lunedì 29 agosto 2016


Complete meal - Can be lactose and gluten free, and vegetarian (READ footnotes)

Here we go with another recipe. Given the abundance of summer produce (and if you grow your own zucchini, you know WHAT I'm talking about ;-) ), I wanted to prepare them differently than usual, even just to change flavor a little... so here come cutlets! As said, they can be lactose & gluten free and also vegetarian!! Have fun!!

For the cutlets:
1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced (about 1/8" thick)
2 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise (about 1/8" thick)
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise (about 1/8" thick)
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Italian 00 flour
Breadcrumbs (NOT seasoned or flavored)
Italian sea salt

To complement (optional):
1 28-oz can Italian San Marzano peeled tomatoes, with their sauce, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup Italian dried black olives
2 tbsp Italian capers, packed in salt and rinsed
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Italian extra virgin olive oil

First of all, prepare your sauce. In a saucepan over medium-high heat warm 2 tbsp olive oil and sautee onion, carrot and celery, until onion becomes translucent.

Add tomatoes, capers and olives and lower heat to simmer, cover with lid and simmer for at least 15-20 minutes; stir herbs in and cook 5 more minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the cutlets.

Lightly beat eggs with a pinch of salt and milk.

Dredge chicken breast in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs, pressing with your hand so that breadcrumbs stick firmly to your meat. Repeat with all meat slices, then vegetable slices.

Warm up enough olive oil to fry.

Fry all your cutlets (few at a time), turning them in order to get golden on both sides.

Transfer on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Serve immediately, with the sauce on a side and mixed salad.

Serving depends on size of slices.


Zucchini (quite large ;-) )

Chicken tenders

- You can add marinated artichoke hearts to your sauce.
- DON'T sprinkle with salt while frying or you won't have a crisp cutlet.
- If you use chicken tenders, you don't need to cut them thinner.
- If you don't want to prepare your sauce, you can use a very good pre-made one like the Pomodorina we carry: you'll only have to add capers and olives.
- It can be lactose free, in case you use an extra egg and no milk; it can also be gluten free as long as you use GF breadcrumbs.
- For a vegetarian meal, avoid chicken breast.

lunedì 22 agosto 2016


Entree - Can be Gluten and Lactose free (READ footnotes)

This recipe is the original from Amatrice, town in Rieti province (not far from Rome) and should be prepared with guanciale (cured pork cheek). I've never been able to find it here in the U.S. so I prepared it with bacon this time. I know I should look for pancetta but I haven't been too lucky to find the one I actually want (the one in this photo of a previous time is the rolled one, then diced at the source: the actual pancetta should be flat); I was lucky to find a very good bacon, not overly smoked and quite lean, actually. It was labeled as "center cut", I don't know if it's the same for every brand. You should us bucatini, to make this recipe, but I left them at our store so I made it with linguine... truly good, overall!

1 lb Italian Linguine
6 oz bacon, center cut, diced
1 14-oz can Italian peeled San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their sauce
4 tbsp pecorino romano, grated
1 pinch hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
Italian sea salt

Bring a big pot (better taller than wider) with water to a boil.

In the meantime put a big saucepan on high heat and sautee the bacon with hot pepper flakes for about 2 minutes, than add wine and let the alcohol evaporate.

Add tomatoes, lower the heat to medium, cover with a lid and cook for about 10 more minutes.

When the water boils, add salt (Italian coarse sea salt is better, because you'll use less) and pasta; cook for 8-10 minutes.

Drain pasta and reserve a few tablespoons of the cooking water; toss the pasta in the skillet with the sauce and sautee for a couple minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved cooking water. You can also take it out of the water as I do in the video, and transfer directly into the saucepan: this way, most likely, there will be enough humidity on the pasta.

Serve sprinkled with grated pecorino romano.

This recipe serves 4-5 people.



- As said in the introduction, pasta should be bucatini, same one I used in the video.
- Instead of Italian San Marzano tomatoes, I used a canned Italian sauce that is outstanding. It's called Pomodorina and it's worth every penny... Try it, if you can find it in a store near you.
- As said, preferably use pancetta, if you find it easily.
- I like onion, so I added 1/4 cup of roughly chopped onions, that I sauteed with pancetta and hot pepper flakes at the beginning (don't tell purists or they'll kill me ;-)).
- In case your pancetta or bacon is not too fat, use 1 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil, I did it
- Always cook pasta al dente, NEVER overcook it: it will raise your blood sugars more and it will be more difficult to digest.
- If you don't like pecorino, you can use Parmigiano reggiano (even though the purists will not like it ;-))
- You can make it Gluten free using GF spaghetti (good quality one, like the ones we carry) and lactose free by simply avoiding pecorino.
- You can see our video here (the one made with pancetta and bucatini)

lunedì 15 agosto 2016

MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA (fried mozzarella sandwich)

Appetizer or Entree - Can be vegetarian and gluten free (READ footnotes)

I had not made this dish in 3-4 years, at least. Then I saw a picture on Facebook and decided to prepare it that Sunday... ehm... it was a Monday, of 2 weeks later! Nonetheless, I prepared it and it was as good as I remembered. It was part of an "all-fried" meal: zucchini, eggplant, chicken fillets, zucchini blossoms... and NO, we didn't eat everything in one meal: there was enough food for 2 meals at least. Check the foot notes, as usual, for potential substitutions and suggestions.

