Posts tagged ‘italian’

February 11, 2010

Pollo Tuxedo

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February 9, 2010

Meatball Sub

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December 20, 2009

Budino di pane

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November 9, 2009


lasagne 9

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January 1, 2009

Sicilian Marinara / Carrettiera Sauce


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January 1, 2009

Italian Meatballs


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January 1, 2009

Fried Ravioli

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January 1, 2009

Gnocchi alla Cannella

I love the unique flavour of gnocchi, which is kind of comical because I avoided eating it for several years, mostly because someone had described it as tasting like pierogis, which I really am not a fan of.  But truth be told, the similarity stops at potatoes.  They are very light in texture, it’s difficult to put into words – but they are very tender and airy.

You can use either my recipe for homemade gnocchi, or store bought gnocchi.  Gnocchi is very light and this sauce blend is not overly sweet so it works well as a unique side dish or a dessert.  You want to make the sauce promptly before serving or it will crystallize as it cools, and gnocchi become chewy if cooked too long or reheated.  The preparation time for this is only about five minutes, so you can easily make this up while the dinner dishes are being cleared.

IngredientsGnocchi alla Cannella19

Gnocchi (either 1 package of prepared gnocchi or one single batch of my recipe)

1 stick unsalted butter (note that I didn’t say margarine)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons sugar


  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  • Add cinnamon, paprika and sugar to melted butter mixture and whisk til blended.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Boil gnocchi 3 – 5 minutes, until it floats.  Remove as soon as they float to surface!
  • Drain and add sauce mixture to gnocchi.
  • Serve warm.

Gnocchi alla Cannella1Gnocchi alla Cannella6

    January 1, 2009

    Chicken Alla Cacciatora

    My daughters aren’t big on bell peppers, so my recipe is a bit different than the usual. I also do not bread the chicken breasts and I don’t use thighs.   I serve it over rotini and like the side dish of fresh green beans the best.


    4 boneless chicken breasts
    4 roma tomatoes, chopped
    1/2 white onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic
    1 Tbsp oregano
    1 Tbsp rosemary
    1 Tbsp thyme
    1 tsp ground black pepper
    1 tsp salt

    • Slice the tops of the chicken breasts across, almost all the way through, spacing each gash about half an inch apart. Lay with the unsliced part down into a skillet over medium-low heat.
    • In a medium bowl stir together chopped tomatoes and onions. Spoon equally over each chicken.
    • In a small bowl, blend oregano, rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt. Spoon evenly over the chicken breasts.
    • Using a press, press one half of a garlic clove over each breast.
    • Spoon juices over the top while cooking. Once the underside is thoroughly cooked, turn chicken over – tomato mixture should stay beneath the chicken once turned.
    January 1, 2009

    Cannoli Filling


    I am posting this recipe in two parts for a few reasons, primary because with the shells recipe and the filling, this becomes a grossu entry.  Also, if you are using store purchased cannoli shells, you won’t need to weed through the shell recipe to make filling.

    The filling for cannoli has a very simple base recipe that allows you to get very creative.  After you create the base, you can fold in diced dried candied fruit – such as you would use for fruit cakes, chocolate chips, shaved candy bars – I prefer Andes mint shavings, minced nuts – like pistachio, spices – like cinnamon or nutmeg, liquor – such as Kahlua or brandy or rum, citrus zest – oranges work well, marachino cherries, or you can leave it plain.  Keep in mind that a cannolo is about five inches long and so your filling is four inches long by one inch diameter – in other words, a little goes a long way.

    When filling cannoli, only do it right before serving, as the filling can make the shell soggy.  It is also best if you chill the filling in your pastry bag (or as you will see me use, a zip loc baggie) for about 20 minutes in the freezer before filling, so that it is very firm.

    Ricotta should be whole milk, not even reduced fat.  The skim or low fat ricotta tends to have more run off which will cause the filling to be more runny – not a good thing at all.

    You can dress up your serving plate with a powdered sugar dusted paper doily, drizzled melted chocolate, or powdered sugar.  I serve mine with a fork, but that is more for just scooping up any filling that falls out.  Cannoli was meant to be picked up and eaten as it is a carnival treat in Sicily.


