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ITALY OR BUST
They say the best way to immerse yourself in the culture of a foreign country is to eat your way though it. I am a lover of Italian food. Northern Italian in particular, which relies more on butter and cheese than the olive oil so prevalent in southern locations on the peninsula. This is a collection of my favorites from north of Rome and particular to the Alpine areas.
COOKBOOK PREVIEW (40 recipes)
Italian Gorgonzola Fonduta
One of my favorites... It's the creamy gorgonzola... Love it, especially with cibatta cubes and/or slices of comice pear... Great served with Muskat Canneli. I need to clarify this recipe a little bit. The Mozzarella I use in this recipe is Mozzarella di Bufala from Italy, made from Water buffalo milk, the Mozzarella in brine made out of cow milk is much stringy-er, the part skim dry kind most readily available for pizza toppings will be SO stringy it may choke one of your guests... If real Mozzarella is not available you can use 3 oz of cream cheese and 4 oz mascarpone and 1 extra oz of Pecorino Romano, but increase the cornflour by 1 more tsp.
Crab Stuffed Pepperoncini
I stole this from the Hearty Boys and made a few alterations for my taste.
These are sooooo good. Think of them as Italian Jalapeno poppers.
Coppetta Di Formaggio Infornato - Edible Cheese Cups
I got this idea from Giada’s show Every Day Italian. She used these to serve individual salads. Personally, I like to place them on a plate and fill them with Lemon or Porcini Risotto or fill with Baby Greens tossed with Warm Pancetta, Goat Cheese and dried unsweetened cranberries (Not Crazins). I also prefer to use Pecorino Romano instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano. When I serve these it always reminds me of the Candy Man song from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (The original). While technically it's talking about being able to eat dishes made of Sugar or Chocolate and can think of NO finer substitute than Cheese.
Crostata ( Italian Tart )
These are a great alternative to pie, you can either make 2 large crostatas with this recipe or 6 individual crostata-lettes. In the picture, I had made a double batch of Pâte Brisée and filled them with Strawberry, Black Current, Raspberry and a Pastry Cream topped with Mandarin oranges.
First, a warning about Panna Cotta. This is not nearly as sweet a desert as crème brule. Don’t let the heavy cream & yogurt fool you. This is more of a refreshing clean palette kind of custard as opposed to the somewhat heavy, sweet, richness of crème brule or flan. Also, Panna Cotta needs about 12 hours to fully set up… The gelatin needs time, when it comes to dairy, to work its way through the mixture to spread its gel netting and stiffen the custard. Don’t be upset if it seems a little jiggley when you cover it with plastic wrap, just give it more time, and it will set as long as you don’t over heat your gelatin. That is why I suggest using a water method, as it is gentler than over direct heat in a stainless measuring cup. For something a little more, shall we say interesting, you can drop the vanilla bean and add about 3TB of your favorite liquor to this recipe as well, such as Frangelico, Gran Marnier, Cointreau, Kirschwasser/Marachino, Tuaca, Sweet Marsala, 99 Bananas, Limoncello, Galliano, Baileys, or even Midori (Although the green color is a little un-settling).
This recipe came out of a lot of internet research after trying way too many restaurant versions made with Rum or Brandy. You can forgo the Spring form pan presentation and simply layer in a 13x9 baking dish. This will use only about 20 oz of lady fingers.
Chicken Nastro Azzurro
or- Chicken Cordon Blu (Italian Style) I wanted chicken Cordon bleu one night for dinner but I did not want to go to the store to purchase Ham or Swiss cheese. This recipe arose from what I had lying around that could be substituted in a pinch. I have been using hazelnut & almond meal in place of bread crumbs for years now. It just seems more healthy to me. I must warn you though, because this recipe not only lacks an egg wash, but is baked, not fried in a lot of fat, the crust will be very delicate but I personally prefer a thinner crust.
Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Loins In Caper Sauce
You can use dried herbes for this as well, just reduce the amount of rosemary and sage to 1 - 1 1/2 tsp.
