Sunday, February 28, 2021

LASAGNE W ITH MARINARA SAUCE / LASAGNE CON SUGO DI POMODORO




Lasagne with Marinara Sauce - Lasagne con Sugo di Pomodoro


Your family and friends will love you for making this classic Italian pasta.  If any is left, it will be even better on the second and third day, once the flavors have melded together.


1 lb. (16 oz.) dried lasagne noodles

1 Tbsp.kosher salt  for the pasta cooking water

3 ½ cups Marinara Sauce * recipe follows

8 oz. mozzarella (sliced)

½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated)

1 cup ricotta cheese

 

Bring a large pot of water (4 to 5 quarts) to a boil. When it reaches a boil add the kosher salt and the pasta, return to a boil and prepare the lasagna noodles according to the package directions.

 Place 1 cup of the marinara sauce into the baking dish.  Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.  Place ½ of the mozzarella slices over the noodles, and then sprinkle on ½ of the Parmigiano.  Top this with ½ of the ricotta. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the ricotta. Place another layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce.  Repeat the layering of the cheeses, and top this with 1 cup of sauce.  Place remaining noodles over dish and spread the remaining ½ cup sauce over the noodles.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 min. or until mixture is bubbling.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 min. to set.   Cut into squares to serve.


*Marinara Sauce - Sugo di pomodoro

 This sauce can be used on spaghetti or linguini or in Marinara Lasagna, Eggplant Lasagne or on polenta.

 Make this when you have some time to spend in the kitchen.  The aroma will fill your home, and bring your family and guests into the kitchen.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 head of garlic peeled and finely minced

2 medium onions or 1 large onion peeled and chopped into a small dice

2  packages (8 oz.) button mushrooms  (peeled* -optional),  rinsed and the ends of the stems removed if they are dry looking

3 cans 1lb. 12 oz. each plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)

 1 6  oz. tomato paste (optional if you want a little thicker sauce) 

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried onion powder

1/3 cup rinsed and chopped parsley leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tsp. sugar        

 Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot.  Add the garlic when the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a piece of minced garlic is dropped into it, and gently sauté for a minute, then add the chopped onion. Watch carefully to make sure that the garlic turns only a golden color and the onion only becomes translucent and does not turn brown. If using tomato paste add it now. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and place in a small pot, and place over medium heat.  The water contained in the mushrooms themselves should be sufficient to cook them.  Keep an eye on them as you are sautéing the garlic and onions and turn the heat off when the mushrooms are cooked.  Add the plum tomatoes to the pot with the onions and garlic and break them up with a potato masher or a wooden spoon.   You can break up the tomatoes in a large bowl before adding them to the pot if you wish.  A potato masher makes quick work of this. Stir over medium heat until the sauce starts to bubble, then lower the heat so that the sauce is barely at a simmer.  Add the red pepper flakes, dried oregano, the dried onion powder, and sautéed mushrooms, and continue to simmer very gently over very low heat for 1 ½  hours stirring every few minutes making sure that the sauce does not burn. Towards the end of the simmering time, add the salt and pepper, tasting to see how much to add, and the sugar and taste to see if a little more is needed.  Add the chopped parsley leaves, and stir. Simmer for a few additional minutes and remove from the heat.

** To peel mushrooms - use a paring knife to remove the outer skin and any impurities on the mushrooms.

Hope you and your family enjoy this classic Italian Lasagne

 

     

 

  

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Sauteed Celery - Sadano Fritte

                                                             


 This a typical Tuscan Italian vegetable side dish for a holiday dinnner, or a vegetable treat for anyday of the week.

Celery  Sauteed in Olive Oil - Sadano fritte

 

5 or 6 celery stalks (organic if possible)

water for parboiling the celery

kosher salt for parboiling

 

1 Tbsp. sparkling water

1 cup of flour

salt and white pepper to taste

1 large egg

extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a large sauté pan or skillet to a depth of about  ¼ inch).

 

Cut off the bottom of the celery and cut off the tips of the celery by about ¼ of an inch, if the tips are dried out. Thoroughly rinse off the celery to remove any dirt   Remove any tough strings from the stalks by placing your knife under the strings and pulling them lengthwise down the celery stalk. Or remove the strings with a vegetable peeler by shaving a thin layer off.  Cut the stalks into pieces about 1 ½ inches long.

Bring enough water to cover the celery in a pan deep enough to hold all of the celery at once.  When the water comes to a boil, add the kosher salt, then  add the celery pieces. Cover and let the water come back to a boil. Boil the celery for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the water and let the celery cool. While the celery is cooling, mix the flour with the salt and white pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the celery pieces. In a separate bowl of similar size beat the egg with the sparkling water.

