Category Archives: Italian

Italian and Sicilian cuisines

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Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer

This Caponata eggplant appetizer originates from Sicily and is very popular.  Serve it with bread or crackers as your holiday guests arrive.

Caponata
Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer

Easy to make and if you follow my jam recipes for canning you can enjoy Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer all year long.  Just keep the jars in the pantry, once opened refrigerate them.

Caponata mixture
Caponata mixture

Ingredients;
4 cups cubed fresh eggplant, with the skin on
4 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
2 med onions, chopped
3-4 ribs of celery, cubed
1/4 cup capers, drained
2/3 cup pitted olives, green Sicilian are preferred
1 TBLS red wine vinegar
3-4 leaves sliced fresh basil
1 cup plum tomatoes, canned and rough chopped with their juice

These are my favorite brand of tomatoes. They are from Italy and have no additives
These are my favorite brand of tomatoes. They are from Italy and have no additives

Directions;
Heat the oil in a pan large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Saute the celery and onion until nearly soft but not brown. Add the eggplant a saute a few minutes more. Add all the other ingredients and simmer on low uncovered for about 45 minutes until the excess juices are nearly gone. Serve at room temperature. It can be store in the refrigerator for about 4 days. You can also can at this point with the mixture hot and going into hot boiled mason jars.
Serve with a crusty Italian or French bread.

Italian Sandwich on Ciabatta Bread

This Italian sandwich was typical growing up in an Italian household.
So many different ways to make it, but I’m giving you this Italian sandwich on ciabatta bread as my favorite.

Italian sandwich on ciabatta bread
Italian sandwich on ciabatta bread

Ingredients;
One 10″ – 12″ fresh Ciabatta bread (found in the better markets)
2 TBLS Pesto (jarred or grind garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, 1 TBLS grated Parmesan and a few pine nuts to make your own)
One medium jar red/yellow roasted peppers, rinsed
8oz fresh Mozzarella, sliced
1/4-1/2 LB Sicilian salami, sliced very thin

Directions;
Cut the bread in half long ways. Brush both pieces with the pesto. Layer the balance of the ingredients to your desired thickness. Cover with the other half of bread and slice into 4 pieces.
Enjoy with a good glass of wine or an Italian soda.

Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi

This pasta dish is Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi.
That is the Italian broccoli known as di raperapi, or rapini.
This vegetarian dish is so delicious and nutritious.

Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi
Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Broccoli Di Rapi

Quick to make and serves a crowd or take along as I did today to a party.

Ingredients;
6 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 ” slices
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli di rapi, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 LB tagliatelle (white or green or mixed) cooked according to the pkg directions
6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced
salt & crushed red pepper flakes

Directions;
Broccoli; I like to use only the small stems, leaves and flowered part. Chop and steam the broccoli di rapi until tender. If frozen just steam 1 cup, set aside.
Begin cooking the pasta.
In a large skillet heat the oil and add the zucchini and broccoli di rapi and saute for about 5 minutes until soft but not mushy. Add the garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Drain the pasta keeping one cup of the water and combine with the zucchini/broccoli mixture and half of the basil and toss. Add the reserved pasta water if it appears to be dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining basil, Parmesan and serve.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is nutritious and can be a good substitute for pasta. By itself roasted spaghetti squash does not have much flavor so its important to use a sauce with it that has an abundance of flavor.
I like to make something similar to a Puttanesca sauce.
Rich with olives, capers, tomatoes and herbs.

Roasted spaghetti squash
Roasted spaghetti squash

Ingredients;
1 whole spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/2 med onion, chopped fine
2 TSP anchovy paste
1/2 TSP hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in juice or 6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup pitted mixed Kalamata & Italian green ( not Spanish)olives, sliced in half
2  TBLS drained capers
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions;
Preheat the oven to 375.
Drizzle a little of the olive oil on the cut side of the squash.
Bake the squash in a roasting pan cut side down for about 45-55 minutes, unit a knife inserts easily. Set aside.
In a heavy fry pan place the oil and cook the onion, garlic, anchovy paste and red pepper for 2-3 minutes while stirring.  Pulse chop the tomatoes and their juice in a food processor or blender.  Add to the frying pan and stir.  Add the balance of ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.  Scrap the squash out of its skin and add it to the frying pan tomato mixture. Toss to mix.
Lightly grate Parmesan cheese over the top and serve.

