Posts tagged italian

bacon panzanella

There’s just something special about toasted bread in any form, much less toasted in bacon grease and dressed with red wine vinaigrette.

Bacon Panzanella (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf rosemary focaccia bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1-2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. frozen cut green beans, thawed
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried herbs of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat in an oven-proof saute pan until crispy.  Remove bacon to paper towels to drain.  Add bread cubes to saute pan and toss until covered with bacon fat.
  3. Place saute pan in the oven and bake 15 minutes, tossing several times, until evenly golden brown.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss bread cubes, bacon, tomatoes, onion, green beans, and dressing in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
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Osso Buco with Fresh Cranberry Gremolata

Osso Buco (Braised Veal Shank, 2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 veal shanks
  • flour
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • zest of one lemon
  • half bottle red wine
  • 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
  • zest of one tangerine
  • 2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

  1. Toss veal shanks in flour.  Melt butter in olive oil over medium-high heat and brown veal shanks all over.  Remove veal shanks and add onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, cinnamon, and lemon zest.  Saute several minutes or until fragrant and beginning to soften.
  2. Return veal shanks to pot and add red wine.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and cook several hours.
  3. While osso buco is resting, finely chop cranberries, and combine with tangerine zest and fresh parsley to make gremolata.
  4. Serve osso buco with gremolata and polenta, potato or other root puree, etc.

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Bacon-Roasted Chicken

Well, this was a good idea, but I can admit that it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, most of this dish was delicious.  But, I thought that covering the chicken breast in bacon would not only impart delicious smoky, salty flavor, but also keep it moist.  Instead, while the breast did not cook all the way through – odd, since the thighs did, and they always take longer to cook – the part that was cooked was actually dry.  The skin over the breast was soft and flabby instead of crisp like the rest of the chicken.

So, while I highly recommend the rest of the recipe, I would rethink the bacon.  Next time, I would potentially just oven-bake the bacon on the side, and serve it with the chicken – not because you need it, but because the combination is just plain delicious.

Bacon-Roasted Chicken (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 4-6 lb. roasting chicken
  • 6 slices bacon (optional)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 15 cloves garlic
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large turnip
  • 1 bunch baby broccoli
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 c. mixed olives (optional, if you like them, whatever olives you like)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Dry chicken with paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides, and in the cavity, generously.
  3. In a small frying pan, heat the oils together over low heat.  Add thyme, rosemary, garlic, and red chili flakes.  Heat, swirling gently, until very fragrant, several minutes.
  4. Halve the lemon, and insert it into the chicken’s cavity.
  5. Dice all of the vegetables, mix, and place into the bottom of a roasting pan.  Set the chicken on top of a roasting rack and place over the vegetables.
  6. Remove thyme and rosemary from the oil.  Carefully pour over the entire surface of the chicken, and over the exposed vegetables.
  7. Sprinkle chicken again with salt.  If desired, lay strips of bacon over the breast of the chicken.  Or, cook bacon separately.
  8. Place in the oven for 30 minutes.  Once chicken has browned and skin is crisped, pour 1 cup of wine over the entire surface of the chicken and the exposed vegetables.
  9. Tent foil over the top to prevent further browning.  Cook another hour.
  10. Sprinkle olives around the chicken, and then cook until done all the way through.

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Homemade Tiramisu (No Ladyfingers!)

This is without a doubt the most decadent dessert I’ve ever made, and I’ve made some powerfully fattening dishes.  I’ve made chocolate tiramisu, a dessert so rich that I couldn’t eat a very large piece.  I’ve made a tiramisu ice cream loaf cake with homemade mascarpone (it was just not the same as the real thing) and coffee pudding ice cream.  Chocolate peanut butter pies, pumpkin cheesecake, dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and raspberry filling.

Tiramisu is a dessert that is probably richer and more caloric than you would initially imagine, considering that it is fairly light on the tongue (and the stomach).  Italian for “pick-me-up,” it is a standard on menus in both Italian and American restaurants.  Typically, it is made with savoiardi, a French sponge cookie known in English as ladyfingers.  I went with a homemade genoise (sponge cake) instead, because it would be more fun, and easier, not having to dip each individual cookie.  Espresso-dipped ladyfingers are layered with a cream made of mascarpone cheese and Zabaglione.

Zabaglione is an Italian custard dessert in its own right (Sabayon in French), generally served with fruit such as figs or berries.  Traditionally, it is made with Marsala wine, though originally Moscato d’Asti, a light, sparkiling Muscat wine, was used.  In this recipe, I used a combination of brandy and rum because I thought they would go well with the espresso syrup used, but feel free to use one of the aforementioned wines (or Cognac, Sherry, Port, etc.).  If you prefer an alcohol-free Zabaglione, you can use water.

Actually, although French Sabayon is often served sweetened for dessert, you can also make it unsweetened, flavor it with a number of herbs and spices, and use it as a custardy sauce alongside a main dish.

This is labor-intensive, but completely, 100% worth it, I promise.

Homemade Tiramisu (12 servings)

This recipe makes enough for one 8×8 square pan and one 5×5 square pan (see the Le Creuset square bakers for the two sizes I used) with a little of the genoise left over.  If you wanted to make one larger tiramisu, since you bake the genoise in an 11×17 sheet pan, you could use a 7×11 inch baking dish, or something similar.

Ingredients:

For the Genoise Sponge Cake:

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 1 c. cake flour, sifted

For the Zabaglione (Sabayon):

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brandy
  • 2 tbsp. rum

For the Mascarpone Cream:

  • 1 recipe zabaglione
  • 8 oz. mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1 c. whipping cream, chilled
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

For the Espresso Syrup:

  • 2 c. hot espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate, grated

For garnish (optional):

  • cinnamon or cocoa powder
  • chocolate shavings
  • berries or other fruit

Directions:

For the Genoise:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the paper with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whip egg yolks with vanilla and 1/4 c. of the sugar, until yolks are very light and have increased in volume.
  3. In another medium bowl, whip egg whites (with a clean whisk) until foamy and beginning to thicken.  Add remaining 1/4 c. sugar and beat until medium peaks are formed.
  4. Sift half of the flour into the egg yolks, and fold to combine.  Fold in one half of the egg white mixture, followed by the other half of the sifted flour, and the other half of the egg whites.
  5. Spread batter evenly into sheet pan, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and slightly puffed.  Remove and set aside to cool.  Cut pieces of genoise to fit into the baking dish you’ll use for tiramisu.

For the Zabaglione:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, brandy, and rum until combined.
  2. Set over a double boiler over medium heat, and whisk until mixture has thickened.
  3. Set aside to cool.

For the Mascarpone Cream:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk mascarpone until it is lighter and fluffier.
  2. In another bowl, whisk whipped cream until it has thickened slightly.  Add sugar, and whip to soft peaks.
  3. Stir zabaglione into mascarpone, and whisk until smooth.  At first, the mascarpone may break up into small pieces, making the mixture look lumpy, or curdled, but just continue whisking, and it will eventually smooth out.
  4. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.

For the Espresso Syrup:

  1. In a bowl (or jar), place the espresso, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate.  Whisk (or shake) to combine.

Assembly:

  1. Place one layer of genoise into the bottom of your baking dish.
  2. Pour espresso syrup over the genoise until it is saturated but not soggy.  If in doubt, use a little less than you think you’ll need – too little won’t hurt it, but too much might.
  3. Spread half of the mascarpone cream over the genoise.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  6. Cut out pieces and garnish as desired.

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