Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chicken Scarpariello

Chicken Scarpiello... I'm sure that there are many ways to make this and each of us has their own version of ingredients for this dish. Isn't that what cooking is all about? Individual interpretation? And isn't that the beauty of cooking, adding ingredients or omitting them depending on what your taste buds are desiring? It's all subjective, what you like, don't like and what others like and don't like. Google Chicken Scarpariello and hundreds of recipes will come up and while they may all be very similar, there will be a little tiny difference, an ingredient in one recipe that really appeals to you, and changes the taste. My sister Marlene says she doesn't like rosemary, and makes a funny face when I say I'm going to put it in something. She's usually packing the leftovers for her lunch, rosemary and all!  So play a little, taste as you go and make this your own!
Here's what you will need...

Chicken, on the bone cut up into pieces
Italian sausage
olive oil
hot cherry peppers
lemon juice
salt and pepper
dry white wine
chicken stock

I'm making lots of chicken today. I cut up 4 whole chickens, and each chicken was cut into 12 pieces.  (the breast, thigh and leg were all cut in half through the bone) I removed the backs and the wings and put them in a pot to make some chicken stock.  Here's my chicken cut up and seasoned with salt and pepper, and rosemary.

Heat your pan and get it hot then add some oil to the pan and brown the chicken, skin side down. Don't keep moving it around, if you let the pan and the oil get hot enough the chicken won't stick!  Let the chicken get some color!

While the chicken is cooking in the frying pans, put your sausage into the oven. I baked mine at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, turning them halfway so they were browned on both sides.  This is the sausage going into the oven...
When all your chicken is browned, it's time to make the sauce. Deglaze the pan with some white wine, scraping the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add smashed, chopped garlic, and your cherry peppers. Taste want more garlic, add it! You want it with more of a kick?  Add some more cherry peppers!  

 Add some chicken stock, start with a cup. Turn up the heat a little and let the wine cook off.  Squeeze in some lemon juice, add a little butter or not. I added some of the brine from the hot cherry peppers. It really gives the dish a nice kick and adds some "heat".  At this time add any additional seasoning. I used just a pinch of oregano, and another pinch of rosemary. Usually, at this time I would add the chicken and sausage back to the pan and finish cooking with the sauce, but because I had more chicken than my pans could handle, I had to finish everything in the oven.

 Spoon all your sauce over the chicken and sausage and at 375 degrees bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through.

 If you have any questions, please let me know. I'd love some feedback!

Buon Appetito

Friday, April 29, 2011

Burrata Cheese

I don't know how many of you are familiar with a cheese known as Burrata. It is such a delicious creamy cheese. It is a ball of mozzarella cheese filled with shreds of mozzarella soaked in cream. Can you imagine? I had been serving it on it's own, at room temperature with just a drizzle of some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, until I had the pleasure of dinning at Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi, in Santa Monica, California. If you have the opportunity to dine there, I would highly recommend it.  My meal was absolutely fabulous. We fought over what pastas to order, the truffle or the porcini and ended up ordering it all! We started with an appetizer of Burrata, which was served with some tomatoes on the vine which had been baked with a delicious pesto sauce, and then spooned over the room temperature Burrata cheese.  The aroma,  and the taste is something I cannot even begin to describe.  I wasn't given their recipe and when I got home I tried to recreate what I had been served. Whenever I can, I prepare the Burrata this way, improvising as I go along. My family says "Thank You", as soon as it's on the table before their forks break into these creamy balls of delight! They know what's about to hit their taste buds, and it is out of this world.

Plain tomatoes into a baking dish. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, chopped garlic, parsley, basil and some olive oil.
Bake the tomatoes until the skin bursts and the tomatoes can be mashed with a fork
Spoon the tomatoes over the Burrata and enjoy!