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

An assortment of tomatoes are in abundance in the summer months.
This Heirloom tomato recipe mixes all types of tomatoes.
I bought these from the local farmers market picked at their peak of flavor.

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Heirloom Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Fresh mozzarella is key also. It’s from my local market but the store brand BelGioioso is good too.

ingredients for Heirloom Tomato Mozzarella Salad

1 LB fresh mozzarella
1 LB Heirloom tomatoes, mixed types
2 TBLS extra virgin oil oil
4-6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
A bottle of Balsamic glaze, check the label to be sure it doesn’t have corn syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Mix and assemble in a dish. Pour the olive oil over them and add the salt and pepper. Decorate with the Balsamic glaze and the basil. Serve just slightly chilled with a good crusty slice of Italian bread.
Add a glass of wine and opera music and you could drift off into Italy!!

Tomato Tart

It seems like all the garden tomatoes come out at one time. This Tomato Tart recipe is a great way to use many of them. I served it as an appetizer.
Be sure to use Roma or plum type tomatoes. Regular slicing tomatoes have too much water in them.

Tomato tart
Tomato tart

Ingredients;
One 16oz pkg frozen Phyllo dough (use one of the two rolls in the pkg) defrosted according to the box directions
6-8 Ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thin
6-8 Basil leaves, sliced thin
1 TSP Dried Oregano
1 TSP Garlic powder (not salt)
1 TBLS Dried or fresh Parsley, minced
2/3 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBLS Butter, melted
3 TBLS Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Parchment paper

Directions;
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Mix the butter and oil together. Unroll the phyllo dough and one sheet at a time brush the first 4 sheets with the butter/oil mixture stacking them on top of each other on the parchment paper lined pan. Keep a damp paper towel over the unused phyllo dough while you are putting together the sheets. Sprinkle the 5th sheet with about one third of the oregano, basil, garlic powder, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Repeat brushing each layer of dough and repeat the sprinkle of spices when about 2 sheets remain. On the top/last sheet repeat the butter/oil and place the tomatoes over the entire dough area. Sprinkle with the remaining spices and cheese.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until the dough is lightly brown and the middle of the underside of the tart is a little firm. Cool slightly before cutting into squares to serve.

Stuffed Artichokes

A fresh stuffed artichoke is intimidating to some, not only how to eat them but also how to cook them. Hopefully I will explain and picture the basics so you will try both. There are a few ways to cook artichokes. This one is stuffed.

Stuffed artichokes
Stuffed artichokes

Another is Roman style which steams them whole with lemon and oil, not stuffed.
They are truly a gourmet delight when prepared properly.
You can also use a crock pot for this recipe.

Ingredients;
2 large fresh artichokes(the leaves will be tightly closed when fresh)
1 1/2 cups of Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 TBLS parsley, minced
2 TSP garlic powder, not salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions;
Mix the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder and cheese together, set aside.

Stuffed artichokes
prepping artichokes
Stuffed artichokes
snipped artichokes

Wash the artichokes and cut off the stem at the base of the leaves (peel the stem and add it to the pot for cooking)and enough of the top to cut off the pointed ends of the first row of top leaves. Then with kitchen scissors trim just the tops of all the leaves. Rinse the inside leaves pulling them open while running them under water. Set the artichoke upright and sprinkle inside all the leaves and top with the bread crumb mixture. I use a grapefruit spoon as pictured, but any type will do.

Stuffed artichokes
Stuffed artichokes preparation

Place the artichokes in a pot and pour some of the olive oil over each one. Fill the pot about 1/4 up the sides of the artichokes with water. Cover and simmer on low for 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size of the artichoke. At this point you could use a crock pot.
They are done when the middle leaves pull out easily. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a lemon wedge if you like.
You eat them by pulling the leaves off and placing them in your mouth and scrapping the leave with your teeth as you pull them out of your mouth. Once all the leaves are off there is a center with a fuzzy top. Peel away the fuzz and what is left is called the heart. It is and well as the stem completely eatable and so tasty.

Lobster and Shrimp Fra Diavolo

This spicy Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo dish is classic coastal southern Italian. You can adjust the spiciness to your liking. You can also use other shellfish if you like. Serve as is or over your favorite long style pasta, like linguine or over cooked rice.

Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo
Lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo

Ingredients;
2 lobster tails cut in half length wise, any size from 3oz-6oz each
1LB raw shelled and deveined shrimp, I like 16-20 count size
2 cups plum tomatoes, roughly cut
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TSP red pepper flakes
1 TSP parsely, chopped

Directions;
In a large deep frying pan saute the garlic in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, red pepper and 1/2 the basil. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
Add the shell fish and simmer for about 5 minutes turning the shell fish until the shrimp flesh is pink and the lobster meat is white and firm, but not too long so that it gets rubbery.
Place in a serving dish as is or over pasta/rice.
Sprinkle with the remaining basil leaves.

Tiramisu

The translation of Tiramisu from Italian means “pick me up”.  I guess with the espresso and sugar it does just that. This Tiramisu dessert has been around in Europe for decades but only in the last 20 years or so very popular in the USA. It’s easy to make once you find the mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is like the Italian version of cream cheese, but make no mistake they are not interchangeable.

Tiramisu
Tiramisu

Depending on where you live you can find this cheese in supermarkets near the imported cheese area, or specialty food stores.
This dessert can be frozen for future use if you like.

Ingredients;
24 crisp Italian lady fingers(savoiardi)
3/4 cup espresso coffee, cooled
6 eggs, separated
6 TBLS sugar
4 x 4oz packages Mascarpone cheese
2 TBLS brandy(you can omit if you need to)
8oz semi sweet chocolate shavings
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions;
In a **2-3 QT serving dish arrange half the lady fingers. Brush them lightly with the espresso.
In a small bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the mascarpone and brandy stirring gently. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold into the mascarpone mixture. Spread half the mixture on top of the lady fingers in the dish. Sprinkle with half the chocolate shavings and dust with cocoa. Repeat the lady finger layer and brush with espresso. Cover with remaining mascarpone mixture and top with a dusting of cocoa and the remaining chocolate shavings. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving or you can wrap the dish for freezing. Thaw before serving.

**you can also make this in individual small cups with a peel away liner.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara di Zucchini

Carbonara is a legendary Roman pasta dish. This version, Spaghetti alla Carbonara di Zucchini,  includes sauteed zucchini and is meatless, but every bit as delicious as the bacon version..

Spaghetti alla carbonara do zucchini
Spaghetti alla carbonara do zucchini

Ingredients;
6 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1LB small zucchini, cut into 1/4 ” slices
2 Xlarge eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 LB spaghetti cooked according to the box directions
6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced
salt & pepper

Directions;
In a large skillet heat the oil and add the garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini saute for about 15 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic. Set aside. Whisk the eggs with the Parmesan cheese until blended. Drain the pasta serving one cup of the water and combine with egg mixture tossing it to coat. Add the zucchini mixture and half of the basil and toss. Add the served pasta water if too dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve.

Chicken or Veal Cutlets Milanese Style

This Milanese style recipe is classic Italian in that so much Italian food is just simple tastes. You can make this with chicken or veal. If you choose veal be sure it is top quality and very light pink in color. Veal Cutlets Milanese Style or Chicken Cutlets Milanese Style are served simply with lemon wedges.

Chicken cutlets Milanese
Chicken cutlets Milanese

Ingredients;
1 LB chicken or veal cutlets pounded thin
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 TSP dried basil
1 TSP dried thyme
Salt & pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
6 lemon wedges

Directions;
In a shallow dish, beat eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour flour into another shallow dish. Mix together the bread crumbs, basil and thyme in a third shallow dish. Have ready one large plate.
Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Working with 1 piece of cutlet at a time, dip it first in the flour, shaking off excess. Next, place the floured cutlet into the beaten eggs, coating completely. Place the cutlet into the bread crumb mixture and gently press crumbs into the cutlet. Set aside on large plate and continue with remaining cutlets.

Preheat your oven on 200. In a large skillet, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Have ready a baking sheet fitted with a rack. Carefully place 2 pieces of breaded cutlet in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Chicken should be cooked through but the veal can be pink in the center.
Place cooked cutlets on the rack in the oven to keep warm.
Continue with remaining cutlets.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Tortellini Soup

This tortellini soup is a fast and easy version. I used stock I had frozen from chicken soup but a store bought stock will work well too.

