Here’s a popular shrimp recipe from our restaurant menu.
1 1/2 lbs. Colossal shrimp (For information on choosing shrimp see my last blog post)
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sherry wine
1 1/2 cups butter (less butter if you don’t plan on serving over pasta)
1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
Lemon wedges (optional)
1. Peel and devein shrimp leaving the tail on then butterfly the shrimp.
2. Place shrimp in a single layer of a shallow pan.
3. Sprinkle with garlic and salt.
4. Place sliced butter on shrimp and drizzle wine over the shrimp.
5. Sprinkle with paprika
6. Broil 3-4 minutes and turn shrimp, broil 3-4 minutes more until opaque. Remove and place over pasta of your choice. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons gold rum
2 tablespoons hot water
3-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon warm honey
12-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (10-1/2 tablespoons softened and cut into tablespoons; 1 tablespoon melted, 1 tablespoon chilled)
1. In the small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum and 2 tablespoons hot water, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 8 hours. I also have forgotten to soak raisins overnight so I even have let them soak for just 30 minutes.
2. In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, lemon zest, and vanilla bean at low speed.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2/3 cup lukewarm water, and honey.
4. While the mixer runs at low speed, pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing.
5. Add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing completely before adding each. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
6. Drain the raisins, and discard the liquid. Stir the raisins with the melted butter. Stir into the dough with a wooden spoon.
7. Place the dough in the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cold oven with the door closed for about 12 to 15 hours, until the dough is nearly tripled in volume.
8. Discard the vanilla bean. Rub your hands with flour, sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with some flour, and turn out onto a floured board. Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough.
9. Flatten the dough and fold the edges into the center.
10. Place seam side down into the panettone mold. Cover with a damp tea towel (not terry cloth) ( I forgot this step and used plastic wrap and it worked fine too) and let rise in a draft-free spot at room temperature about 3 to 5 hours, until dough is just above the top of the mold. If it doesn’t rise just have patience and wait a little longer. My oven has a proofer so I proofed it for 3 hours and then turned off oven and left in the oven for 6 hours longer. It was perfect!
11. Place the rack in the lower third (closer to the bottom than the middle) of the oven and preheat to 375° (If the dough is too high in the oven, the top will brown before the middle is cooked, resulting in a burned top crust.)
12. Place the dough in the mold on a baking sheet. Use a serrated knife to score and X across the entire surface of the dough. Place 1 tablespoon chilled butter in the center of the X.
13. Bake in the preheated oven about 1 to 1-1/4 hours, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out slightly moist but not wet or doughy. The panettone will be very dark (but should not be burned). At about 45 minutes into the baking, I put a piece of foil over the panettone to avoid getting it too dark.
14. Pierce the skewers all the way through the panettone and through the papers. Hang the panettone upside down over a stock pot or between two objects of equal height. I used wooden skewers and the bread was too heavy for them. Metal skewers are better. I also skipped this step and the panettone was still very good.
2 small bowls
stand mixer with paddle attachment
large bowl, for rising the dough
6 x 4-inch panettone mold
2 (12-inch) metal skewers
Rising plus prep time – 23 hours or more
Cook time – 1 hour 30 mins
Total time – 24 hours 30 mins
The following is what makes the panettone an Ischiatano one!
4 Boneless Chicken breasts about a pound
½ cup of flour
Canola Oil for frying
4 cloves of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup of white wine
½ chicken stock
½ cup of butter
4 hot cherry peppers packed in vinegar (slivered with seeds removed)
4 small Yukon potatoes (peeled and sliced in rounds boiled until tender)
Cut chicken in chunks.
Place cut up chicken in a zip lock bag with flour, salt and pepper to taste and shake.
Place in a colander and shake off flour
Fry chicken in Canola Oil
Drain chicken on paper towels
Slice garlic and
Saute garlic in 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil until a pale brown
Add wine, chicken stock, and butter and cook on medium heat (salt and pepper to taste)
Add cooked chicken and potatoes and cook until bubbly.
You may add a few tablespoons of vinegar that peppers were packed in for extra tartness
My Pickled Hot Cherry Peppers with black peppercorns, bay leaves and peeled garlic!
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 shallot, minced
¼ + 1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-1 ½ tablespoon(s) extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (gluten-free if desired), divided
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F.
