop in the Asparagus and let it cook until bright Green–watch it, do not leave. As soon as you see them turning bright green, use tongs and remove to the Ice Water to stop the cooking.
  • Dry off the Asparagus on paper towels.
  • Lay Wax paper on the counter or table, and place slices of Prosciutto flat on the wax paper. You should plan 1 piece per Asparagus spear, unless the Asparagus is extremely big or long.
  • Carefully spread a small schmear of Cream Cheese on the Prosciutto. You do not want too much, or it will be clumpy. Try to make the schmear even. You may not use all of the Cream Cheese
  • Wrap each Prosciutto slice around an Asparagus spear, schmeared side against the stock, spiraling up the stock so the entire stock is covered. It is ok if the Prosciutto overlaps itself a little.
  • The Prosciutto should stick to itself at the end of the wrapping, but if not, add a little Cream Cheese and press.
  • Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.

Serves 8-10

NOTES: You do not want too much Cream Cheese, and you want to avoid it oozing. This is a very simple easy-to-do Hors D’œuvre that is a crowd pleaser. To help cut down the fat, you can use fat-free Cream Cheese or American Neufchâtel–French Neufchâtel is not as spreadable, and harder to acquire.

Bresaola Salad

Ingredients:
8 oz Bresaola, chilled
4 oz Parmesan (block)
8 cups Arugula
1 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
8 Figs, quartered
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling)
Balsamic Vinegar (for drizzling)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Lemon, cut in quarters

Directions:

  • Arrange the Bresaola on a platter or on individual plates (this serves 4). You will be making the salad in the middle of the plate, and will want the Bresaola to extend beyond the Salad like a border. If you are using small plates, the pieces should cover the entire area. If you are using a large plate, try to cover the entire area, but focus on the outer edge. Make it look decorative and pretty.
  • Mix together the Parsley and the Arugula.
  • Place the Arugula/Parsley in the center of the plate on top of the Bresaola, utilizing it as a border.
  • Place the Figs and Cherry Tomatoes decoratively among the Arugula.
  • Using a Cheese shaver, or a vegetable peeler, slice curls of Parmesan and place on top of the Arugula.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, and drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Serve the wedges on the side of the Salad, and instruct the diner to squeeze the Lemon over the salad, just before consuming.

Serves 4

NOTES: Bresaola is one of the treats that I ran into when moving to New York. I had been aware of Prosciutto in Georgia, but had never seen Bresaola. They are very similar, only that Bresaola is an air-dried beef tenderloin. Its origins are in northern Italy near Lombardy. I simply love it!

Bresaola Crostini
Ingredients:
1 loaf Ciabatta
8 oz Bresaola
4 oz Parmesan
4 cups Arugula
1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley
6-8 Figs, quartered
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Slice the Ciabatta into 1/4″ slices. You may choose to slice each slice in half, so that they are bite-size pieces.
  • Arrange the slices on a Baking Sheet.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush on Olive Oil on both sides.
  • Bake for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let the Crostini cool completely.
  • Arrange the Bresaola on the Crostini. You may fold the pieces, but do not want any hanging off the crostini too far.
  • Using a Vegetable Peeler, shave a slice of Parmesan and place it on top of the Bresaola.
  • Next, top with the Arugula, not putting too much.
  • Place a quarter of Fig on top of the Arugula, and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinegar, and a little more Olive Oil.

NOTES: This is a flavorful appetizer that takes the Bresaola Salad from the dinner plate to your hand.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
16 oz uncooked Pasta (Rotini or Penne)
Water for Boiling and Steaming
Iced Water in a large bowl for Shocking the Broccoli
1 Tbsp Salt for Boiling
1 tsp Olive Oil for Boiling
2 cups Broccoli Spears, cut into small pieces
2 cups Pesto, room temperature
1 cup Black Olives, chopped
2 cups marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained, quartered
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Romano, grated

Directions:

  • Cook the Pasta in a large pot wit the Salt and Olive Oil. You want al dente. When you reach al dente, quickly drain and run cold water through the Pasta.
  • In a second pot, steam the Broccoli spears till bright green (about 4 minutes), drain and shock with ice-cold water.
  • Combine all ingredients except the Romano in a large bowl. Mix Well.
  • Sprinkle the top with the grated Romano.

NOTES: This is one of the simplest Pasta Salads you’ll ever make. I always make my own Pesto, since it is cheaper and yields more flavor than most store bought Pestos–that and some of the jarred kind is nasty-oily and looks like it was made from reconstituted dried herbs rather than fresh Basil. You can modify the ingredients based on your tastes for the Salad. Some folks may add fresh Tomatoes instead of the Sun-Dried, or cut up Mozzarella in cubes. Really, it is all up to you.

