September 26, 2010
FUNGHI RIPIENI – STUFFED MUSHROOMS
I find that most of the time when cooking you don’t have to work very hard to make a delicious dish. Sometimes we go to too much trouble to find the most exotic ingredients in order to obtain a unique dish. In the end it doesn’t taste anything like it should, and my palate is not satisfied as it could have been if I had eaten a tasty and simple dish from my mom’s kitchen. I truly believe that the secret to Italian cooking is based on the fact that we use very simple ingredients in wonderful combinations.
I have become more fond of mushrooms in the past few years and I like to use them in many different ways for lots of recipes. This is one of my favorite ways to eat them. My mom taught me this recipe. They really make a perfect appetizer.
- 15 medium-large white mushrooms, stemmed
- 1/2 onion minced
- 1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup black currants ( Zante currants)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup small chunks of pecorino romano or caciocavallo chesse
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Clean the mushrooms, carefully break off stems and dry them with a paper towel. Stir the bread crumbs, cheese, onion, black currants, pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper, and olive oil in a medium bowl to blend. Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange the mushroom caps on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes or broil under preheated broiler, with the broiler rack 3 inches below the flame. Allow to brown lightly before serving.
May 14, 2010
MEDAGLIONI DI POLENTA E PROSCIUTTO AL FORNO – BAKED POLENTA MEDALLIONS WITH HAM.
Receipe n. 14
I’ve been craving for polenta lately, despite my southern Italian origin. It’s not a very common dish where I come from. Usually polenta is eaten in the north of Italy. In the south, we sometimes call people from the north of Italy ‘polentoni’, and they have equally endearing terms for us! Last night I made this dish for dinner again and I realize that the more I make it the more I like it. I also found this great brand of organic polenta, which is really delicious and it doesn’t come from Italy but from Argentina. It’s very sweet and has a very light texture.
- 2 cups polenta
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups rice milk
- ½ lb smoked ham
- 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 1tsp fresh chopped thyme
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Having all the other ingredients already chopped and ready next to you, in a medium sized pot bring the water with rice milk to a boil. Turn the heat off and slowly add the polenta while stirring with a whisk, always in the same direction. Add the ham, Parmesan cheese, herbs, 1 tbsp butter, salt and pepper. Mix gently together until the polenta is thickening up but still creamy. Don’t let the polenta become hard before transferring it to a flat slightly wet surface (you need to wet it so it won’t stick). With the blade of a knife flatten the polenta and let it cool for at least an hour. Using a round cooking cutter make as many roundels as you wish and transfer them onto a baking dish. Put on top of every medallion a tiny amount of butter and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
April 25, 2010
MY ITALIAN ‘TRICOLORE’ SPREADS
I love spreads in general, sweet and savory. It’s good to always have some in the refrigerator, they make a perfect appetizer or a quick delicious snack on bread or chips or a perfect base to make sandwiches. You can certainly buy them ready made in any supermarket but they don’t taste anything like healthy homemade spreads. I like to make my own spreads in big batches so that I can freeze some and have them handy when I need them. They are easy to make and you can be very creative with them. There are ‘no rules’. These three spreads are my family’s favorite and when you put them one next to the other they look just like the Italian flag! Isn’t it pretty?
- 2 cups Frozen Peas
- ½ cup Fresh Mint
- 3 cups Vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
White spread (Hummus):
- 8 ounces dry chickpeas
- 2 Tbsp Tahini (Sesame paste)
- 2 Garlic cloves smashed
- ¼ tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 10 ounces of sundried tomatoes from a jar (in olive oil), drained and chopped
- ¼ cup fresh thyme or basil
- 2 Garlic cloves, smashed
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Let’s start with the ‘green spread’: cook the peas for about 6 minutes in boiling water with the vegetable stock. Drain the water and let it cool down for a few minutes. In the meantime chop the mint slightly and place it in a food processor. Add the peas, salt and pepper. Blend until it reaches a creamy consistency.
For the ‘white spread’: after you have been soaking the dry chickpeas overnight, rinse them well under running water. In a big pot cover the chickpeas with water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 2 hours. Drain the water but reserve some for later. In a small skillet pan add 1 or 2 spoons of olive oil and when it is hot add the garlic. As soon as the garlic turns golden brown remove from the heat. In a food processor place the chickpeas, sesame paste, garlic with the olive oil, salt and pepper and blend until you reach a creamy consistency. Add some of the water you cooked the chickpeas with to adjust the consistency.
For the ‘red spread’: Drain the olive oil from the sundried tomatoes jar and place the chopped tomatoes, garlic, thyme , salt and pepper in a food processer and blend until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the extra virgin olive oil.
Transfer the spreads to 3 different bowls and arrange slices of toasted bread on a platter to serve the spreads on.