Risotto alla Limone
I love Risotto; Even the process of making it is relaxing. I also love ANYTHING that contains Lemon. I have to give a speech on rice here, because the rice you use is what makes your risotto into risotto, or just an overcooked pilaf. I have seen recipes claiming that you can make fantastic risotto with any long grain rice. I wonder if these people have ever had really good risotto and just don't know what they are missing. You have at least six choices but three are the most common. Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. The first two are much easier to find than the third. There are, also, Baldo, Roma and Padano, but I have never seen them at the market. These rices are very special. Why? you ask. Because they contain the 'Golden Ratio' of the two starches found in rice. Amylose and Amylopectin. Rice that is high in amylose, a long straight starch molecule that does not gelatinize during cooking and crystalizes when cold, creates fluffy rice such as Basmati and Jasmine. Rice high in Amylopectin, a multi-branched molecule that becomes sticky when released during cooking, results in a very clumpy rice such as Sushi rice that is able to hold it's shape. Somewhere in between these two extremes is the perfect balance of amylose and amylopectin that creates a medium-firm textured rice combined with an unparalleled creamyness that cannot be duplicated by any long grain or sushi rice. The second most important thing is the stirring of the Risotto. You must stir to force the grains to rub against each other, releasing the amylopectin into the broth and thus creating the silky mouth feel that good risotto is known for. Third and final, you must not add chilled wine or cold broth to your risotto during the cooking process. Heat your broth on a separate burner and have your wine at least at room temperature. If you add cold wine after the saute, you will shock the rice, if you add cold or luke warm broth during the remainder of the cooking process, you will start a cycle of cooling & reheating as the cold liquid comes back up to a boil. This is not good for the rice and makes it gummy. It will also double the cooking time. So without further comment, here is my recipe for Lemon Risotto.
Conchiglia alla Crema Ostrica
I make this when I get tired of Linguini and Clams. Although the canned oysters work in a pinch, if you are lucky enough to live on the Oregon Coast, I recommend using fresh oysters.
Strawberries In Balsamic Vinegar & Black Pepper
Though technically not a sauce, I use this over a lot of things such as Panna Cotta or over Angelfood cake.
Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
This is my take on Linguini Carbonara; I prefer the Spaghetti, I believe this holds the sauce better. Sometimes, when I make this for more carnivorous persons, I add meatballs. I "cheat" when I do this. I will use either hot or sweet Italian sausage and squeeze the meat out of the casing to form the meatballs. I learned this trick from Jamie Oliver on a segment he did on Late Night with David Letterman. I cook the meatballs in the same skillet as the pancetta, I just start them about 4 minutes earlier, since they take a little longer to cook.
Slow-cooked Tomato Sauce Base
I must give credit where credit is due... I originally picked up this recipe off the Internet about 5 years ago... I have modified it many times, over the years, but since I found this I have ceased to purchase tomatoe sauce/red gravy in the Mega-mart. This makes alot, so have some ziploc baggies ready to fill & store in the freezer. I manage about 10-12 meals (with 1 lb of pasta) out of this batch, this will depend on how 'Saucy' you like your pasta through. For the original recipe, check out this site... http://www.cusick.com/jeff/Tsauce.html <---This link no longer works
Linguine alla Papalina
Named for Pope Pius XII. Similar in idea, to Pasta alla Carbonara. Quite delicious. Carefull with the salt though, the prosciutto and Grana are pretty salty already.
Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Most people have become aware of the origins of this dish. It's all over the net, usually labeled "Whore Pasta" or something clever like "Pastatute". However there seem to be conflicting stories as the the WHY it is called this. Some cite it is a 1950's dish created when prostitutes were only allowed to shop 1 day a week, others state it is simply "alla Casalinga" that has been "spiced up" or "tarted up" to use an English phrase; others tout that the scent was used like a "Sirens Song" to draw men to the brothel, some insist that it was the speed at which it could be cooked, eluding that it could be cooked in the time it took to "entertain" a guest, so the meal could be eaten between clients. Which, considering that it only takes about 15 minutes, is kind of insulting to the stamina of Italian men. ;) Finally, others claim that it stems from the word "Puttanata" (meaning Garbage or whatever "Junk" is in the pantry). The final explanation, although much more prosaic and not as scandalous, makes more sense, at least to me. Standard Puttanesca contains very little in the way of fresh ingredients, like so many other Italian dishes. Everything is preserved in some way shape or form and would be part of a standard dry pantry in Italy, unless you happen to use fresh tomatoes.
Alfredo is not really a sauce made with cream, as we have come to know in the US, it is a simple preparation of pasta tossed with A LOT of butter and aged Parmegiano-Reggiano. Alfredo di Lelio invented this recipe in 1914 when his wife lost her appetite during her pregnancy. He served her a simple dish of egg fettuccine tossed with butter and cheese. This dish is still served by Alfredo’s grandson who now owns the restaurant in Rome, Alfredo all’Augusteo, and is still served with same golden forks that were apparently donated by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, the famous silent film stars.
Sopa Alla Cipolla (onion Soup With An Italian Twist)
Ravioli Alla Burro Nocciola
Farfalle Alla Crema Muscato Gorgonzola
A recipe for those that love Bleu Cheese... This is a great luncheon pasta dish, unless you are into eating light, this is phenomenal with a side of sliced pears and prosciutto. If you are having issues finding Docelatte you can use regular aged gorgonzola, it will just be a little stronger in flavor.
