Showing posts with label second course. Show all posts
Showing posts with label second course. Show all posts

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poached "Crazy Water" Sea Bass

Pesce all'Acqua Pazza or "Crazy Water Fish" originated in Capri and was a very popular recipe in the 1960's. Why is it called "crazy water" fish? The term originates from peasants who had the job of making wine for their landlords and the small amount of wine they had leftover they used for themselves and as resourceful as they were, was kept to ferment with grape stems and seeds mixed with large quantities of water and the result was basically water colored with wine thus the term crazy water.  

So how does this apply to the recipe? The original "acqua pazza" recipe was made by taking the fresh catch of the day and poaching it in seawater, olive oil and cherry tomatoes, turning the color of the water similar to the watered down wine mentioned above.  

It's a very simple and light recipe and it really only takes about 20 minutes to make. 

I took two medium sized European Sea Bass but you can use any type of white fish you have for this recipe. Gut the fish...I know gross...but someone's gotta do it! Put a large clove of garlic cut in half in the belly of fish along with some parsley and a pinch of salt. 

Add water to the pan covering only half of the dish as well as 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a cup of white wine.  Cut about 5 cherry tomatoes in half and add to the pan along with a handful of green olives. 

Bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 220°C.

At this point the fish has absorbed the water and is super moist, You will find that the skin detaches from the meat very easily and cleaning it is not at all difficult.  

Clean the fish placing the meat in a separate plate and add the tomatoes and olives along with some of the extra water that was left in the pan for more flavor. 

Serve with a salad on the side and you have yourself a healthy omega-3 packed meal :-)

Hope you enjoy this easy and very Mediterranean recipe! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Original Italian Ragù with Fresh Tomatoes

Ragù is made very differently in each part of Italy.  Up north ragù is usually made with ground beef whereas in the south whole pieces of meat are typically used creating one dish used both as a first course (condiment for the pasta) and second course (involtini or "braciole" as typically referred to in the south).

Today I am happy to share with you our original family recipe for freshly made tomato sauce and Braciole that is a main dish served almost every Sunday in many many Southern Italian households, as well as my honey's favorite dish of all time.

I have to be completely honest with you, this is not one of my preferred dishes simply because I'm not a big fan of tomatoes but it is always a hit and never EVER gets left over...

Ok so for this recipe you will need a sauce strainer and if you have a pressure cooker you with significantly reduce the cooking time.

I'm not going to be too specific with quantities because this really is a "taste as you go" recipe based on many variable factors such as sweetness and acidity of the type of tomatoes you use, the type of meat you choose to use, etc. 

In this case I used 5 thinly sliced pieces of beef making 4 Braciole and cutting up the 5th slice into 4 sections adding it to the sauce as I will show you shortly.

Begin making the Braciole. Lay out the slices of meat adding a small piece of Pecorino Romano cheese to the center. Add a dash of salt and pepper to each slice.

Now fold the meat in half and fold in the sides eventually wrapping it up and holding it in place with a tooth pick as shown here:

Now chop up half of a medium size onion and add to the pot with about three table spoons of olive oil.

Let the meat simmer and make sure the heat is on low because you don't want to burn the onion, you simply want it to soften up and eventually melt into the sauce so the heat has to be very low.

You should see that the meat will slowly release water during cooking.

In a separate pot add the washed tomatoes cut up into pieces, the rest of the onion and a few fresh basil leaves.  I used 2 San Marzano tomatoes and 5 vine ripened tomatoes. Do not add any water, any oil or any salt. You are simply letting the tomatoes cook on their own and you will see that they too release lots of water once cooked. The tomatoes should cook on medium heat for no more than 10 minutes.

This is what they should look like after 10 minutes on medium heat.

Once cooked you want to filter them using the sauce strainer. Just add the tomatoes to the strainer and filter into a bowl making sure to scrape the rest of the pulp off the bottom.

Now you have your freshly made tomato sauce that you can add to the meat.

In the meantime the meat should have released some water and once you hear it start to simmer go ahead and add the sauce.

Make sure to stir everything together and add a half a cup of water. At this point go ahead and taste it to see if it needs any extra salt, pepper and if you like you can add some chili pepper to spice it up.