Buon Appetito

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


My family loves lamb. I think it goes way back to when they were babies, and that they inherited Greek Genes from my husband! I used to gag feeding them the Gerber lamb, but it became clear to me that my kids were lamb lovers!  My mother didn't make lamb all that often. She would make an occasional lamb chop but I don't recall ever having a leg of lamb or a rack of lamb.
It wasn't until I got married that I started making lamb because it was something that my husband really loves. The first time I made a leg of lamb I cooked it like it hadn't been dead already...OMG! It was horrible. Now, lamb is served at a temp of medium rare, and there is absolutely no mint jelly on our table!
Pictured above are racks of lamb.  I prepared them by making a herbed breadcrumb and just pressed the breadcrumbs onto the lamb. I then baked them in a hot oven, 450 degrees for 10 minutes then turned the heat down to 375 and finished them off for another 15 minutes. Let them rest for a few minutes before cutting into them  They were the perfect .... Medium Rare!

I served the lamb with some asparagus parmigiano
and a fresh mixed green salad with some delicious ripe strawberries, with a balsamic dressing.

 Breadcrumb Crust
seasoned bread crumbs ( I like 4C)
3 - 4 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsely
a few pinches of rosemary
a bunch of fresh chopped mint
juice from 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste
a drizzling of olive oil just to make the mixture a little damp
Mix all the ingredients together. Press the mixture onto your meat and cook as desired!
Enjoy! :)

Buon Appetito!

Monday, April 25, 2011


I love Gnocchi. If they are made well, they are the most delicious little pillowy clouds of yummy goodness. I have had them made with potato and also made with ricotta cheese. They are equally delicious, although I do think that the ones made with ricotta cheese are a little lighter, and they certainly have a different texture. I love nothing more than a bowl of homemade gnocchi with a veal bolognese, and don't skimp on the shaved parmesan!  The Gnocchi I made has a little bit of both ricotta and potato. To celebrate Spring, and for Easter I thought it would be a nice to switch it up and instead of making a lasagna for Easter, decided to make a Sweet Potato Gnocchi.  I'm serving these with a creamy cheese sauce, and for my daughter who doesn't like any melted cheese whatsoever, just a sauce of savory sage and brown butter over the gnocchi will have to do.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

2 pounds sweet potatoes, baked until tender
12 ozs ricotta cheese, drain through cheese cloth for at least 2 hours
1/2 cup parmessean cheese
2 T brown sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 3/4 cup flour + more as needed

Sage Sauce
1 stick butter
6 Tablespoons fresh sage

Cheese Sauce

using a fork make holes in the potatoes and bake them on a lined baking sheet until they are tender.  I did not line the baking sheet and it was a mess to clean.
Once baked and tender, let them cool off and slice them down the middle the long way and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
Add the cheeses, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg to the potatoes. when well mixed add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until a dough starts to form. You may need to add extra flour. The dough should be dry enough to roll out into a line. Flour your working surface and roll into long ropes. Cut into pieces and then roll on a fork
put the Gnocchi on a baking rack to dry out a little. 
Bring some salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and after the gnocchi come to the surface boil for 5 - 6 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon. I added the gnocchi to a pan with melted butter, fresh sage and some garlic and pan fried the gnocchi just to give them a sear on the outside. 
The gnocchi went into individual serving dishes and Gorgonzola sauce was added to those who wanted it on their Gnocchi. It was delicious!

Thanks for stopping in.  Enjoy!

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pizza Grana

This pie is also know as a wheat pie. It is one of my favorites! It is very similar in taste to an Italian Cheese Cake. You will love this!

Here's what you will need.

Pizza Grana

For the filling
2 pounds of Ricotta cheese
1 pound cooked grain
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, seperated
1/2 cup of scalded milk
1/4 cup citron chopped
1/4 cup orange peel, cut fine
1 1/2 tsp of Orange water
the rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange

for the crust
2 1/4 cup flour (and more as needed)
3 eggs
4 Tablespoons of milk
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 pound butter

This recipe will make 2 pies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix all the ingredients together for the filling, except for the egg whites.

Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they are stiff, and fold them into the wheat mixture.

Mix your ingredients for the pie crust. the dough will be very wet and stick to your hands, keep adding flour until the dough does not stick to your hands and can be rolled out.