Tortellini soup
Tortellini soup

Ingredients;
8oz pkg fresh Tortellini pasta
32oz chicken stock
1 TBLS butter
1 carrot cut into small cubed pieces
1 small leek, the light green part only, minced
1 stalk celery minced
8-10 fresh spinach leaves
1 small zucchini, cut into small cubed pieces
Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a 4qt stock pot saute the leek and celery with the butter for a few minutes. Add the stock, spinach and carrots. Heat to a simmer about 10 minutes. Add the tortellini and the zucchini. Simmer uncovered for about 5-6 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.

Italian Cold Antipasto, Traditional style

There are many variations of Italian Cold Antipasto. The name alone says “before pasta”. What I have assembled is the traditional style I grew up with. Be creative and add your family favorites to the dish.
Half the attraction are the colors and textures when the dish is assembled making it a work of art!!

Italian cold antipasto
Italian cold antipasto

Ingredients;
1LB fresh Mozzarella, sliced
1LB Italian Pannello or Provolone cheese, sliced
1 large jar roasted red peppers or mix with yellow or roast your own
1 box frozen artichoke hearts
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2LB Prosciutto, DiParma is the best
1/4LB Sicilian Salami
1/2LB assorted olives
10 Grape tomatoes
Small can Anchovies rolled with capers
Romaine lettuce leaves, enough to cover the platter
A good quality Balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil
Italian bread

Use a large platter that can accommodate all the ingredients. Defrost the artichoke hearts. Toss them with a little olive oil. Rinse the peppers if you use jarred and pat dry. Cut them into 1 inch slices. Roll the Prosciutto into logs. Lay the lettuce leaves to cover the platter. Assemble the platter as you like, mixing the colors and textures making the dish mouth watering good.
Slice the basil thin and sprinkle over the platter.
Serve with the dressing on the side and a good crusty Italian bread.

 

Chicken Parmigiana

This Chicken Parmigiana is very easy to make and once the sauce is ready it only takes 30 minutes to prepare. Serve it alone, with pasta or on Italian bread as a sandwich. You can also change the cutlets to veal, it’s the same process for cooking. But be sure to buy a good quality veal otherwise they will be tough.

Chicken parmigiana
Chicken parmigiana

Make my Marinara sauce or use sauce left over from a Traditional Sunday sauce that had meat in it. The flavors work well with either.
If you really are pressed for time then use the best quality jarred sauce, like Barilla.

Ingredients;
6 Chicken breast cutlets or veal, pounded thin
2 eggs, beaten
1/1/2 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 TSP of each; dried parsley, dried basil and garlic powder(not salt)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups Tomato sauce from the above selection
1/2 cup canola oil mixed with half olive oil

Directions;
Preheat the oven to 350.
Mix the parsley, basil, garlic powder and about 2 TBLS of the Parmesan cheese together and set aside. Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Dip the cutlets into the beaten egg and then into the bread crumb mixture coating them on both sides. Place the cutlets in the frying pan so they have some room between them and fry until lightly brown. Unless you have a very large frying pan (then use all the oil) you will probably need to do this twice. Add the left over oil to the pan and let it heat in between frying more cutlets. Place the cooked cutlets on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. In a large baking pan place a few TBLS of sauce and then top it with a cutlet. Repeat this until all cutlets are in the pan. Place a few more TBLS of sauce on top of each cutlet and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and spread the mozzarella cheese over that. Cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 15-20 mins or until the cheese is melted and sauce is just slightly bubbling.

 

**to make this health friendly use half the Parmesan cheese and use part skim mozzarella cheese.

Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

Instead of serving only butter with your dinner bread, try using my olive oil dipping sauce. This one is Italian style. But you can mix any herbs you like. If you have left over don’t throw it away. Use it to marinate boneless chicken or fish.

Olive oil dipping sauce
Olive oil dipping sauce

Ingredients;
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 clove mashed fresh garlic
1 TSP of each; dried basil, grated cheese such as Parmesan and dried parsley
Dash of each; dried oregano, red pepper flakes

Mix together at least an hour before serving.
Serve with a crusty warm bread.

