Tag Archives: Italian tradition

Sicilian Shrimp (Gamberoni Siciliana) – Feast of the Seven Fishes

This dish is often served as of the attractions in the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB    Shrimp (peeled, de-veined, large shrimp – 20count – are best)
  • 1/4 C  Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1           Red Onion (medium, diced)
  • 1           Bell Pepper (medium, diced)
  • 1/2 jar  Lucini Organic Diced Tomatoes (12-14 ounces)
  • 1 TB     Pine Nuts
  • 1 TB     Raisins (golden are preferrable)
  • 1 TB     Capers (rinsed well)
  • 1/2 C   White Wine (your favorite Sicilian white or Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 tsp    Orange Juice (fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin (fresh, ground)
  • 2            Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper (dried)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper (freshly ground)

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened.  Add the tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, capers, wine, juice, cumin, bay leaf and red pepper and bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer and add the shrimp.  Cover and cook the shrimp for 5-7 minutes until cooked through.  Remove from the heat and season with orange juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from Anna Tosca Lanza

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Fig Marmalade (Marmellata di Fichi)

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Wash the figs well then chop them and combine with the sugar in a bowl.  Cover them and let them rest overnight.  The next morning transfer them to a pot and cook over medium heat them over a moderate flame, stirring often until they come to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming away the foam occasionally, until thick (a drop of liquid on an inclined plate doesn’t run).  Add the olive oil and vinegar and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Transfer the marmalade to sterile jars, seal them, sterilize them, and when they have cooled transfer them to your pantry.

Pesto

Why flax seeds?  I have been reading a lot about omega 3 lately and trying to work it into my diet more often (rather than relying solely on supplements).  One of the best sources of omega 3 is ground flax seeds and thinking about the groundness of the seeds led me to pesto – the root of the word is the same as pestle and both derive from the Latinpestâ” (to pound or crush).  It seems that many people have negative connotations for flax seeds – that the texture is weird or flavor will be unpleasant.  But, i’ve tested this recipe on some discerning palates and everyone thought that the nuts used were either 100% walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pine nuts.  Be sure to taste before and after adding the salt – I usually avoid salt in pesto recipes, but because the Lucini Stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano is so rich and flavorful and has less of a salty profile than generic Parmigiano Reggiano, I do add salt to this preparation.  As always find it better to start with a little less – you can add more, but if you start with too much, fixing the taste is difficult.

pesto

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Grind the flax seeds.  Combine the garlic, flax seeds, walnuts and salt in a food processor (or a mortar and pestle, for a more ‘authentic’ consistency) and blend until the mixture forms a paste.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending slowly.  Add the Parmigiano 1 tablespoon at a time, blending for short beats until the mixture forms a thick paste.  The pesto can be put in a container, topped with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil and then stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Without this preservation layer, the pesto discolors very quickly and the garlic flavor will turn bitter in a matter of days.

Italian Comfort in a Jar

This yummy bean recipe is  from Art Smith’s blog:

TUSCAN BEANS IN A JAR
Makes 8-12 servings

2 pounds Tuscan beans, soaked in water overnight in the refrigerator
10 Roma tomatoes
¼ pound pancetta, diced
2 small onions, diced
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer Lucini brand)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Drain the beans and rinse. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cut an X on the ends of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the water in batches, if necessary. After 40 seconds, remove and plunge into an ice-water bath. Leave in the ice water for 40 seconds and drain. The skins should peel right off. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Place a large Dutch oven over high heat, toss in the pancetta, and render until it begins to turn brown and crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain off some of the fat and toss in the onions, sautéing for 4 minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the beans, sautéing for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2½ hours. When the beans are done, add the basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately or let cool, then ladle into jars and refrigerate for later use. They will keep for up to three days.

Pizza Rustica – Italian Easter Pie

Pizza rustica is traditionally served in many parts of Italy, such as Sicily, Naples and Liguria, as the first course on Easter Saturday to break the Lenten fast or to begin an Easter Sunday feast.   The meats and cheeses utilized vary by region and even family, so feel free to substitute in your favorites as long as the flavor profile and consistency are similar.  I have not found any versions of this recipe without prosciutto.  A few add hard-boiled eggs, which is a nice touch as eggs are often utilized to represent rebirth.

The pizza rustica is VERY filling – many people (not me) are sated by a small slice.

When dicing the ham be sure to cut it into small cubes – you don’t want the filling to be ridden with large, clumsy chunks.  If you use fresh mozzarella, cut that into small cubes as well.  If, on the other hand, you opt for the drier and relatively taste-free packaged mozzarella, you should shred it on the large holes of a cheese grater, likewise the asiago.  The Parmesan should be finely grated rather than shredded.