On a large cookie sheet, combine eggplant, garlic, shallot, a pinch of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until edges are browned. Once eggplant is removed from the oven, lower the temperature to 350°F.
In a large food processor (10-cup) combine roasted eggplant mixture with ½ cup of breadcrumbs, and the rest of the spices. Pulse until ingredients are just combined.
Scrape down the sides of the food processor and add the other ¼ cup of breadcrumbs. Continue to pulse until mixed. Avoid over-processing, when possible. When complete, the mixture should easily adhere into balls. (Note: Over-processing the eggplant mixture and breadcrumbs can make the mixture extra sticky and you may have difficulty forming balls.)
Form the eggplant and breadcrumb mixture into 1- or 2-inch balls, based on personal preference. Per eggplant, you should yield about 12-16 balls, depending on the size of the eggplant and balls.
Place balls on a large baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Chiacchiere al Forno – a Carnevale Neapolitan Cookie
I had a seminar this past weekend and I made an Italian cookie that is usually made to celebrate Carnevale (Mardi Gras, fat Tuesday). The cookies are usually fried or baked and served with a cup of chocolate sauce to dip into. For convenience of serving this as part of the cooking seminar I dipped the cookies in semi-sweet chocolate. I didn’t realize these cookies were going to be such a hit and did not give out the recipe at the seminar. So many people asked for the recipe so here it is!! I think what makes these cookies so tasty and unusual is the lemon zest and the marsala wine. Typical of Neapolitan baking. In the next couple of weeks I promise I will share with you on my blog the last 3 seminars with recipes and lots of information! Talk to you all soon. Vivi con gusto!
Chiaccheri al Forno
2 ½ cups of flour
½ cup of superfine sugar (if you don’t have superfine sugar you can pulse the sugar in a food processor but don’t overdo or it will turn to powdered sugar)
2 ounces of softened butter (half a stick of butter)
4 tablespoons of Marsala Wine
Zest of 2 whole lemons (make sure when you grate it that you don’t get the white part – it’s the bitter part)
1 tbs of vanilla
¼ tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt
Melted semi sweet dark chocolate for dipping – I add a little shortening to thin it out
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all the ingredients except for chocolate in a mixer and mix until all combined. The dough will be sticky.
Put dough on a flour surface and knead and keep adding flour until it’s a smooth non-sticky consistence.
Roll out dough until it’s an 1/8 of an inch.
Cut with a pizza cutter into rectangles. Then indent the middle of the rectangle in one or two cuts.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure you space the chiarccheri so they don’t over lap.
Bake in oven until they have a golden color – about 10 minutes
This Christmas season I got all nostalgic and I remembered one of my favorite Christmas present from the past. Don’t be surprised if this favorite gift of mine involves the restaurant. My thoughts brought me back to 1971 when I woke up on Christmas morning to find my very own typewriter underneath the Christmas tree and I bet you all thought I was going to say pots and pans. I was ecstatic! I went right to work practicing typing and learning where all the keys were located. I still remember the feeling of pressing down each key and the joy I felt as I witnessed the perfect black letter imprinted on the paper. I especially loved the rhythm of the typing as I got better and better at it. I would make up songs in my head as I typed. It really was the best gift ever.
In 1971 I was twelve years old, taking biology taught by Sister Diane at Regina Coeli School. Returning to school after a wonderful ten-day vacation, a biology test awaited us that first week in January. During that Christmas vacation I remembered having fun practicing on my new typewriter typing out my biology notes. Of course, I had to make the notes look good so I practiced my typing over and over again. I had always been just an average student and did not take my studies very seriously. At that time, I had never regarded myself as studious or even having the potential to achieve high grades. The following day after the test, Sr. Diane announced that there was one student that had gotten the highest grade in both 8th grade classes. I sat in my desk looking on with a bored expression thinking one of the smart kids got the highest grade. Sr. Diane looked at the class with an amused expression as she announced my name. I was in shock. I never thought in a million years that it could have been me. Inadvertently, when I typed out the notes, the information must have gotten lodged into my brain. The pride I felt and the shocked look in the smart kids faces did something to me. I realized that I did have potential! It just required a little work on my part. And that was the just the beginning of how that typewriter changed my life.
