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 (January 11, 2016)

Posted by William Abruzzo on January 11, 2016 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (4)


Risotto con Calamari (Sauteed Rice with Squid)

  

       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!

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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)

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       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.

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      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.

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       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 (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.

   


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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.

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