Monday, August 14, 2017

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin - Pomodori Gratinati

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin - Pomodori Gratinati


Zucchini and Tomato Gratin - Pomodori Gratinati

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil (approximately) for oiling baking dish
4 medium zucchini
2 medium tomatoes directions for *peeling tomatoes follows
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 leaves of fresh basil cut into a chiffonade (optional) directions for **chiffonade  follows
¼ cup finely chopped curly leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs directions for ***breadcrumbs follows

Oil a baking dish that has low sides (about 1 ½ to 2 ½  inchs) such as a pie plate or an ovenproof ceramic or porcelain baking dish. Cut the ends off of the zucchini. The zucchini may be used peeled or unpeeled whichever you wish. Cut into ¼ inch thick slices and place half of the slices in the baking dish. Salt and pepper the slices. Core the tomatoes and peel them. Instructions for *peeling tomatoes below.  Slice the tomatoes into ¼ inch slices and place them over the zucchini slices. Salt and pepper the tomato slices and place the remainder of the zucchini slices on top of the tomato layer. Salt and pepper the last layer of zucchini slices.  If you are using the chiffonade of basil spread it over the zucchini slices. Sprinkle generously with the breadcrumbs. Place into a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and tender and the top is golden and crisp.

*Peeling Tomatoes

1. Slow-roast and peel (place the tomatoes in a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit  oven for 3 to 5 minutes or when the skins are starting to crack, then remove them from the oven).

 2. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water 1 or 2 at a time. Let them sit in the boiling water for a minute or two and then remove then them from the boiling water. 

With either of the above methods, you need to let them cool before peeling them. Either place in a bowl of ice water to cool them quickly or let them sit out until they are cool enough to handle.

3. Peel the tomatoes with a plastic serrated tomato knife, or other serrated plastic knife such as a disposable plastic flatware knife. Some of the local chefs employ this technique.



**Chiffonade (Thin Strips)

Stack several leaves one on top of each other all facing in the same direction and tightly roll up  lengthwise, and starting at the stem end  cut crosswise  into  thin strips. Unroll and separate the strips. 

***Fresh Breadcrumbs

Crusts are optional you may remove them or leave them on. Tear each slice of bread into 4 or 5 pieces and place in a food processor, and pulse on and off until the breadcrumbs are the size you desire.
1 slice of fresh bread equals about 1 cup of breadcrumbs.

Crumbled Fresh Breadcrumbs

Remove the crusts and crumble the bread slice between your fingers. This method is quick and if you do not have a food processor at your disposal or you want to quickly have breadcrumbs this is a good method. The crumbs will be a little larger.   

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Light Crispy Pizza (Olive Oil Pizza) - Pizza all' olio

Light Crispy Pizza (Olive Oil Pizza) - Pizza all'olio


This  makes 2 pizzas 10 ½ by 16 inches. Pre-baking the pizza dough along with rolling the dough out very thinly and spreading just a thin layer of tomato sauce gives this pizza a light and crispy texture. This dough will puff somewhat during the pre-baking, this adds to the texture and lightness. 

1 ¾ cup flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (1 Tbsp for each pizza)
½ cup water
flour  for dusting baking sheet
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup very finely freshly grated Parmigianino-Reggiano  (1/4 cup for each pizza)
1 cup tomato puree
 ½ cup tomato paste
8 oz. low moisture mozzarella ( 4 oz. For each pizza) cut into pieces of about ½ inch by 1 inch 
4 teaspoons dried oregano (2 teaspoons for each pizza)