I became addicted to the feel and the rhythm of the typewriter keys on my fingertips. I tried to think of what I could do to keep typing. And then it came to me. A most wonderful idea! I typed out a daily special from the restaurant menu. The waitresses would usually hand write these specials during the slow hours between lunch and dinner. Coming from Catholic School where penmanship was everything I regarded their penmanship as atrocious!! I wanted to make my father proud of me so I presented him with a perfectly typed daily special and told him I could make the menus look more professional. My dad loved the idea! But unfortunately, I didn’t think it through all the way. At twelve I wasn’t fully aware of how many menus we had at the restaurant and I didn’t quite understand the whole concept of daily specials. In the beginning, I happily typed away and then I begrudgingly realized that I was typing the never ending daily specials for 100 menus, 6 days a week.
What started out as a great fun idea had become hard work! That little typewriter’s keys became harder and harder to press down as I forged ahead with the daily specials. My fingers became so sore. I no longer wanted to type those annoying daily specials. But there was no convincing my dad to go back to handwritten specials! By the following year, I talked my parents into buying me a much-needed electric typewriter. Aaah….it was so much easier of my fingers! But it was still tedious work typing out all those daily specials. By the time, I was a junior in high school I found an even better alternative to the electric typewriter. I graduated to a memory typewriter! With the memory typewriter, I only had to type one special. The rest of the specials could be automatically typed by the press of a button. All I had to do was place an index card in the typewriter one at a time. It was great!! But that wonderful feeling quickly wore off as I sat there for hours feeding the index cards one at a time complaining and whining about it! At this point in time, I was in college working on my grades and other interests. These daily specials were the bane of my existence. By the 80’s the personal computer became affordable and finally I happily became a whiz at typing out the daily specials!
Not only did that toy typewriter that I found underneath the Christmas tree so many years ago, make me believe in myself but it also taught me to always look for a quicker and better way to get the job done. But the most important lesson of all was that it taught me is to make sure to do research before I volunteer my services! Merry Christmas Everyone!
I am going to give you the long version of making clams oreganate by making your own breadcrumbs. They are the best. For some reason making them from scratch are so delicious!! Growing up in our Italian American family Christmas Eve table was never without out clams oreganate. Of course they were readily available in our restaurant!
2 loaves of thin crusted french bread (the thicker crust is harder to make crumbs)
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive OIl
4 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 tsp of oregano
4-5 turns of black pepper
2 cups of breadcrumbs either from the garlic bread crumb recipe or store bought Italian flavored bread crumbs
3/4 chopped parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Raw clams on the half shell*
*2 dozen clams serves four people but the oreganate stuffing is enough to stuff 4 dozen clams
For the Garlic bread
Slice french bread
Mix well 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil with minced garlic and dried oregano
Brush olive oil mixture on all the slices of bread placing on 2 cookie sheets
Toast in oven prewarmed at 325degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp to touch. If you want to make garlic bread for eating just toast under 2nd shelf under broiler until golden brown.
You may eat some of the garlic bread but save some to make into breadcrumbs
For the Oreganate Bread Crumbs
To make breadcrumbs use a food processor or a blender. For best results make sure that the bread is crisp.
To make sure there are no big chunks. Shake breadcrumbs thru a sieve and pulverize the big chunks again.
Once all pulverized. Add 1/2 cup virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of oregano and mix well and 3/4 cup of chopped parsley
Add chopped parsley and mix well.
Open the little neck clams making sure to not drain the clam water. Juicy clams are the best!
Spoon bread crumb mixture onto clams. careful not to pack it down. It should be fluffy!
Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and its ready to eat!
“Hi Teresa, I figured you would know where I can get bushels of tomatoes.” “Oh sorry Teresa, we can’t! We are swimming in tomatoes here!” “Hello Teresa, I have brought you a bushel of tomatoes.” So.much talk of tomatoes!! What can I say it’s tomato season in the Hudson Valley!
I always teased my kids and told them I am just not any ordinary mamma but a pasta mamma! To this day I still can’t get this vision that I have of a pasta mamma out of my head! I am not quite sure how old I was, but one summer in Italy I came across what I believed was a pasta mamma. Thank goodness it wasn’t anybody I was related to. While we were on our way to visit my aunt, we came across a neighbor. The neighbor upon seeing my dad, ran over screaming in her Neapolitan dialect to give my dad this really exaggerated big hug. It wasn’t because she was short, robust and splattered with tomato sauce that I took notice, but it was her apron! Her apron had two conspicuously placed well-worn patches across her chest! Mind you the apron was intact except for those two patches. While my parents were all smiles greeting this woman, my brother and I just stood there looking on with puzzled looks on our faces. Why this well-endowed woman would want to bring more attention to herself by wearing that apron was beyond us! Unabashed she stood so proud wearing that remarkable apron bragging about the number of jars of tomatoes she had just canned.