    1     15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta

    3/4 cup powdered sugar

    • In a large mixing bowl, blend both ingredients throughly on low speed with an electric mixer.
    • Do not over beat, only beat until mixed.
    • Using a spatula, fold in any selected add ins.
    • Pack filling into an air tight container or pastry bag.
    • Chill before using to fill cannoli tubes.

    If using add ins, I have listed below the measuring amount that you want to use.  Remember for all solid add ins, to reduce the amount of each if you are adding in more than one:

    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
    • 1 teaspoon liquor
    • 1 tablespoon dried candied fruit, diced
    • 1 tablespoon citrus zest
    • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 tablespoon coconut, shaved
    • 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ice cream sprinkles
    • 1 tablespoon chocolate candy bar, shaved or grated

    *McCormick makes a cinnamon spice with a built in grater that is awesome for grinding fresh cinnamon.  Each bottle is less than $2 and I absolutely love this!


    January 1, 2009

    Campanelle Casserole

    This casserole has an Italian inspiration, but is purely a Tia creation.  I love ricotta cheese and like finding new ways to use it.  The flavour of ricotta is rich and the texture is very thick, but it doesn’t become a greasy mess that will stay with you for the next three days.  Campenelle pasta is also called riccioli and is basically an elbow style macaroni that is fluted at one end.  In Italian, it means literally bell tower.  This dish turns out a lot like a typical lasagne dish, excepting that it has no layers and is easy to throw together after a long day at work.


    1 pound campanelle pasta, boiled til firm

    1 pound ground sausage or ground beef

    16 ounces ricotta cheese

    8 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

    16 ounce can stewed tomatoes

    1 small onion, finely chopped

    2 cloves garlic, pressed

    1 teaspoon fresh ground Oregano

    1 teaspoon ground rosemary

    1 teaspoon ground thyme


    • Over medium heat, crumble and brown sausage or ground beef, add in seasonings while cooking.
    • Add in onion and garlic and remove from heat.
    • In a medium mixing bowl, add one half of mozzarella to ricotta and stir until blended.
    • Stir cheese and meat mixture together thoroughly.
    • In large casserole dish, blend meat and cheese mixture with cooked pasta.
    • Top with tomatoes, do not strain.
    • Stir well and cover with remaining mozzarella.
    • Bake at 250 degrees F for thirty minutes.



    January 1, 2009

    Pork Bruschetta

    porkbruschetta 9

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    January 1, 2009


    Often when we think of crepes, we think of lacy thin pancakes with fruit syrups and whipped cream toppings.  This delicious appetizer puts an end to these thoughts.  This is a classic Italian dish server during Lent, when meat is to be avoided.

    As with a lot of Florentine dishes, it includes the standard of spinach, though I prefer to kick it up a notch with Arugula leaves mixed in as well as a few sprigs of Italian parsley.  Arugula is a Roman spinach leaf and isn’t always easily found in your local grocery store.  Often you will have to scour the organic section to locate a nice bag.  If your climate allows, you might give growing it a try, as once you start, it takes hold and is rather reproductive.

    This dish also includes ricotta cheese and I suggest not using a low fat one as there tends to be a good deal of liquid run off and can make your crepes soggy.

    Typically I segregate the recipes when we are stuffing a separate component, but this crepe recipe is unique to this recipe and not the same you would want to use for your Sunday morning sweet tooth.


