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lunedì 30 dicembre 2013

How to make the perfect Italian tiramisu

Here's the video to prepare the best tiramisu!!! Give it a try!!!!!!

TIRAMISU

Dessert



2 8oz cups Mascarpone
6 extra large eggs, at room temperature
6 tbsp sugar
1 pckg ladyfingers (17 oz)
Cold espresso coffee
salt
Cocoa powder


Divide the eggs: yolks in one big bowl and Whites in another one. Put sugar in yolks and whisk them until they become pale yellow (near to white); at this point add mascarpone and whisk to combine.

Wash the whisks well and dry them. Add a couple good pinches of salt to the whites (it will help you and you won't taste it). Whisk whites until they hold peaks and, when turning the bowl upside down, they won't fall.

Stir 2-3 tbsp of whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it up, since it's really dense.

Fold the remaining whites into the yolks cream and combine CAREFULLY, REALLY CAREFULLY, mixing from bottom up, NOT in circles.

At this point put coffee in a bowl and add liquor if it's only for adults or milk if there are kids too.

Quickly dip ladyfingers in the coffee and line on the bottom of a deep serving dish, then cover with cream, dust with cocoa and repeat for another layer.

Refrigerate overnight.

Serves about 10 people.



- You can use rum, brandy or amaretto.
- Always prepare it the day before: this way ladyfingers will soak all flavors and won't result dry.
- Always use room temperature eggs: it will be a quicker whisking. Adding salt to the whites will help you with that, and you won't taste it.

lunedì 16 dicembre 2013

Italian quick mixed beans, chickpeas and lentils soup with garlic croutons

Here's our new weekly video recipe!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Written version here below!

QUICK MIXED BEANS, CHICKPEAS AND LENTILS SOUP WITH GARLIC CROUTONS

Entree - soup - Gluten and Lactose free - vegetarian (read notes at bottom)



1 14-oz can Italian cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can Italian butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can Italian borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can Italian lentils, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can Italian chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup Italian strained San Marzano tomatoes
Sage, rosemary, olive oil
Italian ciabatta bread, sliced and toasted

In a big saucepan warm the chicken broth; stir in the 2 tomatoes then add potatoes, sage, rosemary and 1 garlic clove and cook until potatoes are cooked.
Blend some of the beans and potatoes, with the garlic clove.

Prepare the croutons: brush the other garlic on bread, then cut in big squares and place on the bottom of your bowl.

Pour soup on bread, drizzle with olive oil and serve.



With these quantities you can make about 8/10 portions of soup.

- You can cook rice or pasta in the soup; drizzle with olive oil and enjoy your soup. Remember that, when you cook rice or pasta in a thick soup, it tends to stick to the bottom so it's better to stir frequently. If the soup thickens too much, it's useful to have some salted boiling water (or broth) to add to it.
- You can put it in small containers and freeze it, you'll always have a ready to eat soup and, for sure, you'll know what's in it because you made it (don't freeze it with pasta/rice in it).
- It's a good idea for summer too because you can eat it cold with toasted bread; it's a complete meal, if with pasta/rice or bread.
- Avoid the use of parmigiano.
- The soup itself is totally lactose and gluten free. If you want a vegetarian soup, use vegetable broth, instead of chicken one.

martedì 10 dicembre 2013

How to prepare Italian handmade egg fettuccine with salmon sauce

Here's the video of our new weekly recipe!!!! We hope you'll enjoy it!!!!!!

HAND MADE EGG FETTUCCINE WITH SALMON SAUCE



Entree 

Ingredients for the dough (6 people):
2 cups Italian 00 flour (300 gr.)
1 3/4 cups Italian semolina (300 gr.)
6 extra large eggs or, better, jumbo

Ingredients for the sauce (3 people):
4 oz salmon (fresh or defrosted), diced
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cups Italian tomato sauce
1/4 cup cream
1 tbsp Italian capers, packed in salt and rinsed
Italian extra virgin olive oil


To minimize cleaning arrange flour in a bowl, create a “well” in the middle and place eggs in it.

Working with a fork, mix flour and eggs enough to be able to transfer “crumbles” on a lightly floured surface without messing your kitchen too much.

Knead, until you obtain a smooth dough, at least 10 minutes: the time depends also on the quantity of pasta you're preparing.

Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Flour gets “stressed” when you knead it and if you don't allow it to rest, it will compromise the results.

While your dough rests, prepare the sauce.