Lastly, I realize the use of a store bought crust is a sign of serious weakness of will (laziness) on my part, but when I make my own I end up with: dough and flour all over my apartment, dozens of extra dirty dishes and an inferior crust.  If you enjoy making your own, don’t let this crust-challenged corner cutter stand in your way.  Most recipes call for Pasta Frolla for the dough, often with a hint of lemon peel added.

Meat Pie!!

Meat Pie!!

Ingredients:

2             Pie Crusts (one for the bottom and one for the top)
2 TB       Lucini Lemon – Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1  C         Ricotta salata or Italian Basket cheese (shredded)
1/2 Ball  Fresh Mozzarella cheese (cubed small)
1 C          Fresh soft Ricotta cheese
1 C          Asiago or aged Provolone (shredded)
1/2 C     Lucini 3 Year Organic Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)
3             Eggs
1/4 LB  Mortadella or italian ham (1 piece diced small)
1/4 LB  Prosciutto (1 piece diced small; NOT sliced)
1/4 LB  Spicy salami (1 piece calabrese or soppressata; diced small)
2 TB       Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil over the bottom of the pie crust and massage the oil into the crust.

Break up the ricotta salata or basket cheese into a large mixing bowl.  Add the meats, fresh mozzarella, Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano and stir until evenly distributed.   Season with pepper and/or paprika to taste.  Beat the three eggs, mix in the soft ricotta and pour over the mixture.  Stir well until the filling is dense and thick enough to stand a spatula or wooden spoon in, but it not so thick that you can’t incorporate the ingredients evenly.

Pour the filling into the bottom crust and use the back of a wooden spoon or your fingers to spread it evenly. Top carefully with the other crust – do not tear this crust.   Gently press it directly against the surface of the filling.  Trim the top and bottom crusts that hang beyond the pan so that only 1 inch of overhang remains, then press them together and fold them in toward the center of the dough to form an edge.  Press down on the rolled edge with the tines of a fork to seal and form the crust.  If desired, use the leftover dough to make Easter cutouts (bunnies or eggs, for example) to decorate the top of the pie.  (This is a great way for children to help out in the kitchen!)  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the top crust.  (This is NOT a great way for children to help out in the kitchen!!)

Bake, for about an hour, until the top is golden.  Remove and check to see if the sides of the crust are golden.  If not, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and return the pie to the oven until the crusts are golden – this should be less than 5 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes or until the sides of the pan are not too hot to touch.  If using a premade crust or traditional rectangular/square/round pan do not attempt to unmold – simply present in the cook vessel.  If using a springform pan, remove the sides and carefully transfer the pie to a large plate or platter.  The presentation will be improved with the latter and everyone will know you labored over your own crust!

Every Crown Jewel Deserves a Box

Cheese is my chocolate. Many a late night I have pillaged the fridge looking for some last scrap of my favorite gooey french cheese or tried to shave into thin slices the last bit of Irish cheddar to be laid carefully over Swedish hard bread. My latest sensation is the rare and very hard to find Lucini 36month Parmigiano Reggiano drizzled with my favorite honey from Hawaii.

This cheese is so special it deserves the box it comes in. Each 8oz wedge arrives from Italy pre-cut by the artisan cheesemakers at location (ReggioEmilia D.O.P) to protect its integrity and flavor. Something that took 3 years to carefully craft is owed more respect than a bit of saran wrap.

It is now available for everyone to enjoy thanks to ZABARS in New York who is selling the product online.

Easter: Sicily’s Holiday

Easter in Sicily is like no other holiday: pageants, processions, historic icons, age-old societies, and food food food!

Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina

In a country that relishes its traditions and bountiful harvests, Sicilian tables feature a combination of seasonal and symbolic ingredients that welcome in spring as much as celebrate Easter.

Farfalle Saporite con Asparagi

Farfalle Saporite con Asparagi

Tender green vegetables play an important role whether they appear in delicate savory tarts as starters or in the form of sauces or stuffing for first courses. The most classic tart is the Torta Pasqualina, layers of puff pastry covering a ricotta and artichoke mixture with the added surprise of whole eggs baked into the filling. Asparagus – both cultivated and wild – is a favorite in pasta as well as a side dish.

The main course will almost inevitably be lamb, at its most tender and succulent at this time of year.

Agnello Arrosto

Agnello Arrosto

Whether it’s the traditional arrosto di agnello (roast leg of lamb marinated in white wine and roasted with rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil), or the impressive corona di carré d’agnello (rack of lamb shaped into a guard of honor),

Corona di Carre' d'agnello

Corona di Carre' d'agnello

or a mouthwatering casserole with artichokes, lamb provides a delicious highpoint for an extremely important holiday.

Colomba

Colomba

For dessert you’ll find an assortment of mignon dolce (bite-sized pastries) and Colomba, a delicate dove-shaped sweet cake that originally came from Lombardy. This yeast dough-based dessert is filled with fragrant candied fruit and topped with a crunchy topping of almonds and sugar.

Uova di Pasqua

Uova di Pasqua

And please don’t forget the chocolate Easter eggs!