Goat Cheese, Avocado, and Roasted Pepper Salad

Ingredients:
2 Avocados, ripe, chopped
2 Roasted Red Bell Peppers, chopped
4 oz Goat Cheese
1/2 cup Black Olives, sliced
2 Shallots, sliced
6 cups Mesclun Greens
2 cups Baby Arugula Greens
1/2 cup fresh Basil
2 Tbsp fresh Dill
2 Tbsp Pignoli
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Directions:

  • Combine the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt, Black Pepper, and Dijon Mustard in a bowl, and whisk together; set aside.
  • Mix together all of the Greens and Herbs in a serving bowl.
  • Toss the Salad with the Dressing
  • Top the Salad with the remaining ingredients.

NOTES: The last ingredient you want to prepare is the Avocado, as you do not want it to go brown before serving. You may toss it in Lemon Juice, however that will not completely stop the browning. This Salad is a fresh summery salad with a punch of flavor. You can mix up the greens if you like, with Frisée or Romaine–the more the merrier.

Pollo alla Romana – Roman-Style Chicken

Pollo alla Romana

Ingredients:
6-8 fillets of Chicken Breasts, thin sliced, boneless, skinless
1 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, chopped
6 slices Prosciutto, chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, diced
1 head of Roasted Garlic
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp fresh Basil
1 Tbsp fresh Oregano
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
1 Tbsp Capers
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Romano Cheese, grated

Directions:

  • Do all necessary roasting ahead of time.
  • In a large skillet, brown the Chicken Fillets in the Olive Oil.
  • Remove the Fillets to the side.
  • Add the Peppers and Prosciutto, and cook until the Prosciutto starts to crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • Squeeze the Garlic into a Mortar and Pestle, and grind.
  • Add Garlic, Tomatoes, Chicken Stock, Wine, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to the skillet.
  • Heat for 10 minutes, and then add the Chicken Fillets back to the skillet.
  • Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, stir in the Capers and Parsley.
  • Garnish with grated Romano Cheese.

Serves 3-4 people (portion 2 fillets per person)

NOTES: So it was a long weekend, and my partner volunteered to cook. He loves chicken, so he started looking online for a chicken recipe. I should mention he is not a good cook–toast and oatmeal he does well, but not much more than that. So he found a recipe for Roman-Style Chicken by Giada DiLaurentis. I had a feeling he would not end up cooking, and by the time we got back from the store, it dawned on him how much work would be involved. So it was saved for another night. I don’t like to do other people’s recipes, so I compare them to similar recipes and then make my own version with my own variations. This is my version of Roman-Style Chicken that resulted from my research and comparisons. I decided to add some different herbage, deepen the flavors with roasted peppers and garlic, as well as adding Romano cheese over the top. This is a light summery Italian meal, and it does not need a side of pasta!

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic in a Nest

Ingredients:
1 head of Garlic
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 400°F.
  • Take a 12″ x 12″ square of Aluminum foil and crinkle into a nest or bowl, big enough to support the heard of Garlic.
  • Using a chopping knife, cut off the top of the Garlic head, exposing the tops of the cloves.
  • Place the Head in the nest, and drizzle the Olive Oil over the exposed Garlic cloves.
  • Sprinkle with Salt
  • Place nest on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes or until the Garlic is tender to the touch.

NOTES: This is a very aromatic ingredient. If you like garlic, you’ll go crazy for this smell. If you hate garlic…why are you even on this page??? This can be used in dips, sauces, spread over toast, or devilishly eaten with a spoon.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco – Chicken and Artichoke Fettuccine

Pollo e Carciofi al Vino Bianco

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, cut into strips
2 cups Marinated Artichoke Hearts, quartered
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large Red Onion, diced
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pinot Grigio or White Wine
1 Tbsp Basil, chopped fine
1/2 Tbsp Oregano, chopped fine
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Salt
2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb Fettuccine (fresh if possible)
Water for boiling
1 tsp Capers for Garnish

Directions:

  • Strain the Oil from the Artichokes into a bowl containing the Chicken. Set the Artichokes to the side, but marinade the Chicken for 1 hour.
  • When ready to cook, begin heating a pot of water on high heat for the Pasta.
  • In a large skillet, combine 1 Tbsp of the Olive Oil with the Onions and Salt, and cook for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper, and Chicken (with the Oil) and sauté until the Chicken begins to brown.
  • Add the White Wine, careful as it may flare up. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add the Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes and cook for another 2-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add the Pasta to the water when it is boiling. Watch if you are using fresh Fettuccine as it cooks quicker than dried.
  • Strain the Pasta and toss with the Parmesan, Salt, Pepper, Herbs and the remaining Olive Oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the Chicken Artichoke Mixture, and toss well.

