Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Recipe of the Week (February 18, 2016)

Posted by William Abruzzo on February 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (4)

Crocchette di Baccala (Venetian Potato and Salted Cod Croquettes)

 

 

 


        This week's recipe takes us to the region of VENETO. Cicchetti is a Venetian snack tradition similar to tapas in Spain. After work, Venetians head to the bars to socialize, snack on cicchetti, and have a glass of wine. Typical cicchetti include fried seafood, seafood salads, croquettes, sautéed vegetables, and plates of cured meats, olives and cheese.The varieties are endless. After a long day of sightseeing, hitting a cicchetti bar is a great way to wet your appetite before heading to dinner at one of the seafood restaurants near the Rialto Bridge. Here is a recipe inspired by the tasty croquettes I enjoyed in Venice. They are filled with a mixture of potato, salted cod and spinach. Be sure to fry them until crisp and golden brown and serve them with a glass of Pinot Grigio from the hills of Veneto.

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 Ingredients:

 Salted or Fresh Cod (1lb)

 Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (1 tbs)

 Russet Potatoes (2 medium -about 1 lb)

 Spinach (1/3 lb)

 Garlic (2 cloves)

 Green Onions (3)

 Egg (4)

 Breadcrumbs (4 cups)

 Olive Oil (for sautéing)

 Corn Oil (about 2 ½ quarts for frying)

 Black Pepper (to taste)

 Paprika (to taste)

 Salt (to taste)

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         If you are using salted cod, soak it in plenty of cool water for at least 48 hours, changing the water at least 3 times daily. The cod will rehydrate and become soft and pliable. Boil the salted cod for 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon thickness, and then remove it from the pot and set it to drain in a colander. If you are using fresh cod, simply place it in a pot or deep frying pan, cover it with water, season it with salt, and set it on a low burner. Allow the cod to poach for 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon thickness, and then set it to drain in a colander.

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         Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them into ¾ inch cubes, and boil them in lightly salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and transfer them to a large mixing bowl with the cod. Crumble the potatoes and cod with a fork and mix them together. Be careful not to over-work the mixture, as the texture should be coarse, not be pasty. Sprinkle the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over top and set the bowl to the side.

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         Next, chop the spinach, green onion and garlic. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and saute the green onion and garlic until soft. Next, add the chopped spinach and season with salt, black pepper and paprika. When the spinach has wilted, add it to the potato and cod mixture and fold everything together. If necessary, add a few drizzles of olive oil to moisten and re-season with salt and spices.

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        Beat the eggs with a splash of water. Shape the filling into 2 inch diameter balls, dip them in the egg and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan and fry the croquettes until golden brown. Place the croquettes on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Serve warm or room temperature with a wedge of lemon. Makes 14 croquettes. Serves 6 adults.


Recipe of the Week (November 16, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on November 17, 2015 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (2)

Pasticciata di Polenta con Mele (Polenta Casserole with Sauteed Apples, Speck, Fontina Cheese and Crispy Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Topping)

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        This recipe takes us to the region of Trentino Alto Adige where apples and fine cured hams make their way into simple rustic dishes. Here is a polenta casserole that goes well alongside roasted or grilled pork, chicken and sausage. Be sure to make it with crisp fresh apples. The sweetness of the apple pairs nicely with the creamy Fontina cheese and smoked ham. It is something you might find at a trendy osteria in the chic ski resort of Cortina D’Ampezzo or an upscale Italian restaurant in Manhattan. Serve it as an appetizer with a glass of red Barbaresco wine from Piemonte or a red Merlot from Veneto.

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Ingredients:

Instant Polenta (1 batch)

Asiago or Fontina Cheese (¾ lb)

Speck (¼ lb slab)

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (about ½ cup)

Butter (8 tbs)

Apples (4)

Walnuts (2/3 cup)

Spanish Onion (½ large)

Garlic (3 cloves)

Sage (½ tbs -chopped, packed firm)

Cinnamon (½ tsp)

Black pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

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        Prepare a firm polenta following the instructions on the package. Then, transfer it to a baking tray, smooth it to ½ inch thickness, and slice it into 3 inch squares. Toast the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5 minutes or until golden. Dice the onion, garlic and speck and chop the sage. Place the butter in a frying pan, set it on a medium low burner, add the onion and garlic, season with black pepper, and saute until soft. Next, add the speck and sage, and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes. Then peel, core and chop the apples, add them to the frying pan with the walnuts and cinnamon, and continue sautéing until the apples are tender, but still firm. If necessary re-season with salt and black pepper.

