Simply Soup

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A while back I wrote about the large pranzo or lunch that many Italians have on a Sunday. After eating that kind of extended meal it’s typical to have a much lighter dinner. In fact, Marco’s parents are still of the generation to have a pasta course and a second course followed by fruit, perhaps a dessert, and an espresso every day for lunch. Then, at dinner time, they eat light.

Adelina taught me a simple base for a quick and delicious soup. Start with olive oil and some sautéed garlic. Then, add some beans or legumes. After this base, add some chicken broth, some spices, and pretty much anything else. Finally, in the last several minutes, mix in a small pasta  long enough to cook al dente.

A few weeks ago I had some kale in the house that I wanted to use up and created the recipe for a simple soup pictured in the photo above. The flavor was yummy. It warmed the body on a cold winter day. And, I got to use one of my favorite kitchen appliances, the immersion blender!

Ingredients:

  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  3. 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas (or any kind of bean)
  4. 1 cup diced tomatoes
  5. 4 cups chicken broth
  6. 2 cups chopped kale
  7. 1 teaspoon dried sage
  8. 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  9. pinch of red pepper flakes
  10. 4 ounces of any type of dried pasta
  11. Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over each serving

Process:

  1. warm the olive oil on medium-high heat
  2. sauté the garlic until lightly browned
  3. add the can of chickpeas, the tomatoes, the broth, and the kale
  4. add the seasonings and let it simmer for a bit
  5. if you like, use the immersion blender to puree the soup
  6. follow the cooking time for the pasta you are using and add minutes before you are ready to eat
  7. garnish at the table with grated Parmesan cheese

Enjoy!

 

Pizza with Roasted Zucchini and Shallots

Once a week we have home-made pizza. One of our favorites is this one with roasted zucchini and shallots. The dough takes less than 5 minutes of work time with one hour of rising. The zucchini and shallots are a quick pan roasting of about 10-15 minutes. Recently, Matteo, our son, decided that he wanted to take the pizza-making on, so, below you will see him making the pizza. We now have our own pizzaiolo (pizza maker)!

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Here’s a brief video of Matteo showing how to make this pizza:

Ingredients:

Crust:

  1. 1 package active dry yeast
  2. a pinch of sugar
  3. 1 cup warm water (I just get the tap as hot as possible)
  4. 2 t. salt
  5. 2 t. olive oil
  6. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  1. 3 zucchini
  2. 3 shallots
  3. salt to taste
  4. olive oil

Process:

  1. warm up the mixing bowl by letting warm water sit in it
  2. while the bowl warms, I mix the yeast in a cup of warm water and if you want you can add a pinch of sugar to stimulate the yeast
  3. once the yeast dissolves , pour it in the warmed-up bowl
  4. add the salt, olive oil, and flour
  5. use the dough hook attachment of the mixer and knead on number two until it is a well-formed ball.If the dough isn’t made into a well-formed ball, you can sprinkle some flour on the table and knead by hand a few times
  6. place the dough in a bowl with a little olive oil, cover with a towel, and let it rise for about 1 hour
  7. heat the olive oil on medium-high heat, and when hot, add the zucchini and shallots
  8. add salt towards the end, when the zucchini are browned and done to the desired texture (10-15 minutes)
  9. flatten the pizza to fit the pan (We use a metal pizza pan with holes in it. We find it is the best at allowing the heat to brown the crust. Some swear by a pizza stone)
  10. add the sliced mozzarella, the zucchini and shallots
  11. bake at 500º for 15-20 minutes till the crust is nicely browned

Enjoy!

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Tagliatelle con Funghi Porcini

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In an earlier blog we presented the recipe to make the tagliatelle pictured above from scratch (Sunday Dinner/Pranzo). A friend emailed me this week and said that she made the pasta and was now wondering about a nice sauce to use with it while having a group of friends over for dinner. At the end of the pasta recipe blog post above, I mentioned that I would share the porcini sauce recipe in a future post. So, Anna and others. . . here it is!!!

Ingredients:

  1. 400 grams of fresh tagliatelle (or 250 grams of dried egg pasta)
  2. 2 oz. (50 grams) dried porcini mushrooms
  3. 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  4. 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  5. 1/2 cup white wine
  6. 3/4  cup tomato sauce
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  9. Grana Padano or Parmesan to sprinkle over each plate

IMG_6854Process:

  1. soak the mushrooms for 30 minutes in warm water, drain, and rinse well
  2. sauté sliced garlic in olive oil
  3. add mushrooms previously revived and sauté for 2 minutes
  4. add wine and cook until sauce reduced
  5. add 1/2 cup tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste
  6. add cream at the end
  7. sprinkle cheese over each plate to taste

Nutella stuffed french toast

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Marco grew up with Nutella much like I grew up with peanut butter. For children in Italy, Nutella is a morning spread on toast that serves as breakfast. It is an afternoon snack, spread on small crostini. And, Nutella is even a dessert, spread on a piece of bread. For me, peanut butter was a morning spread, a lunch time sandwich, a snack for after-school, and sometimes even a scrambled eggs dinner with peanut butter and jelly toast!

Of course Marco never had any peanut butter in his childhood. . . imagine that!? Upon his arrival here, many years ago, he tried it here and there and let’s just say, he’s not a big fan. He’ll eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every so often, but suffice it to say, he, and possibly many other Italians would gladly eat Nutella before peanut butter any day!

I do love peanut butter and, for me, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a bit of a comfort food that brings me back to my favorite childhood lunch. But, Nutella is yummy and chocolate is chocolate. When you add some hazelnuts to the mixture and especially when you buy the version directly from Italy (the Nutella made in North America just doesn’t taste the same), you have a delectable treat.

Part of the fun in combining cultures in one household is dealing with the differences. I love breakfast foods! I could eat them three meals a day if I had no fear of cholesterol and didn’t care about my body’s health! Marco, once again, is not a big fan of the “American breakfast.” Matteo and I celebrate the rare nights that Marco isn’t home for dinner because we know that we will have “Brinner”, breakfast at dinner!

So, Marco is not a big fan of the American love of brunch on a weekend morning. (Can you believe that. . . what gay man doesn’t love brunch)!? Well. . . after 17 years I found the perfect brunch item that we recently enjoyed late Thanksgiving morning. . . Nutella stuffed french toast. This combines my favorite breakfast item with his beloved Nutella! And, it was yummy!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 baguette
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 1 cup milk
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Process:

  1. slice the baguette into slices of desired thickness (I like about 3/4 inch)
  2. whisk the rest of the ingredients in a bowl
  3. spread Nutella between two slices of bread
  4. soak the entire sandwich in the batter
  5. place in a pan with warmed butter and olive oil
  6. cook until golden brown on both sides

We drizzled drizzle with a little pure maple syrup and they are ready to enjoy!