Category Archives: Italian

CT Style Holiday Show with Ryan Kristafer & Sarah Cody Making Bolognese!

CT Style Holiday Show with Ryan & Sarah Making Bolognese!

Holidays are for bringing family and friends together and making special dishes! On the CT Style Holiday Show this past Friday I show you guys an all time favorite of mine for bolognese. If you missed the live show you can watch it on Christmas day when WTNH Channel 8 airs the taped version or click on the link above.

I am truly grateful to have such a wonderful platform as CT Style to try and insire all of you in the kitchen and share my recipes. Having such creative and enthusiastic anchors at WTNH Channel 8 right by my side make it all that much better! On Friday, I wanted to show my appreciation by making Ryan Kristafer and Sarah Cody an extra special holiday treat by serving my light as a feather homemade gnocchi with the bolognese.

This bolognese sauce is like no other that I have ever had. Over the years I have worked hard to perfect this recipe matching a dish I used to have in Urbino, Italy, where I spent a couple of semesters abroad in college. Now all you have to do is follow my recipe and savour over the most amazing and unique bolognese sauce you’ll ever have.

 

I want to thank The Traveling Epicurean followers for supporting this culinary journey of mine in my efforts to inspire all of you in the kitchen. There’s something about igniting a passion that brings people together with good food and good company building memories that last a life time. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Blessed 2018 New Year!

There are definitely some other great recipes you ought to check out that would be great with the homemade gnocchi and bolognese like Crab Balls with Homemade Thousand Island, or Best Buffalo Chicken Dip, and for dessert don’t forget the Drunk Blondie Bars with Bourbon Caramel SauceChocolate Crackle Cookies or the Pavlova!

 

 

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Juicy heirloom tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and homemade golden croutons packed with garlic, purple onions, cucumbers and lots of fresh herbs make up this perfectly scrumptious summertime salad called Panzanella! Basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and a special dijon sauce really give this refreshing salad a delicious flavor and brightness.

I was recently able to coordinate schedules with my foodie friend Chef Marco so he could share his Panzanella recipe with you. Marco and his wife Sheryl, another big foodie, had this amazing dish at their house last summer and it still leaves a fresh impression on my mind. Probably because of all the fresh ingredients that come together with bursting flavor on your first bite.

Even though you can make this Panzanella all year long you couldn’t have a more perfect dish to make with the fresh summertime produce the local vendors offer at the farmers markets! Enjoy and make sure to check out Salsa 101, Salmon B.L.T. Slider’s, Lobster Mac N’ Cheese or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie for your next get together!

You need to check out the WTNH Channel 8, “CT Style Morning Show” where I featured THIS recipe with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour! So much fun cooking with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for the Panzanella Salad (NOTE: it always a good idea to toast croutons the day before if possible)

  • 1 loaf sour dough bread or ciabatta loaf – make croutons out of the whole loaf using 3 1/2 cups only for this Panzanella Salad, saving the rest of the croutons in a ZipLoc baggie in the freezer for future panzanella dishes!
  • 2 lbs assorted tomatoes, reds, yellow, tiger, heirlooms, etc. cut into 1″ pieces – Ratio is a little more tomatoes to bread
  • 1-2 cup fresh mozzarella cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced European cucumber, sliced in 1/2 and seeded…run a small spoon down the center of the cucumber to remove inner seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly slice purple onion
  • 2 tsp garlic puree -put thru garlic press (1 tsp is for the special dressing below, 1 tsp for Panzanella)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • fresh herbs: 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1 tsp chopped oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 cup parsley…all finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 special sauce recipe below

Directions for the Salad:

  1. Pre-heat Covection oven to 400º
  2. Make special sauce recipe below and set aside
  3. Cut up sour dough or ciabatta loaf into 1″ cube and place on cookie tray lined with foil
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the cubed up bread pieces and sprinkle with s & p
  5. Bake the bread until deep golden , about 12 minutes …keep an eye on it not to burn
  6. Let croutons cool completely
  7. Cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into approx. 1 ” cubed pieces
  8. Cut cucumber in 1/2 length wise
  9. Peel and seed cucumber running a small spoon down the center to remove seeds then thinly slice cucumber half moons
  10. Cut 1 purple onion in 1/2 and thinly slice
  11. Put garlic thru garlic press
  12. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic puree, herbs and mozzarella to a large bowl
  13. Then add in the croutons, drizzle 1/3 cup of special sauce over salad
  14. Toss and serve immediately…MMM!
  15. NOTE: Add in everything but the croutons and special sauce until right before you are ready to enjoy the Panzanella salad! ENJOY!