You can now put the lid on the pressure cooker and leave it cook for about 30 minutes.  If you don't have a pressure cooker you will have to cook on very low heat for a good 2 hours. The meat needs to really break down and become super tender in order to have a good ragu.

When the 30 minutes are up let the steam out from the valve, turn off the heat and open up to see what you have.

Look at that delicious ragù! If the sauce is too thick you can add another half cup of water and heat uncovered until you reach the right consistency.
Now you will find the meat breaks down very easily and is extremely tender. With this sauce you can dress any type of pasta and it will be fantastic, I assure you.

On another note, I bought a beautiful hutch for my dining room over the weekend!

Now since everybody who knows me knows that the term patience and I have absolutely nothing in common.... I had to take it home with me immediately and would in no way wait for transportation and the people at the furniture store were very nice and totally understood my immediate need for this hutch sooo they put the bottom half in my trunk and the top half on top on my car....securing it with...tape.

Yes, tape.

I was a little worried I have to admit ...but the guy was like "Lady, we've done this a million works...just go slow..."

And that I did...I went very VERY slow.

You gotta love southern Italy...




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Friday, May 20, 2016

Italian Chicken Marsala

I know I promised to share my Chicken Marsala recipe and today I am happy to introduce you to this delicious dish that even the  pickiest of eaters will enjoy! Chicken breast can be the most boring ingredient to use when you eat it as much as we do but if you switch things up a bit without getting overly complicated you will find that it's not so boring anymore! 

Marsala is a sweet wine produced mainly in western Sicily.  This recipe most likely originated in the 19th century by English families who had lived in the town where Marsala wine is produced. What is the Sicilian town called? Yep...Marsala :-)

Ingredients for two

 - 4 chicken breasts
 - 500 grams of sliced champignon mushrooms
 - 1 shallot chopped  
 - 1 tablespoon of butter
 - 1 tablespoon of olive oil
 - 4 thinly cut slices of prosciutto or speck
 - 1/2 cup of Marsala wine
 - 1/2 cup of chicken stock
 - 1 cup of flour for coating chicken breast
 - 1 tablespoon of sifted all purpose flour for thickening
 - parsley for decorating
 - salt and pepper to taste

Begin by prepping the chicken breast and coating in the flour. I like to flavor the flour with salt and pepper and then pound the chicken in order to break down the fibers and tenderize. 

Next heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet and saute chicken in the pan until lightly browned. Make sure not to overcook the chicken because you will be heating again with the Marsala reduction sauce. 

Once browned, set aside and keep warm. In the same skillet add the shallot until transparent and then add the prosciutto cut up into small strips and the mushrooms. Heat on medium for about 10 minutes or until you see the mushrooms shrink in size and turn brown. 

Next go ahead and add the Marsala and let that evaporate slowly on low heat. Once the wine reduces, add the chicken stock and continue stirring making sure everything is cooking equally. 

If you find that the sauce is drying up just add a little more stock. Next add the sifted flour and stir so that it thickens up nicely. 

Now that the sauce is ready, add the chicken and heat everything together for about 5 minutes. Taste it at this point and see if it needs any extra salt or pepper and you're ready to serve!

Serve warm and add some freshly chopped parsley. 

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend !!!



Monday, April 4, 2016

Hello Spring!

This is my favorite time of year...the weather is perfect, neither too hot nor too are blooming all around and some of my favorite fruits and vegetables are in season. 

It's funny how as soon as April comes around, I start to really take my healthy eating and working out seriously. I bought a Nutribullet last week and I am so in love with it! It is NOT the same as a blender at all. 
It's small yet powerful and my smoothies taste so much better. I don't know what it is...I think it's because it really blends everything well and doesn't leave any chunks (which I hate!). I've been having a green smoothie every morning for breakfast and am amazed at how much my energy level has improved. 

I usually add some strawberries, celery or spinach, an apple and lemon juice. I'll throw a banana in there every once in a while and that's pretty much it. I can't get over how good it is. I just feel so healthy after having one in the morning. Starts me off on the right track I guess. 

So what else have I been up to? I mentioned before how much I miss the foods that I can easily find in the States but that are not easily found here... one of those foods are fajitas! 

