lunedì 29 dicembre 2014


Appetizer or entree 

This week's recipe is the result of a very nice friendship born on Facebook. Thank you Paola!!!! I just made a couple changes, the originals will be noted at the end of the recipe.

400 gr. potatoes (14 oz.)
400 ml. water (1 1/3 cup)
250 gr. Italian 00 flour (about 2 - 2 1/2 cups)
60 gr. grated Parmigiano (about 1/2 cup)
30 gr. Italian extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
2 bratwurst links, crumbled
60 gr. provolone or scamorza (about 3 slices of pre-sliced provolone), cut in thin stripes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Italian sea salt and pepper

Peel potatoes and wash them carefully, pat them dry and thinly slice (with the aid of a mandoline).

Preheat oven to 380 F.

In a large bowl arrange water, oil, salt and pepper, then stir in flour and parmigiano, mix carefully until you obtain a smooth batter. Add potatoes, onion, cheese strips and brat crumbles, mix to coat evenly.

Spread the mixture on a pizza baking dish, lined with parchment paper and level evenly in order to have the same thickness. Sprinkle with some more parmigiano and drizzle with some more olive oil.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Serve lukewarm in squares.

We served 6 people with this.

- I used a 9x13 foil baking dish, so it was thicker than the original, therefore it took 10-15 minutes longer to cook.
- Paola's original recipe called for 3 big slices of ham (diced) or 8 slices of bacon (cooked until crisp and crumbled).
- Paola's original recipe had no onion (which is perfect with brats and potatoes).
- For a better result, use 00 Italian flour tailored for pizza.
- If used in a mixed appetizer, make smaller squares and you'll serve more people.
- Quantities in parenthesys are approximate: please buy a cheap digital scale that weighs grams and your dishes will result even better

sabato 20 dicembre 2014


Entree - Gluten free - Can be lactose free and vegetarian (READ notes below)

For Polenta:
12 cups water
1 lb. Italian polenta flour
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian sea salt

For the sauce:
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 onion, cut in thin wedges
2 sausages (I use plain bratwurst), casing removed and crumbled
12 oz strained Italian San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
Italian sea salt

2 tablespoon grated parmigiano

Prepare polenta: bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Soak the porcini in warm water for 20 minutes.

When the water boils, add salt and slowly add polenta flour in a thin stream, whisking; reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Remove porcini from the water, squeeze excess water and cut pocini in small pieces; filter water carefully because you'll use it.

In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, warm up the oil, then add porcini and onion sautee for 3 minutes; now add sausage and sautee for 3 more minutes.

Stir in mushroom water and then the strained tomatoes. Cover with a lid, lower heat to low and let simmer for about 35-40 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness.

By that time polenta should be ready, too (remember: it will never be overcooked).

Transfer it to a bowl to set, then invert onto a big serving plate, top with sauce and parmigiano.


Serve immediately.

This recipe serves 8-12

- If you want a softer polenta, use a little more water; if you want it harder, use a little less water or cook it for a longer time, so that water will evaporate more.
- I mixed a couple tsp of Italian herbs mix to the polenta.
- It's gluten free. Avoid sausage for a vegetarian dish and parmigiano for a lactose free one.

lunedì 15 dicembre 2014


Entree - Vegetarian - Can be vegan, lactose and gluten free (READ notes at bottom)

Thanks to our FB friend Elisa for the recipe that I just slightly changed (original version noted at bottom)!

1 lb Italian rigatoni (or other pasta)
2 cups red dry wine
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp Italian grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
Italian sea salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

In the meantime, warm up olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sautee onion until golden, then add wine and let it cook until it thickens.

When water boils, add salt and pasta, stir constantly for about one minute and cook until al dente (stirring occasionally). Drain, reserving some of the water.

Transfer to the skillet with the sauce and toss on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until well combined (if the sauce is too thick, add a few tbsp of the reserved water).

Serve immediately sprinkled with parmigiano.

This recipe serves 4.

- The original recipe from Elisa called for butter, instead of olive oil, and she blended the sauce in order to have a smoother texture (I love bits of onions)
- Next time I'll try sprinkling some freshly chopped parsley: I have a feeling that it would be good.
- I used Merlot. Remember to use ONLY high quality ingredients and a good wine. You have very little ingredients and they need to be good, if you want to have a good dish.
- The reason why I suggest to stir pasta constantly for the first minute because that's the best way to prevent it from sticking, without adding oil in the water (it would prevent pasta from sticking, but that would happen to sauce, also)
- If the sauce doesn't thicken, add 1/2 tsp of corn starch dissolved in little cold liquid.
- It's vegetarian. Can be vegan and lactose free, if you don't use cheese and gluten free, if you use gluten free pasta.

mercoledì 10 dicembre 2014


Entree - Vegetarian

For the dough:
200 grams Italian 00 flour
200 grams Italian semolina, milled twice
4 extra large eggs

For the sauce:
2 oz Italian dried porcini
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup cream
Italian extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Soak porcini in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes (a little longer if you live in a very dry climate).

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.

Remove porcini from water, squeeze them and cut the bigger pieces. Carefully pass water through a very fine sieve (or one lined with paper towel), to remove all impurities, and set it aside.

On medium-high heat, warm olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee onions for about 2 minutes, then add mushrooms. When sauteed, deglaze pan with brandy and, once alcohol evaporates, add the reserved soaking water.

Cook until it thickens then stir in cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in parsley and 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 and keep going until you set all pasta trhough the widest setting.


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.
- Please, don't use parmigiano with this dish.
- You can use dried Italian egg fettuccine or pappardelle, adjusting cooking time!
- Remember that fresh pasta needs a thiner sauce, because it absorbs a lot.
- You can find the video on how to make the pasta here (it was presented with a different sauce).

lunedì 1 dicembre 2014

How to prepare Italian meatballs

This week you won't see a regular video but one made with slides: it was Thanksgiving week and we didn't have time.



Pasta with meatballs is not a typical Italian dish, in some regions you find pasta served with mini-meatballs (hazelnut size). Here it started at the beginning of 1900s when Italian immigrants had to bring food at work with them and, since they could not bring too many containers, wives used to put everything together (meat, pasta and veggies). Continue eating it, if you like it, just remember the history of this dish and, mostly, don't serve it to your Italian friends, please ;-)

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb sausage (or better brats, since they don't have fennel seeds)
1 egg
1 1/2 cup Italian San Marzano peeled tomatoes with their juice, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of Italian grated parmigiano reggiano
2 slices of sandwich bread
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup white or red wine
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt

In a small bowl soak bread in milk.

In a big bowl crumble the ground beef and the sausage. Add parmigiano, egg, bread soaked and squeezed, parsley, nutmeg and salt. Mix everything nicely, until combined.

Shape into meatballs about the size of a walnut (or slightly bigger).

Dredge in flour, shaking the excess and warm up olive oil in a saucepan with lid, over medium high heat.

Then sautee your meatballs, until golden on both sides (they don't have to be golden all around).

Deglaze your pan with white or red wine and, once alcohol has evaporated, add the tomatoes.

Cover with lid, lower to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, making sure they're cooked throughout.

I made 25 meatballs with these quantities.

- The reason why I keep them "small" is because they cook faster and remain moist.
- You can also use strained San Marzano tomatoes.
- You can cook peas together with meatballs or also serve them with last week's recipe: patate alla genovese (recipe here and video here)
- You can find the video here (it will be a voice over slides type of video, since we didn't have any time)