Pere al Vino Rosso (Pears Poached in Red Wine)

Pears poached in wineIngredients:

8 pears, peeled
1 bottle of red wine, or enough to cover the pears
1 cup sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon
3-4 whole cloves
Zest of half a lemon or orange*

Directions:

Peel your pears—one per serving—leaving on the stem if the pear has one. Then place them snugly in a saucepan with just enough room to hold the pears in a single layer.

Pour over the wine over the pears, so that they are at least ¾ of the way covered. Then add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and if you like, some lemon or orange zest.

Allow the pears to simmer for about 20 minutes, turning them if need be so that they cook and colour evenly, until they are quite tender but not falling apart.

Remove the pears onto a shallow serving bowl or plate, and continue to simmer the wine until has reduced into a syrupy consistency, then strain and pour over the pears. Allow the pears and their sauce to cool before serving.

* Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

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Fagioli al l’uccelletto (Beans Braised in Tomato and Sage Sauce)

beans braised with tomato and sageIngredients:

1 (796ml) can cannellini beans
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
3 – 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
A few fresh sage leaves*
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:

Begin by making a simple tomato sauce: gently sauté a few garlic cloves and some fresh sage leaves in olive oil. When the garlic is just beginning to brown, add the canned tomatoes, and let it simmer, always on gentle heat, until the tomatoes have reduced nicely to a saucy consistency.

Add the cannellini beans, season with salt and peppers, and allow them to simmer in the tomato sauce for about 10 minutes or so, just long enough for them to absorb the flavor of the sauce. Test for seasoning, adjust if need be, and serve your fagioli all’uccelletto immediately.

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Cipolle al Forno (Baked Onions)

Baked OnionsIngredients:

8 medium sized onions
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped*
Best quality, fruity olive oil
Dry white wine (optional)

Directions:

Take each onion, and slice off both the top and root ends. Remove the outer, dry layers of the onion, then slice each onion in half across their midsection, against the grain so to speak, so their rings are exposed. Place the onion halves in a well-oiled baking dish, cut side up. Season very generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the parsley. Finally, drizzle the onion halves with best quality olive oil you can find/afford.

Place the baking dish in the oven set at 350 degrees, for an hour or more, until the onions are well reduced in size, very soft and slightly caramelized. Baste the onions with their cooking juices every so often as they cook. Be careful not to allow the onions to burn, which will give them a bitter taste. If you like, you can cover them with a sheet of wax paper for the first 30 minutes or so or If need be, you can lower the oven temperature.

About 5 minutes before they’re done, splash a bit of white wine on top of the onions. This gives the onions a very slight tang, which nicely balances their natural sweetness, and produces a little ‘sauce’ you can pour over the onions when you serve them. Let the onions cool slightly before serving.

* click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Sausage and PeppersIngredients:

8 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage or other sweet/mild sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 (796ml) can of diced or crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup wine or beer
½ tablespoon of corn starch

Directions:

In a large pot, add the canned tomatoes and herbs, then cook on low while preparing the remaining ingredients. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice. Add the sliced sausage and any drippings to the pot with the tomatoes.

Add the oil to the same skillet that you used for the sausages. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peppers, and then stir in the wine/beer. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender.

Once tender, add the vegetables to the pot with the tomatoes and sausages. Let everything simmer on low for an hour. If you find that the sauce is a bit too watery, take about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot and mix it with the cornstarch. Once dissolved, add this cornstarch slurry back to the pot. It will thicken up the sauce. Serve hot.

Milanese con Insalata di Pomodoro (Milanese Chicken Cutlets with Tomato Salad)

tomato chicken cutletThis salad is to be served on top of the chicken cutlets, as part of the dish, not as a separate salad/side dish.

Ingredients:

6-8 ripe, juicy tomatoes cut into a small dice
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves, ripped into small pieces*

Directions:

Make the Cotoletta (cutlets) as per the previous recipe (click here).

While the cotoletta is cooking, make your salad by putting your tomato in a mixing bowl with a bit of salt. Allow the tomato to macerate for just a minute or two, then drain out the excess liquid along with most of the seeds. Take the pulp, mix it with the basil leaves and toss with the olive oil. Adjust for seasoning.

Serve the cotoletta, still hot, with the tomato salad spooned over the top, and eat it right away!

Note: If you cannot find ripe large tomatoes, try changing to cherry tomatoes instead; you will need about 2 pints for this recipe.

* click here to learn how to properly clean basil.

Cotoletta di Pollo alla Milanese (Milanese Chicken Cutlets)

italian cutlets

Ingredients:

6-8 chicken cutlets
6 eggs, beaten
Breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
Salt & pepper
½ cup margarine
lemon wedges

Directions:

Take a chicken cutlet and lay either wax paper or plastic wrap on top to cover it. Flatten the cutlet slightly with a meat mallet or the back of a skillet – not too much, you want the cutlet to cook evenly, but not dry out.

Dip each cutlet into the beaten egg mixture, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Coat the egg-dipped cutlets with breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the meat to make sure they adhere well.

Heat a generous amount of margarine—a whole stick—in a skillet, over moderately high heat, allowing the margarine to foam up. When the foaming subsides, add the cutlets. Don’t crowd them, but at the same time, if you leave too much empty space in the skillet, the margarine may burn. Regulate the heat so that the cutlets brown nicely without the margarine darkening too much or burning.

When the cutlets are nicely browned on both sides, serve immediately, sprinkled with some sea salt and, if you like, lemon wedges on the side.

Classic Minestrone

minestrone 1

Ingredients:

¼ cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced*
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, diced large
2 zucchini, sliced
1 (398ml) can cut green beans
4 stalks celery, sliced
12 cups vegetable/beef/chicken stock
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme*
1 (796ml) can cannellini beans, with liquid
½ cup elbow macaroni
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add the garlic, leek and onion to the pot, and cook until they become translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the ingredients occasionally so that nothing burns. Add the stock, tomatoes and thyme, and scrape up the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits. Bring the soup to a boil, then replace the lid, and reduce heat to low; simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the cannellini beans with liquid and pasta. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

* click here to see how to properly clean these ingredients.

Italian Olive Oil Balsamic Bread Dip

Italian Bread DipIngredients:

6 large cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped*
2 pinches salt and black pepper

Directions:

Place the garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and salt and pepper into a shallow bowl in that order. To serve, spoon small amount onto bread.

* Click here to learn how to properly clean fresh rosemary.

Buona Sabbath!

A big concern in a Jewish home every week is what to make for Shabbos (the Sabbath). No one wants the same thing, again and again, but yet, since it happens every week (like clockwork), you wind up getting stuck in a rut. To help alleviate this problem, I thought this week could be Shabbos Theme Week! Every day I will be giving you a different menu, from soup to nuts, based on a food theme. Today’s menu? Italian! The menu will serve 6 to 8 people, and of course, is delicious!

Italian Menu