Welcome to my world - a blend of passion, taste, and old-world traditions.

Benvenuti nel mio mondo - un mischio di passione, gusto e vecchie tradizioni.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

OUR TRADITIONAL MENU DI SABATO SANTO (HOLY SATURDAY)

While fasting and abstinence are no longer required on Holy Saturday, for us fasting in the morning and eating dinner around 6 p.m. is a good way to observe this sacred day.  As mentioned in other posts, it's our tradition to buy a young, locally grown lamb at Easter time.

Now to the menu.

Lamb Scottadito (finger-blistering grilled lamb chops)


·     12 thickly cut lamb chops
·     leaves from sprig of fresh rosemary
·     2 cloves of garlic
·     1/4 pound cured lard or prosciutto fat 

·     Salt & pepper to taste 


Grind the lard, rosemary leaves, and garlic to make a smooth paste. Spread it on both sides of the chops and let them sit in a cool place for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Fire up your grill and when hot, 
lay down the lamb chops. Cook them briefly, flip them, and grill the other sides. Cooking time should be 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon your grill and your taste.  We like them medium rare.

Remove them and serve 
while they're hot enough to burn the fingers.

I like to serve the lamb chops with Spezzatino di Carciofi (Artichoke stew).


In the alternate, an abundance of Zucchini Fritters (Frittelle di Zucchine)








Monday, February 9, 2015

STUFFED ROASTED BREAST OF VEAL - PUNTA DI VITELLO RIPIENA AL FORNO

Veal breast is a less valuable cut of meat, therefore it's inexpensive but not less flavorful.   It requires to be slow cooked in order to be tender.  When boiled, it provides a flavorful broth.  When stuffed, seasoned with herbs and other fats like pancetta or lard, it requires at least 2 hours of cooking.



          


STUFFING:


 tablespoon olive oil

·         2 cups stale bread crumbs
·         1 cup of pancetta (cubed)
1        ½ cup chopped celery
·         ½ cup chopped onion
·         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

·         2 cloves of garlic chopped

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set over medium heat.  Add the pancetta onions, garlic, celery and cook until pancetta is brown.  Stir in the bread and continue cooking for few more minutes stirring all ingredients.  Let the stuffing cool.





ROAST:

  • 1 3 1/2- to 4- pound veal breast with pocket
  •       tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  •       cup white wine
  • 2 pounds potatoes
  •      2 sprigs of fresh rosemary


  1. Open pocket and push the cooled stuffing into the cavity.  Tie the open end shut with kitchen string.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Sprinkle the meat all over with salt and black pepper.  Brown the meat for 30 or so minutes over medium heat.  Add the sliced onion and wine; cover, reduce heat to low and cook 1 hour.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange the potatoes around the roast and cook, uncovered, in the oven for 1 hour or until the meat is nicely browned on top and the potatoes are cooked through.
  2. Slice the meat and serve with potatoes and pan juices.






















Friday, February 6, 2015

PAN DI SPAGNA FARCITO (ITALIAN SPONGE CAKE WITH CREAM FILLING)

Pan di Spagna refers to a sponge cake with layers filled with various creams.  In Abruzzo, we refer to it as Pizza Dolce.  Pan di Spagna can also be eaten by itself with fruit or it can be used as a base for Zuppa Inglese.




Pan di Spagna (Pizza Dolce)


In my childhood,  we used to wait for the holidays to eat elaborate desserts.  Pan di Spagna was prepared for Easter Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It was also used as a wedding cake. Usually, made with 20 eggs, cut crosswise into three discs soaked in rum, liqueur and espresso coffee and then filled with creams - a chocolate, an almond and a vanilla. The surface was sprinkled with white powdered sugar.    

Today, I continue to make Pan di Spagna at Easter and to celebrate special occasions



Celebrating my daughter's birthday
Ingredients
    6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup flour
    1/8 teaspoon  salt
    1/2 cup strong espresso coffee, cooled
    1/4 cup rum (or any liquor)
    1 teaspoon lemon rind
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    butter and flour for the pan (In Italy we used wax paper to fit in a 10” round pan)
      Directions

      • Sift the flour, and measure
      • Beat egg whites until frothy; sprinkle salt over the top and continue beating until stiff enough to form peaks but not dry; gradually beat in sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time.
      • Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored; add lemon rind and juice; continue beating until very thick.
      • Gently fold in beaten whites.
      • Gradually fold in flour sifting 1/4 cup at a time.
      • Butter and flour a 10" cake pan. 
      • Bake in moderate oven (325 degrees) about 1 hour; remove from oven.