Makes about 4-6 Servings.

NOTES: So I had to come up with dinner at the last minute, and searched the cupboard and fridge for ingredients – the result was this dish. It is similar to Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which I admit I did not know existed until I was trying to search for similar dishes to come up with a name for what I made), except that I add vegetables, do not use the large amount of Butter, nor did I batter the Chicken. Thus we find a healthier, lighter, dish that is still full of flavor.

Fennel Salad

Ingredients:
2 medium Fennel Bulbs
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Shaved Parmesan Cheese to taste

Directions:

  • Trim the Fennel of any Stalks, and Fronds; trim any fibrous material with a peeler. Reserve Fronds for garnish.
  • Cut Fennel Bulbs in half vertically and remove the fibrous cores.
  • Laying each side flat, cut the Fennel horizontally into thin crescents.
  • In a large bowl, toss the Fennel crescents with the Olive Oil, Lemon, Salt & Pepper
  • Move to serving dish(es).
  • Chop of the Fronds.
  • Garnish the Fennel with the Sesame Seeds, Fronds, and some shaved Parmesan slices.

NOTES: Fennel has a nice strong anise flavor that is complemented by the Sesame seeds and salty Parmesan Cheese. This salad is a great salad for a Spring day.

Variations:
Ṽ›Ɣ – Omit the Parmesan.

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare all’Arrabbiata – Seafood Fra Diavolo

Dedicated to Alex Merati, Epicurean

Ingredients:
6-8 cups Arrabbiata Sauce
1/2 cup White Wine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
12 Shrimp, peeled, de-veined
6 Sea Scallops, quartered
12 Little Neck Clams, cleaned
12 Mussels, cleaned
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 lb Linguine
1 tsp Salt
Water for Linguine

Directions:

  • Prepare the Arrabbiata Sauce in a large sauce pan.
  • In a separate pot bring the Water and Salt to boil and cook the Linguine till al dente.
  • Drain the Pasta and set aside.
  • Using the same pot, add the Olive Oil, White Wine, and the Seafood and cook until the Clams and Mussels have begun to open, about 5-7 minutes. Stir so that all sides cook.
  • When the Clams and Mussels have stopped opening, discard the unopened ones.
  • Add the Arrabbiata Sauce to the Seafood and mix well.
  • Remove from heat and plate on the Pasta, using the Parsley as garnish.

Makes about 4 servings.

NOTES: The variation of the amount of Sauce is dependent upon how much you want with your pasta. Americans tend to like more than Europeans, in my experience.

Seafood Fra Diavolo

Arrabbiata Sauce – Fra Diavolo Sauce

Ingredients:
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped fine
2 tsp Oregano, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 cups Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the Olive Oil in a Saucepan with the Garlic, Parsley and Oregano on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the Onion and sauté until near translucent, stirring continually.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Discard the Bay Leaf before serving.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.

NOTES: The best pasta to use for this is Penne Rigate because it absorbs the sauce well. Arrabbiata is a red sauce that is spiced with Crushed Red Pepper flakes meaning roughly “Angry Sauce” though I’ve been told it has the connotation of “Pissed-Off Sauce”. It is often called Fra Diavolo meaning “Brother of the Devil” in America, though when so called, a protein like Seafood or Chicken is added.

I grew up with Arrabbiata Sauce as my main pasta sauce but it was called Marinara and it was spicy. In reality we were eating Arrabbiata Sauce instead and just didn’t know the name difference. My Italian side of the family is from the Molise region of Italy, in the town of Campobasso.

Wheat Pizza Crust

Wheat Pizza with Pepperoni and Mushrooms

Ingredients:
1 cup Warm Water
1 dash Granulated Sugar
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Honey
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2-1 cup Cornmeal
Directions:

  • In a large bowl pour the Dry Yeast onto the Warm Water with the Sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. It should be frothy, and if it is not frothy, then your Yeast is too old-start over.
  • Using your hands, add the remaining ingredients except the Cornmeal, mixing well. You can use a bread hook with a stand mixer if you prefer. To prevent sticking to your hands, dip them occasionally in ice cold water while you mix.
  • Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it is stretchy.
  • Let stand, covered with a moist cloth for about 30 minutes.
  • Prepare a pan for cooking: Lightly grease and cover in corn meal. I prefer using a pizza stone, so it just needs to be dusted with Corn meal.
  • Preheat Oven to 425°F.
  • Divide the dough in two. You can either make 2 pizzas or freeze one for later.
  • Work the portioned dough into a disk with your hands, until the dough is about 8″-10″ in diameter.
  • Place on the cooking surface and stretch to the desired diameter.
  • Poke dough with a fork all over.
  • Bake at 425° F for 10 minutes.
  • Top with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Makes 2 medium pies or 1 large pie.