Ingredients for ther Special Dressing:

  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup exta-virgin olive oil

Directions for dressing:

  1. Add first 4 ingrdients to a small bowl and slowly drizzle in while continuously whisking 1/4 cup olive oil (the dijon will help to emusify dressing)

Eggplant Timbale at Adele’s

Eggplant Timbale at Adele’s

When Adele first told me about her lovely dish I was very excited to get this on camera for you. Actually seeing this eggplant timbale being unmolded when you release the sping form pan its baked in is a whole other story! It really is one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen not to mention it’s absolutely delicious. The pasta filling is exactly like my “Lazy Mans Lasagna” and then you have the outer wrapping of the fried eggpant slices that bring the flavors to another dimension. 

I love this dish beacuse it’s fairly easy to make if you can plan ahead. Now if you have not been frying eggplant your whole life as Adele and I have there certainly would be no shame whatsoever in going to your local Italian deli around the corner and buying already fried eggplant slices! While you are there you can pick up the meatballs too. Then all you will need to do is assemble this magnificent dish. Taking advantage of this convenience allows for last minute planning here which can be a godsend! Trust me you will have as much fun as Adele and I did putting it together. When you present this eggplant timbale at your next holiday dinner the ooh’s and aah’s alone will have you sold!

When you make this eggplant timbale for your next holiday dinner you’ll need some easy holiday appetizers like Baked Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto, Crostini w/Gorganzola, Tomato & Basil, and Goat Cheese, Fig Jam, Fresh Pear & Mint in Pre-Baked “Fillo” Cups! My Gourmet Caesar Salad is a must, and some Zucchini Torta would be a nice surprise for your guests also! This Chocolate Pecan Pie is to die for and don’t forget my chewy chocolate chip cookies for the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS for Eggplant Timbale:

  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 8 meatballs broken up into 3/4″ pieces
  • 9 prepared/cooked eggplant parmesan slices (w/o sauce)
  • NOTE: If you are making your own eggplant you can switch out the bread crumbs to flour-either way will be delish….she dips her eggplant slices in flour first, then egg and then she fries the eggplant same as in my eggplant parm recipe except she doesn’t use bread crumbs
  • 2 cups shredded part skim or whole milk mozzarella, plus 2/3 – 1 cup for topping (use the packaged mozz. here not fresh)
  • 2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 3 extra lg eggs whisked
  • 8 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce (4 cups to mix in with pasta, 2 cups to top timbale and 2 cups to serve on the side for extra)
  • (1)- 9″ spring form pan

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450º
  2. Cook 1 lb. rigatoni pasta until ADENTE, a little firm because you will continue to cook the pasta when you bake it in the oven
  3. Drain the aldente pasta BUT do not rinse!
  4. Add cooked pasta to a large bowl
  5. Add in whisked eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and mix to combine
  6. Now pour sauce in and mix gently to combine again
  7. Add in broken up meatballs and gently mix
  8. Spray spring form pan with Pam
  9. Lay prepared eggplant slices all around pan meeting in the center like a flower with edges folding back out of pan
  10. Add pasta mixture into the center of the eggplant drapped spring form pan
  11. Fold over the eggplant slices covering the pasta filling
  12. Add the last 9th piece of eggplant to cover the opening in the middle where the eggplant doesn’t reach
  13. Pour 2 cups sauce over the top of the eggplant timbale, sprinkle with parm & then 2/3 – 1 cup sliced mozzarella
  14. Put timbale into pre-heated 450º oven and bake 5 minutes
  15. Turn oven down to 400º and bake 20 minutes more until bubbly
  16. Take out and let sit 15 minutes…very important to do this
  17. After 15 minutes release spring-form pan from eggplant
  18. Carefully slice timbale and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a side gravy boat for extra sauce

Tortellini at The Gulla’s

Tortellini at The Gulla’s

You know this labor of love is so worth the effort when you taste how tender and flavorful these homemade tortellini are! The delicate, circular shaped pasta are stuffed with a purée of sundried tomato, mozzarella, and Reggiano Parmesan and served in one of my all time favorites, a tomato-cream sauce.  I introduced Steve to another easy and scrumptious sauce, Gorganzola Dolce-Cream Sauce that’s garnished with fresh thyme and a drizzle of truffle oil! 

