Blueberry and Stone Fruit Rustica

Give Italians a pie crust and they will fill it with whatever is in season.  This awesome dessert (actually my husband eats it for breakfast) is perfect with homemade whipped cream or greek yogurt drizzled with raw honey.  It is so quick to put together and definitely needs to be tried before the fruit season runs out.  I tested my frozen blueberries that I put up last week and they are just as wonderful frozen as fresh.  Get out and pick some berries!  Wash them, lay on toels to dry then put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them.  Once frozen, bag them and lay them flat in your freezer.  You will enjoy all winter, I promise.  They are also a great frozen berry treat if you want something cold.  Just pop a few in your mouth!

My friend, Luciana, from Sorrento, is always making fruit dishes.  This recipe is modified from hers.

FOR THE CRUST – Rustica means rustic, so the dough is just quickly rolled (easier than pie crust) with not a lot of care to it’s edges, creating what I call character.   

2-3/4 cups tipo “00” flour from Napoli

2T sugar

1t salt

4T sour cream – full fat

1T white vinegar

15T salted butter – semi cold (warm butter will make crust greasy)

Mix ingredients will it forms a ball.  Put out on counter and knead a couple of minutes incorporating any leftover butter.  Wrap in cello and put in frig for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

FRUIT MIXTURE

4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

2 large ripe peaches, cut off the stone and cut into 1″ pieces

6 italian plums (if you can’t find them where you are use regular plums, but reduce to 3), cut off the stone and cut into 1″ pieces

1/3 cup sugar

2T Tapioca Starch

1T lemon juice

pinch of salt

1/8 cup of tipo “00” flour from Napoli

Mix all dry ingredients together first.  Add lemon to fruit in a bowl.  Add the dry and mix through.  Keep mixing every few minutes about 5 times.  You are looking for the fruit be be coated with the binding flours.

ASSEMBLY

Cut dough in half. Make a round disk on parchment paper, and roll out about 1/8 inch thick.  Put sheet of parchment on to a rimmed baking sheet.  Add half the fruit mixture to center then fold up sides, leaving a hole in center with no dough.  Try and make sure there are no breaks on the outside of the prepared disk. The filling will all seep out, but it’s okay for a little to come out.  Don’t worry about it looking pretty.  Work quickly so dough doesn’t melt from the heat of your hands. Brush with beaten egg wash.  Repeat with second disk.

Bake in the 425 oven for about 30 minutes – switching the racks half way through.  Then reduce oven to 350 and cook for about 25 minutes more – again switching racks half way through. What you are looking for is the center to look gooey almost like a jam, but fruit still intact.

Let them cool and cut in to quarters.  Be brave, try this will your favorite fruits.  Pears and figs? Apples and raisins?

 

IMG_3303IMG_3308IMG_3312

 

 

Layered Eggplant

Eggplant is always in abundance!

This dish was a twice a week meal, always in the frig for a quick snack or lunch.  This recipe comes from my Grandma Nappi, from Naples.  It comes together quickly.  The amount of ingredients depends on how big of a dish you want to make.

This recipe is for about the size of a deep dish pie plate.

4-5 eggplants, peeled and sliced very thin

1 cup of tomato paste, mixed with a little water and olive oil to loosen it up so it can be easily spread, not too runny

Light olive oil to fry

Parmesan cheese

Slice eggplant and lay out on towels.  Salt them and let them lay until water starts to seep out of them – about an hour.  Squeeze dry.

Fry eggplant, drain on paper towels. NOTE – there is no breading on these. When done frying, start layering the eggplant, tomato paste and parmesan cheese until it reaches the top.  Last layer is parmesan.

Let sit at room temperature for about an hour, best overnight, but we never could wait that long.  Slice and serve. The options are endless.  Eat it cold, room temp, warm it up. WHATEVER YOU LOVE!  We used to eat it with a salad and crusty bread.

Such a simple, classic Napolitano recipe.  It’s one of my all time favorite dishes.

