Thursday, 24 July 2014

Saltimbocca alla romana - Veal with ham (prosciutto)

If you want to respect the traditional recipe, use only few ingredients and in 10 minutes you can enjoy this Italian classic!

Ingredients for 4
4 slices of veal
4 slices Parma Ham (Prosciutto)
4 leaves sage
30 grs butter
1/2 a glass white wine
salt and pepper

How to:

1) Cut away any hard part of the meat and beat it with a meat tenderizer to make it softer. In order not to break it you can also put the meat between two sheets of cling film.

2) Wash the sage leaves very well and dry them.  Do not break the leaves.

3) Put a slice of prosciutto and a sage leaf on each slice of meat and fix them together with a toothpick

4) Melt the butter in a pan, and when it starts boiling, put the meat in the pan and let them cook for a couple of  minutes on each side. 
Start from the side with prosciutto.

5) Once the meat is sliglty brown, add the white wine and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add salt (if necessary) and pepper and serve with some of the cooking juice.

Serve with a fresh salad

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Couscous with pesto, fried eggplants and mozzarella

Different textures for this fantastic Mediterranean dish!
Couscous is widely used in Sicily, usually served with seafood. It comes from the Arab domination and now is more and more common to eat cold salads made with it.
This particular recipes includes also the very aromatic smell of Genovese pesto from the North West of Italy, and mozzarella di bufala (buffalo cheese) from Campania (Naples area). Italy at its best!
Try to get the right ingredients, because it is so easy to make that the flavour is given by each smell and texture
You can prepare it to be eaten immediately, or you can divide the preparation into two steps and add the fresh ingredients at the end.
You know I like to make portions, but you can keep it all together and garnish the couscous with the vegetables and cheese spreading the topping on it. 

Ingredients for 4

300 grs.  instant couscous (you can find it in many grocery stores)
4 big tablespoons of Genoese pesto (fresh in deli shops and also in glass jars)
Chicken stock or water (follow the quantities on the couscous box)
Pine nuts to garnish
8 basil leaves 
extra virgin olive oil
1 long eggplant
1 cup all purposes flour
Vegetable frying oil
150/200 grs mozzarella di bufala campana (if possible) or burrata (a fresh cheese from Apulia)
Toasted pine nuts (for decoration)

How to:

1) Wash the eggplant and cut it into small pieces about 2/3 inch; put them in  a colander with some salt and let them drain for 1 to 4 hrs.

2) Prepare the couscous following the instruction on the box, if available use stock instead of water for a better taste. You will need also some salt and some extra virgin olive oil.

3) When ready (usually 3 minutes after your adding the hot liquid) add the pesto and mix well with a fork. The grains must be detached and if you taste it (please do) it must be soft and the taste should be already very good. Also, the pest should be Season with a little bit salt and extra virgin olive oil if necessary.

4) If you are making portions , - and in this case you can also freeze your couscous - grease 4 oven safe containers with extra virgin olive oil and put the couscous inside them pressing it very well. Now, if you want to finish the dish later or freeze it, cover with cling film and refrigerate it.

5) Now the second part of the dish. About 20 minutes before serving prepare the frying pan with the oil and warm up your oven.
Put the couscous in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

6) In the meanwhile drain the mozzarella and cut it into small pieces.

7) Dry the eggplant pieces with a clean cloth and quickly pass them in the flour and fry them for about 12 minutes until crouch and golden. Drain and salt if necessary to taste.

8) In a small food processor, mix well the oil with the basil leaves until the oil becomes green but not too creamy.

8) Put the ingredients together: overthrow the couscous in a dish, garnish with some mozzarella, then the fried eggplant, then the pine nuts and with a tea spoon let some drops of the basil olive oil drop on each plate.

Enjoy while the eggplants are still warm!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Eggplant Caponata with chicken breast

Chicken is the "side dish" for this fantastic Sicilian recipe, which a dear friend from Trapani gave me long time ago and that became immediately our Summer favourite.
As it is a traditional recipe every family has its own version and may include additional ingredients. Traditional Southern Italian food was made with simple ingredients and quantities depended on what was available and adjusted to taste. I will respect this origin and will give you the proportions
I know, the vegetable are fried, and it takes a long time to prepare, but the taste is so fantastic that you have to try it, with a nice slice of rustic bread just warmed up under the grill. Superb!

You can serve it cold, and the day after preparation is even better. (refrigerate and take out of fridge 1 hr. before serving).

Can you hear the singing of the cicadas?…
Prepare your picnic basket!

Ingredients for 4 (served as vegetable side) –make more if you want to eat it as a main vegetable dish

4 slices chicken breast
6-8 grains of pepper (6 to 8)
1 shallot
1 clove

2 round eggplants (or 4 long) (black, violet or white) Always prefer fresh vegetables with little seeds
12-15 tomatoes
Half a cup black olives (no pips) Try to find good quality (deli)
Half a cup green olives (no pips)
2 table spoons of capers
2 table spoons almonds, roughly cut in into pieces and slightly browned
1 table spoon balsamic vinegar (or a little bit more to taste)
Vegetable frying oil

 How to:

1)      Wash the eggplants and cut the stems off

     2)      Cut into thick, long  pieces and put them in a colander and salt well.

    3)      Put a weight on them so they lose their bitter water and set aside for at least 1 hr.

    4)      In the meanwhile peel the tomatoes by making a cross cut on the surface skin on the  top and throwing them in hot water for 1 minute. Put them in  a colander, pass them under the cold water and the skin will wrinkle. Tomatoes are now ready to be peeled

5)      Cut them into pieces, discarding most of the seeds, put in colander with a pinch of salt to drain.

  6) Prepare a pot with some water, the shallot, a pinch of salt,  the parsley, the pepper corns and bring it to the boil. At this point add the chicken breast and let it boil until completely cooked. Switch the gas off and let the meat cool in the stock.

    When warm, take meat off and cut it into stripes. Do not throw the stock away, you can use it for a risotto, to cook some pasta or in other preparation. Put it in a container and refrigerate for 1 day or freeze it.


    6)      While the vegetables “rest” cut the almonds and quickly brown them in a small pan or under the grill. Put them in a large bowl

7) Wash the capers under running water until they lose their salt or vinegar (taste them) and put them in the bowl.

8) Roughly cut the olives and add them in the bowl

    9) In a very large pan pour a generous quantity of oil (the oil must cover the eggplants) and bring it to the boil. Mind that the oil must not  smoke! Squeeze the eggplants to take off the bitter liquid, dry them on kitchen paper and put them in the boiling oil until they become soft and golden (10-15 min.).


    10) Drain them and put on kitchen paper and dry them from the oil  as much as you can. Put them with the other ingredients in the bowl.

    11) In the same oil fry the tomatoes and drain them well on new paper.


Put them in the same bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and gently stir to mix. Test it and, if necessary, add salt.

13) Cover with a lid or a cling film and let it cool down.(I prefer to refrigerate it)

14) When serving: I like the cold chicken breast stripes. Anyway if you like them warmer, warm them in a pan with some butter.

     15) You know I like to shape things and make portions, so I got a triangular ring and made shapes. But you can serve it loose as well.