Whenever I fly to the States my first stop is this little Mexican restaurant near my house. It's a family owned restaurant and I absolutely love it. I was craving some chicken fajitas and decided to make them myself, tortillas and all! 

I found a recipe online and was surprised at how easy it is to make homemade tortillas. 

Basically all you need is 250 grams of all purpose flour, 120 grams of water, 30 grams of olive oil, a dash of salt and that's it. 

Mix everything together, divide the dough in four sections and let sit for about 30 minutes. 

Then all you have to do is roll the dough out very thinly with a rolling pin and heat in a wide flat skillet on high without greasing the surface at all. 

You'll see it start bubbling up a bit and that's when you gently flip it over. They really only take a couple minutes to cook. The recipe makes 4 tortillas.

I cut some chicken breasts into strips and made a quick stir fry with onions and added some spicy paprika. 

I didn't add any cheese or sauce...just kept it simple with some lettuce and cherry tomatoes. 

It was light and I didn't feel as guilty after eating it as I would have if it was smothered in sour cream and guacamole...

I suggest you make the tortillas as soon as you're ready to eat the fajitas since they do tend to dry up after sitting out for too long. 

This weekend the weather was wonderful and I had been eying a gazebo at Ikea for a couple summers now. This year I caved in (well, my honey did) and he bought it as an early birthday present for me. I love it. I'll do a separate post on my outdoor patio and get some better pictures soon.  It needs some more work before showing and telling :-)

We set up the furniture and decided to have Sunday lunch outside since the weather was so nice.

I made the salmon that I shared with you in this post and made baked gnocchi with mozzarella cheese. 

Sooo good!

I pretty much just added two layers of gnocchi, tomato sauce small mozzarella balls and grated Parmesan cheese and baked for 25 minutes at 175°.   

I'm really excited about the warmer spring weather and ready to get out more. Sunshine always puts me in a good mood. 

Hope you all are well. 

Until next time xoxo


Friday, March 18, 2016

Spumante Poached Salmon Steaks

I wanted to share this recipe with you because it was so incredibly good when I first tasted it and I had to try making it again. My father introduced me to this when he came to visit me in February.

He found the recipe here. In reality it's a champagne poached salmon recipe by Emeril Lagasse. I switched up some of the ingredients to accommodate what we have readily available here in Italy. Spumante is Italy's champagne (it's also a lot cheaper) and I had a real tough time finding dill as well which is fundamental to Emeril's recipe so I ended up substituting the dill with Italian parsely.  My dad said I need to get a dill plant from the States next time I fly over LOL. We'll see if I make it through customs! j/k

Anyways, I have never had poached salmon before and it was a very new technique for me. It has such a delicate and sophisticated taste that I just could not get enough of and I had to share it with you in the hopes that you give it a try if you have never made this type of salmon before.

The poached salmon is accompanied by a creamy vanilla sauce that is just perfection and goes so well with the delicate taste of the salmon.

Here is my version of Emeril Lagasse's recipe:

For the salmon

 - 2 salmon steaks
 - 1 bottle of spumante
 - 1 shallot
 - 1 tablespoon of butter
 - 6 parsley sprigs
 - 1 teaspoon of salt
 - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the vanilla sauce

 - 2 shallots
 - 1 cup spumante
 - 1 cup heavy cream
 - 4 tablespoons of butter
 - 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
 - 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
 - 1 teaspoon of salt
 - 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

I began with the sauce since that is probably the trickiest part. Start by adding the butter and shallots to the saucepan and heat on medium.

After heating for about 5 minutes add the cream and lower the heat. 

Next I added the Spumante, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and pepper and left that to simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes. 

In the mean time, in a wide skillet heat the butter and add the bottle of Spumante, parsley and shallots heating on medium. 

Add the salmon steaks and poach until cooked through. I would say about 5 - 7 minutes on each side depending on the size. Salmon easily over cooks so be careful to check on it often. 

While the salmon is cooking, I strained the sauce so as to remove the shallots. 

And now your delicious Spumante poached salmon is ready to be served!!  I probably should have added another half a bottle of Spumante to the skillet because most of it evaporated during cooking and so I guess it wasn't technically "poached" at that point but it was still really, really, really good :-) 

Have a spectacular weekend and a Blessed Palm Sunday