sabato 28 aprile 2012


Dessert - Vegetarian

For the dough:
1 1/3 cup of Italian 00 flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 extra large egg
3 tbsp butter, diced and chilled
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt

For the stuffing:
3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
6 amaretti cookies, crumbled
2 tbsp pinenuts
sugar and butter

For the custard:
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk

Prepare the dough: in a bowl arrange all dry ingredients and mix them to combine evenly. Add butter and mix it roughly with flour mixture; form a well and put the egg 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.

Prepare the custard: warm up the milk without letting it boil. In a saucepan, with heavy bottom, combine the sugar, the flour and the eggs, whisking to prevent lumps. On low-medium heat add the warm milk in a slow stream, always whisking and bring to boil, whisking continuously; it will take about 5-8 minutes (the warmer the milk, the quicker the cooking). Never stop stirring, otherwise your custard will stick to the bottom and burn, giving it an unpleasant taste.

Set aside and let it cool down to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent film on top.

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 and punch the bottom with a fork in order to allow steam to escape. Line it with parchment paper and top with dried beans, this will prevent "bubbles" in your tart by weighing on the tart. Bake for about 20 minutes then remove beans and paper and cook for 5 minutes more. Take out of the oven, set aside and let it cool down on a rack.

Prepare the filling: place apples on a baking dish, sprinkle with sugar, dot with butter and bake until golden.

Assemble to tart: pour custard in the tart shell, top with baked apples, sprinkle with crumbled amaretti and serve.

It will serve 8 people at least.

- You can serve it as is, dusted with a little cinnamon powder or confectioners' sugar or with some ice cream.

lunedì 23 aprile 2012


Side dish - vegetarian - gluten, cholesterol and lactose free (see notes at the bottom)

4 bunch of swiss chards (with thin stems)
2 cups Italian peeled San Marzano, chopped with their juice
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced (optional)
2 tbsp chopped basil
4 tbsp Parmigiano, grated
Hot pepper flakes
5 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

Roughly chop the Swiss chards then boil them for 2 minutes in salted water; drain.

 In a non-stick skillet warm 1 tbsp of olive oil and sautee onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent, then add tomatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat. Season with salt and add basil.

Add Swiss chards, stir and cook for 5-10 more minutes, depending on your deisred doneness.

Serve in individual dishes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmigiano.

Serves 4 as side dish and 2 as soup.

- You can add anchovy pieces, if you like them.

- If you don't use Parmigiano, this is goin to be lactose, cholesterol and gluten free (and also vegetarian!).

- If you like them, you can add Italian black dried olives to it, whole or chopped.

lunedì 16 aprile 2012


Meat entree - comfort food!!

Everytime I have leftover meat (roasted, boiled, grilled or cold-cuts) that are not enough to feed us, I put them in bags and freeze them. Then, when I have enough, I prepare this dish. My mom allways makes it and it's family tradition (and comfort food, also)!

Leftover meats and cold cuts, chopped (the following ingredients are for about 3 cups of chopped meats)
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmigiano or grana, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Plain breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil
nutmeg, salt and pepper (if you like it)

In a big bowl mix chopped meats, parmigiano, parsley, nutmeg and salt and roughly mix it.

Add the eggs and mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Place breacrumbs in a dish.

Shape meat mixture in a meatball and flatten it so that it will look like a disc. Dredge in breadcrumbs on all sides.

Warm up olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee your meatballs until golden on both sides (you're not deep frying). Remember that, due to the high humidity of the meatballs, your oil may splatter.

When golden, remove meatballs with a slotted spoon and arrange them over paper towles to absorb eccess oil.

Serve warm with green salad

- These meatballs can also be served at room temperature.
- I often serve these meatballs with tomato sauce and peas.
- You can bake these meatballs, if you don't want to sautee them (in my opinion sauteed are better).

lunedì 9 aprile 2012


Soup - Vegetarian - Lactose and gluten free

Considering that we probably ate too much for Easter, this recipe will balance the calories intake.

2 cups diced butternut squash
1 diced onion
1 cup carrots, diced or sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 cup crushed Italian San Marzano
1 cup peas
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Extra virgin olive oil and salt

In a big saucepan with lid, arrange all vegetables, except for peas. Add enough water (or vegetable/chicken broth) to cover vegetables by a couple of inches and bring to a boil.

When it boils, add salt (if made with water), lower heat to simmer and cover with lid. Cook until vegetables are soft.

Transfer vegetables and broth to a blender and blend until you obtain a smooth cream.

Transfer back to the saucepan. Season with salt, add peas and parsley; cook on medium heat until peas are done.

Serve immediately, drizzled with a very good extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe serves 3-4

- You can blend only part of the vegetables and add them to the cream together with peas, if you want some more pieces.
- I often cook broken angel hair (or very short cut pasta) into it.
- You can serve it with bread croutons, brushed with garlic (or just plain ones).

lunedì 2 aprile 2012


Fish entree - light

1 lb fish (tilapia, cod, swai, etc) boiled or grilled
1/2 lb prawns or shrimp
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
Real Italian breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil

Arrange fish and shrimp in a food processor and roughly chop them. Transfer in a bowl and add eggs, parmigiano and parsley, season with salt (and pepper if you like) mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Preheat oven to 375.

Shape fish mixture in walnut-size balls and dredge in breadcrumbs, rolling until uniformly coated.

Arrange fish-balls on a baking dish lined with parchment paper (or lightly brushed with olive oil) and bake on central rack for 15-20 minutes. They have to be golden.

Serve with a fresh salad or steamed/sauteed/baked vegetables (or a mix of them).

This recipe serves 3-4 people, depending on whatelse is served.

- You can also sautee this fish-balls: once you made the balls, flatten them with the palm of your hand, then dredge in breadcrumbs. Warm olive oil and sautee them until golden on both sides.
- You can serve them with a light tomato sauce.
- The smaller the fish-balls, the faster the baking/cooking.
- You can use grana padano or pecorino romano instead of parmigiano.