Tuna Stuffed Peppers, Fish on Friday!!

Instead of stuffing your peppers with meat, try stuffing them with a flavorful tuna filling.  This recipe is light, great for summer entertaining, easy to make and has few ingredients.  Now when you see those lovely sweet (or hot)  banana peppers at the farmers market bring them home and make this fun fish alternative.  Let’s Cook!

Tuna Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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An alternative to meat stuffed peppers, light, easy and flavorful

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cup of canned tuna, oil or water

4-6 depending on size,  long, sweet or hot banana peppers

1 cup of ricotta cheese

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (depending on the moisture of the ricotta you might need to add more)

1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano

2 cloves of garlic

1 egg

1 1/2 cup easy tomato sauce

1/2 lb fresh Mozzarella cheese

Fresh thyme to taste

Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Directions

    -Preheat oven to 350F

    -Clean and cut the pepper in half, if the peppers are large you can fill whole

    -Drain the tuna and put in a mixing bowl, add the ricotta, garlic, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, egg, thyme, salt and pepper mix well.  If the mixture is too wet to hold a shape, add more bread crumbs and or parmesan cheese

    -Fill the peppers with the tuna mixtureIMG_1365

    -Top with tomato sauce

  • Slice the mozzarella and lay on top of the each pepper
  • -Bake for 25-30 minutes, peppers should be soft and mozzarella melted

    -Servefullsizeoutput_60.jpeg

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

 

 

“Baby” Caprese

The Caprese Salad is one of the most popular Italian summer plates.   Beautiful ripe, red tomatoes sliced with buffalo or regular mozzarella cheese, topped with fresh green basil leaves then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, delicious.  The Caprese, with it’s colors of the Italian flag, is easy to compose, a hit for summer lunches or dinners.   As much as I adore the traditional sliced version of this salad sometimes it is easier to serve this bite sized “Baby Caprese” Salad to your guests.  Lets Cook!

Baby Caprese

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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A bite sized version of the classic Italian Caprese Salad

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Ingredients

1 lb baby plum or cherry tomatoes

1/2 lb fresh mozzarella regular or Buffalo  *try to find the small round mozzarella balls

10 large basil leaves

2 tbls imported extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

Directions

-Wash and dry the tomatoes, cut into quarters and add to a serving bowl

-if using the tiny mozzarella balls, cut into 1/4 or 1/8 pieces depending on the size (if using a large mozzarella, cut into pieces more or less the size of your tomatoes, add to serving bowl

-stack the basil, roll it lengthwise and slice it thinly across the width, add to the bowl

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-add sea salt, generously to taste

-add olive oil and mix

Serve

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

Cucumber Radish Herb Crunch

A recipe example of “Less is More”.  I am amazed that something so simple can be so good.  I make versions of this Crunch all summer long, everyone loves it.   The first time I tried this salad was at the home of a friend, she served just cucumbers and herbs to accompany our aperitivi, what a great idea!!  This is a fun way to use all the herbs from your garden all summer long,  try it!!

Cucumber Radish Herb Crunch

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Letting the veggies sit in the lemon herb salt for at least an hour increases the flavor

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Ingredients

3 large English style seedless cucumbers or 5 firm long homegrown cucumbers

10-12 large radishes

Herbs of choice  mint, basil, parsley, thyme, oregano.  chopped yielding at least 1 cup

Sea Salt 2 heaping tablespoons course grind (*Salt is our friend in this recipe…..the salt is the most important component but it must be Sea Salt Course grind)

2-3 large lemons or lemons and limes

Directions

-Peel and Cut the cucumbers, if seedy scoop away the seedy area cut into finger size pieces

-Clean radishes and cut into halves or quarters

-Add vegetables to a bowl, add the juice of your lemons, limes or combination of both

-Add salt

-Chop together all your herbs and toss them into the bowl with the cucumbers and radishes

-Let sit in or out of the refrigerator

-Serve as snack or as a salad

Shrimp and Swordfish Lemon Mustard Kabobs…Fish on Friday!!

Its time to fire up the grill!  When entertaining friends and family this summer try this recipe, it is easy, fast and  makes a great impression.  The shrimp and swordfish are skewered together after marinading in a mustard lemon thyme sauce.   What is great  about this dish it can be made ahead of time, it is as good  at room temperature as it is hot off the grill.  I am serving mine kabobs with  Cucumber Herb Crunch and  Russian Salad  (both on the blog).  Pour a crisp glass of white wine and your all set….Let’ cook!!