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        Brush the inside of a 14 by 9 ½ inch baking dish with softened butter. Next, add a layer of polenta, fitting the pieces snugly in the casserole dish. Spoon the apple mixture and all of the sauce from the pan evenly over top. Then, add a layer of asiago cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Tent the casserole with aluminum foil and bake it for 20 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven. Then, remove the foil, raise the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve hot. Serves 6 adults.


Recipe of the Week (July 13, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on July 14, 2015 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (4)

 

 

Pure di Ceci con Limone (Chick Pea Puree with Lemon)

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       This week's recipe takes us to the region of Lazio, where the locals add vibrant flavor to their regional cuisine by adding a touch of acidity. Here, a squeeze of lemon or high quality red wine vinegar is added to meats and grilled vegetables. Fresh lemon and egg yolks are the unexpected touches that add bright flavor and richness to this soup. It is a creation of my very own, inspired by the inventive use of these two ingredients in the traditional Roman preparation for lamb, called “Abbacchio Brodettato”. It is a dish that is sure to be found on the table in every Roman home at Eastertime. In Italian, “brodettare” means to thicken a soup or sauce into a stew, and in the famous Roman preparation for lamb, this is done using egg yolks and lemon. That being said, I am always looking for inventive ways to apply traditional Italian cooking techniques or to recreate traditional recipes. So I thought, “Why not add egg yolks and lemon to a simple chick pea puree?” The result of my endeavor was bold and delicious! Proud Roman chefs and traditional home cooks from the countryside of Lazio would certainly approve!

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Ingredients:

Chicken Broth 3 quarts

Chick Peas 5 cans (16 ounces each)

Eggs 10 extra large

Olive Oil to drizzle

Garlic 5 cloves

Lemons 4

Black Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

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       Puree the chick peas and garlic in a food processor with a splash of the broth and a few drizzles of olive oil until smooth and creamy. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Whisk the egg yolks into the broth and set it on a medium low burner. When the broth simmers, add the juice of 3 lemons, whisk in the chick pea puree, and season with salt and black pepper. Let the soup simmer on a low burner for 10 minutes. Adjust the level of acidity to your liking by adding some or all of the juice of the remaining lemon. Serve hot. Serves 4 adults.  

Recipe of the Week (May 18, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on May 18, 2015 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (2)



Carduni e’ Pomodori in Grattinate (Cardoon and Tomato Casserole with Crispy Breadcrumb Topping)

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        This week's recipe takes us to Sicily. Cardoons are a type of thistle related to the artichoke. Thye are native to the Mediterranean basin and are a popular vegetable in Italy. In fact, the cardoon has been cultivated on the Italian mainland and Sicily since the days of the Roman Empire. The cardoon looks like an enormous bunch of celery with pale green stalks and feathery leaves. You are sure to see them on display for sale at Palermo's famous Ballaro and Vucciria marketplaces. If you find them at your local vegetable market, be sure to take some home. For a taste of Palermo, try them baked in a casserole with tomatoes and topped with breadcrumbs.

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Ingredients:

 

Cardoons (1 large bunch -about1 ¾ to 2 lbs)

 

Country Style Italian Bread (3 thick slices)

 

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (1/3 cup and more for sprinkling)

 

Eggs (3 extra large)

 

Flour (for dredging)

 

Olive Oil (for drizzling)

 

Corn Oil (for frying)

 

Whole Peeled or Diced San Marzano Tomatoes (1 can -28 ounces)

 

Spanish or Vidalia Onion (1/2 small)

 

Garlic (3 cloves)

 

Basil (1 ½ tbs -chopped, pressed firm)

 

Oregano (1 ½ tbs -chopped, pressed firm)

 

Black Pepper (to taste)

 

Salt (to taste)

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        Chop the onion, garlic and herbs. Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Then, add the diced tomatoes and all of the juice from the can. Slosh ¾ cup of water around in the can and add it to the sauce pan too. Add the herbs, season with black pepper and salt, and simmer the diced tomatoes on a low burner for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, grate enough bread for 2 cups of crumbs loosely packed. Place the crumbs in a mixing bowl, stir in 1/3 cup of grated cheese, and then drizzle with olive oil. Toss the breadcrumb mixture so that it is uniformly moist and fluffy and set the bowl to the side.