On medium-high heat, warm olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee onions for about 2 minutes, then add salmon. When sauteed, add tomato sauce and capers and cook for about 5, minutes. Stir in cream and simmer for 5-10 more minutes. Set aside.

Cover your working surface (usually I work on my table) with an old but clean tablecloth, one of those you won't use anymore.

Cut a slice from the dough and flatten it so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers at widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it's smooth.

Arrange the pasta sheet on the cloth.

Roll pasta sheets through the machine, decreasing the setting, one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), passing all sheets through the same notch before decreasing it, until you reach your desired thickness.

Let pasta dry for about 10 minutes, flipping it once.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Now feed your dough through the fettuccine attachment and spread them on the cloth, to allow a little more drying time.



When water boils, add salt then your handmade fettuccine and stir immediately.

Pasta will cook in about 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness. Pull it out of the cooking water and transfer it directly into the skillet with sauce, toss to coat on medium heat, adding a few tbsp of cooking water, if needed.



Serve immediately.

- As a rule of thumb, when preparing fresh pasta, you should consider 1 egg per person.
- If you don't have a tomato sauce ready, you can just use Italian crushed San Marzano tomatoes with their juice.
- Please, don't use parmigiano with this dish. Parsley would be the best herb for this sauce. You can also add some hot pepper flakes, if you like them.
- If you double the quantity of sauce ingredients, you'll have enough pasta for 6 people.

martedì 3 dicembre 2013

How to prepare Italian frittata with zucchini

Here is the video of the preparation of an Italian frittata: recipe in a post here below!!

How to prepare a perfect Italian crostata

How to prepare a perfect Italian crostata! Recipe in a post below!

FRITTATA WITH ZUCCHINI

Entree - Appetizer - Vegetarian - Gluten free - Lactose free (read notes at bottom)

6 eggs
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and sauteed with olive oil and basil
1/4 cup milk
1 pinch salt
Italian extra virgin olive oil



Lightly beat eggs with salt and milk, add zucchini (make sure they're at room temperature) and mix well to combine.

In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, warm 3 tbsp of olive oil and pour evenly the eggs-zucchini mixture. Let it thicken, allowing the liquid part to get to the bottom, lifting the edges to ease the process.

Invert the frittata onto a platter (or a lid) and slide it back in the skillet, cooking until golden brown. Invert one more time to evenly golden it on both sides.

When ready, slide the "cake" onto a serving platter and serve with a fresh salad and/or boiled-steamed-sauteed vegetables.



Serves 4-6

- It can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.
- It's vegetarian and gluten free. Avoid milk for lactose intolerants.

martedì 26 novembre 2013

CROSTATA WITH STRAWBERRY JAM (JAM PIE/TART)

Dessert - vegetarian

For the dough:
2 1/4 cup of Italian 00 flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 extra large egg
6 1/2 tbsp butter, diced and chilled
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Lemon and orange zest (about 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange)

Strawberry jam



In a bowl arrange all dry ingredients and mix them to combine evenly. Add butter and mix it roughly pinching it with flour mixture; form a well and put the eggs in it.
Mix all ingredients well but quickly in order not to warm up butter too much (which would result in a "hard" dough), you have to obtain a smooth "ball".
Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes at least.

Preheat oven to 375.

Grease and dust with flour a 9" tart pan (or line it with parchment paper).

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll it on a lightly floured surface until you obtain a disc about 1/4" thick.

Place dough in the tart, remove excess dough and poke the bottom with a fork in order to allow steam to escape.

Spread the jam in your "shell" about half of the depth, use part of the leftover dough to decorate it.

Bake on center rack for about 30 minutes (edges have to be golden, baking times depend on the oven, also). Wait until it cools down before cutting it or your jam will go anywhere...



It will serve 8 people at least.

- With leftover dough you can make cookies or freeze it for later use.
- You can use any jam, just choose a thick one since it will be better when you slice it.

lunedì 18 novembre 2013

How to prepare butternut squash fritters

Here is the video of our latest recipe!! The recipe is written in a post here below...

How to prepare Pici alle briciole

Here is the video of how to prepare Pici (with a breadcrub sauce in this case). Recipe is in a post here below.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRITTERS



Appetizer - Vegetarian

Recipe nicely provided by my friend Raffaella in Rome!