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness to fit your pie dish. Add the filling and with the extra dough create strips to make a lattice top.  Weave the strips, I think this helps them from falling into the mixture, but don't quote me on that
Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  They'll jiggle a little when you take them out of the oven but they will have a beautiful golden color to them. Don't over bake them.  Let them cool off before refrigerating them.
I gave up deserts for Lent. I am so ready to dive into this one!
Buon Appetito!
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Pies

My sister and I are starting a new tradition. We are making our Easter Pies on Good Friday. The new part of the tradition is that from now on she will be taking the day off! You cannot start baking at 3 pm on Good Friday! You shouldn't start that late in the day on any given day! We made 3 different pies today. 2  different meat pies, one recipe is simply called Easter Pie ( the recipe is out of the newspaper) , and the other is Pizza Gaina, and is also known as Pizza Rustica. Until recently, I thought that this was one of my mothers recipes. I found out during a phone call to my Zia Josie, that this is not something that was a tradition on my mothers side of the family. It became a tradition while we lived on Daniel Drive in Farmingdale, New York.  I don't recall an Easter growing up that we didn't have these two pies on the table Easter Day! Thanks to "Aunt" Margie and "Aunt" Marie,  I now make these recipes and they have become a tradition in my own family.

Pizza Gaina

1/2 lb of Prosciutto
1/2 pound Genoa Salami
2 pieces of sweet dry sausage
1 pound basket cheese
1 pound ricotta
1 pound mozzarella
1/2 cup grated cheese ( I used Parmigiano)
12 eggs

4 cups flour
4 eggs
4 T Crisco
1 t baking powder
1/2 cup warm water

Cut up all your meats into chunks and put them into a bowl large enough for all of your filling ingredients.
Cut up your basket cheese, and mozzarella into chunks and mix with the ricotta cheese. Add the grated cheese and 12 eggs. Mix all together until it is well mixed.

Set this aside and start on your dough.  Mix all the ingredients together and knead. It will be a firm
dough, not sticky.

 Roll out the dough to fit in a large baking pan. It's not an easy dough to work with so keep rolling. Once you have the dough rolled out to the desired size place into your baking pan.
add the meat and cheese filling
usually the recipe calls for encasing the mixture into the dough, but I didn't have enough dough so I didn't do that! I just folded the ends of the dough towards the middle of the pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, turn down heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional hour.
Let the pie cool and then slice into small pieces, and enjoy. This can be served warm, or at room temp. It is very rich and very tasty.
Buon Appetito!
I'll be posting our sweet pie tomorrow!
Come back and see me soon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cooking with the Trinity

I just realized that although I have been cooking this whole week I did not take a single picture of anything that I made! I made some awesome dishes this week, you'll just have to take my word for it.
This week is Holy Week, and I choose to not eat any meat this week. We've eaten some delicious fish this week, and it's only Thursday!
Here's what you will need for tonight's fast and simple dinner.

Cleaned Calamari (I used 5 pounds)  keep reading even if you're not a calamari can substitute shrimp! It's actually another delicious dish made with shrimp!
1 -2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
4- 5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 jars of crushed tomatoes
1 large can of cannellini beans (the big can!) 1 pound 13 ozs
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
a few fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of red pepper seeds
fresh arugula
1 pound of linguini

Tonight's dinner was a simple one, pretty fast to cook, and not too much prep. Depends on how fast you are in the kitchen. I bought the calamari cleaned, but still rinsed them off and made sure there was nothing inside the tubes.
First start by getting your pan hot and then adding your extra virgin olive oil. 1 - 2 tablespoons will do the trick.
Add your chopped onions, garlic and celery to the pan and lower your heat. You want to saute the onions, garlic and celery (the Trinity) in some extra virgin olive oil. My great uncle, Uncle Zio Tilio (lol) was a chef and he said that anything worth eating always started with a Trinity, tonight, my Trinity was the onion, garlic and celery. Just let the Trinity sweat, do not brown.  Add tomatoes....I used two quart sized jars of delicious chunky tomatoes that I jarred this past season! YUM!

mix it all in and season with your salt and pepper and don't forget that pinch of hot pepper seeds. It will add another dimension to the flavor. Black pepper and red pepper hit different parts of your tongue!

Let the tomato sauce simmer for 5 - 10 minutes and add your can of beans and stir. I also add the chopped parsley and basil at this time.  And then it's time for the cleaned calamari to go in! 
before adding the calamari I cut the tubes into rings

Don't over cook the calamari! I think that this took about 10 minutes to cook on a med to high flame.
While the calamari is cooking I start my pasta. Tonight it was linguini.