Stuffed Ricotta Shells

This  recipe for Stuffed Ricotta Shells is rich and creamy.

stuffed Ricotta shells
stuffed Ricotta shells

The recipe originates from the Lazio (Rome)region of Italy. It’s easy to make with a little patience and freezes well for a quick work night meal. There are many ways to stuff these; ricotta, meat sauce, sausage with herbs and bread crumb w/ bechamel sauce, etc…

Make my recipe for Marinara sauce

Ingredients;
12oz box Jumbo Shells (I like Barilla)
2 LB container of whole milk ricotta
Two 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBLS minced fresh parsley
ground pepper to taste

Directions;
Cook the jumbo shells for 9 minutes or according to the box for boiling and then baking. Drain and rinse in a colander with cool water. Be sure all the water is out of the inside of the shell. In a mixing bowl combine all the other ingredients, leaving out half the mozzarella. Put a heavy layer of marinara sauce in a covered baking dish. Open the shell with two fingers and spoon the cheese mixture into the shell until nearly full, about two tablespoons. Fold it closed. Place the stuffed shells next to each other and fill the baking dish. Pour a generous layer of sauce over the top of the shells and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

**use low or non fat cheese to make this more health friendly

Pasta Puttanesca

This Italian Puttanesca sauce was named for the “ladies of the evening”. It was fast to make in between clients!!
So flavorful and ready in 20 minutes.

puttanesca
puttanesca

Ingredients:

1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/2 med onion, chopped fine
2 TSP anchovy paste
1/2 TSP hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably Italian)
1/2 cup pitted mixed Kalamata & Italian green ( not Spanish)olives, sliced in half
2  TBLS drained capers
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped

puttanesca sauce
puttanesca sauce

Directions:

I don’t add any additional salt to this recipe since the ingredients have a fair amount themselves.

In a heavy fry pan place the oil and cook the onion, garlic, anchovy paste and red pepper for 2-3 minutes while stirring.  Pulse chop the tomatoes and their juice in a food processor or blender.  Add to the frying pan and stir.  Add the balance of ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.  Follow the directions on the pasta box and boil the pasta as directed. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.
Lightly grate Parmesan cheese over the top.

 

Stracciatella Soup

This Italian inspired Stracciatella Soup is what my Mother would feed us when we were sick. It takes just minutes to make. You have heard a good homemade chicken soup called Jewish penicillin, well this is Italian penicillin.

stractatelli soup
stractatelli soup

Ingredients:

Two 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth or stock
1 TBLS fresh chopped parsley
6-8 fresh spinach leaves torn
1 cup pastina pasta or any other small pasta cooked according to the box directions
2 eggs, beaten
Dash of pepper
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Directions:
Place the broth, parsley, spinach and pepper in a sauce pot.  Bring it to a boil and with a fork whisk the beaten egg into the pot.  Add the cooked pasta.  Serve  with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.

 

 

Stuffed Veal Rolls (Scaloppini)

This veal scaloppini dish is classic northern Italian. Made with good light pink colored veal cutlets is best. It’s made in one pan and 30 minutes to cook, so tender. If you are making this for a crowd place the browned rolls in a baking dish and pour the juices/wine mixture over the rolls.  Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

veal roll
veal roll

Ingredients;
1 LB Veal cutlets, pounded very thin
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 oz Prosciutto ham, thin slices
1 egg
2 TBLS milk
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Dash of pepper
Dash of nutmeg
3 TBLS butter
1 TBLS olive oil
1/2 flour, spread on a plate
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup beef or veal stock/broth
Toothpicks

veal roll preparation
veal roll preparation

Directions;
In a mixing bowl place the bread crumbs, milk, cheese, egg, pepper and nutmeg, mashing together to form a creamy consistency. Lay the cutlets out flat and divide and spread the bread crumb mixture evenly among them. Place on top of it a 1/2 slice or full slice, depending on the size of the cutlet, of the Prosciutto. Roll the cutlets up and secure with a toothpick or two lengthwise. Put the butter and oil in a pan large enough to accommodate the veal rolls in a single layer. Dredge the veal rolls in the flour. Heat on med high and brown the meat on all sides. Add the wine and stock/broth bringing it to a brief boil then turn the heat down to very low and simmer covered for about 25-30 minutes. If the juices are too thin/watery, remove the veal and turn the heat up for a few minutes to reduce the juices.