7 oz (1 cup) finely minced butternut squash
1/3 cup Italian 00 flour
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
3 eggs
1/2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
Extra virgin olive oil to fry


Lightly beat eggs, the add parmigiano, flour, lemon zest and parsley. Mix to combine and add the squash, stir until all ingredients are nicely combined. You should obtain a dense batter.

Bring extra virgin olive oil to frying temperature (if you don't have a thermometer and want to know if the oil is warm enough, just put a little piece of bread in it: is has to "rapidly" fry).

Spoon batter into the olive oil (not more than 3-4 fritters at a time), and flip them a first time as soon as they start getting solid. Then turn another couple of times until golden on both sides.

Lay them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve immediately.

This will make about 20 fritters, depending on size.




- I didn't put salt in it, even though my friend Raffaella likes it.
- Sprinkle with salt, if you like it, AFTER frying!

martedì 12 novembre 2013

OUR NEW BASKET OF THE WEEK!!!

Bella Italia's basket of the week! Italian dinner.
It contains 1 lb of pasta, 1 can of Italian peeled San Marzano tomatoes, 1 can Italian eggplant caponata, 1 bag Taralli with fennel seeds, 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts and 1 package amaretti.

You can find a video presentation here: http://youtu.be/I98rc8afSbE



lunedì 11 novembre 2013

PICI ALLE BRICIOLE (Hand made pasta with breadcrumbs sauce)

Entree - lactose free - hand made pasta




Pici are a typical Tuscan peasant dish.

For pici:
1 1/4 cup Italian 00 flour (150 gr.)
1 cup Italian durum semolina (150 gr.)
2/3 cup lukewarm water (150 ml.)

For sauce:
2/3 coarse breadcrumbs
4 sage leaves
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
4 tbsp Italian Extra virgin olive oil
salt


First of all, prepare the dough. In a bowl mix together the 2 flours and then add water. The quantity of water depends on the flour you're using and on the
humidity around you. Add almost all the water and see it it's enough, if not add the remining water and more, if needed. Knead until you obtain a smooth
dough, wrap it in plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes at least.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce: chop garlic, sage and rosemary together, warm the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee the mix for 1 or 2 minutes,
then add the breadcrumbs. Sautee until golden, season with salt and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Now you can start preparing your pici. Unwrap the dough and cut a small section from it; cover the remaining dough otherwise it will dry too much.

Flatten the section a little, cut in strips and start rolling and stretching them until you reach your desired thickness, then lay pici on a floured
surface or on a foured tablecloth.

IMPORTANT: when rolling pici your working surface must be free of flour otherwise they won't roll!

When all your pici are ready, add salt to a large amount of rapidly boiling water.

Cook until al dente (5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness) and transfer them to the skillet with the sauce.

Since the moisture of the pici will make your breadcrumbs soggy, sautee on high until they get crunchy again, you'll most likely need some more olive oil.

Serve immediately.

This recipe serves 2-3

- You can add Italian dried porcini to this sauce, if you'd like
- You can also add a pich of hot pepper flakes, to give an extra kick
- The other traditional ways to serve pici are: all'aglione (tomato sauce with A LOT of garlic) or with duck sauce. You can serve them with regular meat
sauce or sausage, too.
- If you like, you can sprinkle with a little bit of grated parmigiano on top.

martedì 5 novembre 2013

How to prepare chicken breast scaloppine and sauteed mushrooms

Here is our new video recipe (you can find a written version in the previous post).



http://www.youtube.com/v/_63atF7fdBQ?version=3&autohide=1&showinfo=1&feature=share&autoplay=1&autohide=1&attribution_tag=MAamNQsup_VD0ssOKpWSMg

CHICKEN SCALOPPINE WITH SAUTEED MUSHROOMS

Entree - meat - gluten free (READ notes at bottom)


For scaloppine:
1 lb sliced chicken breast, 1/8" thick
2 cups milk
1 rosemary sprig and 4 sage leaves, tied together
3 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
00 flour to dredge


For mushrooms:
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, cut in wedges
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped with 2-3 mint leaves
3 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil

Dredge your chicken breast slices in flour and shake away any excess. Warm up the olive oil, in a non-stick skillet, over high heat.

Sautee meat slices until lighty golden on both sides. Season with salt, add herbs and milk. Lower to medium heat and cook until done through.

While meat cooks, prepare mushrooms. In a diferent non stick skillet, over high heat, warm up the olive oil; sautee onions until translucents, then add mushrooms.