Linguine Alla Calamari Limone
Yet another seafood pasta recipe. Something interesting to do with calamari, other than just frying it. This dish has a nice 'clean' flavor thanks to the lemon. the trick with this is to saute the calamari quick and hot. If you cook it to long it will be shoe leather. the alternative is to cook it long and low, but that doesn;t work to well with pasta dishes. The lemon juice can be exchanged for chicken broth or clam juice if desired to mix up the flavors a little.
Bucatini Rigati Olio Aglio e Asparago
I love garlic, much to the distress of my coworkers. I tend to make this dish with 10 cloves of garlic. I realize, however, that not all persons view garlic the way I do... As a vegetable. So I would suggest using 6 cloves the first time, 5 if you want a really mellow garlic flavor.
Risotto al Salmone
Most of my risotto recipes are designed as a side dish or an appetizer before the main course, thus 1 cup of rice serves 4 to 6 people. When I use fish and/or seafood however, I tend to make the risotto the main dish. With my love of salmon, it is no wonder. I could probably eat the whole pot by myself. This recipe only serves 4 as a main dish, serve with asparagus with a little lemon butter or some baby greens tossed with a little olive oil and some mandarin oranges. NOTE 1: If using King/Chinook it’s Salmone Reale; Coho/Silver it’s Salmone Argenteo) NOTE 2: This recipe works really well with Tuna Steaks as well. Simply replace the salmon fillet with a cubed tuna steak. Reduce the wine to 1/2 cup Add 3 TB lemon juice to the wine. Replace the Tarragon with Dill weed This would be Rissotto al Tonno
Risotto alla Burro Tartufo di Alba
Risotto with white truffles is a specialty of Piedmont, in northern western Italy. Arborio rice from the Po River Valley is the key to this food of the gods, although carnaroli will work as well. When it is lavished with the noble white truffle of Alba, the intoxicating aroma is truly decadent. This is a dish to spoil your guests with. Careful though, they may never leave. And, if you can afford it… This would be fantastic garnished with just a few shavings of white truffle. (sigh) Someday..... Perfectly paired with pan seared Duck Breast, a Frisee salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette and a bottle of Caramel Road Pinot Noir from Monterey, CA
Risotto Alla Gorgonzola E Pancetta
Just another risotto recipe, sprung from a lack of ingredients and sheer laziness regarding a trip to the market for Beef broth, a Bell Pepper and some Heavy Cream.
Lasagna Alla Garfield
Just paying homage to the fat orange cat, of comic fame, whose craving for lasagna matches my own. While it often said that 'man cannot live by bread alone', the same cannot be said for Lasagna. Not only is Lasagna one of the architectural wonder of the culinary world, along with Tiramisu, which is also Italian (Go figure), but it is also one of the perfect foods. It contains all of the food groups in one convenient dish. Dairy(Milk), Vegetables(Arugala or spinach), Fruit(Tomato) Protein(Beef, egg), Fat(Olive Oil), and Grains(Pasta and Flour). And let's face it, ANY food that contains three different cheeses is pure unadulterated heaven.
Conchigli All’arrabbiata Farcito Con Carciofo Y Pollame
Basically... Poultry and Artichoke stuffed Jumbo Shells with Angry Sauce
This dish is traditionally made with Veal Scaloppine (Scalloped veal - Thin sliced veal, dredged in flour and pan fried in butter and olive oil), however, the use of chicken has become extremely popular. I suspect this is partially due to the dubious origins of veal in the US. Veal crates were banned in 1990 by the UK and in 2007 by the EU. Yet another agricultural issue in which the US is always behind, especially when the almighty dollar is involved, right along with the continued use of rBST/rBGH (Canada, the EU, Australia and New Zealand have all banned its usage). While I am on a tangent about recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, it is produced by genetically tampering with E. Coli bacteria. Doesn't that bake your noodle? There is hope for the US unenlightened agricultural practices though. The AVA (American Veal Association) has announced that they are instituting a 10 year plan to phase out the use of crating. Personally, I think they are missing a marketing opportunity. The words FREE RANGE are extremely popular right now, labeling everything from Chicken and Eggs to Cheese and Coffee Beans. (Yes, the coffee beans are free to scamper about the hillsides of Colombia) There is no reason the calves could not be allowed to run, jump and play, then simply slap a Free Range sticker on it and charge twice the price Sounds lucrative to me. And a lot more humane. Oh, incidentally, the term Piccata refers to the Caper/Lemon pan sauce poured over the chicken. Without the sauce, this is simply Chicken Scaloppine
Focaccia with Red Onion and Kalamata Olives
This is my favorite focaccia recipe, it is extremely versatile. I use Gold Medal Bread Flour (Sometimes called harvest King) because it is a "strong" flour meaning it is mostly hard wheat containing a higher gluten content, thus creating the harder european style crust and a soft but chewing interior. You may also replace 2 cups of the "Bread" flour with 2 cups of Spelt (The original wheat before hybridization) although the texture of the bread will be a little different, and the crust will be softer. If you are a Kamut fan, well, due to the low/no gluten content you can only replace 1 cup of the "Bread" flour. I have not tried experimenting with Barley and Oat flour with this recipe as to me, it would no longer be focaccia at that point. This will make makes either 8 small or 4 large. I tend towards the smaller size since its a little more manageable in a sandwich situation.