This past weekend I was at The Gulla’s house with Steve and his son Maximo making their homemade tortellini. Steve dedicates a few hours every Christmas Eve making these little gourmet bites for his family’s Christmas dinner. Making these tortellini is definitely a labor of love because you are creating each little amazing folded bundle of pasta by hand.

Having a Smart pasta machine like Steve’s really cuts down on the labor of making tortellini as the pasta comes out of the machine in long ready-made sheets in mere minutes. It’s a very cool process putting out smooth sheets of pasta in 3 minutes flat but you can also learn to make Steve’s tortellini using homemade pasta too if you don’t own an Smart pasta machine. I have a homemade pasta recipe below for all of us without a pasta machine who don’t want to miss out on learning how to make these incredible tortellini.

As Italian legend goes on how the shape of the tortellini came about dates back to the days when Venus, the Goddess of Love, was traveling to a small town in Italy between Modena and Bologna. She was staying at a tavern where the Innkeeper was so taken by her beauty he peeked thru the key to her room one night and got a glimse of her navel. He rushed to the kitchen and created a pasta in the likeness of her belly button. And that’s how the shape of the tortellini came about, the belly button pasta! Who Knew?

While you are working hard forming these wonderful tortellini you may need a little sip of something to get you through like a Metaxa Mojito! And for easy nibbles you can pick on some Mango Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries and Green Goddess Dip II,  Best Guacamole Ever or some delicious Mediterranean Layered Dip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGRDIENTS for making PASTA in The Smart Pasta Machine:

  • 3 parts flour
  • 1 part semolina
  • 180 ml OR 3/4 cup of water for 2 lbs flour in pasta machine
  • 1 egg and 1 tsp water whisked in a small bowl – set aside until ready to form tortellini

INGREDIENTS for Sun-dried Tomato FILLING:                                                                                         NOTE: THIS FILLING IS UNBELIEVEABLY DELICIOUS!…try it on crostini OR on crusty bread!

  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella – whole milk or part skim
  • 1/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

Purée these ingredients with an immersion blender or add to food processor and pulse. Start with 2 tbsp of olive oil and add a little extra if needed to purée til smooth texture

DIRECTIONS FOR FORMING THE TORTELLINI WITH SHEETS OF PASTA MADE FROM THE PASTA MACHINE:

  1. Begin to cut 2″ circles with your cookie cutter out of the machine made sheets of pasta
  2. Brush top 1/2 of the circle edge with a whisked egg
  3. Place 1/4 tsp of sun dried tomato filling in the middle of the circle pasta
  4. Fold the circle in 1/2
  5. Press to SEAL the 1/2 circle of pasta…VERY IMPORTANT to SEAL this edge!
  6. Take 1/2 circle and wrap around your pinky having each end meet
  7. Press these two ends together to seal and form one continous circular shape
  8. Fold down top of circular pasta to form tortellini
  9. Place in a bowl as you finish each one until you gone thru all the pasta sheets
  10. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta
  11. Cook pasta for 8 minutes, test pieces of pasta for proper doneness
  12. Serve with tomato-cream sauce or Gorganzola Dolce-cream sauce, garnish with thyme and truffle oil … mmm!

INGREDIENTS FOR TOMATO-CREAM SAUCE:

  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 1/4 cup POMI “strained tomaotes” – 1 med box – 26 oz.
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Sauté finely chopped garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil for 3 minutes, add in POMI strained tomatoes, salt & oregano and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in 2 cups of heavy cream to tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer for 15 miutes more. Serve with cooked tortellini, garnish with fresh thyme (and truffle oil.

INGREDIENTS FOR GORGANZOLA DOLCE-CREAM SAUCE:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Gorganzola Dolce cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • fresh thyme leaves
  • truffle oil

Add heavy cream, Gorganzola, and vermouth to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. When it comes to a simmer whisk the melted cheese into the cream and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with tortellini, garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and a drizzle of truffle oil.