Season with salt and cook until desired doneness. Sprinkle with chopped parsley/mint mix, cook another couple of minutes, and set aside.

Serve immediately.



This recipe serves 4

- Most of the times I deglaze scaloppine with brandy (wine doesn't react well with milk: it breaks down milk!).
- Milk is necessary in order to keep your chicken breast moist and tender. Also, given the flour, your milk will thicken nicely.
- If you're gluten intolerant or allergic, use corn starch, instead of flour.
- Serve this dish with salad, fruit and bread to have a complete meal.
- If you have leftover meat (I always prepare more than I need), you can freeze it in portions, so you'll have a quick meal ready in the freezer.
- With the sauce, you can prepare a great risotto!!!

venerdì 1 novembre 2013

Bella Italia Basket of the week "pasta e fagioli"

Our new feature: the basket of the week! This week it's "pasta e fagioli", all you need to add is broth and a little salt and you'll have dinner for 4 pepole!!! (and some products that won't be completely used ). For a thicker soup, add 1 potato and, when soup id ready, blend it! Comes with a recipe!!!!



Click here to watch the video!
http://www.youtube.com/v/pPm3HXKV6uQ?version=3&autohide=1&attribution_tag=HTbMpe3y0vCWwItWP5fJVw&showinfo=1&autohide=1&autoplay=1&feature=share

lunedì 28 ottobre 2013

RISOTTO WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH. MUSHROOMS AND SAUSAGE

Entree - Gluten free - Vegetarian (read notes below)

This recipe has been created during a chat with our Italian friend Renata, who lives in Wisconsin. Since we could not decide if making a butternut squash or a mushroom risotto, she offered to test a risotto with both (and pancetta) and texted me during the preparation!! I couldn't find a decent pancetta, so I used sausage.



3/4 cup Carnaroli rice
1 sausages, casing removed and crumbled
8 oz white mushrooms, diced
21/2 cup butternut squash, diced
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
8 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio)
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Bring broth to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.

In a large saucepan, warm the extra virgin olive oil and sautee onions and sausages until onions are translucent and sausages are lightly browned; now add mushrooms and butternut squash and sautee for 2 more minutes.

Stir in rice and, when translucent, deglaze pan with wine; when it's evaporated, start adding broth.

Cook for about 17-20 minutes (depending on your taste), adding simmering broth one ladle at a time and stirring frequently.

When risotto is almost ready, "smash" some butternut squash pieces with a fork and add cream cheese, stir until it's completely incorporated.

Remove from heat, stir in parmigiano and butter and serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

This recipe serves 2 (or so I tought: if you use 1 cup rice it will easily serve 3 people!).

- I prefer to use sausage without fennel seeds (bratwurst) because they are overwhelming flavor.
- As said at the beginning, you can use pancetta instead of sausage, probably even prosciutto (next experiment)
- Carnaroli is the best rice for risotto, less starchy than arborio but easier to cook: it doesn't overcook too easily.
- I used fat free cream cheese, to give a creamier texture.
- You can deglaze your pan with 1/4 cup brandy, instead of wine, if you like it.
- For a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth and avoid sausage.
- COMING SOON: the video to prepare this recipe!!


martedì 22 ottobre 2013

Focaccia recipe

Here is our first video recipe: pardon the technical problems... next time will be better!!!

lunedì 21 ottobre 2013

WHITE PIZZA WITH SAUSAGE AND MOZZARELLA

Pizza - Vegetarian and lactose ree options included
(thank you to Vittorio of Viva La Focaccia for this recipe)

240 gr. lukewarm water (1 cup), in winter water should be warm, but not too much (you should be able to keep your hand in it without discomfort).
30 gr. Italian extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tbsp)
7 gr. dry active yeast (1 envelope or 1 tsp)
7 gr. salt (1 tsp scant)
345 gr. Italian 00 flour (2 1/2 cup, quantity estimated)
2 sausage, case removed and crumbled
1 cup mozzarella, shredded

In a bowl, where you'll prepare your dough, put the entire amount of water and dissolve the yeast, then add oil and half of the of the flour. It is very important that salt doesn't touch yeast. Start mixing until you obtain a smooth cream, then add salt and almost all the remaing flour (keep some of it for next phase). Mix and knead for about 4-5 minutes until your dough doesn't stick to the bowl anymore.

Sprinkle remaining flour onto your work surface and transfer your dough onto it, dust your hands with flour and knead for a few more minutes (if dough sticks too much, wait 3-5 minutes, then start again).