      Invert pan and let stand until cooled. (Remove wax paper, if used).
      When cool, cut crosswise into two discs.  Soak each disc with cold espresso coffee, rum or any liquor of your choice.
      Add creams over each disc.
      Dust white confectionery sugar over the surface.






      TIP

      Remember, first of all, once the sponge cake is in the oven do not open the door until the cake is finished cooking otherwise the sponge will deflate.  




      Wednesday, January 28, 2015

      Preserving Basil in Oil - Basilico Conservato in Olio


      With basil at its peak, here is my method of preserving it and enjoy it fresh throughout the winter. The best known method is freezing the leaves of the plant. Personally I find that keeping the basil in oil is the best method for maintaining the color and scent of the plant. Moreover, with this method, I also get delicious, flavored oil that can be used to flavor salads, vegetables or other dishes. 



      Here is the simple process.

      Pick basil at its peak.  Basil gets too strong and bitter if it blooms and bolts.


      Wash the basil leaves in cold water. The more the water is cold, the better: in this way the leaves of the plant are not likely to lose their nice green color.
      Dry the basil leaves by laying them on a towel and let them dry completely without squeezing them.


      

      Meanwhile, sterilize the jar.  When the basil leaves are dry, spread a layer of basil in the jar. Sprinkle with a little salt and add a tablespoon of oil. Continue with another layer and so on, up to end the basil. Press the leaves well between one layer and another. Finish by adding so much oil needed to cover the last layer of the basil leaves.  It is important that all the leaves are covered with oil, so they can be perfectly preserved.   Seal the jar and use the leaves in the months ahead, as you prefer.





      Store the jar in the refrigerator.  The important thing is that the leaves are always covered by the oil (if necessary, add additional oil now and then.

      



      
      

      Saturday, December 20, 2014

      Baccala' Fritto - Fried Salted Cod

       I cook baccalà many ways (with potatoes, roasted) but fried is our Christmas Eve favorite.  It's a poor dish very simple but extremely tasty and flavorful.


      Fried baccala



      I like to use a flour-and-water batter.

      Ingredients:

      • packet dry active yeast or a cake of fresh live yeast
      • 1 cup warm water
      • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 1/2 pounds prepared baccalà
      • Vegetable oil for frying



      Prepare and soak your baccalà at least 4 days prior. 

      In a large mixing bowl, mix together yeast and water. Add the flour and mix the batter until the consistency resembles a thick pancake batter. 

      Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. 


      Rinse the cod, dry well and cut into small pieces about 3/4-inch.




      Fill a frying pan with vegetable oil and heat to 375˚F.

      Drop a handful at a time of baccalà pieces into the batter.  Gently drop the pieces in the oil and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 5 to minutes.

      Remove the fish from the oil and drain over paper towels. 

      Serve warm.



      Tuesday, August 5, 2014

      48 Years of Wedded Bliss

      The special day was August 6, 1966.  Where has the time gone!


      St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church



            


      So many years later, I remember many details so well.  Such journeys one never forgets.

      Our first dance: Love is Many Splendored Thing
      Our first honey-moon night at The Plaza Hotel, NY
      Flew out the following morning to Rome. 
      Our stay at the Villa d'Este, Lake Como.
      Back to Casalbordino (Abruzzo) to celebrate with family and friends



      Vasto - 1966





      If I were to describe our marriage in a nutshell, I would say, it’s practical, unpretentious and precious. It’s not marked by grand displays of affection, the giving of lavish gifts or romantic getaways but one built on solid foundations of shared morals and values.












      Over the years, we have had our share of conflict and some of our disagreements have not been pretty but we have managed to understand our differences, accepted and then adjusted to them.
      Who said marriage was easy? It's not. Never was, never will be.

      Spanish Steps, Rome
      Piazza di Spagna, Roma
      I stumbled upon this beautiful quote today and couldn’t agree with it more!

      “If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.” F. Burton Howard



      St Mark's Square, Venice
      Piazza San Marco, Venezia

      Sunday, July 20, 2014

      Simple SPARERIBS

      Personally, I do not like BBQ sauce on ribs or any other meat.  We like ribs seasoned with just salt and pepper and roasted at a high temperature.  Grilled corn on the cob makes a nice accompaniment.



       
       
      2 slabs pork spareribs
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      coarse or kosher salt
      freshly ground coarse black pepper
       
       
      Heat the grill at medium to high temperature.
       
      Pat the ribs dry with paper towels.  Rub them with vegetable oil, then sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper.
       
      Place the ribs on the center rack, cover the grill.  Cook for 30 minutes, then turn the ribs and cook until well browned on the outside and no longer pink when cut at the bone, 40 to 45 minutes longer.
       
      To serve, cut the slabs into single-rib pieces and mound on a warmed platter.
       
      Enjoy with the grilled corn!