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        Next, prepare the cardoons. Remove the stalks from the bunch and discard the hard inner core and small inner shoot. Strip all of the large leaves from the stalks. Use a paring knife to scrape the small leaves from the edges, and then peel off all of the stringy outer fibers (just as you would do with celery). Chop the stalks into 3 inch chunks. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water boil, add the cardoons to the pot, and boil for 25 minutes.

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        Drain the cardoons in a colander and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Place the cardoons on your work surface, gently press them flat, and then pat them dry. Beat the eggs with a splash of water. Dredge the cardoons in flour, dip them in egg, and then pass them through the flour a second time. Place ½ inch of olive oil in the bottom of a large deep frying pan. When the oil is hot, fry the cardoons until golden brown, and then set them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

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        Spread some tomatoes on the bottom of an 11 by 8 ½ inch, 2 inch deep, baking dish. Add a layer of cardoons, spread some tomatoes overtop, sprinkle lightly with grated cheese, and then add a second layer of cardoons. Spread over the remaining tomatoes, and then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over top. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6 adults.


Recipe of the Week (March 23, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on March 23, 2015 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (1)



Pogaca (Istrian Country Bread)
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        This week's recipe takes us to Istria, a part of Croatia that was once occupied by Italy. After World War II, Istria was given over to Yugoslavia, and many of the ethnic Italians living there fled to Italy. Today, there is still a strong Italian influence to Istrian cuisine, and many many Istrians speak both Croatian and Italian. Pogaca is a traditional bread popular throughout the Balkan regions, and particularly in Croatia. Unlike traditional Italian bread which is made with water, pogaca is made with milk, butter and sour cream, which lends a unique, rich flavor and soft texture. It is perfect for sandwhiches and dipping in sauces and soup.

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Ingredients:

All Purpose Flour (6 cups)

Eggs (2 extra-large)

Milk (1 cup)

Butter (½ stick -softened)

Sour Cream (1 cup)

Canola Oil (¼ cup)

Active Dry Yeast (1 package)

Sugar (2 tbs)

Salt (1 tsp)

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Place the milk and sugar in a saucepan and heat it on a low burner to dissolve the sugar. Then, transfer the milk to a bowl and allow it to cool to about 100 to 110 degrees. Add the yeast and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes or until frothy. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small sauce pan and allow it to cool. Beat together 1 egg and 1 yolk. Place the beaten egg, melted butter, sour cream, canola oil, and salt in a free standing mixer equipped with the whisk attachment. Beat the ingredients until fluffy. Next, add the yeast mixture and beat again. Add 3 cups of flour and continue beating. Then, switch to the dough hook attachment and work in the remaining 3 cups of flour. When the dough pulls together, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 3 minutes or until smooth and shiny.

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Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly greased with canola oil and brush it lightly on the top with canola oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a dish towel or plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot to rise. When the dough has doubled (about 2 hours), punch it down, shape it into an oval loaf, and set it on a lightly greased baking sheet. Let the loaf sit for 40 minutes and then slash a diamond pattern across the top with a sharp knife. Slash it 3 times diagonally in one direction and 3 times in the other direction. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown. If you prefer a shiny crust, after 35 minutes of baking, brush the top lightly with water.


Recipe of theWeek (February 15, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on February 11, 2015 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (2)


Fior di Zucchine Fritti (Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Caviar and Crème Fraiche)

 

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        This week's recipe takes us to the region of Lazio. In all regions of Italy, zucchini flowers are a favorite springtime treat. Just walk through Rome's famous vegetable market, the "Campo dei Fiori", in early May and you are sure to see bouquets of vibrant orange zucchini blossoms on display. The blossoms are prepared in many different ways. They can be fried until crisp and delicious, stuffed with ricotta cheese, tossed with spaghetti, or cooked into pancakes and omelets. This is my favorite way to prepare zucchini blossoms pulled fresh from my vegetable garden. They are the perfect crispy treat to serve with caviar and creme fraiche.