8 oz "dry" mozzarella (the drier one used for pizza)
4/8 ham slices (depending on size)
16 slices of sandwich bread (wheat, white, or the one you prefer)
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
Not flavored/seasoned breadcrumbs
Italian sea salt
Italian extra virgin olive oil to fry

Slice the mozzarella into 8 slices; divide each Ham slice in two, if you got the big slices; remove the crust from the bread slices.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with milk, salt and pepper (if you like it).

Make the sandwiches with 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 piece of ham, making sure to leave edges free of ham/cheese so that the bread slices will be in contact.

Dip them in the eggs/milk mixture and let the bread soak. Press it very well to make sure the sandwich will not open while cooking.

Place the sandwiches in the bread crumbs and let them stick on both sides.

Warm up olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Fry the sandwiches, turning them once only if possible, until they golden on both sides.

Serve immediately with a nice salad or other vegetables.

- If there is some eggs mixture left, don't throw it away: refrigerate it and use it to make an omelette. CAREFUL!! Make sure to use it the day after at latest: it won't keep long, even in the refrigerator.
- You may need to adjust the size of the ham slices to reflect the size of the "de-crusted" bread.
- I use the "pizza" mozzarella just because the fresh one, even though tastier, could be too wet. In case you want to use that, slice it and let it lose some of its moisture, patting the slices dry, if needed.
- You can easily make it gluten free, using GF bread slices and breadcrumbs.
- It's vegetarian, provided that you don't use ham.

lunedì 8 agosto 2016


Entree - Gluten free - Can be vegetarian (READ footnotes)

Since I had a backache for a few days, I could not check our zucchini plants accurately and I knew that I would have found at least one oversize zucchini. Yesterday I noticed the smaller one and thought "darn, a baseball bat! I knew it would have happened"... while harvesting it, I noticed the monster!!!!!!!!!! So then came the question... how do I fix the monster?? I opened the refrigerator and pulled out some homemade ricotta, some salame and parmigiano; went to the garden and grabbed some fresh parsley; got some tomato sauce and..... By the way... zucchini weight is in grams, for those of you not used to that system, it's 1.53lbs and 3.55lbs!!!

4 zucchini
1 container ricotta cheese, well drained
4 oz salami, diced
1/2 cup Parmigiano, grated
1 1/2 cup Italian tomato sauce
1-2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Italian sea salt

Cut zucchini in half, lengthwise, then remove its pulp and set it aside.

In a big bowl mix ricotta, salami, parmigiano, parsley and season with salt. Pay attention to the amount of salt, since you have salami and parmigiano.

Stuff your zucchini with this mixture.

Put a large saucepan with lid on medium-high heat and warm up the tomato sauce, arrange the zucchini in it and cook them, over medium heat cover with a lid, until they are soft.

This recipe serves 4.

- You can chop and sautee the pulp in olive oil with a little bit of onion, chopped as well. Let it cool down and add to the ricotta stuffing. Otherwise, as I did, you can freeze it and use it for soups in winter, when it's so hard to find some good ones (even because it's not their season ;-) )- As pasta sauce, I used Pomodorina, a ready to go sauce that we carry and is very very good!!
- You can cook them in the oven, too, if you like it.
- You can eat them at room temperature, too.
- You can freeze them, once cooked, and warm them in the microwave or in the oven, when needed.
- You can prepare them in advance and cook them when you need them; in this case you have to keep them refrigerated for not more than one day (because of the ricotta, that's very delicate) or freeze them.
- It's gluten free and, if salami is left out, it's vegetarian.

lunedì 1 agosto 2016


Dessert - Vegetarian - Can be lactose free (READ footnotes)

Last week Rita, a friend from Italy, and her family landed to leave a year here in Reno. So, since she landed on her birthday, we decided that cooking for her (them, actually) could have been a nice present. Given the heatwave in Reno, I prepared panzanella (video), tuna stuffed eggs (video), mixed vegetables from our garden (video), salad from our garden, cheese, salami, olives, bread and, of course, dessert: everything was cold. The mixed veggies and the panzanella were prepared the day before, as well as the dessert which, like tiramisu`, needed to be prepared the day before. Click on the links to see the recipes of the other dishes.

2/5 package ladyfingers (about 24 ladyfingers)
1 big ripe peach
Juice of 1 lemon
Red fruit juice
3 oz crunchy Italian amaretti cookies

For the custard:
3 eggs
3 spoons full of sugar
3 spoons full of Italian 00 flour
1/2 cup limoncello
2 1/2 cup milk
grated zest of 1 lemon

First of all, prepare the custard. Warm up milk with limoncello.

In a saucepan, mix sugar, flour and lemon zest, then add eggs and whisk to prevent lumps.

On medium heat add the warm milk/limoncello in a thin stream, mixing 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. Sprinkle a little sugar on top, so it won't form the "film" on top of your custard; let it cool down to room temperature.

Peel peach and cut it in small pieces, mix with lemon juice and set aside.

Crumble amaretti cookies.

When custard is at room temperature, drain peaches from juice and add to the custard.

Quickly dip ladyfingers in the juice, and line the bottom of an 8"x8" deep serving dish; pour half of the custard; repeat with ladyfingers and custard.

Cover with lid, if there is one, or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, sprinkle with the crumbled amaretti.

(and the rest of the meal ;-) )

- I used Alchermes, a deep red dessert liqueur (diluted with some milk) to dip ladyfingers. You can also use diluted pomegranate (or grenadine) syrup to dip them.
- As said, this dessert needs to be prepared the day before, so ladyfingers will soften.
- If you use a non-dairy milk, it will be lactose free, as long as you use dairy-free amaretti and ladyfingers (like the ones we sell).
- It is vegetarian.
- The mixed vegetables recipe linked above has a few more ingredients, but the process is exactly the same