INGREDIENTS for Easy Homemade-Handmade Pasta- (Recipe from “Pasta at Vin’s“)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 1/2  – 5 lg eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the kneading attachment on your food processor and add the flour
  2. Add the salt and olive oil
  3. Turn on the food processor to slow
  4. Add in 1 tbsp of water
  5. Begin adding in 1 egg at a time with the processor still on slow
  6. Add in the rest of the eggs
  7. Keep the food processor going on medium speed to begin kneading the dough
  8. Let knead for about 8 minutes until the texture turns into a smooth consistency
  9. Remove the pasta dough and place onto the counter
  10. Knead briefly with your hands and let sit for 1/2 hr.
  11. NOTE: Vin does not cover his pasta dough while it sits for the 1/2 so it can begin to dry out  a little bit
  12. Sprinkle some flour onto the counter or work surface and cut pasta dough into 8 pieces
  13. Begin to roll out each piece of dough to your desired thickness, into long lasagna-like sheets
  14. Sprinkle more flour on top of each thinly rolled out pasta piece and begin to cut out 2″ circles with your cookie cutter
  15. Brush top 1/2 of the circle edge with a whisked egg
  16. Place 1/4 tsp of sun dried tomato filling in the middle of the circle pasta
  17. Fold the circle in 1/2
  18. Press to SEAL the 1/2 circle of pasta…VERY IMPORTANT to SEAL this edge!
  19. Take 1/2 circle and wrap around your pinky having each end meet
  20. Press these two ends together to seal and form one continous circular shape
  21. Fold down top of circular pasta to form tortellini
  22. Place in a bowl as you finish each one until you gone thru all the pasta sheets
  23. Bring large pan of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta
  24. Cook pasta for 8 minutes, test pieces of pasta for proper doneness
  25. Serve with tomato-cream sauce or Gorganzola Dolce-cream sauce, garnish with thyme and truffle oil … mmm!

 

 

#1 Meatball at Kevin & Jori’s

#1 Meatball at Kevin & Jori’s

It was definitely worth the wait to find out how to make Kevin and Jori Smith’s oh so sucullent and flavorful meatballs! It took a little patience to sync our schedules thru this busy holiday season but we were finally able to tape these #1 Meatball winners from the recent competition,  “Lisa & Vin’s 2016 Meatball Throw Down”! It’s a team effort between Kevin and Jori that produces one of the best meatball’s I have ever tasted. Watch out Dan Holzman from “The Meatball Shop” in NYC for these amazing meatballs will turn heads!

Come to find out Kevin and Jori won Lisa & Vin’s Meatball Competition the year before as well! Once you have your first bite into these melt-in-your-mouth meatballs you will know exactly why.

Not only were we eating Kevin and Jori’s amazing meatballs while taping the #1 Meatball show but Vin made is homemade pasta we call “The Trucals” from the show “Homemade Pasta at Vin’s”. Vin makes his pasta with a special roller called the trucal iron hence the name “The Trucals”.  This trucal iron that belonged to his grandfather cuts thick strands of pasta as you roll over it making for a hardy, chewy, yet tender strand of pasta.

If it couldn’t get any better then that Kevin added in an incredible garlic-basil bread and Jori her luscious tomato-basil salad with fresh Burrata cheese! Talk about the perfect meal…OMG! I am truly excited that I am able to bring you Kevin and Jori’s winning meatball reicpe. I know you will love them as much as I do!

You will need to have some amazing desserts up your sleeve to live up to these meatball standards like my Drunk Blondie Bars with a Caramel Bourbon Sauce, Chocolate Crackle Cookies, OR my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe! Then there’s Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie or a Chocolate Pecan Pie where you’ll always need just one more little fork full! LOL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Bottom photos courtesy of Gianni Esposito)

Ingredients for #1 Meatball Makes Approx 55 Meatballs:                                                                -Note: this is a large recipe… you can 1/2 the reicpe for a lesser amount of course and remember meatballs FREEZE really  well, raw or cooked!