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Ingredients:

Zucchini Blossoms (2 dozen large)

All Purpose Flour (about 3 cups for dredging)

Eggs (3 extra-large)

Corn Oil (for frying)

Caviar (2 ounces)

Crème Fraiche (6 ounces)

Salt (to taste)

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        Remove and discard the stamens and pistils from the blossoms, tear the blossoms in half, and rinse them gently under cool running water. Pat the blossoms dry and set them to the side. Beat the eggs with ¼ cup of water. Place 3 cups of flour in a deep bowl. Place ¾ inch of corn oil in a large, deep frying pan and set it on a medium high burner. When the oil is hot, dip the blossoms in the beaten egg, dredge them in the flour and fry them on each side until golden brown. Set the blossoms on paper towel to absorb the excess oil and sprinkle them right away with salt. Transfer the fried blossoms to a serving platter. Serve hot with chilled crème fraiche and caviar on the side. Serves 4 to 6 adults.

  

Recipe of the Week (December 10, 2014)

Posted by William Abruzzo on December 10, 2014 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (3)


Vitello con Salsa di Tonnata  (Sauteed Veal Cutlets with Tuna Sauce)        


        This week's recipe takes us to the region of LOMBARDIA. Veal with tuna sauce is a favorite at trendy restaurants in Milan and Turin. It is typically made with slow-boiled veal rump, which is allowed to cool and then sliced paper thin. The veal is then topped with a tuna sauce and served room temperature or lightly chilled. It is the perfect dish to serve at a luncheon or as an appetizer before a fancy meal. Here is my version of this classic northern Italian dish that is sure to make any proud Milanese chef cringe. I like to make it quick and serve it hot! Instead of veal rump, which takes well over an hour to boil, I use veal cutlets that I pound as thin as possible and fry on the stove top. Just one minute on each side and they are done! When it comes to the sauce, I add plenty of butter and warm it on the stove top while the cutlets are frying. Then, I spoon the sauce over the veal cutlets just as they come out of the frying pan and serve it hot.

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Ingredients:

Veal Cutlets (6 large or 8 medium)

Flour (for dusting)

Italian Jarred Tuna or Canned White Albacore in Oil (12 ounces)

Olive oil (¼ cup)

Butter (6 tbs)

Capers (1/3 cup)

Anchovy Paste (1 rounded tsp)

Lemons (2 large)

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (2 tbs -chopped, packed firm)

Garlic (2 cloves)

Black Pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

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        Place the tuna, olive oil, capers, anchovy paste, garlic and parsley in a food processor and puree until smooth. Extract the juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup). Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the tuna puree and lemon juice. Season the sauce with black pepper and salt and whisk until smooth and creamy. Allow the sauce to simmer on a very low burner for 5 minutes. If you prefer more lemony flavor, add some or all of the juice of the remaining lemon.

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        Meanwhile, pound the cutlets to ¼ inch thickness or less, season them with salt and black pepper, and dust them lightly with flour. Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil and set it on a medium burner. When the oil has heated, fry the cutlets for 1 minute on each side and then place them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Arrange the cutlets on a serving platter and spoon the tuna sauce over top. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8 adults.


Recipe of the Week October 24, 2014

Posted by William Abruzzo on October 24, 2014 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (3)


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Crostini di Polenta con Ficchi e’ Speck (Polenta Squares Topped with Caramelized Figs & Telaggio Cheese Wrapped in Speck)

        This week's recipe takes us to the region of VENETO, where fine cured hams and polenta are favorite treats. When my wife and I first moved to our farm in Virginia, I said to her, “We need a fig tree!” That spring, as soon as the weather turned warm, I bought one and planted it in our vegetable garden. That summer, the little fig tree grew wide and tall, and by September we had a dozen or so sweet, succulent figs. They were perfect for sautéing. I decided to serve them with Venetian flare; wrapped with a slice of Telaggio cheese in a paper thin slice of speck and set upon a wedge of grilled polenta. The tasty little bundles were a true taste of northern Italy, where figs make there way into all sorts of sweet and savory dishes. Be sure to pair this treat with a glass of red Valpolicella wine from Verona.

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Ingredients:

Polenta (1 batch)

Speck (¼ lb -sliced paper thin)

Taleggio Cheese (½ lb)

Figs (6 large, ripe)

Walnuts (½ cup chopped)

Butter (1 tbs)

Black Pepper (to taste)

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        Prepare a firm polenta following the instructions on the package. Spread the warm polenta  evenly on a cookie sheet to 1/3 inch thickness and allow it to set. Toast the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden. Slice the figs in half lengthwise. Set e frying pan on a medium low burner and add the butter. When the butter has melted, swirl it around to coat the bottom of the frying pan, and then place the figs in the frying pan cut-side down. Saute the figs for 2 to 3 minutes or until caramelized. Then, gently flip them and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes.