Pork Chops Braised with Marsala and Red Wine

This Pork Chops Braised with Marsala and Red Wine dish is flavorful and made in one pan. It’s a classic regional Italian dish. The pork melts in your mouth when done.

pork braised with marsala
pork braised with marsala

Ingredients;
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBLS butter
4 pork loin chops, about 3/4″ thick or boneless pork chops with a little fat on them works too
1/2 cup flour, spread on a plate
1 TSP chopped garlic
1 TBLS tomato paste, dissolved in the wine
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup dry red wine
Dash of salt and pepper
1 TBLS chopped parsley
1/3 cup of water

Directions;
In a frying pan that can accommodate the pork in a single layer put the oil and butter in and turn to med high heat. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and dredge in the flour. When the butter/oil foam begins to subside place the chops in the pan and brown on both sides. Add the garlic to the fat in the pan and saute for 2 mins. Add the wines with the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Heat for a few minutes and then cover tightly turning the heat down to very low. Cook for about 1 hour, turning the chops once. Remove the chops to a warm platter. Tilt the pan to spoon off some of the fat, be sure to leave the juices. Add the water and turn up to high boiling off the water while scraping the residue leaving a dark sauce. Add the parsley. Pour the sauce over the chops in the platter and serve.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms have so many variations. Here is one with Italian sausage. You can also use my crab cake recipe to stuff mushrooms.

Stuffed mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients;
8 (about 1.5-2 inch size) white button mushrooms, washed
2 TBLS butter
1 link Italian sausage
1 clove of garlic, minced
2/3 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 TBLS grated Romano cheese
2 TBLS olive oil

Directions;
Wash and remove the stems from the mushrooms. Carve a little well in the cap to allow stuffing (I use a melon baller for this).

Mushrooms

Chop all the stems and pieces and set aside. Remove the sausage from the casing and in a frying pan saute the sausage breaking it up into small pieces. Add the mushroom pieces and saute until the water from the mushrooms has dissipated. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Remove from the heat and add the bread crumbs, oil and cheese. Mix and stuff into the mushroom caps slightly mounded. Place a small piece of butter on top of each mushroom. Place them in a baking pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until just soft.

Lady Finger Ricotta Cups

This Lady Finger Ricotta Cups recipe is another take on the popular Italian dessert Tiramisu.
I used ricotta instead of mascarpone cheese. If you like to experiment try using a dusting of cocoa in between the layers or stir into the ricotta some candied minced fruit.

Lady Finger Ricotta Cups
Lady Finger Ricotta Cups

Ingredients;
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
1 TSP vanilla
2 dashes cinnamon
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
one package plain Italian lady fingers
1/2 cup espresso coffee ( you can buy the instant powder)
2 TBLS Amaretto liquor is optional
6 paper bakeware dessert cups or you can use glass dessert cups

Directions;
Mix thoroughly the ricotta with the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon. Stir in most of the chips leaving a few to sprinkle on the top. Break the lady fingers into pieces and line the bottom of the dessert cups. Spoon a teaspoon of espresso over each cup. Add a 1/2 inch layer of the ricotta. Add another layer of the lady fingers and brush with the optional Amaretto. Repeat another layer of ricotta.
Dip the ends of two lady finger pieces into the espresso and place on top standing up. Sprinkle with a few mini chips. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Chicken with Vinegar and Peppers

This Chicken with vinegar peppers is an alternative with  a little variation to a previously posted recipe using pork chops and just as tasty !

Chicken with vinegar peppers
Chicken with vinegar peppers

Ingredients:
1 LB boneless chicken breast, cubed
4 TBLS flour for coating chicken with a dash of salt and pepper added
3 TBLS olive oil
1 Med onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup sliced hot cherry peppers ( you can also use sweet)
1 spring fresh rosemary
4-5 springs fresh thyme
3-4 fresh sage leaves

Directions:
Dust the chicken with the flour/salt/pepper mixture.
In a large frying pan heat the oil and brown the chicken over a med-high heat with onions on top.
Add the garlic and saute a few minutes. Add the vinegar and peppers and simmer for a few more minutes. Reduce the heat and add the  balance of ingredients and cover. Simmer 15-20 minutes more.

Cheese and Vegetable Antipasto Salad

This Cheese and veggie antipasto salad dish is made with easy things you can have in your pantry-refrigerator and quick to make for a before dinner appetizer or a meal in itself.

Cheese and veggie antipasto salad
Cheese and veggie antipasto salad

Ingredients:
8 oz fresh mozzarella, if you don’t have fresh available the Bel Gioioso brand is available in most markets and even some Wal-Marts
6 oz-8 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
6 oz-8 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup country mix pitted olives(assorted)
3-4 fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Assorted salad greens

Directions:
Cut the mozzarella into slices and place on a plate. Arrange all the other ingredients around the cheese. Sprinkle with the oil and salt-pepper. Serve with crusty Italian bread or bread sticks.