Bicolor Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

We love this salad as a side to beef or chicken dishes.

Bicolor Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Love this salad with my Beef Paillard recipe, the perfect side

Ingredients

1 head of romaine lettuce

1/2 head of radicchio of Chioggia (round shaped)

10-12 small baby heirloom tomatoes

1 red onion or 2 knobby white onions

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil  (to taste)

1 tbls red or white wine vinegar (to taste)

sea salt fine

black pepper ground

Directions

-Clean and dry both lettuces chop or cut into bit sized pieces add to salad bowlIMG_1142.JPG

-Thinly slice the onions add to salad bowlimg_1143.jpg

-Wash and cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters (depending on the size) add to salad bowlIMG_1144.JPG

-season with salt and pepper to taste

-add oil and vinegar (note- this is also to taste, the above amounts are a guideline) toss well and serve

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

Crunchy Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

A few weeks ago I was traveled to the south of France.  When there, I love going to this little Bistro in Nice where they make the best Scalloped Potatoes, served piping hot in individual mini cocottes.  I think I was able to come pretty close to replicating  this recipe, capturing the creamy marriage of the potatoes with butter and cream.  For sure this is a real diet breaker,  but every now and then, it is worth the splurge .  This is an easy side dish for special occasions.  For crowds, it is easier to make the recipe in a long casserole dish, but if you like, feel free to use little cocottes to give you the perfect cream to crunch ratio.

Crunchy Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

3 1/2 lbs potatoes (not baking)

1/4 lb unsalted butter

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

Seasoned Salt i.e. Lawrys

Directions

-Peel the potatoes, with a cut proof glove using a Mandoline slicer on the finest blade slice all of the potatoes paper thin

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-Butter generously the bottom of a long casserole dish and layer the potatoes one x one slightly overlapping…this will take time but the end result is well worth it!

-After you have layered the first layer cut pieces of butter and distribute then salt the layer…..repeat these layers with potatoes, butter and salt until you are finished with the potatoesIMG_1049

-Once you have the last layer, pour the heavy cream and the milk over the entire dish and once again add butter to the top layer, evenly sprinkle the parmesan cheeseIMG_1050

-Preheat a 375 F oven, and bake at least 45 minutes….Please check since some ovens cook faster than others….the top should be bubbly and golden brown.

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Serve hot or at room temperature.

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

 

Spring Fling, Russian Salad with Fresh Asparagus

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This dish takes asparagus and eggs to the next level.   Asparagus paired with a fresh vegetable, egg filled Russian Salad…. so tasty.  Mainly served as an appetizer, Russian salad, is a favorite here in Venice.  I thought it might be interesting served with seasonal asparagus.  Russian Salad also called Olivier Salad,  is a traditional Russian celebratory dish.  This salad  has become quite popular in Europe, there are many variations and each country has adopted their own version.  I  quite like the way the Venetians make their Insalata Russa.

Russian Salad with Fresh Spring Asparagus

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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This salad can be served year round,  alone or as a side to boiled shrimp or lobster.

Ingredients

10 carrots peeled and diced in 1/4″cubes (should yield approximately 3 cups)

2 large non starchy potatoes peeled and diced in 1/4″ cubes (should yield 3 cups)

2 cups of fresh peas shelled (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)

8 hard boiled eggs

1 cup of dill gherkins diced in 1/4″ cubes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of Mayonnaise  (high quality)

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

sea salt

salt and pepper to taste

2 large bunches of asparagus

Directions

-Peel and dice potatoes into 1/4″ size cubes,  slice the potatoes on the long side lay the potatoes flat on a cutting board and cut into cubesIMG_1031.JPG

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-Peel and cut the carrots along the length, lay the cut side down on a cutting board and cut again, then cut into 1/4′ cubesIMG_1033.JPG

-All items need to boil separately each has different cooking times

-In cold water add potatoes and course grain sea salt, bring to boil, after water comes to a boil time 10 minutes (note the potatoes need to retain their shape and NOT fall apart, so watch carefully, Please do not overcook them). Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the carrots and sea salt, bring to boil and time 8 minutes noting the same not to overcook the carrots.  Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the peas and sea salt you will need to test the peas but if fresh 10 minutes,  if frozen much shorter, also be careful not to overcook. Drain and let cool completely

-In a pot large enough for the eggs, bring water to a boil, add the eggs carefully into the water boil for 10 minutes.  Let cool and peel

-Dice egg whites into 1/4″ cubes separately chop the yokes

-Dice the dill gherkins in 1/4″ cubes

-It is important that all items cool and dry before mixing together

-In a bowl add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, mix well

-In a large mixing bowl add all of the cooked ingredients along with the dill gherkins, egg whites and yolks, mix in the mayonnaise, stir carefully , refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be made a day in advance.