When the celery is cool enough to handle place them into the seasoned flour mixture and coat on all sides, then dip into the beaten egg mixture.

Gently place the coated celery into a sauté pan with olive oil that has been heated to the point that it sizzles when a piece of celery is dropped into it. Turn the celery over with tongs or a fork when the bottom side turns a nice golden brown.  Remove from the oil when both sides are a beautiful golden brown. Place on a plate lined with paper toweling to remove excess oil, then place in an oven proof serving dish and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.  Serve as quickly as possible or keep warm in the oven.

 

Serves 4

Let me know if you make this Italian vegetable side dish. Would love to hear your comments. Boun Appetito!

Monday, July 13, 2020

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 follow for ***fresh breadcrumbs
ut 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. 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. 
at your disposal or you want to quickly have breadcrumbs this is a good method. The crumbs will be a little larger.  

***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 easy, and if you do not have a food processor this method works very well. 

Hope you enjoy this Italian Zucchini Grarin

Friday, February 14, 2020

CELEBRATION WHITE CAKE WITH CHERRY AND WALNUT FILLING AND CHERRY FROSTING

Italian Celebration White Cake with Cherry and Walnut Filling and Cherry Frosting - TORTA

This cake is  wonderful for Birthday's, Valentine's Day, or  any celebration.  It has been used for birthdays in my family for several generations.  It is made up of 3 layers so it makes a tall and beautiful presentation.

This cake is perfect without any flavoring, but you may use the optional almond extract, if you wish.



1 1/8 cup butter softened
2 ¼ cups sugar
¼ tsp. almond extract (optional)
3 3/8 cups all purpose flour (be sure to use all-purpose flour, it gives the perfect crumb for this cake.) 
4½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ cups whole milk
8 egg whites

Grease and lightly dust with flour 3  9x1 ½ inch round cake pans.  Mix together the flour and baking powder and sift.  In a separate large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light colored and fluffy.  This can be done in an electric mixer or with a hand held mixer.  Add the almond extract at this point if you are using it.  Now, add about ¼ of the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and add alternately with milk.  Beat well after each addition, making sure to end by adding dry ingredients.  Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl with a clean dry beater until they form stiff peaks, and then add the egg whites to the batter by gently folding them in.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pan.  Cool for approximately 10 minutes and invert onto cooling racks.  Cool thoroughly before frosting.
batter by gently folding them in.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pan.  Cool for approximately 10 minutes and invert onto cooling racks.  Cool thoroughly before frosting.


Maraschino Cherry Frosting

4 egg whites
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
4 tsp. light corn syrup
2/3 cup cold water
½ tsp. almond extract 
1 Tbsp. maraschino cherry juice, or enough to give the frosting and filling a light pink color. 
Alternatively you cam omit the almond extract, and increase the Maraschino cherry juice to 3 Tbsp.

Place the egg whites, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and water in the top of a double boiler, or a bowl that will fit on top of a pan of boiling water.  Before placing on top of the boiling water beat ½ minute on low speed of an electric mixer or beat with a balloon whisk to blend ingredients together.  Now, place the top of the double boiler or the bowl over boiling water, but not touching the water. Beat constantly with a hand held mixer or a balloon whisk till the frosting forms stiff peaks.  This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.  Remove from the boiling water and add the optional almond extract if you are using it, and the maraschino cherry juice. Mix until thoroughly blended.  Reserve 2/3 of the mixture for the frosting and use the remaining third for the following filling recipe.

Maraschino Cherry and Walnut Filling

1/3 of the above frosting 
5 jars 6 oz. each (30 oz.) maraschino cherries roughly chopped (each cherry should be chopped into fourths.)
12 oz. walnuts (roughly chopped)

Add the chopped cherries and chopped walnuts to the frosting and mix.

Assembly

Place the bottom cake layer on a serving plate.  Spread ½ of the filling over the cake layer.  Place the second cake layer on top of the filling.  Spread the remaining filling on top of this layer.  Place the third cake layer on top of the filling.  Spread the top and sides of the cake with the reserved frosting, using a 1 inch wide offset spatula or a table knife.  Make some free form swirls on the top of the cake.  Bellissimo!

Serve this with vanilla ice-cream and or Sweetened Whipped Cream - Panna Montata. Recipe follows.
A tall domed cake stand is an excellent way to store this cake. If you do not have one, just cover the cake with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. This cake keeps very well for several days.

                                                                            

Sweetened Whipped Cream - Panna Montata

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. to 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vanilla extract (to taste)

The cream should be well chilled just from the refrigerator (under 40 degrees F.)  Beat with an electric hand mixer if you have one, otherwise a stand mixer or a whisk.  Start beating slowly so that the cream does not spray out of the bowl.  Beat until the cream is thickened, then add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the Tbsp. of vanilla extract and stir until it is mixed in thoroughly. Taste and add more if needed.  The cream should form soft peaks when the beater is slowly lifted up.  Place in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least an hour before serving to let the flavors meld. 