  • 6 lbs meat: 2 lb. ground beef 80/20, 2 lb. ground veal, 2lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 whole heads roasted garlic (Keep garlic heads in foil the whole time for this meatball recipe)
  • 3 cups grated pecorino romano grated cheese
  • 2 3/4 cups homemade ciabatta bread crumbs – 2 loaves of ciabatta – the bottom 1/2’s
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Prociutto di Parma
  • 4 lg basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7 eggs (Kevin likes 1 1/2 egg per lb of meat)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400º
  2. Drizzle 2 heads of garlic with a tbsp of olive oil wrap in foil, place into oven for 35-40 minutes
  3. Slice loaves of ciabatta in 1/2, save tops for garlic bread – recipe for spread below
  4. Cut up bottom havles in small cubes, place on a cookie tray and bake until golden approx. 12 minutes
  5. Cool bread cubes then pulse to a crumb in a food processor
  6. Add ground beef, veal, and pork to a large mixing bowl
  7. Add in chopped prosciutto, salt, Percorino cheese, and bread crumbs
  8. Mix with hands to start combining
  9. Add in 7 lg eggs to meat and again mix with hands to combine, folding meat over and over
  10. Squeeze roasted garlic bulbs out of their sleeves and put into food processor or little chopper with olive oil and 4 basil leaves and purée
  11. Add this mixture to the meatball mixture and again mix folding over and over to combine
  12. Roll into 2″ size meatballs
  13. Pour 1/2″ high olive oil into large sauté pan and heat on med/high – MUST BE OLIVE OIL!
  14. Add in 8-9 meatballs at a time, don’t over crowd pan
  15. Cook on all sides until golden approx 6 minutes
  16. Remove to plate and serve with pasta, you can find Vin’s homemade pasta, “The Trucals” which are sooooo worth the effort!
  17. Serve with garlic bread too…mangia mangia 🙂

Garlic Bread Spread:

  • Ciabatta tops
  • 3/4 stick softened butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pecorino grated cheese
  • 4 basil leaves chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped

Mix all ingredients above, smear onto ciabatta halves and bake for 12-15 minutes on 375º YUM!

Feta-Basil Pesto

Feta-Basil Pesto

No doubt about it once you try this feta-basil pesto you will be hook! The creamy, French sheep’s milk feta pushes this pesto into a whole new arena! Combined with the fresh, floral basil leaves, Italian Reggiano Parmeggiano, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic are a creation that’s just born to go together! Done in mere minutes in a food processor there’s no excuse not to make this delectable sauce bursting with flavor every chance you get!

Making fresh feta-basil pesto can’t be any easier then the convenience of your food processor! There’s no need whatsoever lugging out the ole mortar and pestle making a huge project out of something that literally take’s 2 minutes to make. No cooking, no baking, no washing, NO FUSS, just load up the food processor and pulse. Voilà, you have a gourmet sauce that turns around any dish you add it to into gourmet.

One of the appetizer’s I like to make with feta-basil pesto are Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted tomatoes. Let’s not forget to try the feta-basil pesto on seared Scallops, Swordfish or even Sweet Potato Fries! And then there’s the obvious, top EASY PEASY pasta or Zucchini spaghetti with the feta-basil pesto and you feel like a king. Any way you look at it this feta-basil pesto is a no brainer, a win-win situation! So get on it! lol … xoxo

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 sheep’s milk feta cheese – from local cheese shop if you can! It’s the star of the show!
  • 2 packed cups – fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 packed Reggiano Parmasan – freshly grated if you can
  • 1 extra lg OR 2 medium garlic cloves put thru garlic press
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few dashes of your fav hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Place 2 packed cups of basil, 2 tbsp of olive oil, garlic thru garlic press, a sprinkle of s & p in food processor and pulse 6x
  2. Scrape down sides and add in Reggiano Parmesan and sheep’s milk feta and pulse 4x more
  3. Scrape down sides and add in a few dashes of hot sauce
  4. Drizzle in thru top opening of food processor 3 more tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and pulse 3x more …voila you have feta-basil pesto! It’s as easy as that! 🙂
  5. Add this feta-basil to Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella & Roasted Tomatoes for an appetizer that’s sure to turn heads!
  6. OR EASY PEASY …Add the feta-basil pesto to some sautéed shrimp and pasta! YUM!