Mix the flour and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small bowl mix the olive oil and water together. Using the flat beater attachment slowly add the olive oil, water mixture to the flour mixture in the mixer while it is running slowly.  When the dough is mixed remove it from the mixer and place on a lightly floured surface and cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. 
Uncover the dough and knead it, (instructions for kneading are on page 20) for 1 minute.  Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 balls. Wrap each ball with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator and let them rest for 1 hour. 
While the dough is resting you can grate the Parmigianino and make the tomato topping. Mix the tomato puree and tomato paste together thoroughly.
Lightly dust the baking sheets with flour, and set aside. Roll out the dough  as thin as you can and let it rest again for 5 to 10 minutes. Place each rolled out pizza dough  on a baking sheet, and bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 5 minutes or until the dough is lightly puffed. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Flip over and  spread a tablespoon of olive oil over each pizza dough with a pastry brush, and lightly sprinkle the freshly grated Parmigiano on top. Place in the oven and let bake another 5 to 10 minutes. 
Remove from the oven, and spread the tomato mixture very thinly and evenly over each pizza dough and distribute the mozzarella pieces evenly on top. Rub the dried oregano in your hands to crumble it and distribute it over the pizzas.
Place in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve while still hot.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Turkey or Chicken Stuffed with Black Olives, and Pureed Potatoes with Leeks Sauteed in Olive Oil

Turkey or Chicken Stuffed with Black Olives & Pureed Potatoes with Leeks Sauteed in Olive Oil 

   



This is a very simple way to roast a turkey or chicken and as far as I am concerned the very best way to roast a turkey. For roasting a bird for celebratory dinners throughout the year and everyday dinners a chicken works very well. I have found that fresh organic turkeys are not available locally throughout the year, only at Thanksgiving. I think this unfortunate, but a chicken is delicious prepared this way also. This is the method my mother, Marguerite and my grandmother Rosalie used to prepare a holiday bird or celebratory bird.  This roasting method was always used on Thanksgiving, and if a turkey was served on Christmas, or Easter this method was used as well. Chickens were used in this way for many family dinners. This makes a great birthday dinner, Valentine's dinner or any time you crave this dish. Once you have made it once you will want to serve it again and again. The flavor of the olives becomes rich and full. As a child I would always be in the kitchen as the turkey was taken out of the oven so that I could have a few of the olives out of the cavity, before the presentation of the grand bird. 

1 medium sized turkey 8 to 10 pounds fresh and organic if available (if you are serving a large crowd prepare 2 turkeys, rather than one large bird as the meat tends to dry out and be tougher than the younger and more tender smaller birds.) or 1 whole chicken organic if possible

15 or more olives (regular black olives are fine, but you can use any variety of black olive that you prefer)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

large shallow roasting pan (you want to have the bird exposed to the air, so that it does not steam)    
rack to place the turkey on (an ovenproof cookie cooling rack works well) 

Remove giblets and liver if they are stored in the cavity. Rinse your turkey under cold running water, and remove any veins or membranes that are in the cavity of the bird, as well as you can. Place the bird on a rack inside of, or sitting  on top of a roasting pan. The rack should keep the bird at least ½ inch of the bottom of the pan. Use a roasting pan with plenty of room to hold the bird comfortably. The roasting pan should have sides about 2 inches high, this will be high enough to make gravy after the bird is roasted and low enough to have air circulate around the bird adequately to ensure even cooking of both the white and dark meat.  Generously salt the inside of the cavity, lift the bird and place it breast side down on the rack and salt and pepper the back of the bird. Lift the bird once again and place it on it’s back and proceed to salt and pepper the breast and legs and wings. Place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for the appropriate amount of time for the weight of the bird. Approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours for every 5 pounds.When you are about 45 minutes away from the bird being done, place the olives in the cavity of the bird. When the bird is done, you should be able to remove the drumstick without much resistance. The bird should have reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using a meat thermometer insert the thermometer into the breast without touching the bone.Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest. Remove all of the olives from the cavity and reserve 5 or so for garnish. Place the rest in a serving dish and keep warm. Place the bird on a warm platter. Place orange slices and olives around the turkey decoratively. You are now ready to enjoy a bird that is fit for a King or Queen. BuonAppetito!


Mashed Potatoes with Leeks Sautéed in Olive Oil 
Pure di patate cremoso

The sautéed leeks are a great addition and give a subtle flavor to the potatoes. The sautéed leeks can be omitted if you wish and you will have excellent plain mashed potatoes.  