(say: Pete's-oh-CARE-ee) I wanted make Pizzocheri alla Valtellinesi however, I ran into a glitch. I cannot find Pizzoccheri pasta in San Diego... Even Little Italy let me down. Why the obsession with a specific pasta you ask? Well, most pastas are a simple preparation of semolina flour and are designed, not as a flavor component to a dish, but more of a vehicle to get the sauce into your mouth, thus the different shaped for different types of sauces. Pizzoccheri is a little different, it is a buckwheat noodle from the Italian alps in Lombardi. Being made with buckwheat, it has a distinctive earthy flavor that is part of the overall dish. So since my craving was being denied satiation, I started digging on the net for pasta recipes. 3 bags of buckwheat flour and much cursing in the kitchen later, I have arrived at my own recipe. Granted, this is designed for hand rolling since I don't own a pasta machine or the attachment to my Kitchen Aid. For those out there who decorate cakes, this dough is like working with stiff fondant, and due to the low gluten content of the buckwheat, it rips fairly easily once you have it thin enough. When you buy extruded pizzoccheri in the store, the noodles are long, I cut mine short to make handling a little easier. This seems like it makes a lot, but I always seem to end up with scrap, and it's almost impossible to re-roll, so it end up in the garbage or... since the gluten is low, I will even let my dog have some as a treat.
Pizzoccheri Alla Valtellinesi
OK, this is the recipe that spawned the homemade Pizzoccheri pasta. This is Lombardian comfort food at it's finest.
Somewhat of a controversy, at least in the US where crating is still practiced, this works equally well with chicken breast cutlets. Add lemon juice and capers to the pan sauce and you have Veal or Chicken Piccata. I was out of parsley when I made this... oops..
Risotto ai Fiori di Zucca (Zucchini Blossom Risotto)
Look for Zucchini blossoms in the spring at you local farmers market. This will work with crook-neck squash blossoms as well.
Since I have not been to Italy, I am not sure what the proper name of this dish: My assumption is that it's "Gelato Affogato". All I know is that this traditional dessert if sinfully delicious!
Pumpkin Pizza with Saged Brown Butter with Walnuts, topped with Pecorino Romano and Sage Chiffonade
I love making Pizza... I love Pumpkin ... Not as in Pumpkin Pie, but as in savory Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Sauted with browned butter and sage. Pumpkin, It's not just for Dessert anymore....
Pumpkin Pancetta Pizza with Cracked Black Pepper and Fennel Pollen, topped with Smoked Gouda.
This was another pizza from the feast; Specifically for the meat eaters in attendance.
Mushroom Ragú over Parmegiano-Reggiano Crusted Polenta
You can use Instant polenta if you wish. Just follow the directions on the back of the package, then stir in the Parm & Butter at the end. You only need 1/3 cup of the Mushroom soaking liquid, but please, save the remainder for something else. It can be frozen if you wish. Definitely a quick and easy way to add flavor.
Gougères alla Pecorino Romano
Classically Gougères are made with Gruyere cheese. A very savory cheese indeed. But since I was not going to run to the store for 1 thing, I decided to use my Pecorino Romano instead. While P. Romano is a deliciously savory cheese, it does not contain the same notes as Gruyere. I had originally thought of exchanging some of the butter for Bacon Fat, but "Chickened Out" at the last minute. Literally... I used Chicken Stock instead of plain water to give it a little more savoriness. These can be cooled and filled, or frozen on the baking sheet in the freezer and moved to a freezer bag and stored for 2 months. Simply rewarm them at 300 for 10-15 minutes.
Saltimbocca Ala Bisonte (Bison, or American Buffalo)
This was the product of the BakeSpace International Taste Tour. We get together on a forum page and decide on a specific dish to make (although we have also chosen a specific recipe as well). Then everyone participating makes a version with their own creative spin on said dish. I have made Saltimbocca several times, and it IS quite delicious in it's classic style. This made it both easy and difficult for me. The easy part was that I HAD already made it. The hard part stems from the following: I usually put an Italian spin on most things I cook, and I love to sneak browned butter into things. Saltimbocca is Already Italian and it is made with browned butter. Think think think think.... Then I found a bison steak at the store (instead of ground)... Nice mellow flavor.. Not sweet like cheven, not wild like venison, not sour like beef... It turned out to be a REALLY good thing... I was very pleased with the flavor of the bison...
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