Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sicilian Meat Loaf

In this recipe, I add a little worcestershire sauce to this Sicilian style meatloaf. If you like your meatloaf with a little 'red', add your favorite homemade or prepared marinara sauce over the top of the loaf after it has been cooking for 30 minutes.

* 1 and 1/2 lbs ground chuck or ground sirloin
* 1/4 lb provolone cheese, cut into small chunks
* 1 yellow onion, cut into small dice
* 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
* 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
* 2 eggs
* 1 Tbl worcestershire sauce
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil

# Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium sized bowl, combine beef, cheese, onion, bread crumbs, tomato sauce, eggs, worcestershire sauce, salt, and 1 Tbl olive oil.
# Lightly oil a medium sized loaf pan with remaining olive oil, and gently transfer meat mixture to pan, pressing meat mixture evenly into pan.
# Bake until an instant read thermometer reads 160F when inserted into center of loaf, approximately 40 minutes. If using marinara sauce, top loaf with sauce after 30 minutes of cooking.
# When done, remove from oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1 inch thick slices.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sausages and Peppers

Sausages and peppers are a staple of Italian street fairs. Originally, the sausages were only available in Italy in the winter months, as that was the only time that the family hog was slaughtered. In America, sausage was available year round, making the this meal all the more popular.

* 3 red bell peppers
* 3 green bell peppers
* 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
* 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
* salt
* 8 Italian sausages, sweet or hot

# Wash peppers, remove stems, ribs and seeds. Cut into 1 inch wide strips.
# Heat oil in skillet large enough to hold peppers. Add garlic, and cook until browned. Discard garlic. Add onions to the oil and cook until softened but into browned. Add the peppers and salt to taste, cover the pan, and continue to cook over low heat until the peppers are soft. (about 30 minutes)
# Prick the sausages all over with the tip of a sharp knife. Put in one layer in a heavy frying pan with 2 Tbl water. Cook over medium heat heat, turning often. The water should evaporate and the fat should run so the sausage cooks in it's own juice. Cook until the sausage is browned, and cooked through (10 to 15 minutes).
# Add the peppers and onions to the sausages and heat together 5 minutes.
# *At most street fairs, sausages and peppers are served inside crusty Italian rolls, cut open to hold them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Oven-Baked Macaroni with Eggplant

This meatless dish can be served as a side item, but is filling and tasty enough for a main dish!

* 2 medium eggplants, 2 lbs total weight
* salt
* Olive oil for frying eggplant
* 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 3 lbs fresh tomatoes. peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 3 lbs drained canned tomatoes (about 4 and 1/2 cups), chopped
* salt
* 3 Tbl chopped fresh basil
* Pinch of sugar
* 1 lb short macaroni, such as ziti or penne
* 2 oz butter (4 Tbl)
* 4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
* 8 oz fresh mozzarella, finely chopped or grated

# Wash eggplant, but do not peel. Cut into 1/8 inch slices and place in colander, salting each layer. Place a plate and a weight (such as a can or two of vegetables) on top and drain for one hour. Pat dry and squeeze gently to remove excess liquid.
# Put 1/4 inch olive oil into a frying pan and heat to very hot. Fry one layer of eggplant at a time, turning to brown both sides. Drain on paper towels, layering the eggplant and towels as necessary.
# Put 1/4 cup olive oil, onion, and garlic in a 2 qt. pot Saute until softened until softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes and salt. Cook until water has evaporated, about 30 minutes. Add the basil 5 minutes before cooking is finished. Taste for seasonings and add a pinch of sugar.
# Cook the macaroni in 5 qts boiling salted water. Drain while macaroni is still quite firm, after about 7 minutes. Mix with the butter, and half of the Parmesan cheese and salt if necessary.
# Preheat oven to 350F. Spread a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Layer the pasta, eggplant, mozzarella, and the sauce until all the ingredients are used up, ending with one thin layer of eggplant. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shepherd's Macaroni

It is said that this dish was created by the shepherds of the Calabria region of Italy. Very simple, and just as delicious!

* 1 lb short pasta, such as ziti or penne
* Salt
* 1/2 lb ricotta cheese
* 8 Tbl softened butter, cut in small pieces
* 2 tsp (or more) black pepper

# Cook pasta in 5 qts rapidly boiling salted water until al dente . (firm to the bite)
# While pasta is cooking, place ricotta in serving dish, and mix in softened butter. When pasta is almost done, remove 3 Tbl of the cooking water and stir into ricotta. Stir well to make a smooth sauce. Add salt and pepper.
# Drain the cooked pasta, leaving a bit of cooking water clinging to the pasta to help it blend with the sauce. Add to ricotta and toss well. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Macaroni with Olives (Maccheroni Con Le Olive)

Fusilli (corkscrew) pasta is the best pasta to be served with this dish, although any short pasta may be used.