Shrimp Swordfish Kabobs with Lemon Mustard Thyme Marinade

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Once your shrimp are cleaned and deveined marinate for an hour, the kabobs will cook in 10-15 minutes

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Ingredients

2 lbs of shrimp (medium size) peeled and deveined

1 lb of Swordfish cut into cubes

2 lemons

2 tbls Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves pressed

fresh thyme sprigs, at least 2 tbls

Salt seasoning i.e. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or Montreal Chicken Seasoning McCormick’s to taste

fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

-Clean, peel and devein the shrimp, cut the swordfish into bite sized cubes and add both to a bowl.fullsizeoutput_3f.jpeg

-Add, the juice of 2 lemons, the dijon mustard, garlic, thyme, salt mixture and fresh ground pepper stir well and let sit for at least 1 hourfullsizeoutput_40.jpeg

-Skewer the shrimp and swordfish, retain the marinade

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-Heat the grill,  when hot ,place the kabobs on the grate, on low direct heat grill until golden on each side.  The reserve marinade can be brushed on during cooking. Approximately 5 minutes per side.

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-Place on a platter and serve

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

Bruschetta with Tomatoes

Everyone needs to have this in their recipe boxes.  Bruschetta, this  one, topped with tomatoes (the CH is pronounced like SK,  please!!).  A grilled piece of garlic rubbed Italian style bread topped with chopped fresh tomatoes.  Yesterday, for Mother’s Day, I served it along with  baby buffalo mozzarella balls as an appetizer, it was a big hit!  I like making it early in the day so the tomatoes become flavored with the garlic, olive oil and basil.  Lets cook!!

Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Basil

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Always good to have this as a go to recipe, put it in your recipe boxes

Ingredients

2 lbs of ripe plum tomatoes (* I used Piccadilly tomatoes)

2 large cloves of garlic peeled

4 tbls extra virgin olive oil (Imported)

Sea Salt course ground

1 cup fresh basil leaves chopped

for the bread:

12 large slices of Italian style crusted bread

3 tbls olive oil

2 cloves garlic crush

 

Directions

  • Rinse the tomatoes, cut them in quarters then chop into even sized pieces, place in a serving bowl
  • Add the olive oil, generously add sea salt to taste
  • Cut the garlic in quarters and add the pieces (*if they are visible you can remove them before serving)
  • toss in the basil
  • Let sit at room temperature, the tomatoes will breakdown a bit, and the flavors will develop.

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For the bread

-Heat grill pan, gas grill or the oven broiler

-In a small bowl, add the olive oil and the crushed garlic, mix

-With a pastry brush, lightly brush one side of the bread with the garlic oil and grill.  Grill or broil the bread watch it carefully it browns very fast, brown both sides of the bread

-Serve the bread oil side up and spoon the tomatoes with their juices onto the breadfullsizeoutput_3e

-Enjoy

 

Buon Appetito

Mickey

 

 

Grilled Eggplant with Basil, Parsley and Garlic Oil

Grilled Eggplant is a great summer side dish, cover it with lots of fresh chopped basil and parsley seasoned with garlic oil.   If you are lucky to find the long eggplant use them, if not, the large globe eggplants will work too.  Another fast and easy recipe, just give yourself time to salt the eggplant so it can expel some of it’s water before grilling.  Let’s cook!

Grilled Eggplant with Basil, Parsley and Garlic Oil

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Nothing says summer, like vegetables on the grill, try this delicious eggplant recipe, so much flavor

Ingredients

3 large globe eggplants or 6 large long eggplants

1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea Salt course grain

Directions

-Cut the eggplant into 1/2″ slices lay them in a colander, generously salt the layers, allow the eggplant to rest for 1 hour to expel its water

-chop together the basil and parsley, place in a bowl

-add the garlic (either minced or pressed), and the olive oil to the parsley and basil leaves, mix and let sit IMG_1265

-heat the grill direct heat, medium low

-Place the eggplant on the grill, each side should take about 3-5 minutes,with tongs, carefully turn

-Place the hot eggplant on a platter and pour on the herb oil mixture, try to coat all the pieces with the herbs

-As the eggplant sits it will absorb the oil and herb flavors, can also be served at room temperature

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Buon Appetito!