-Cut the tough bottom end of the asparagus, with a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom rough outer layer, place the asparagus in cold water bring to boil.  Test for preferred doneness with a fork.  Carefully lift the asparagus out of the water let drain.

-With a pastry form in the center of a plate, fill with  Russian Salad, lay the asparagus alongside, lift the form and Voila!!  A Beautiful Spring Plate!!!

Buon Appetito !!

 

 

 

It’s Fry- day…..Crispy Crunchy Salted Fried Zucchini

I know of few Italian Restaurants in America that do not serve fried zucchini as an appetizer option.  I guess we all love zucchini, served hot and crunchy,  dipped in either a aioli or tomato sauce.  Well here is a recipe for fried zucchini that you can make at home.  If you like, serve the zucchini with a  simple tomato sauce .  We like it as is, salted with lemon wedges!!

Crispy Crunchy Salted Fried Zucchini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Its easy to make and everyone will love it

Ingredients

4-6 medium to small zucchini

2 eggs

1 cup of flour

2 cups of breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil

Finishing salt

Directions

-Slice the zucchini lengthwise, as thin as possible

-On parchment paper or aluminum foil, or a prep board add the flour and the breadcrumbs

-Heat the oil in a high sided heavy bottom wok, pot or pan until you drop a tiny piece of breading and it fries actively

-In a shallow bowl or dish beat the eggsIMG_0133

-Dip the zucchini in the flour, the egg and then the breadcrumbs…. you can press the crumbs to the zucchini making sure to coat the zucchini well….set aside until the oil is ready and you have breaded all the zucchini

-Carefully add the zucchini to the hot oil, try not to overcrowd the pan….fry until golden brown

-With a Slotted flat spoon carefully remove from oil and place on a platter lined with paper towel.

-Salt with a finishing sea saltIMG_0130

-Best served hot

Buon Appetito!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

Spring is here and what better way to welcome the season than with Farm Fresh Spring Peas.  If you are able to find peas at the Farmers Market buy them, shell them and put them in the freezer, no need to precook the peas.  I am still using mine from last year!  (No need to worry if you cannot find fresh, frozen peas will work too).  Peas are  easily used in so many dishes, let’s start with this,  Pasta made with a creamed fresh pea sauce.  This dish will be a great addition to your Easter menu.

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Shell pasta captures the peas inside their shape, so every bite has peas with some creamy sauce

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This dish works  well as an Easter first course

Ingredients

4-5 cups of Fresh shelled Peas (frozen works too)

1 sweet yellow onion finely diced

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 cups fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

2 Tbls unsalted butter

1/4 cup of fresh cream

Parmesan cheese to taste

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 1/4 lb Artisan Pasta in a shape that will capture the peas (Rigatoni, Shells, Penne,  if you use a fettuccine or fresh long pasta note that it will need more liquid for the sauce)

Directions

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-In a high sided pan add the olive oil and the chopped onion, on low heat saute until onion becomes transparent careful not to burn or brown the onionIMG_0957

-Add the peas,  white wine,  the vegetable broth, salt and pepper toss in the parsley.

-On medium heat, cook the peas ( fresh) for at least 30 minutes, pay attention to the liquid, it will reduce, add water if the liquid reduces too much and peas are not cooked. Taste the peas they should be tender to the bite….continue cooking until the peas are tender adjusting the liquid as necessary.IMG_0959

-Off the heat, in a mixing bowl add 2 cups of the cooked peas, add the cream and with an immersion blender mix until blended. (note- if you do not have an immersion blender, use a normal blender)

-Add the creamed peas back into the solid peas and let sit off  heat while  pasta is cookingIMG_0962

-In a pasta pot, fill with water and bring to boil add sea salt, then pasta.