* 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 medium onion, minced
* 1 medium garlic clove, minced
* 1 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 lb drained canned tomatoes, chopped
* 1 cup black olives, or 1/3 cup each black and green olives, halved and pitted
* 2 Tbl capers, drained and rinsed
* 2 tsp red wine vinegar
* 2 Tbl fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried
* Pinch of sugar
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 lb fusilli pasta or other short macaroni
* 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

# Heat oil, onion, and garlic in a large skillet and cook over moderately low heat until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes.
# Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, vinegar, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat. Be careful with the salt since olives and capers are salty.
# Cook the fusilli in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (firm to the bite). Drain and mix with the sauce. Sprinkle on the cheese and serve immediately with additional cheese on the side if desired.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Appetizer Toasts Neopolitan Style

This is a wonderful cocktail party appetizer. If you (or your guests) aren't fond of anchovies, try the roasted pepper variation. Or make both - and everyone will be happy!

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
16 slices Italian bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
16 slice mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
32 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry, chopped
1 lb fresh plum tomatoes, cut into 16 thin slices
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.
Brush oil on one side of bread slices and place oiled side up on flat baking sheet. Cover each slice of bread with a slice of mozzarella, sprinkle with chopped anchovy, and top with a slice of tomato. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes.

Variation: In place of anchovies and plum tomatoes, use 1/4 cup black or green pureed olives, and 2 large roasted red peppers cut in 1/4 inch strips. Spread bread with olive puree, lay on Mozzarella cheese, and cover with two crossed strips of red pepper. Bake as above.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Baked Frittata with Mozzarella

This is one of the most simple, yet most well known, frittata recipes. It's perfect for brunch, or a light main course.

* 6 large eggs
* salt to taste
* pepper to taste
* ! sprig fresh italian flat-leaved parsley
* 6 fresh basil leaves
* 2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
* 8 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
* 1 plum tomato, cut into thin rounds

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Beat the eggs until frothy, add the salt, and the pepper.
3. Chop together the parsley and basil and add to the eggs.
4. Heat the oil in a 9 inch ovenproof skillet, over medium heat. Pour the eggs in and cook briefly until the bottom has settled, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the mozzarella arranging it in one layer, and dot with slices of tomato.
5. Bake until the ggs are set and the cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice like a pie, in wedges, and serve.

Eggplant in Savory Sauce

This dish is best prepared the night before serving, to allow the eggplant to absorb the wonderful flavor of the sauce. To serve as a finger food with cocktails, roll up eggplant slices, and secure with toothpick.

* 6 small, or 3 medium eggplants
* Extra virgin olive oil
* 6-8 fresh oregano leaves, minced
* 2 cloves garlic. peeled
* 4 or 5 anchovy fillets, drained
* 1/4 tsp hot red chili pepper flakes
* 4 or 5 sprigs fresh parsley
* 3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
* Fresh basil leaves for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut eggplant into 1/4 thick rounds. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano. Bake, turning once, until soft, 10-20 minutes.
3. Place garlic, anchovies, hot red pepper, and parsley in a food processor or blender. Add 3 Tbl olive oil and the vinegar - puree.
4. Arrange eggplant slices on serving plate and pour sauce over them. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours. (overnight is even better)
5. Let dish come to room temperature before serving. Garnish with basil leaves.

Grande Antipasto All'Italiana

Antipasto is probably the most well-known of all Italian appetizers. This recipe is the 'grandaddy' of all antipastos!

* 12 thin slices of Proscuitto
* 12 thin slices of Genoa Salami
* 12 thin slices of baked or boiled ham
* 12 thin slices of Mortadella
* 24 slice Mozzarella, about 3 lbs.
* 1 (6 oz) jar of marinated artichoke hearts
* black pepper, to taste
* 1 (3 and 1/4 oz) can rolled anchovies, drained
* 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into thin rounds
* 1/2 lb mixed Italian cured green and back olives
* ripe cherry or grape tomatoes, about 15-20
* Fresh Italian flat-leaved parsley, for garnish

1. Alternate the different meats, arranging them in a decorative pattern (I usually use a wagonwheel pattern) on a large round platter, leaving space in the center for the Mozzarella and artichokes. The meats may be rolled, or folded into quarters, creating a triangle shape, whichever you prefer.
2. Alternate the Mozzarella and artichoke hearts in a circular pattern in the center of the platter.
3. Place the eggs at various spots around the edge of the platter. Place the anchovies in the very center of the platter, and scatter the olives over all. Garnish with parsley.