Pickled Eggplant at Nancy’s

Pickled Eggplant at Nancy’s

pickperfectThere’s nothing like homemade Pickled Eggplant with thinly sliced strands of eggplant delicately flavored by vinegar, garlic, red hot chili pepper’s, oil-cured black olives and capers all nestled in an olive oil bath. The oil-cured, black olives, add a burst of rich, meaty, sweetness and then there’s a little pucker from the capers. Similar to the oil-cured olives, the eggplant become’s sweet in the beginning of the pickling process when the salt pulls out all the moisture and bitterness.

When Nancy first gave me a jar of her delectable pickled eggplant I knew I would have to get the recipe. Not only is her pickled eggplant to die for but everything she cooks is of the same standard, absolutely delicious! Along with inspiring me in the kitchen, Nancy had the same effect on me on the golf course when I first started playing 8 years ago. She has such tenacity and determination when playing I call her the fiesty golfer! Considering how difficult the game of golf can be, she’s the perfect person to learn the game with.

I had so much fun at Nancy’s house last week making her pickled eggplant. It’s so worth the effort you put into making your own, a most rewarding process when you taste the final product. All of these incredible flavors come together to make an amazing eggplant appetizer like you’ve never had before! You just can’t buy this in the stores!

You may just want to turn your party into an anti-pasto party with other dishes to compliment your pickled eggplant like Guacamole Crostini, Roasted Garlic Bean Dip, Arancini Reubens Balls w/Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Spanakopita w/Metaxa Mojito’s and, or Homemade Pesto w/Fresh Mozzarella & tomato Crostini! Yum! Hope to recieve an invite to your delectable party lol 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 9 large eggplants
  • 10 cups distilled white vinegar – 3/4 of gallon jug
  • 10 cups water
  • 4 cups olive oil
  • approx 1/2 container of Mortons salt… use 1/3 cup per eggplant
  • 2 cups Italian black oil cured olives – seedless
  • 1 long hot red pepper
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 8 lg garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano OR 2 tbsp fresh oregano dried in the microwave
  • 1 large pickling crock
  • 2 clean white cotton pillow cases
  • 1 extra large bowl to tranfer wet eggplant in pillow cases back and forth from washing machine
  • a case of canning jars

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice all 9 eggplants into 1/8″ thick pieces
  2. Stack slices and cut into 1/8″ strips
  3. Place cut up strips into large pickling crock
  4. After the addition of each cut up eggpant sprinkle in about 1/3 cup salt and mix strips around with salt by hand
  5. Go thru all 9 eggplant making sure to spinkle 1/3 cup salt after addition
  6. Place a small dish on top of all the sliced eggplant so that the dish fits into the crock
  7. Place the gallon jug of vinegar onto dish and let sit 2-3 hours
  8. Remove vinegar bottle weight and plate from crock – at this point there will be a lot of dark brown juice extracted from the eggplant
  9. Transfer eggplant to a clean pillow case a handful at a time leaving behind the brown juice
  10. Divide all the eggplant into 2 pillow cases and tie off the ends into knots so as the eggplant doesn’t come out when you “spin” it in the washer
  11. Rinse out the pickling crock
  12. Take the two pillow cases full of eggplant to the washer and put on “spin” cycle only – NO WATER
  13. After spin stops, remove eggplant from pillow cases & place back into crock (save pillow cases in a large bowl ready to use one more time before cleaning)
  14. Add in chopped garlic cloves and sliced hot pepper
  15. Bring 10 cups vinegar/10 cups water to a rapid boil
  16. Pour vinegar/water mix over eggplant strands in crock
  17. Stir breifly to mix and cover
  18. Let ferment until cooled approx. for 3 hours giving the eggplant a stir at 1 1/2 hour mark
  19. When the eggplant is cooled remove from crock back into pillow caeses
  20. Divide up the eggplant and place back into the same two pillow cases you used on first spin
  21. At this point run all the jars thru dishwasher – time it so they are hot ready to jar the pickled eggplant after 2nd spin (give it about 1/2 hour-depending on timing of your own dishwasher)
  22. Put all the tops to the canning jars in a pan of water, bring to a boil to sterilze as well
  23. Place the eggplant strands back in the washer on “spin” cylce only again – NO WATER
  24. Rinse crock
  25. Microwave fresh oregano in a microwave for 1 minute, crumble the oregano leaves off the stem and set aside
  26. Add spun pickled eggplant back into the clean crock, add in 4 cups olive oil, 2 cups oil-cured black olives, 2 tbsps of caper and 2 tbsp of fresh microwaved oregano
  27. Take hot jars out of the dishwasher and begin to fill with eggplant
  28. Top off the pickled eggplant in the jars with a drizzle of olive oil keeping 1/2″ from the top
  29. Wipe the top of the jars clean with a clean paper towel and seal with the hot tops you boiled on the stove – Be Careful Not To Burn yourself here
  30. Approx 5 hours after putting the tops on the jars, gently push down on the middle circle to hear a small pop and complete the “seal” – NOTE: they may pop down completing that last seal all on their own
  31. The pickled eggplant is done and will keep for months at room temp
  32. I keep an opened jar in the fridge and bring to room temperature when ever I serve it…YUM!