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        Slice the cheese into bite-sized squares. Lay a strip of speck on your work surface. Place a fig, cut-side up, on the speck. Sprinkle some chopped walnuts on the fig, place a slice of cheese on top, and then roll the speck around the filling. Continue making bundles with the remaining figs. Then, slice the polenta into squares and place each bundle, cheese-side up, on a polenta square. Transfer the polenta crostini to an ungreased baking tray. Place the baking tray in a preheated 425 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese melts and oozes out of the bundle. Season with black pepper and serve hot. Serves 4 to 6 adults.

 

 

Recipe of the Week (June 30,2014)

Posted by William Abruzzo on July 3, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (2)


Crocchette di Baccala (Venetian Potato and Salted Cod Croquettes)

 

 

        This week's recipe takes us to the region of VENETO. Cicchetti is a Venetian snack tradition similar to tapas in Spain. After work, Venetians head to the bars to socialize, snack on cicchetti, and have a glass of wine. Typical cicchetti include fried seafood, seafood salads, croquettes, sautéed vegetables, and plates of cured meats, olives and cheese.The varieties are endless. After a long day of sightseeing, hitting a cicchetti bar is a great way to wet your appetite before heading to dinner at one of the seafood restaurants near the Rialto Bridge. Here is a recipe inspired by the tasty croquettes I enjoyed in Venice. They are filled with a mixture of potato, salted cod and spinach. Be sure to fry them until crisp and golden brown and serve them with a glass of Pinot Grigio from the hills of Veneto.

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Ingredients:

Salted or Fresh Cod (1lb)

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (1 tbs)

Russet Potatoes (2 medium -about 1 lb)

Spinach (1/3 lb)

Garlic (2 cloves)

Green Onions (3)

Egg (4)

Breadcrumbs (4 cups)

Olive Oil (for sautéing) 

Corn Oil (about 2 ½ quarts for frying)

Black Pepper (to taste)

Paprika (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

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If you are using salted cod, soak it in plenty of cool water for at least 48 hours, changing the water at least 3 times daily. The cod will rehydrate and become soft and pliable. Boil the salted cod for 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon thickness, and then remove it from the pot and set it to drain in a colander. If you are using fresh cod, simply place it in a pot or deep frying pan, cover it with water, season it with salt, and set it on a low burner. Allow the cod to poach for 10 to 15 minutes,depending upon thickness, and then set it to drain in a colander.

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Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them into ¾ inch cubes, and boil them in lightly salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and transfer them to a large mixing bowl with the cod. Crumble the potatoes and cod with a fork and mix them together. Be careful not to over-work the mixture, as the texture should be coarse, not be pasty. Sprinkle the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over top and set the bowl to the side.

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Next, chop the spinach, green onion and garlic. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and saute the green onion and garlic until soft. Next, add the chopped spinach and season with salt, black pepper and paprika. When the spinach has wilted, add it to the potato and cod mixture and fold everything together. If necessary, add a few drizzles of olive oil to moisten and re-season with salt and spices.

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Beat the eggs with a splash of water. Shape the filling into 2 inch diameter balls, dip them in the egg and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan and fry the croquettes until golden brown. Place the croquettes on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Serve warm or room temperature with a wedge of lemon. Makes 14 croquettes. Serves 6 adults.

  

Recipe of the Week (1/14/2013)

Posted by Bill Abruzzo on January 14, 2013 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (1)


Risotto con Calamari

 

     This recipe takes us to the region of Veneto.  Whenever I travel to Venice, I search out a seafood restaurant where I can order seafood risotto.  My favorite is risotto with tender baby squid or cuttlefish.  If I am lucky, the chef will prepare it "al nero" or with the ink stirred into the risotto,  to make it extra special.  Here in the US, whole squid is very difficult to find.  It usually comes pre-cleaned, with the ink sac removed.  Here is a tasty recipe which calls for pre-cleaned squid.  It is a true taste of Venice.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Arborio Rice (2 cups)

Pre-Cleaned Squid Tubes and Tentacles (2 lbs)

White Wine (1 ½ cups)

Light Fish or Seafood Broth (7 cups)

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (1/3 cup)

Olive Oil (for sautéing)

Spanish or Vidalia Onion (½ small)

Garlic (3 cloves)

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (3 tbs -chopped, packed firm)

Butter (4 tbs)

Black Pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

 

First, prepare the squid. Pat the squid dry with a dish towel, slice the tubes into small rings, and place the tubes and tentacles in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the squid with olive oil, season with paprika, black pepper and salt, and toss so that everything is coated. Brush a baking tray lightly with olive oil and spread the squid evenly on top. Roast the squid in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm and opaque. 