Mickey

 

 

Grilled Roman Artichokes with Lemon, Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

It is great when you  find grilled artichokes on a restaurant menu,  I always order them for an appetizer, with the delicious dipping mayonnaise served alongside, they are so good.  Well I decided  to try and make my own version of the recipe I love so much in my kitchen….Do not let the artichoke intimidate you, clean, cut, boil and grill them, it is as easy as that!!  Let’s cook!!

Grilled Roman Artichokes with Lemon and Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

  • Difficulty: easy
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A great party appetizer, easy to make, fun to eat

Ingredients

Artichokes

4 large Roman Artichokes (if you can find ones with their stems, better yet, the best part)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

Sea salt course grain

 

Directions

-Cut the Artichokes in half taking care to split the stem evenly, remove the outer hard leaves.

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-With a paring knife cut away the choke (the spiny part of the inside) being very careful not to cut away the heartIMG_1192

-Next, cut the top thorns of the leaves, the inside and top should look like the photo below

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-Place the cleaned artichokes in a pan with cold water and add a sliced lemon, this will prevent discoloration. IMG_1194.JPG

-Add the artichokes to a pot of cold salted water, bring to boil and boil for at least 10 minutes, testing the artichokes, they should be soft, but not be falling apart.

-With cooking tongs, carefully remove the Artichokes from the water and let drain

-Preheat a gas grill direct heat

-Place the artichokes on a tray and drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt

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On med/low direct heat, place the artichokes on the grill carefully with kitchen tongs leaf side down first, turn after 3-4 minutes onto the heart side and grill another 3-4 minutes until light golden brown being careful not to burn the artichoke

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-Place the artichokes on a platter with the lemon garlic mayonnaise, serve hot

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Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

Lemon and Baked Garlic Mayonnaise

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

6 tbls mayonnaise (high quality)

2 tbls lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp sea salt course grain

2 tbls finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 head of  garlic

fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

-Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil and either bake in the oven or place on the grill, bake until soft.

-Squeeze the garlic from the clove it should come out like a cream, use the quantity of baked cloves to tasteIMG_1201 2.JPG

-Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, ground pepper and parsley.  Stir until blendedIMG_1202 2.JPG

-Serve withGrilled Roman Artichokes with Lemon, Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 !!

 

 

 

Easter Rice Pie with Ham

With only a few days until Easter,  I’ve decided to try and recreate a Savory Rice Pie my grandmother used to make when I was young.  My grandmother was from Molise Italy, I am sure  her recipe was  a variation of a traditional Easter recipe made in her childhood home.  I have created this Easter Pie from my memory of her recipe.    I hope you like it…..I think it’s pretty good!!!

Rice Pie with Ham and Ricotta Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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This Rice Pie can be served as an appetizer,  a luncheon entree or for dinner served hot or at room temperature

Ingredients

-1 puff pastry round large enough to come up the side of a 9″ springform pan

-1 cup of boiled ham ask the deli to cut 1/4″ slices and then you can cut that into 1/4″x1/4″ cubes

-2 cups of cooked, drained rice, arborio, vialone nanone or carnaroli rice, these three are high starch firm textured rices

-2 scallions diced finely

-1 cup of Ricotta Cheese

-4 large eggs

-1 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated

-1/4 cup Imported Pecorino Romano grated

-3/4 tsp marjoram

-Sea Salt fine grain and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 F

-In a nonstick pan add the olive oil, the scallions and the diced ham, saute until the scallions become translucent, add fresh ground pepper,  let coolIMG_1023.JPG

-Bring a pasta pot of water to boil and add sea salt and 1 cup of uncooked rice (should yield 2 cups) cook 12 minutes and drain.

-In a mixing bowl add the ricotta cheese,  the eggs, the parmesan and pecorino cheeses mix well IMG_1025.JPG

-Into the egg ricotta cheese mixture add the ham and scallions, the cooked rice, the marjoram and sea salt

-Drape the puff pastry into a 9″inch springform pan, I use parchment paper under my pastry.IMG_1024 2.JPG

-Pour the mixture into the puff pastry and fold the sides over the top of the fillingIMG_1026.JPG

-If you like you can use an egg wash and brush over the pastry before baking

-Bake in conventional oven approximately 35 minutes, in a convection oven 25 minutes.

-The pie will be golden brown and a knife inserted will come out clean

-When cool open the spring pan, and remove the side place carefully on a serving plate

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-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!!