    3 eggs

    1 3/4 cup milk

    2 Tablespoons butter, melted

    1 cup flour, unsifted

    1/2 teaspoon iodized salt

    3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


    1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

    1/2 pound fresh Arugula leaves, washed and finely chopped

    1/4 pound fresh Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped

    1 cup boiling water

    1 egg

    1/2 cup fresh Romano cheese, grated

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/ teaspoon ionized salt

    1 15 ounce container ricotta

    • In a medium mixing bowl, blend 3 eggs, milk, melted butter, and flour until well blended.  Mixture should be rather thin, like a pancake batter.
    • In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
    • Pour in batter by 1/4 cup ladles at a time, cooking each until lightly tanned.
    • Set aside.
    • Preheat oven to 150 degrees F.
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine green leaves.  Pour boiling water over leaves and drain into a collander promptly.
    • In a dry large bowl, beat egg, ricotta, Romano, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
    • Stir in leaves.  Blend well.
    • Drop 1 – 2 spoonfuls of filling onto each crepe and roll up.  Secure with a toothpick.
    • In a large baking dish, prepared with non-stick spray or a little olive oil, arrange filled crepes.
    • Bake for fifteen minutes or until crepes are crisped.
    • Remove toothpicks and serve warm.
    January 1, 2009


    Gnocchi is a really unique tasting Italian pasta that can be prepared in so many various ways.  You can store buy prepared gnocchi, but I just don’t think it compares.  This recipe will make enough gnocchi for about 4 servings and can be doubled or multiplied, but not really reduced.


    5 medium to large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
    1 egg yolk
    1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup all purpose flour


    • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    • Poke potatoes with fork and bake about 1 hour.
    • Skin potatoes and quarter.  Drop into a large bowl and mash well.
    • In separate bowl, stir yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
    • Mix in egg yolk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
    • Pour yolk mixture over potatoes and stir thoroughly.
    • Spoon in flour to form a dough texture.
    • On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out.
    • Break it into quarters.
    • Using your palms, roll the dough out gently into a rope form about 1/2 inch thick.
    • Cut into half inch pieces.
    • Use a fork to lift each piece, making gentle grooves into the dough piece with each.
    • Lay out on a floured baking sheet to air dry for about one hour.
    • Repeat with reserved dough quarters.

    When ready to prepare gnocchi, gently drop into a large pot of water at a rolling boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until it floats to surface.  If you allow them to boil too long they will become gummy and chewy.

    Gnocchi alla Cannella5

    The gnocchi can be frozen before cooking the dough pieces for later use.  Freeze baking sheet and then pack into airtight container or zip lock baggies for later.

    January 1, 2009

    Pollo Florentine

    Ask anyone what Florentine means and they’ll say it means spinach; except Italians.  The association of spinach and Florence, Italy actually originated in England.  When Catherine de Medici introduced spinach to English cuisine, since she was from Florence, spinach and egg or cheese mixtures became known as Florentine.  Actual Florentine dishes usually are seafood rich with olives and squashes and potatoes.

    This dish uses prosciutto, which is an uncooked Italian ham, chicken and a spinach and cheese blend.  Even though prosciutto is salt cured, I guess I am a bit of a worry wart in that I always cook it anyhow.  I also use fresh mozzarella for this recipe, it blends much better with the ricotta than the shredded type that has drying agents applied.  The extra spinach mixture I bake for twenty minutes in a separate dish and serve with the chicken.

    Ingredientspollo florentine 16

    3 cloves garlic

    1/4 pound Italian parsley

    1 pound fresh spinach

    1/4 pound fresh mozzarella

    1 egg

    1 cup ricotta

    4 slices prosciutto

    4 boneless chicken breasts

    2 Tablespoons bread crumbs


    • Chop parsley and spinach, combine into medium mixing bowl.
    • Press garlic cloves into spinach blend.
    • Use a cheese slicer to loosen shreds from mozzarella ball.
    • Add egg, ricotta and mozzarella to spinach blend.
    • Beat thoroughly until well blended.
    • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
    • Slice chicken breasts open.
    • Spoon two heaping spoonfuls of spinach blend into chicken breast pocket.
    • Close and wrap prosciutto around chicken.
    • Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
    • Bake for 45 minutes.
    • Serve.

    pollo florentine 3pollo florentine 4pollo florentine 8pollo florentine 10

    pollo florentine 12

    January 1, 2009


    When I was a little girl in Sicily, this was one of my favourite foods. The difficulty here is patience in making them but oh so worth the effort. These are easily reheated and are a meal on their own. I usually serve two per person.