 

IMG_2781

IMG_2780

 IMG_2779

Chicken Cacciatore

I remember the smell of Chicken Cacciatore cooking in the kitchen and my Dad working over the stove.  The aroma was awesome.  We used to eat ours with white rice.  The sauce the chicken created when finished was the perfect topping for the rice.  The heavy cast iron frying pan had flour coated pieces of a whole chicken, sizzling and creating a crust.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  I’ve tried to make the dish a little healthier but still trying to capture the flavor.  Obviously, if you want Dad’s, leave the skin on and use all parts of the chicken.  Read on!

16 skinless chicken thighs, extra fat removed, leave enough for the sizzle

Bell peppers- 2 green, 2 red and 2 any other color, cut into large pieces

2 medium sweet onions

5 Fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

12 -15 baby bella mushrooms, quartered

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of good white wine, not too sweet

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 cup of tipo “00” flour from Napoli

salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper the chicken well. Dredge in flour.  Put half the oil in a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil and add chicken not turning until it browns.  Medium high heat works best. Once browned on one side, turn over.  This is a quick process since you want it to brown, not cook, through.  Remove from pan, add wine and scrape the bottom.  Add all the vegetables except mushrooms.  Cook about 5 minutes then put chicken back in and top with tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat, remove lid and cook 10 more minutes to reduce sauce. Remove from heat and add the rest of the olive oil and mix in.  NOTE:  Be generous with olive oil – if you need more to fry, then add more.  If you are serving it with rice or quinoa, put chicken and vegetables over the top individually.  Add basil and serve hot.

IMG_3038

Garofolato di Manzo

I had this in a little restaurant down a small street in Rome a number of years ago.  It’s a pretty basic dish.  I was able to create the recipe for myself, although I have since found numerous ones on line.  I have never been a huge fan of cloves – my Grandma Luisa added them to her gravy (red sauce) but don’t shy away from them in this recipe.  It lends a very earthy taste to the dish – and basically the name of the the recipe is clove-scented beef.

My recipe is a little different since I wanted to keep it lighter in calories, and non-alcoholic.  What I loved about the dish in the restaurant is they made a cooked down vegetable mixture that the meat was served on and also topped a beautiful Fontina Polenta that was served with it.  Whole Foods hooked me up with a great lean, grass fed, beef steak tri-tip loin.  The original recipe is a beef round roast, if you want to substitute the meat.   Read on.  Let me know what you think and if you made modifications.

IMG_2994 IMG_2995

2.5 lb beef steak tri-tip loin (2 pieces is fine) (Serves 4)

3 cloves of garlic, sliced in chunks

Fresh Oregano and Thyme, broken into pieces – keep stems on

1/8 cup of good olive oil

1 cup water – to deglaze the pan, after beef has been seared

      *  more water may be needed as meat cooks so its stays hydrated, never let pan dry out

4 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and cooked down (see my note about tomatoes at end)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1 cup red wine vinegar as marinade

1 orange bell pepper, diced medium

2 extra large green onions, with green stems, sliced

handful of celery leaves (insides of celery stalk)

2 small zucchini, halved and sliced

Make small slits in beef and insert herbs and garlic, put beef in a dish and pour vinegar over top, turning occasionally, for about an hour.  Take meat out, discard vinegar and dry beef.  Add olive oil to pot and sear meat on all sides for about 15 minutes. Add water to deglaze pan.  Add tomatoes and vegetables and cover for about an hour, checking on liquid.

Once the roast is done, remove it from pan and use a hand blender to mix up the vegetables, pureeing some of them.  This creates a base for under the beef when serving.  Reserve some for the Polenta side dish.  See below.

FONTINA POLENTA

6 cups boiling, salted water

2 cups of cornmeal (Non-GMO)

8 oz Fontina Cheese, sliced into pieces

Before preparing polenta, slice the cheese.  Prepare polenta – easy to do.  Boil salted water and add the corn meal and stir till smooth and it pulls away from side of pan. Pour half into a baking dish, quickly adding slices of cheese, pour balance of polenta and top with balance of cheese.  Let it stand for a few minutes then put into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes – top should be bubbly and brown but not burnt.  Watch the oven. Slice into pieces and serve with meat, topping a small amount of the vegetable mixture to it.