 

 

Paleo Eggplant Lasagna at Christine’s

paleochrisnmePaleo Eggplant Lasagna at Christine’s

The crusty almond flour coating on the eggplant helps to soak up the meaty bolognese goodness getting ooey, gooey and decadent. Like making you feel warm all over on a winter’s day. That’s how my friend, Christine, describe’s her Paleo Eggpalnt Lasagna that we made at her house last week! She hit it right on the money.

It was Christine’s cross-fit community that introcuced her to this fresh Paleo way of living. Even though It did take a year before fully committing she has been following it for a couple of years and really loves it. Paleo refers to foods eaten during the Paleolithic times so basically if the cave man didn’t eat it, neither can you. There are different levels of Paleo, but true Paleo doesn’t allow any dairy or legumes. Not sure if being a true Paleo is exactly for me since I live for cheese and cetainly wouldn’t give up beans. Although, there are certain aspects of Paleo I think are wonderful like the fresh way of eating, nothing manufactured or processed! Like Christine say’s, everything in moderation.

This Paleo Eggplant Lasagna is definitly a guilt free dish that shouldn’t taste this darn good! You don’t even miss the cheese here because every bite is luscious! I highly recommend that you to get on the ball and check out this fresh Paleo way of eating. You won’t regret it one bit and may find yourself with a big ole smile on your face!

While you are on a freshness roll you may want to try my Guacamole, Pulled Beef and Mango Salsa, Salmon B.L.T Sliders, Seared Sea Scallops or Sweet Potato Fries with Green Goddess Sauce!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce (30 minute sauce) adding in an extra 28 oz can of puréed whole peeled tomatoes to the recipe OR Slow Cooked Old Style Italian-Tomato Sauce 101
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. gound veal
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 pkg. almond flour
  • s & p
  • coconut oil spray
  • grapeseed oil for sautéing the meats

Directions – Pre-heat Oven to 350º

  1. Make tomato- basil sauce and leave simmering on low, ready for the meats to be sautéed and added
  2. Sauté the pork, veal and lamb separately and drain the oil from each of the meats after each sautéing, this will take about 5 minutes each
  3. As each meat is finished draining stir it into your tomato sauce
  4. Peel and slice 2 lg eggplants approx. 1/8″-1/4″ thick
  5. Whisk 5 eggs in a medium bowl
  6. Add 3-4 cups almond flour in another bowl for dredging the eggplant
  7. Cover cookie tray with foil and spray with coconut oil
  8. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg, then dredge into the almond flour flipping a couple of times to get a good coating on there
  9. Then begin to lay the coated eggplant slices on the cookie trays
  10. No need to spray the tops of the slices
  11. Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes, just until tender
  12. Note: the tops of the eggplant slices will not turn golden when baked
  13. Begin to layer the pre-baked eggplant slices in a 13″ x 9″, 12″ x 8″ approx. baking dish
  14. Spray bottom of baking dish with coconut oil
  15. Begin with a sauce layer, then eggplant slices, meat sauce, eggplant, meat sauce and so on until you reach the rim of the baking dish ending with a meat sauce layer completeing the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna
  16. Change foil layers on cookie tray to clean foil
  17. Place the Paleo Eggplant Lasagna onto the foiled tray and bake for approx. 35 minutes still on 350º until bubbly all over
  18. As with a traditional lasagna you want to let it sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing after you take it out of the oven…Mangia, mangia!!

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza

One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!

Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!