Tip:  Beating the cream before adding the flavorings lets maximum air to be incorporated into the cream.
Hope you enjoy this Italian cake



Sunday, October 20, 2019

Fusilli or Penne with Roasted Tomatoes - Fusilli - Penne col Pomodori al Forno





                                                                                

Pictured with finely grated Parmigianno-Reggiano.

Fusilli or Penne with Roasted Tomatoes - Fusilli - Penne col Pomodori al Forno

The tomatoes become so flavorful from roasting in the oven that they really do not need any salt or pepper. Once you have added the roasted tomatoes to the pasta, taste to see if you think the dish needs seasoning. The pepper flakes give the dish a little extra liveliness, but is equally good without.

7 tomatoes  garden fresh or supermarket vine-on tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. peperoncini (red pepper flakes)
1 lb. package (16 oz.) of dried pasta, fusilli or penne
1 Tbsp. kosher salt for the pasta cooking water
Parmigianno-Reggiano for serving at the table
Coat an oven-proof baking dish generously with olive oil.  Cut a circle around the core at the stem-end of the tomatoes and remove core. You may peel the tomatoes, instructions for peeling page  , or leave the skins on.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and place in the baking dish.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes, then turn tomatoes around, so that tomatoes are coated with the olive oil on all sides. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting,
Bring 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 the pasta according to package directions until al dente (tender but firm to the bite). Remove the baking-dish with the tomatoes from the oven, and add the pasta to the tomatoes. Test to see if you wish to add salt and pepper at this time.  You may add the peperoncini at this time also, if you wish.

Penne is pictured

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Strawberries with Chantilly Cream - Fragole di Panna

Strawberries with Chantilly Cream - Fragole di Panna

1 pint strawberries
2 to 3 Tbsp. sugar
1 recipe Sweetened Chantilly Whipped Cream recipe follows

Rinse the strawberries and cut the tops off. Place the strawberries in a glass bowl and sprinkle the sugar over them. Place in the refrigerator, and let them macerate for at least 2 hours.
 
Prepare the Sweetened Chantilly Whipped Cream and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors meld.


Serve the strawberries in a dessert cup or a stemmed glass such as a martini glass. Spoon the juices that have formed over the strawberries. Top each serving with a dollop of Sweetened Chantilly Whipped Cream.   


Sweetened Chantilly Whipped Cream
Panna Montata

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. to 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vanilla extract (to taste)

The cream should be well chilled just from the refrigerator (under 40 degrees F.)  Beat with an electric hand mixer if you have one, otherwise a stand mixer or a whisk.  Start beating slowly so that the cream does not spray out of the bowl.  Beat until the cream is thickened, then add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the Tbsp. of vanilla extract and stir until it is mixed in thoroughly. Taste and add more if needed.  The cream should form soft peaks when the beater is slowly lifted up.  Place in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least an hour before serving to let the flavors meld. 
                                         
Tip:  Beating the cream before adding the flavorings lets maximum air to be incorporated into the cream.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Eggplant Roasted in Tomatoes - Melanzane alle Pomodori Arrosto






Eggplant Roasted in Tomatoes - Melanzane alle Pomodori  Arrosto


This makes a wonderful vegetable dish and it can be doubled or tripled to use as a sauce with a pasta such as penne.


5 tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil for roasting tomatoes (enough to coat a baking dish with 1/8 inch of oil)
1 medium eggplant
extra virgin olive oil for roasting the eggplant (enough to lightly coat a baking sheet)
Coat an oven proof glass, porcelain or ceramic baking dish with 1/8 inch or so of olive oil for the tomatoes and set aside.
Core and peel the tomatoes (instructions for peeling tomatoes on page 136).  Next slice the tomatoes in half, then cut those halves into approximately 1 inch chunks. Add the tomato pieces to the olive oil in the baking dish, and stir to coat. Place into a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Stir the tomatoes after 10 minutes and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the tomatoes are in the oven, peel and slice the   eggplant crosswise into  1/3 inch slices.  Place the slices onto the prepared baking sheet.  Turn over so that the eggplant slices are coated with olive oil on both sides.  Place into your pre-heated oven and roast 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the eggplant slices over and continue roasting until the slices are soft and mushy.
 Remove the tomatoes and the eggplant from the oven and add the eggplant to the tomatoes and stir to break up the eggplant slices. The eggplant should become incorporated into the tomatoes.
Return the tomato and eggplant mixture to the oven and roast another few minutes. This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes. The flavor is intense and usually does not need salt or pepper but you may add them to suit your  taste.