When you have a smooth dough, oil your pizza baking dish (mine was 16"). We like pizza a little thiner so we used 3/4 of the dough for pizza and the remaining dough for a small focaccia with onions.




Transfer your dough in the center, then turn upside down. This way, the dough surface will be covered with oil and won't dry out while leavening.

Let it rise for 45-60 minutes, at that point your dough should have doubled.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

With oiled hands, flatten pizza dough carefully without stretching it.

Arrange sausage on top and cover with mozzarella (for the onion focaccia, this is the time to spread raw onions on top).




Bake for 12-15 minutes and serve immediately



- With the exact same dough, last Sunday, I prepared a herb focaccia (that we like thick).



- You can make it with San Marzano Italian tomatoes and whichever toppings you may prefer.
- You can freeze it, before cooking it (I haven't tried that, I cooked ours right away): Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When you want to cook it, pre-heat oven and, when ready, remove pizza form freezer and transfer in the oven immediately (no plastic wrap, obviously ;-) ). It will take a little longer to cook (about 15-17 minutes)

lunedì 14 ottobre 2013

RISOTTO WITH SAUSAGE AND ZUCCHINI

Rice entree - Gluten free 

1 1/2 cup Carnaroli rice
2 sausages, casing removed and crumbled
2 medium zucchini, diced
8 cups chicken broth, minimum
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cream cheese




Bring broth to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.



In a large non-stick skillet, warm up the extra virgin olive oil and sautee onions, zucchini and sausages until onions are translucent and sausages are browned.



Stir in rice, cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, then add wine.

Cook for about 17-20 minutes (depepnding on your taste), adding simmering broth a ladle at a time and stirring frequently, to avoid sticking.

Remove from heat, stir in parmigiano and cream cheese and serve immediately!!



This recipe serves 4.

- I prefer to use bratwurst because it has no fennel seeds.
- I didn't have butter, reason why I used cream cheese. It's a good substitution, but risotto should be made with butter ;-)
- I didn't have white wine either, only red. So I used same amount of brandy, which gave it a light beige color, and a very good taste!!
- Carnaroli is the best rice for risotto, less starchy than arborio but easier to cook: it doesn't overcook too easily.

lunedì 7 ottobre 2013

Gluten intolerance and gluten free products

Just a little chat about gluten intolerance and gluten free products. You can find our gluten free recipes in this blog

MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA (EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA)

Entree - Appetizer -  Can be vegetarian and gluten free (READ notes at bottom)

3 medium eggplant
8 oz mozzarella, roughly chopped
1 28-oz can of peeled Italian San Marzano tomatoes (pureed)
1/2 cup parmigiano, grated
3 tbsp breadcrumbs, not seasoned!
6 slices ham
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper (optional)

Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4" slices (you can cut them crosswise, if you prefer)

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm up 2 tbsp of olive oil and sautee garlic in it, until golden, then add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, if you like it; let it boil for 15 minutes to thicken the sauce. Remove from heat and stir parsley in.

Meanwhile, heat a non- stick skillet and sautee the eggplant slices (or, as the original recipe suggests, fry them).

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lightly grease an ovensafe casserole with olive oil, spread the bottom with tomatoes, arrange sauteed eggplant slices in a layer, cover with ham sliced, tomato sauce and top with mozzarella.



Repeat layering until you finish all ingredients. Top with tomato sauce, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and parmigiano; drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese melts and top is golden.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly before serving (about 5 minutes).





Quantities are for a 9x13" casserole (I made a smaller one).

- You can avoid ham, and you'll have a vegetarian dish.
- Avoid breadcrumbs in order to have a gluten free dish.
- You can use our mix of Italian parsley, garlic and hot pepper flakes (if you don't have fresh ingredients), in your sauce.
- If you have some parmigiana left, you can freeze it in individual portions, to be used when you need a quick dinner.
- I crumbled some bratwurst (I don't like fennel seeds that are in Italian sausages here in the US) on top. Sorry picture was taken when the dish was cold already... Bottom picture has been taken right after warming it up!!!

lunedì 30 settembre 2013

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL COOKING DEMONSTRATION!

Thanks to a friend, we had a great cooking demonstration! 

We prepared bucatini alla carbonara (sorry no pictures), hand made egg fettuccine:













Then we prepared a Mediterranean vegetable dish:








 And to close the meal... a crostata with Italian fig spread (organic and no sugar added):