I keep thinking about that woman lately every time the subject of tomatoes comes up in discussions this past week. The Hudson Valley farmers as I am sure many of the farmers from where you are from are also busy harvesting tomatoes. If you don’t have the luxury of picking your tomatoes out of your own garden, I hope you are all taking advantage of those beautiful vine ripened tomatoes from your local farmers. I just called my co-packer who makes the 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce to order more pallets. They work with the local farms in our area. They told me, “Teresa, have a little patience for we are swimming in tomatoes and we are busy!”.
I remember when I was a little girl, my mom, her five sisters and Nonna, would be gathered together wearing aprons (thankfully with no patches across their chests) and their hair tied up in kerchiefs at this time of the year. My grandfather would start the fire in the pit while all the girls were busy preparing the tomatoes. Such a happy chore with all of them laughing and singing while sorting, cutting, straining, cooking, pouring, and jarring. I remember hearing the joyful pop of the lids as the sauce cooled and witnessing the satisfaction on everyone’s faces.
In Italy, my father’s sisters would do the same thing. There were times that we would be in Italy during tomato harvest and the canning of the delicious tomatoes. The tomatoes were so different in Monte di Procida. The Mediterranean sun is strong and growing tomatoes in the volcanic soil yields the sweetest juiciest tomatoes! All my aunts had their own wood fired ovens to bake bread, pizza and to seal all of those jars of tomatoes. The ovens were located in cantinas and a whole side of the building was designated for the ovens made of blocks and concrete. The cantinas were free standing buildings away from the house. My Zia Gilda would bake so much bread that she even had customers! A summer treat was pizza! The pizza that came out of those wood fired ovens was incomparable to anything I have ever eaten. The crust had a touch of char covered with a few really ripe garden tomatoes, a basil leaf, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and fresh mozzarella. The pizza was unbelievably delicious! Mind you, my Zia would only make the pizza with the extra dough left over from the bread. She never thought much of this pizza. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t make more of it! But she would often tell me that bread was her first priority. The pizza was just a little snack. I am still searching for a comparable pizza! The typical NY pizza we are accustomed to is not the same.
In a town not too far from my dad’s town of Monte di Procida is the ancient town of Baia where Julius Caesar had a villa there (The Castello Aragonese di Baia is open to the public now with museums). The mineral springs in Baia attracted the elite during the Roman Empire. Most of the ancient town is under water now as a result from a volcanic eruption. A couple of years ago my brother, sister and I met in Italy. We decided to go to a historic pizzeria in Baia. What was unusual about this pizzeria was that it was located inside the town bread oven. Yes, you read right! It was a bread oven so huge that there was a pizzeria built inside of it. During the Roman Empire it was used to bake bread for the whole town. We sat inside of this huge hollowed out oven and ate pizza and imagined Caesar eating pizza here.
Only joking about Caesar eating pizza. The Pizza Margherita became famous in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy. History has it that when Queen Margherita of Savoy, the wife of King Umberto I, visited Naples, a chef and his wife created a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, tomato, mozzarella and basil! To this day it is still called Pizza Margherita!
Sadly, I don’t own a wood fired oven. Using the garden cherry tomatoes, the pizza comes out pretty good minus the char. I have that wood fired oven on my bucket list. I did get Jim, my husband, to make me a fire pit, though! So I am getting closer.
I hope you enjoy the following pizza recipe as much as as my family and I do. I used the delicious tomatoes from the garden! No worries if you don’t have a garden, just be sure to visit farm markets to get those delicious tomatoes that are all the rage. There is nothing like fresh vine ripened tomatoes. Even though I am in the business of selling tomato sauce, I won’t lie to you there is nothing like a fresh tomato right off the vine. Don’t get confused with those grocery store, hot house tomatoes, though! I also have available the jarred 825 MAIN Pizza Margherita Sauce for those months of the year when we can’t get those super delicious garden tomatoes. Even tough I don’t can my own tomatoes, Continue reading →