Drain the linguini, and now here is the fun part and the surprise of the dish!
Arugula! Raw Arugula! Put as much of it in the dish as you want. I used quite a bit. It gives the dish such a lovely peppery flavor!
toss the hot pasta right on top of the arugula
Spoon your calamari sauce over the pasta and using some tongs mix it up!
Serve into individual bowls and enjoy!
Bon Appetito! 

Thanks for the visit! Come back soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pasta ai quattro formaggi

I love Sundays! It's usually a day where my entire family can be together and break bread.  There is usually a nice spread on the table, a little something something for everyone, if you know what I mean.  My husbands request was for spaghetti and meatballs, but that meant a trip to the store to buy some ingredients that I didn't have. I just wanted to use what I had in the frig.  Cheese! I had lots and lots of cheese. So while I may be calling this Pasta with four cheeses, it has more! It has in it what ever I had left in the cheese drawer!
It's a simple recipe, butter, milk or cream, cheese, and salt and pepper. It really doesn't get any easier. 
While the pasta is cooking, a penne or a rigatoni go great with this sauce , I start by melting 1 stick  (1/4 pound) of butter in a sauce pan, and while melting I added about 4 - 5 ozs of mascapone cheese. If you don't have mascapone, use cream cheese.  I slowly added about 1/2 cup of milk and when it was nice and smooth I tossed in some of the cheese that I had on hand. Tonight I used Gorgonzola, Asiago, Parmigiano Reggiano, Fontinella and Gouda. The Gorgonzola is strong, so use the amount you want to your taste. I don't usually measure, so I would estimate that I used approximately 3- 4 ozs of each cheese. YUM! 

On a low flame, I whisked the mixture until well blended. I do not allow this to come to a boil.  I tossed the pasta with the sauce and served it at once. Delicious!  
My family requested that I make this more often, but with all that butter, cheese and cream I think I'll keep this as a once in a great while dish, and keep it in the special file...
Enjoy! and Buon Appetito!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken...Italian Style!

I have an Aunt Rose and when she would make this dish we would all cheer. It is something special. We'd ask her what this dish was called and she would say it was Fried Chicken. Her Italian heritage is from Southern Italy. So from that point, I've affectionately called this Aunt Rose's Southern Fried Chicken.
 I can remember my mother, who was a fabulous cook, lick her fingers clean, and if she could have, she would have licked the dish clean! (She probably did when we weren't looking!)
Aunt Rose always made this with chicken on the bone. I have made this with boneless chicken breasts and while it is still delicious it's just not the same. We all know that meat is always sweeter on the bone!
This is not a weight watchers dish. If you are afraid of pan frying and butter you don't have to look any further, this dish is not for you! Get the Italian Bread ready, you are going to want to dunk!
I would like to also tell you that this is not exactly how my Aunt Rose made it. She never wrote down the recipe for me, so if I've omitted something or added something a little extra to the recipe, I apologize.  It's still delicious! And whenever it's made we always think of Aunt Rose!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Chicken pieces on the bone
oil for pan frying
salt and pepper to taste
garlic cloves, the more the better
fresh lemons
butter, at least one stick

Beat a few eggs in a bowl and season with your salt and pepper. In another bowl combine some seasoned breadcrumbs with a little flour. Dip the chicken in the egg wash and then lightly bread the chicken pieces.

In a large frying pan or skillet add vegetable oil and pan fry your chicken just so they get some color on both sides. You don't have to cook these through, they are going to go into the oven to finish.

After all your chicken has been pan fried layer the chicken in a baking pan. My lasagna pan is the perfect size when making this dish for my family. Plenty of room for plenty of chicken.  Add some crushed garlic. I used about 8 cloves and crushed them with the wide end of the blade on my chef knife. Add juice from 2 lemons and season with some salt and pepper.  Cut up a stick of butter, and put it all around the chicken. Cover with foil and bake the chicken for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chicken falls off the bones.
Take out of the oven. Serve this with plenty of bread. Rice is good with this dish too! Your going to love the taste of this!
Bon Appetite!