 

Next, prepare the risotto. Set the broth to simmer in a saucepan. Dice the onion and garlic. Coat the bottom of a deep frying pan with olive oil, set it on a medium low burner, and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Then, add the rice and continue sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes or until the rice is opaque, stirring constantly. Then, season the rice with salt and black pepper. Next, add the wine ½ cup at a time. Stir constantly and add the next ½ cup after the wine is absorbed by the rice. Continue by adding ladles of hot broth in the same manner, stirring constantly and adding the next ladle after the rice has absorbed the broth. 

 

After 20 to 25 minutes, the rice will be tender. Next, stir in the butter, grated cheese, and parsley. Then, stir in the roasted squid. Adjust the consistency to your liking by adding more broth if the risotto is too thick or sautéing a minute longer if it is too thin. Depending upon the tenderness and consistency desired, you may or may not use all of the broth. Transfer the risotto to individual serving bowls and serve hot. Serves 4 adults.

   

Recipe of the Week (6/17/2012)

Posted by Bill Abruzzo on June 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (2)


Pasticciata di Polenta con Mele (Polenta Casserole with Sauteed Apples, Speck, Fontina Cheese and Crispy Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Topping)

     This recipe takes us to the region of Trentino Alto Adige where apples and fine cured hams make their way into simple rustic dishes. Here is a polenta casserole that goes well alongside roasted or grilled pork, chicken and sausage. Be sure to make it with crisp fresh apples. The sweetness of the apple pairs nicely with the creamy Fontina cheese and smoked ham. It is something you might find at a trendy osteria in the chic ski resort of Cortina D’Ampezzo or an upscale Italian restaurant in Manhattan. Serve it as an appetizer with a glass of red Barbaresco wine from Piemonte or a red Merlot from Veneto.

 

Ingredients:

Instant Polenta (1 batch) 

Asiago or Fontina Cheese (¾ lb)

Speck (¼ lb slab)

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (about ½ cup)

Butter (8 tbs)

Apples (4)

Walnuts (2/3 cup)

Spanish Onion (½ large)

Garlic (3 cloves)

Sage (½ tbs -chopped, packed firm)

Cinnamon (½ tsp)

Black pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

  

     Prepare a firm polenta following the instructions on the package.  Then, transfer it to a baking tray, smooth it to ½ inch thickness, and slice it into 3 inch squares. Toast the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5 minutes or until golden. Dice the onion, garlic and speck and chop the sage. Place the butter in a frying pan, set it on a medium low burner, add the onion and garlic, season with black pepper, and saute until soft. Next, add the speck and sage, and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes. Then peel, core and chop the apples, add them to the frying pan with the walnuts and cinnamon, and continue sautéing until the apples are tender, but still firm. If necessary re-season with salt and black pepper.

     Brush the inside of a 14 by 9 ½ inch baking dish with softened butter. Next, add a layer of polenta, fitting the pieces snugly in the casserole dish. Spoon the apple mixture and all of the sauce from the pan evenly over top. Then, add a layer of asiago cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Tent the casserole with aluminum foil and bake it for 20 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven. Then, remove the foil, raise the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve hot. Serves 6 adults.




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I offer private cooking classes for up to six people. Cooking classes are held in my home, or if suitable, yours. I specialize in all aspects of Italian regional cuisine, including soups, vegetables, pasta, risotto, meat, seafood and desserts. I will design a cooking class around whatever interests you –whether it is a specific recipe you wish to learn or a skill such as pasta-making. For more details, please go to the "Catering/Cooking Classes" page or take a minute to become a member of my website and contact me via internal email at Recipesandramblings.com . 

Bill's Cooking Tip of the Month


Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients


 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

Just Picked From My Italian Vegetable Garden!

 Zucchini Blossoms 

My Italian Heritage

 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

Great reads for the Italophile!

Coming Soon!

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day