NOTES: Pizza is a Neapolitan dish in origin. In those dishes, olive oil and herbs were usually added to the flatbread and baked. Pizza is found all over the world with tons of variations, most using a red or white sauce with cheese and toppings. My favorite pizza toppings are a red sauce with fresh basil, mozzarella, pancetta, and pepperocini.

In high school I traveled to Russia with other students, and our host families took us to a Sports club that boasted the best pizza in Yaroslavl–having a chef from Italy. I had realized there may be some communication differences in what the food toppings were. Everyone was ordering ‘pepperoni’ except the Russians…who looked disgusted by the idea. So I followed their lead on ordering and got “Salami” instead. Well I did the right thing. The other Americans got Pepperocini peppers, while I got Pepperoni!

Pollo Pesto al Forno – Pesto Chicken Bake

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (for coating)
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (for coating)
2 Eggs (for coating)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless, butterfly cut and pounded about 1/4″ thick
2 cups Pesto
4 Plum Tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350° F
  • Set up a dredging station using three pie pans. In one pan put the Flour, in the next the Eggs (beaten with a little water), in the next the Bread Crumbs
  • Season the Chicken with Salt and Pepper on both sides
  • Dredge the chicken in the Flour, then the Eggs, then the Bread Crumbs and set to the side
  • In a large skillet, brown each piece of chicken on both sides in the Olive Oil. When each piece is browned, remove from the skillet.
  • Spread the Pesto sauce over both sides of the Chicken, coating it completely.
  • Place Chicken in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of Tomato Slices followed by the shredded Mozzarella.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.

NOTES: The first time I ever had this, my mother had used Shake ‘n’ Bake. Though I prefer to use herbed bread crumbs, this is a quick option that also does not require the use of eggs.

Mediterranean Braised Chicken with Couscous

Ingredients:
6 Chicken Thighs, skinless, boneless
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 cloves Garlic, slivered
2 Shallots, diced
1 cup Pinot Grigio or other white wine
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Rosemary, diced
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, minced
1/2 cup Manzanilla Olives, minced
1 cup Tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp Capers
1 cup Couscous

Directions:

  • In a deep saucepan, cook the Chicken thighs in the Olive Oil on low-medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. The more color, the more flavor you’ll get.
  • Remove the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Shallots and Garlic to the Oil, and lightly saute.
  • Deglaze with the Pinot Grigio and Chicken Broth.
  • Return the chicken to the saucepan, and add the Salt, Rosemary, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers.
  • Simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of Couscous to the pot, and turn off the heat.
  • Cover for 5 minutes, as the Couscous absorbs the liquid.
  • Serve.

NOTES: You can always cook the Couscous separately from the dish, however I like to absorb the chicken broth and wine into the couscous to add some extra flavor. If you desire, you can chop up the chicken thighs; additionally if you cannot get boneless chicken thighs, you can use them. The important part is not the bones or size, but that it is the flavorful chicken thigh meat.

Pumpkin Gnocchi in a Maple Sage Sauce

Ingredients:VegetarianNut Alergy Warning
2 Russet Potatoes, skinned, cubed
1 cup prepared Pumpkin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg

Maple Sage Sauce
1/2 cup Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Sage, minced

Garnish:
1 cup Walnuts
Grated Parmesan

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the potatoes until fork tender.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash in a large bowl.
  • Incorporate the Pumpkin pulp, Spices, & Egg.
  • Start incorporating the Flour into the mixture. You may not use all the flour, or you may need more. What you are looking for is a dough forming that you can handle, and roll. It should be cohesive to itself, but not sticky.
  • Divide the dough into six parts.
  • On a floured surface, start rolling each part into a rope, about 1/2″-1″ thick in diameter.
  • Start cutting into 1/2″-1″ pieces. Think little pillows for the shape. You do not want to saw, you want to come down with your knife.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Add all the Gnocchi. They will sink.
  • As the Gnocchi start to float, they are done, and can be ladled out.
  • In a saucepan, start heating the stick of Butter on low heat. Use low heat to prevent smoking
  • As the Butter melts, it will start to caramelize along the edges.
  • Stir in the Maple Syrup and the Sage, cooking for an additional 30 seconds or so.
  • Pour on the Gnocchi, and garnish with Walnuts and Parmesan.

Serves 6.

NOTES: Gnocchi are simple to make for scratch. I’ve seen many recipes that exclude the use of Potatoes, but in my opinion, it is the Potato that makes the Gnocchi. This is a dish that is great for an Autumn night. I recommend it with a side of green beans.