7 or 8 russet potatoes  peeled and cut into thirds
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 to 3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. whole milk or cream or enough to keep the potatoes fluffy 

For leeks
1 to 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat your sauté pan)
2 medium leeks

Place cold water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. While the water is heating peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks.  When the water reaches a boil add the kosher salt, and then the potatoes. Partially cover the pot and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the potatoes cook at a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender about  20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the chunks of potato.

While potatoes are boiling, prepare the leeks. Cut off the root ends and the dark green tops. Make a slit running lengthwise to the center of the leeks from the top to the bottom, so that you can open up the leeks and rinse them under cold running water to remove any dirt or sand. Chop the leeks into a ¼ inch dice. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan until it is hot enough to sizzle when a piece of leek is dropped into it. Place the chopped leeks into the olive oil and sauté until the leeks are soft and translucent.
The potatoes are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes reserving ½ cup of the cooking water in case the potatoes are too dry.  Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer back into the pot that you boiled them in. Place over very low heat making sure that they do not burn. Add 2 to 3 Tbsp. butter and enough whole milk or cream, (added a little at a time)until thoroughly incorporated to make the potatoes fluffy and smooth. If they seem too dry add as much as needed of the reserved cooking water. Add the sautéed leeks. Serve immediately or place in an oven proof serving dish and keep them warm in the oven until you are ready to serve them.








       







Friday, December 9, 2016

Lemon Meringue Cookies - Meringa al Lemone

Lemon Meringue Cookies - Meringa al Limone


These are light and airy with few calories. They  make a light delicious cookie! They are also wonderful with ice cream. I haven't posted for awhile, and I will try to post more frequently from now on, so check back for new recipes.

4 egg whites - 1/2 liquid cup (you can use pasteurized eggs)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (preferably organic)
2 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
butter for coating a large cookie sheet

Prepare a large cookie sheet by coating it with butter and set aside. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and let them sit out for 10 to 15 minutes to bring them up to room temperature. Beat on medium speed until the egg whites are foamy, add a few drops of the lemon juice and increase the speed to high speed. When the egg whites begin to form soft peaks, you can gradually add the granulated sugar a tablespoon at a time while beating on high speed. When the whites hold stiff peaks and are glossy, stop beating, and sprinkle  the powered sugar over the egg whites  ¼ cup at a time, and with a large silicon or rubber spatula, fold the powdered sugar into the egg whites. When the sugar has been folded in, you may fold in the rest of the lemon juice and lemon the zest.
Place by teaspoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets.  Place in a preheated 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.  Bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours. then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out for another 3 hours.
These should remain white, if they start to turn a light beige turn the heat off and let them continue to dry out in the oven with the heat off.
This recipe can be doubled, but you will have to move the cookie sheets around in the oven to ensure even baking. Switch the sheets from top to bottom and vice versa after 1 hour of baking.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fried Zucchini Flowers and Zucchini Slices - Fiorii di Zucca Fritti



Fried Zucchini Flowers and Zucchini Slices - Fiorii di Zucca Fritti


My Grandmother Rosalie brought zucchini seeds with her when she came to the United States from Tuscany. She made fried zucchini flowers from the zucchini that she grew in her garden.  Zucchini has a place in my garden every year for  the precious zucchini flowers. The fried flowers are an annual treat at my house. They should be picked on the morning that the blossoms open. The zucchini blossoms are very fragile, so place the stems in a glass of water, and store in the refrigerator, if you are not going to use them right away. They will keep a day or so that way. They can be hard to find in the stores, you may be able to find them at your local farmers market. If you do not have zucchini flowers, the zucchini slices prepared in this manner are also very delicious.

4 or 5 Zucchini flowers
2 small zucchini (about 6 to 8 inches long) peeled and sliced.  The slices should be about ¼ to 1/3 inch thick
1 egg
1 to 2 tsp. sparkling water
1 cup flour
salt and white pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a large sauté pan or skillet to a depth of ¼  inch.)

Rinse off the zucchini flowers very gently, they can be damaged  easily.  Remove the pistil (the thick center stem) from the inside of the flowers.