-Cook pasta as indicated on package 1 minute less (see Pasta 101).

-Reheat the pea sauce add the butterIMG_0965

-Using a large slotted spoon, draining each spoonful, add the pasta to the pea sauce, on a lively heat mix the pasta with the sauce (remember you are still finishing off the pasta) If necessary, add liquid from the pasta water ….the sauce should be creamy not dry.  Add the parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve.fullsizeoutput_10

Buon Appetito!!

Meatless Monday…Pasta with Arugula, Garlicy Fresh Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese Petals

This pasta dish is a great go-to when you have fresh ripe tomatoes.  It has lots of flavor, the spicy crunch of the arugula,   the garlic infused tomatoes,  and the fresh petals of  shaved parmesan cheese.  It is an easy, fast, pasta.  Fun to make with those artisan pasta shapes that you have always wanted to try!!

Pasta with Arugula, Garlic Infused Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese Petals

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1/2 lb of Artisan Pasta (I used Fusilloni- large Fusilli)

2 Cups of fresh, ripe plum tomatoes chopped

2 large cloves of garlic pressed

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1-2 cups of fresh Arugula washed and dried

Parmesan Reggiano Cheese shaved to taste

Sea Salt and ground fresh pepper to taste

Directions

-Fill a pasta pot with water to boil

-add olive oil and garlic to a wok style pan and brown the garlic on low heat

-add the tomatoes, sea salt and ground pepper stir and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium/low heat  (note- you want the tomatoes to break down a bit, but still retain some shape, the goal is to infuse the garlic flavor)IMG_0906.JPG

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– Salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook 1 minute less that the package indicates, you. will finish the pasta off with the tomatoes for it’s last minute of cooking.

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-Mix well and continue cooking on a lively flame incorporating the tomatoes with the pastaIMG_0913

-Spoon the pasta onto the bed of Arugula and top with petals of parmesan cheese that you will make with a vegetable peelerIMG_0910

Serve and Enjoy FullSizeRender

Buon Appetito!!!

Rigatoni with Eggplant, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil

This dish reminds me of when I arrived in Venice 27 years ago.  I discovered this pasta dish at Do Forni, a famous local restaurant.  They are still making this eggplant pasta today and it is as good as ever.  Here is my easy version of one of my favorites!

Rigatoni with Eggplant Sauce and Buffalo Mozzarella

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 pound of eggplant (note I used 3 long Eggplants, sometimes called Japanese eggplant, slice if using long, cut in small cubes if using globe eggplant)

1/2 lb Buffalo Mozzarella cut into small cubes

1 lb artisan rigatoni

3/4 cup of chopped fresh basil

2 garlic cloves crushed

hot pepper flakes or fresh hot pepper to taste

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 large can of tomato sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

sea salt and pepper

parmesan cheese

Directions

-Slice or dice the eggplant place in a colander,  generously salt with sea salt (preferably course grain) allow eggplant to lose it’s water. At least 45 minutesIMG_0882

-Fill a Pasta pot with water and bring to boil

-In a wok style non stick skillet,  add olive oil ,garlic and hot pepper heat the oil and lightly brown the garlic,  add the eggplant and sauté ( I try not to use so much olive oil, the eggplant will absorb the oil then release it again just continue to stir, if it gets too dry feel free to add more oil) The eggplant will soften and start to brown about 10 minutes on med/ low heatIMG_0883

-add the tomato sauce, little salt (note- the eggplant was presalted) pepper to taste and the sugar turn the heat to low and simmer another 10 minutesIMG_0886

-while the sauce is cooking dice the mozzarella and chop the basilIMG_0887

-cook the rigatoni and time 1-1/2 minutes less than the package indicates (see pasta 101)

-With a slotted spoon and draining as you lift the pasta from the water mix the rigatoni into the sauce ( the heat of the sauce should be med) reserve the cooking water of the pasta in the event you need to elongate the mixture.  Add the mozzarella and the basil.  Serve with Parmesan cheeseFullSizeRender

 

Buon Appetito!

