martedì 29 maggio 2012


Fish entree - Gluten and lactose free - Light recipe

2 fish fillets (Swai, cod or similar)
1 tsp Italian capers, packed in salt, rinsed
1 tbsp green olive patè
1 garlic clove
2 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup Italian crushed San Marzano
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Roughly chop garlic, capers and anchovies.

Warm the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee the garlic, capers, anchovy mix, add tomatoes and olive patè; stir and cook for about 2 minutes.

Lower to simmer and add the fish fillets. Cook for 15-20 minutes at a very low heat.

Sprinkle with parsley, and serve!

This recipe serves 2

- It's a very light and healthy recipe.
- You can use peeled tomatoes with their juices. It it important to use San Marzano which are the sweetest tomatoes. Also, it is important to use salt-packed capers, so you won't have unpleasant aftertaste from vinegar.

lunedì 21 maggio 2012


Entree - Main occasions

One time I've been asked the ORIGINAL recipe for lasagna. I answered that there is a different recipe for every Italian family... This is my recipe!! It may take long to prepare it but it will reward you!!!

1 pkg of Italian egg lasagna sheets (about 1 lb) or make your own
4 cups Parmigiano Reggiano (or Grana Padano), grated
2 sausages

4 cups milk
4 tbsp 00 flour

Bolognese meat sauce
1 lb ground beef (not too lean, not too fat)
3 sausages, chopped
6 tbsp of a mix of onions, carrots, celery and parsley, finely chopped
4 tbsp extra vigin olive oil
2 28oz cans Italian San Marzano
1 cup of white wine

First of all, prepare the meat sauce: warm olive oil in a big saucepan over medium heat; when ready, sautee the vegetable mix for 3-4 minutes.

Now add ground beef and sausages and cook them over high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.

At this point you can add wine (always on high heat) and let alcohol evaporate; turn the heat to medium and add the tomatoes.

Season with salt, pepper if desired; when it starts boiling, turn heat to minimum and simmer the sauce (covered with a lid) for at least 2 1/2 hours (the longer, the better) stirring occasionally.

Remember that it's better to cook this sauce for a longer time at the lowest heat possible instead of cooking it quickly.

While the meat sauce cooks, prepare the bechamel: in a little saucepan, warm up the milk.

In another, bigger, saucepan put the flour, a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg and mix; then, slowly add the warm milk whisking to prevent lumps.

Put the saucepan on medium-low heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly (to prevent sticking on bottom), then remove from heat.

Your meat sauce is still cooking... bring a pot of water to a boil and line you countertop with clean kitchen cloths (white, if possible). When water boils, add salt and 3-4 tbsp of oil.

Boil lasagna sheets, not more than 2-3 at a time, for about 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and line them on the cloths. Don't overlap them or they'll overcook and stick to each other.

Once you pre-cooked all you sheets, assemble the lasagna.

Preheat oven to 385.

Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan and spread a thin layer of bechamel and meat sauce. Layer pasta, spread with bechamel and top with meat sauce: don't overdo, 1/2" of each sauce will be enough. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and repeat until you finish ingredients.

Finish with bechamel, top with meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmigiano.

My mom's final touch: she cuts 1 or 2 sausages in rounds and put a round on each portion.

Bake on central rack for 35-40 minutes.

This recipe serves 8-12 people (depending on the number of layers and what else is served).

- Don't worry about the wine in the meat sauce, as said the alcohol evaporates, leaving just its flavor.
- The original bechamel recipe actually requires the use of butter: I avoid it and use skimmed milk to make it lighter.
- DON'T use Italian sausages: they have fennel seeds here in the United States (not in most parts of Italy) and fennel seeds are a strong flavor. You won't taste anything else.
- You can prepare bechamel and meat sauce the day before and assamble the same day.
- To have a crunchier crust on top, mix Parmigiano with and equal quantity of very fine, non-flavored breadcrumbs.

lunedì 14 maggio 2012


Appetizer - vegetarian - lactose free (see notes at bottom)

300 gr. Carnaroli Italian rice
1 jar peas, tiny and sweet, drained and rinsed
1 jar marinated artichokes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, drained and julienned
5 tbsp Parmigiano, grated
2 eggs
4 tbsp parsley, chopped
Breadcrumbs, really Italian (fine, no flavors added one)
Vegetable broth
Extra virgin olive oil

Boil rice in the vegetable broth until desired doneness. Drain and arrange in a bowl.

Add Parmigiano, peas, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and parsley. Mix well so all ingredients are well combined.

Form "balls" about the size of a walnut.

Beat eggs in a plate and arrange breadcrumbs in another.

Roll "balls" in the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs in order to coat them completely. Repeat.

Deep fry "balls" in hot olive oil. Arrange them on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Serve immediately.

- It's hard to predict how many portions will there be: it depends on how big the "balls" are going to be.
- If you don't use Parmigiano, it will be a lactose free dish. It's also vegetarian.
- This recipe is perfect for an appetizer.
- If you flatten the "balls", before passing them in egg and breadcrumbs, the frying time and the necessary oil will be less.
- You can add chopped prosciutto or ham or bacon (cooked) or olives....

lunedì 7 maggio 2012


Pasta entree - vegetarian - lactose intolerant safe

1 lb garganelli
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
2 baby zucchine, julienned
1 14-oz can San Marzano Italian tomatoes
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch basil, leaves only, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In a skillet over low heat, warm half olive oil and same quantity of water; stew scallions in it for about 5 minutes. Add peppers, stir and cook for 5 minutes; add zucchine, stir and stew for 5 more minutes. Season with salt, sprinkle with parsley and set aside.

In another skillet (large enough to contain all ingredients) warm the remaining olive oil, sautee garlic for 1-2 minutes then add tomatoes; cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, if needed, and add basil; stir vegetables in, cokk for 5 more minutes.

When water boils, add salt and garganelli. Garganelli is an egg based pasta and cook in 7-8 minutes maximum.

When al dente, drain it and transfer in the skillet with the sauce, sautee a couple of minutes to coat evenly.

Serve immediately.

This recipe serves 4-6.

- As is, this is a vegetarian, lactose intolerant safe dish.
- You can sprinkle a little parmigiano on top, when serving it.
- You can add Italian dried black olives and capers (packed in salt and thoroughly rinsed) in the sauce.