Beat the egg with the sparkling water in a bowl large enough to dip the zucchini flowers, and the zucchini into the egg mixture.  In a separate bowl also large enough to hold the flowers and zucchini mix the flour with the salt and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or a skillet over medium heat.

Place the zucchini flowers and the slices into the seasoned flour and shake off the excess flour.  Then dip the flowers and slices into the egg mixture, remove and let the excess egg mixture drip off. They should have just a light coating. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a piece of zucchini is dropped into it, place the zucchini slices and the zucchini flowers in the sauté pan. Do not crowd, you may have to sauté in two batches. Turn over with a set of tongs or a fork when the bottom turns a nice golden brown.  Lift out of the oil when both sides are a beautiful golden brown. Drain and pat dry in paper towels. Place in an oven proof serving dish and keep in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven until ready to serve. Serve as quickly as possible or keep very hot in the oven.


Serves 4

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fettuccine in Salsa Bianca

Fettuccine in Salsa Bianca


This is my version of a classic butter and cream sauce pasta. Easy to prepare, and served with a salad it is perfect on a hot day.  It is so easy and fast, yet so elegant.  This is a great dish to prepare for guests especially if you do not have much time to prepare dinner.

1 lb package (16oz.) dried fettuccine
1 Tbsp. kosher salt for the pasta water
2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated for sauce and 1 cup freshly grated for serving at the table
¾ cup butter cut into 2 inch pieces
½ cup whipping cream (at room temperature)
salt  and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup of the pasta cooking water                              
                                                                                           
Place a large pot of water (4 to 5 quarts) on to boil. When it reaches a boil add the kosher salt and the pasta, return to a boil, and cook according to package directions  until the pasta is al dente (tender but firm to the bite).  Transfer the fettuccine with a large pair of tongs to a large sauté pan and add approximately 1/3 of the butter and 1/3 of the cream. Turn the heat on very low, just to keep the pasta warm. Gently toss until all of the butter and cream is incorporated. Repeat this process until all of the butter and cream is used. Add the salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Add a Tbsp. or two of the reserved pasta water if the sauce is getting to thick.  Add 1/3 cup of the cheese, and toss very lightly 2 or 3 times with the tongs or with 2 forks. Place the pasta in a large warm serving bowl.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese (1/3 cup) on top, and serve with ample additional cheese on the table for each person to add additional cheese to his or her serving.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Linguine and Peppers - Linguine con Peperoni



























This is a great dish for spring with the vibrant colors of the peppers. Slow roasting the peppers intensifies the flavor of the peppers.


extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a large saute pan)
5 to 7 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
3 peppers (1 orange pepper, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper)
1/2 to 1 tsp. pepperincino (red pepper flakes) optional
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. package (16 oz.) dried linguine
1 Tbsp. kosher salt for the pasta water
2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

The peppers can be added raw or roasted to this dish. If you wish to roast them, place them in a pre-heated 350 degree F. oven. After 10 minutes, check them to see if their skins will peel off easily, if so remove from the oven and let cool until they are just warm and they are cool enough to handle. Remove the tops and bottoms and the cores including seeds. Slice into 1/4 inch strips.

Place a large pot of water (4 to 5 quarts) on to boil. When it reaches a boil add the kosher salt, and the pasta, return to a boil, and cook according to package directions until al dente (tender but firm to the bite).

Meanwhile as the water heats up, heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a saute pan that is large enough to hold all of the pasta once it is cooked. Place the chopped garlic into the olive oil once it has reached the point that it sizzles when a piece of garlic is dropped into it.  Saute slightly, and add the pepperincino to taste if you are using it. If the peppers are roasted saute the garlic until it is a light golden color before adding the peppers. Add the peppers, and saute them until they are thoroughly cooked through and soft. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Add the butter to the pepper mixture. When the pasta is al dente add it to the saute pan using a pair of tongs. Coat the pasta with the oil and bitter and mix with the peppers. Adjust the salt, pepper and pepperincino to taste. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the grated Parmigiano cheese. Plce the rest of the cheese in a separate dish, to be used as desired.