“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stuffed Calamari for The Feast of the Seven Fishes with Feast on History

Buongiorno mei amici!! Next up for The Feast of the Seven Fishes with Feast on History…Stuffed Calamari!! No Feast of the Seven Fishes would be complete without it. Like the other recipes, I wanted to keep it traditional with a bit of a twist. I made mine stuffed with mushrooms and ricotta. It’s a wonderful mix of flavors and textures and the tomato sauce is reduced with some white wine. For more information on the upcoming Feast of the Seven Fishes be sure to head over to Feast on History for information on purchasing tickets for the dinner. Enjoy!!
Stuffed Calamari

1 pound of calamari tubes (around 6 tubes)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
2 tbsp. crushed red pper
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 cups of mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. Italian parsley
2 cups of bread crumbs
½ cup of ricotta cheese
¼ cup of parmigiana

White Wine Tomato Sauce

2 cups of diced canned tomatoes San Marzano tomatoes (in my opinion, they’re the best!)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of white wine

Begin by cleaning your calamari in cold water. Add olive oil to a medium size pan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and garlic. Cook until slightly golden. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until they are tender. Add the parsley and turn off the heat. Put the mushrooms in a medium size bowl and add the bread crumbs, ricotta and parmigiana.

Meanwhile, in another medium size pan, add the diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and olive oil. Add the white wine.

Stuff your calamari with the mushroom stuffing. I like to use a tiny spoon to really get in there and then I press down the stuffing with my thumb. Put the stuffed calamari in the sauce and cook until opaque and tender, around 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Buon Appetito!! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stuffed Clams with Feast on History

Ciao a tutti!! I am so excited to have started my recipe testing for The Feast of the Seven Fishes with Feast on History. For those that have not heard, I recently became an intern with Feast on History. A wonderful new company that specializes in wine and food events and allows the guests to experience food and history together. It’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it!! Up first were the Stuffed Clams. I love stuffed clams and I wanted to keep them traditional with my own special twist…enter speck. Speck is a cured smoky Italian meat and when you fry it, it gets nice and crispy. I thought some speck would lend itself perfectly to the clams. I mean, parmigiana, clams, bread crumbs, white wine, you can’t go wrong. Be sure to stay tuned for some other tempting recipes and of course, if you want to experience them for yourself without doing as much of the work, be sure to come to our upcoming Feast of the Seven Fishes Dinner on August. 30th. Mangia Bene!!

Stuffed Clams

For the liquid

1 pounds of clams (we used Manila Clams)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. salt
3 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of water

For the stuffing

4 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
6 slices of speck
1 cup of bread crumbs
2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
½ cup of parmigiana
½ cup of white wine
½ cup of the liquid from steaming the clams

Begin by cleaning and rinsing your clams in a large bowl with cold water. Get rid of any grit or sand. After rinsing them, begin preparing your steaming liquid. In a large pot, add your olive oil, garlic, red pepper, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Cook briefly until the garlic is slightly golden. Add the white wine and water and bring to a boil. Put the clams in the liquid, cover them and lower the heat. Simmer gently until the clams have opened.

Once they opened, turn off the heat and let them cool in the pot while you prepare the stuffing. Do not throw out the liquid!

In a medium pan, add the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook until the garlic is slightly golden.

Add the chopped speck and cook until it is crispy. You will notice that the speck will get darker as it gets crispier. Add the bread crumbs and parsley. Cook until the crumbs are slightly toasted. Add the parmigiana, wine and clam liquid. Turn off the heat. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil.

Now take your clams out of the shell and roughly chop them. Add the clams to the stuffing mix. Do not put the heat back on; you do not want to overcook the clams. Stuff the shells with the clam stuffing and put in the oven for 25 minutes. Enjoy immediately with a fine glass of white wine. Buon Appetito!! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fusilli with Sausage, Ramps and White Wine

Ciao a tutti!! I feel like it’s been a while since I've posted a pasta dish, so I think it’s about time I do!! When I was in Italy last Christmas, I brought back A LOT of pasta. I loved seeing how many different shapes they offer. A lot of people think all pasta tastes the same, but to me, there is always a difference. Some has a bit more a bite, some is milder, but either way, I love all pasta. The pasta I’m using today is Fusilli Avellinesi. It has a twisted shape, so it’s perfect for dishes that you really want the sauce to cling to and get in there!! Since this pasta is hard to come by, I will suggest using regular fusilli. I made this pasta with sausage, ramps and white wine. I mean, what else do you need right? Enjoy!!

Fusilli with Sausage, Ramps and White Wine

4 Italian sausage links
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 box of fusilli
1 bunch of ramps, cleaned and finely chopped (including the green part!!)
1 ½ cups of white wine
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Prepare a medium size pan over medium heat with the 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Remove the sausage from the case (you can easily do this by wetting the sausage link and cutting it with a knife, the inside of the link should easily come out). Tear the sausage into small pieces and put in the pan. Thoroughly cook through for 30-45 minutes. Always be careful with pork. When the sausage is almost done cooking, prepare a large pot of water over high heat. Generously salt your water. When the water is boiling, add the fusilli. Cook until al dente, depending on your pasta it could take 4-7 minutes. Once it is done, drain the pasta and put it in the pan with sausage and toss. Add the ramps, white wine, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook on medium until half of the wine has reduced. Buon Appetito!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fried and Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Ciao a tutti!! For years, I heard my mother speak of Zucchini Flowers. They’re not as popular in the United States as they are in Italy, so getting your hands on them can be pretty difficult. You’re best trying a farmers market once they are in season. I only first tried Zucchini Flowers on my first trip to Italy in the summer of 2011. When my mother and I were in Rome that trip, we made sure to indulge in zucchini flowers every single day. Since then, anytime they’re in season, I buy them once a week and go to town. There are many ways to prepare zucchini flowers, toss them with some pasta, serve them on a white pizza, simply grill them…but my favorite way is to stuff them with ricotta and fry them. Very healthy, I know. But life is short so you gotta live a little! If you have never had zucchini flowers and can get your hands on a batch, I promise you, you will LOVE them!

Fried Zucchini Flowers

Makes 8-12 zucchini flowers

For the ricotta filling

½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasonings

For the batter

¾ cup of cornstarch
¼ cup flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 egg

For frying

1 ½ cups of neutral oil (Vegetable, canola or peanut)

Start off by cleaning your zucchini flowers. Check the insides for petals or small bugs (I know, it’s yucky, but they can sneak in there!) Rinse them and then pat them dry. In a medium bowl, add your ricotta, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, parsley and dried Italian seasonings. Mix until well combined. 

In a shallow dish or container, add your cornstarch, flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Lightly mix with a fork. In a bowl, crack and whisk your egg.  Take your zucchini flower and gently open it and add a tsp. of the ricotta mix, then roll it in the cornstarch mix and then dip in the egg. Set aside on a separate plate. Continue doing this until all of your zucchini flowers are covered. If you need more egg, you can always crack another. 

Prepare a medium size deep pot over medium-high heat and add your 1 ½ cups of oil. When the oil is heated, gently place in your zucchini flowers. Each flower should take around 3-5 minutes to fry. As they are each done frying, place them on a wire rack to cool, a wire rack will also help them avoid steaming up. There is a chance you may have some cornstarch mix leftover, so you will just have to throw it out. Eat right away while they are still nice, hot and crunchy!! Buon Appetito!!