Sunday Lunch with friends, Bucatini Amatriciana

This recipe is a great go to when you are in the mood for a pasta dish that has some character.  It is one of my all time favorites, I love making it for friends and family.  The original dish was born in the town of Amatrice. You will probably recognize the town’s name, it was destroyed in the recent earthquake.   After the devastating earthquake, many Italians showed solidarity for the town and it’s people by making their signature dish.  The recipe originally called for spaghetti, but somewhere, somehow bucatini became associated with this sauce.   I hope you will try it and let me know if you like it as much as I do!

Bucatini Amatriciana

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

-1 lb bucatini (note- it’s worth using the artisanal pastas i.e. Cavalieri )

-1/2 lb of pancetta dolce or center cut bacon, cubed or slice thin if using bacon

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-1 fresh red hot pepper or dried pepper flakes

-1 medium onion chopped small

-1/2 tsp sugar

-1 large can of tomato sauce

-1 cup + extra Pecorino Romano Cheese (imported)

-sea salt and ground black pepper

Directions

-Place a large pot of cold water on high heat to boil

-In a pan large enough to mix the pasta, add 2 tbls olive oil, the chopped hot red pepper or red pepper flakes and the pancetta or bacon.  On medium heat while  carefully watching start to render the pancetta.

-Chop the onions and add to the pancetta continue to render the bacon while cooking the onions pay close attention not to burn the mixture. Add fresh ground black pepper

-When the Pancetta and onion mixture starts to get golden and the pancetta has rendered its fat add the tomato sauce, sea salt and the sugar.  Stir

-The sauce should slowly bubble stir occasionally. Cook for 10-15 minutes

-Your water should be boiling,  add sea salt course grain to the water, then add the bucatini.  Set your timer for 1-1 1/2 minutes less than package indicates for cooking time.

-Grate the Pecorino Romano Cheese and set aside

-When the pasta timer goes off lift the bucatini out of its water draining over the pot with a pasta fork and place directly into the sauce. Reserve the waterIMG_0080

-Stir over a lively flame adding the cheese. (Note-if the sauce is dry add some pasta water to the mixture.

-Stir in the cheese and serve adding more cheese if you like 

Would love to hear your comments !!!

Bon Appetito!!

Fennel au gratin

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Fennel au Gratin

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Easy, light and healthy way to eat fennel

Ingredients

-4 fennel bulbs, washed and trimmed of the fronds

-1/2-3/4 cups of Parmesan cheese

-extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt (large grain)

-ground pepper

Directions

-preheat oven to 375F

-cut the fennel into quarters making sure to leave the bottom of the quarter  intact (the bottom will hold the fennel piece together while cooking)

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-place in pot and fill with cold water add a small handful of sea salt

-boil the fennel for 10 minutes a fork should be easily inserted into the center when done, drain carefully we want to keep the fennel intact

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In an ovenproof dish lay the fennel side by side, salt and pepper

-drizzle olive oil across the fennel 2 times

-sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top generously

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-bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown

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Buon Appetito!!

Eggplant Parmesan, Melanzane Parmigiana

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Eggplant Parmesan, Melanzane Parmigiana

A light non breaded version of this favorite dish

Ingredients

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-2 large round eggplants

-1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese (note- please try not to use the string type pizza mozzarella)

-1 cup Parmesan cheese

-Tomato Sauce, see recipe  simple tomato sauce

-fresh basil leaves chopped

-sea salt

Directions

-Slice the egglplant into thin slices, place in a colander and generously salt.  Let rest for 45 minutes, eggplant will release it’s water.IMG_0732dry with paper towel

-Prepare the Simple Tomato Sauce Recipe (see above) and set aside

 

-Heat the grill, medium direct heat, place the eggplant on the grill and lightly grill carefully turning  (note- I do not salt the eggplant again since we salted it to release it’s water).   When grate marks appear on each side the eggplant will be done. Transfer to a plate.

-Preheat oven to 350◦

-Cut the mozzarella into slicesIMG_0737

-Smear the bottom of a oven proof dish with the tomato sauceIMG_0739

-Place a layer of the grilled eggplant IMG_0740

-add tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan and basil, then add another layer of the same until you have finished your eggplant, feel free to overlap the eggplant.  Finish the top layer with parmesan and mozzarella.IMG_0741IMG_0747

-bake for 35-45 minutes until top is crusty and goldenIMG_0751

-let the eggplant parm set up for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

-can be served hot or at room temperature

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Buon Appetito !!