FINISHED! Perfect for a chilly night 

 

 

It’s Barbecue Time – Pass the Roasted Peppers

I hope everyone’s Memorial Day weekend is marvelous.  I haven’t had time to do a lot of cooking this week since it’s beach and BBQ time.  With that being said, the most wonderful thing I remember as a child and still do today is roast peppers on the grill for a wonderful, fresh pepper that goes with just about everything on the grill.  Back in the day, we would throw the whole pepper in an open fire get it charred, put it immediately in a brown paper bag to sweat.  This helped the skins slide off.  We would de-seed them and lay the little jewels on a platter (PLEASE don’t rinse them) drizzle with olive oil, fresh sliced garlic and a little salt and you had a topping for anything grilled.  For something quick, I light the grill – but when we have a fire going in the fire pit, I toss them in.

TRY IT – No need to buy them in the jar!

IMG_1132 IMG_1135

It’s Asparagus Time

What a wonderful time of year when the asparagus is ready for harvest!  I eat it almost daily.  We have a local farm that cuts it fresh every day, so I head there and get it fresh.  The climate is perfect in Italy so it’s in abundance.  I have, numerous times, eaten today’s post for breakfast while I am there.  Tonight is was my dinner – you can’t get any healthier that this.  Best with free range, fresh eggs.

No recipe required. Yummo.

 

Eggs and asparagus are warm. Just drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper!

Eggs and asparagus are warm. Just drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, lemon if you like! Keep prosciutto sliced thin!

Caponata

This is a great eggplant side dish or appetizer with crostini.  We love it cold, but it is wonderful warm.  I have tossed this with pasta and created a fabulous last minute dish.

2 medium eggplants, peeled every other row – leaving some of the skin on, cut into chunks

1 small onion, chopped in larger pieces

1 large bell pepper, chopped in larger pieces

6-7 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup capers

1/2 cup mixed large green olives and kalamata olives, torn into quarters

red hot pepper flakes to taste

1 teaspoon oregano

4 heaping teaspoons of tomato paste

After eggplant is cut, lie on paper towels and salt well.  Let them sit, it will sweat all of the bitter liquid, about an hour.  Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large saucepan, saute onions and peppers, till soft.  After squeezing the water out of eggplant, add to saucepan.  Add the rest of ingredients, making sure that the paste is evenly distributed.  The amount of paste you use will be determined by how much vege mixture you get.  Add small amounts at a time, it shouldn’t be saucy.   

Simmer on low heat so the mixture gets combined and paste cooks –  maybe about 15 minutes.  I usually let it set overnight before we eat it so it gets a chance to cure with the capers and olives.  It usually doesn’t last very long at our house.  Staple in the “old” Genovesi household.

 IMG_2769               IMG_2773

Happy Mother’s Day to All My Girls

It was glorious in Connecticut today – if you don’t mind the pollen.  Allergy season starting.  Had a super brunch at the TPC River Highlands Golf Club with both Mark’s Mom, Rae and my Mom, Lucy.

Spending time listening to that generation always amazes me.  We have so much to learn from them.  I find I spend so much time trying to help THEM that I forget they have so much to offer me, STILL.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom’s

My sassy Mom, Lucy

My sassy Mom, Lucy

Rae, 12 year survivor of pancreatic cancer - unheard of !!!

Rae, 12 year survivor of pancreatic cancer – unheard of !!!

Lemon and Asparagus Shrimp over Pasta

In Sorrento, Italy, the fish is caught fresh daily and the lemons are picked at the time you eat them.  There is nothing more fresh than that!!

This dish is a take off of one I ate in Massa Lubrense – a sleepy little seaside town near Sorrento.  The fresh taste of lemon made me pucker but I couldn’t stop eating it.  I made it for my husband tonight.  It’s a wonderful summer dish.

10 extra large shrimp – 15/pound size (I only buy USA wild caught)

1 extra large lemon, zested and squeezed

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

10 spears of asparagus, halved

1/4 cup dry Italian cured olives, pitted

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to taste

*******  The key to this dish is to get all of your ingredients together before starting.  It cooks in 5 minutes.

IMG_2784

Shell and clean shrimp. Add olive oil to a cast iron pan.  When hot, add shrimp, asparagus and garlic.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the black olives and take off heat. Add the lemon juice and stir. At this point, you can add on top of cooked pasta or plate by itself.  Top with parmesan and lemon zest.  Eat immediately.  It will serve 2.

IMG_2789

 

This entry was posted in Seafood.