Hope you enjoy this secret meatball recipe show and remember he serve’s up 3 of these colossal meatballs in one “spaghetti and meatball” order from his restaurant! You might want to start with a few appetizer’s like my crab cakes, buffalo chicken dip, Mediterranean layered dip, spanakopita or my hummus!

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Glenn’s Mammoth Size Meatballs – makes approx 10-12 Colossal Size…Can make them smaller to yield more meatballs!

  • 2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
  • 2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly  (1 lb. about 1  loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
  • 2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
  • 3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
  3. Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
  4. Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
  5. Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
  6. Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
  7. Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
  8. Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
  9. Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!

 

Best Braciole Ever!

Best Braciole Ever!

Making Braciole for dinner or the holidays is one of those authentic comfort foods that’s so delicious it could easily become a tradition for you and your family, even if you are not Italian. Some of you may be asking yourself what is braciole? Well, it’s thinly sliced flank steak that’s rolled up and stuffed with Reggiano Parmigiano, Asiago, and fresh herbs. The braciole is sautéed in olive oil and garlic cloves and then simmered in a tomato-basil sauce for a couple of hours until tender and juicy. And I tell you it’s even better when re-heated the next day!

The Italians aren’t the only ones who have come up with this fun and creative idea of rolling up and stuffing thinly sliced beef then simmering or braising in a gravy until tender. There’s a German dish that I absolutely love that’s just as flavorful as braciole called beef rouladen. German beef rouladen is made up of thinly sliced top or bottom round stuffed with mustard, onions, bacon and pickles, then sautéed and braised in the oven with veggies in a beef and wine gravy until tender. It’s serve with sautéed red cabbage and spaetzle or potatoes and ooh is that scrumptious too! That will have to be another show I will put together for you!

Now that I have you in the mood for some creativity in the kitchen …get to work! lol You will be very happy to expand that recipe repertoire of yours after making this wonderful Italian braciole for dinner. Make sure to serve up your sliced braciole with a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta to give it that unexpected extra flavor and creaminess. I will get working on the German beef rouladen show for you:)

If you are going for the Italian theme you might as well treat yourself to some of my appetizer’s like baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, or crab cakes with a homemade remoulade sauce. Then you can really go for it with my SECRET manicotti recipe or homemade spaghetti that’s totally fun for the whole family and easy to make! Then end it all with some chocolate eclairs with the BEST vanilla custard you have ever had …enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lb flank steak sliced horizontally into 3 layers
  • 1 cup grated Reggiano Parmigiano
  • 1 cup grated Asiago
  • 1 tbsp dried ground Italian seasonings
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 recipe tomato-basil sauce but simmered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup red wine or white (I actually prefer to deglaze here with red)
  • 1 lb rigatoni

Directions:

  • Start sautéing the veggies for the tomato-basil sauce and use the same pan for sautéing the braciole logs
  • Slice or have your butcher slice the 2 lb piece of flank steak into 3 horizontal layers
  • Then cut those pieces in half so you now have 6 semi-equal pieces
  • Sprinkle 1 tbsp each of Reggiano and Asiago on each piece
  • Lay whole basil leaves or chop basil and parsley and sprinkle onto flank slices
  • Roll up starting at the small end
  • Cut approx 40″ of cotton string and tie a knot at one of the ends
  • Then keep wrapping string all around the length of the rolled up flank til you are at the other end
  • Now come back tucking under each row of string going across like shown in the video til you get to the end and tie off a knot with the original piece of string you started with
  • Add 2 tbsp of olive oil a large pan and a few large cloves of garlic kept whole for extra flavor and sauté 3 rolled up pieces of braciole at a time
  • Brown on all sides on medium/high heat about 3-4  minutes each side (remove the garlic coves when golden and smear on a baguette and dip into the tomato-basil sauce when you start to simmer with braciole…YUM!)
  • After browning the second batch of (3) braciole add back in the first 3 and de-glaze with red wine (I used white in the show but prefer to use red here)
  • Add in puréed tomatoes and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
  • Take braciole rolls out and slice 3/8″-1/2″ thick
  • Serve with pasta (rigatoni) and a dollop of ricotta on top with a few slices of braciole and grated Reggiano…mangia, mangia.
  • PS- It’s even better re-heated the 2nd day! 🙂