“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

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

 

 

Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Peppers, Oh My!

A classic pasta dish in Italy, loved by all, quick, easy and made with few ingredients, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Garlic, Olive oil and Hot Pepper).   It is hard to believe a plate so simple can be so full of flavor. For a different twist,  I added sweet peppers to the original recipe.  Nothing could be better to serve on a quiet Saturday night, open a bottle of red wine and your all set!  Lets cook!!

Linguini with Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Sweet Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple yet flavorful,  this pasta dish is always a big hit

Ingredients

1 lb imported linguine or spaghetti

3 cups of mixed sweet peppers, red and yellow finely diced

6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 hot pepper chopped *heat index as you prefer, note this is a spicy, snappy dish

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped

3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

    -Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil while you prepare the sauce

    -Add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper in a wok style skillet large enough to finish off your linguine, on low heat lightly brown the garlic

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  • When the garlic is lightly brown, add the sweet peppers, stirring on a medium heat until the peppers start to break down and soften, add salt and freshly ground pepper
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    -Add the parsley, at this point you can take the sauce off the heat while you wait for your linguine

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    -Add sea salt to the boiling water then add your package of linguine

    -Cook your linguine 1 minute less than package indicates, you will finish it off with the pepper sauce

    -With a spaghetti fork, lift the linguine out of its water, draining as you lift, and mix into the pepper sauce, on a lively heat continue mixing.  Once the linguine is in the pan, add the parmesan cheese, mix well, then 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

 

 

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy butternut squash soup you can make in 1 hour

Today it’s chilly and cloudy, the perfect day to make my favorite soup for lunch.  Spicy Butternut Squash is a light healthy soup packed with loads of flavor that you can make in less than an hour.  It is so easy and so so good!!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Spicy, easy to make soup packed with tons of flavor

Ingredients

-2 lbs of uncooked butternut squash peeled and cubed (note-you can roast the squash in the oven to make it easier to peel, place on a lined cookie sheet, make a few knife incisions and bake until soft, scrape the seeds and use the pulp in place of the cubed pieces)

-2 inch piece of fresh ginger grated  (note- a microplane does a great job grating ginger)

-1 large sweet onion roughly chopped

-1 scallion chopped

-1/2 red pepper chopped

-3 garlic cloves smashed with a knife

-1 fresh red hot pepper split

-4 cups of vegetable broth

-grated lemon peel

-1 lime

-1 can of coconut milk

-fresh cilantro

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt and pepper

Directions

-In a soup pot, on medium heat add the olive oil, garlic, hot red pepper, grated ginger, scallion and a few grates of lemon peel, stir letting the flavors release.

-Add the chopped onion and red pepper

-Add the butternut squash, and the broth, sea salt and pepper to tasteimg_0787

-Cook for 45-50 minutes on medium-low heat until all vegetables are soft add the cilantro to your likingimg_0788

-Off the heat, add the juice of 1 lime blend with a immersion blender until you have a smooth creamy soupimg_0789

-Stir in the coconut milk

-Serve hot or at room temperature.  IMG_0791

Buon 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!!

Catch of the day, Gilt head Sea Bream (Orata) Simply Grilled

In Venice we love fish, there is nothing to say.   Growing up in Pittsburgh my fish knowledge was limited, we ate fish, but it was not the mainstay of our diet.  When I moved to Venice,  this was an area in my culinary knowledge that really needed ramping up.  So, to do that,  I ate lots of fish, tried lots of recipes, and then went to cooking school to learn about fish preparation ….(can’t wait to share all the great recipes with you!!)

This is a really simple, easy, healthy  way to grill any fish.  I know cooking a whole fish can be scary, but leaving the body intact is worth it, it ensures a more  flavorful fish….believe me!!

 

Simply Grilled Sea Bream

  • Servings: 1 per person (small)
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This is so easy, have your fish vendor clean and scale a whole fish for you it can elevate the backyard bbq!!

Ingredients

-Sea Bream or any whole small to medium sized fish cleaned and scaled

-sea salt gross grain

-extra virgin olive oil

Directions

-Heat the grill on high heat indirect

-generously sprinkle sea salt on the fish

-turn the grill down to medium low direct heat

-place the fish on the grates

-with grill lid down, cook  the fish for 8-12 minutes per side, noting the cooking time will  depend on the size of each fish (note- the fish will release easily from the grill grate when they are ready to turn, wait, or you will destroy the outer skin,  start checking around the 8 minute mark, if the skin is still sticking the fish is not ready to turn)IMG_0698

-place the fish on a large platter and dribble with  olive oil

-the fish will be easy to clean  remove the top outer skin and make incisions along the two sides and pull back the top.

Buon Appetito !!