    3 cups white rice
    3/4 lb shredded beef*
    1 jar spaghetti sauce**
    1 1/2 cup raw peeled potatoes, diced to pea size
    8 oz mozzarella cheese
    2 sticks salted butter
    2 cups peas
    4 eggs
    2 cups breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning
    4 cups cooking oil, for frying

    *I typically use deli style roast beef, broken into small half-inch pieces. I have also tried it the way my parents did with a small chunk of roast beef, cooked in advance and then pulled and shredded – but I think this recipe is time consuming enough without having to cook a roast as well.

    • In a large pot, pour 6 cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring to boil. Add rice and cover, lowering to medium-low heat. Once rice has cooked, remove heat and put both sticks of butter into the pot. Cover and let sit for ten minutes. Stir thoroughly and leave uncovered.
    • In a separate pot, pour spaghetti sauce in over medium heat. Add beef and potatoes and stir often. Potatoes should be cooked but firm, not mushy. Once done, add peas and remove from heat.
    • Spread out a large sheet of wax paper and when rice is cool to touch, begin forming it into balls about three inches in diameter. Let sit on wax paper to harden to the outside a bit. Once the outside is hardened enough to hold its form, use a finger to create a hole in it about an inch to two inches deep. Press in a decent amount of mozzarella and a heaping spoonful of the meat mixture. Tighten the form of the ball to seal the hole and set aside.
    • The balls should sit for about 3 to 4 hours.
    • After the balls have sat to harden, begin to heat the oil. My dad’s recipe says to 350 degrees, but to be honest I have always checked it the way my mom did – toss in a bread crumb and when it sizzles, the oil is ready.
    • In a medium bowl, break eggs and beat thoroughly.
    • Pour bread crumbs onto a plate.
    • Dip the balls individually into the egg batter and then roll in bread crumbs until covered completely. Using a serving spoon, lower the ball into the oil, bouncing it gently on the spoon, but do not drop it into the oil as it is very heavy and breaks apart easily.
    • When a dark golden brown, remove from oil and gingerly lay on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

    January 1, 2009

    Chicken Parmigiana

    This is an incredibly simple dish to whip up with only about an hour prep time needed, and yet it presents like you slaved for hours.  As a side note, this recipe can be likewise used for veal parmigiana, by changing the meats.

    CIMG2817 The critical part of this creation is filleting the chicken breasts to no more than 1/2 inch thickness and trim as much fat or skin as possible.  Using a fillet knife, you can shave an average 6 ounce breast into 3 – 4 fillets.  You’ll notice when working with raw meats, I typically use a synthetic cutting board as sanitation of these boards is much easier.

    I use my homemade Sicilian marinara for this recipe, but you can use your own or a jarred brand if you prefer and serve over your choice of pasta.


    2 lbs boneless chicken breasts

    1 cup bread crumbs

    1 tablespoon crushed oregano

    1 tablespoon crushed thyme

    1 tablespoon crushed rosemary

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    2 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

    • Preheat oven to 250 F.
    • Over medium heat, pour olive oil into a skillet and allow to heat.
    • Pour spices and bread crumbs onto a flat surface or plate and stir gently with fingers.
    • Lay breast fillets gently onto the crumbs, turning until well coated.  Do not press the meat into the crumbs.
    • Gently lay fillet into skillet and cook 3 – 4 minutes each side.
    • Remove from skillet and lay into a glass 13 x 9 baking dish, or onto a metal pan lined with foil.
    • Using one cup of Parmesan, layer the chicken breasts with cheese evenly.
    • Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes and remove from heat.
    • Turning cheese side down, set over selected pasta and marinara sauce.
    • Sprinkle with remaining cheese and allow to melt slightly before serving.


    January 1, 2009

    Spezzatino Maiale


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    January 1, 2009

    Cassata Arance

    If you are accustomed to cream cheese based cheesecakes, this may take an adjustment for your tastebuds.  Sicilian cheesecakes, or cassatas, are made with ricotta cheese and are not as sweet and unlike American cheesecakes, they are lighter and have almost a baked custard texture.

    And as for oranges, forget Florida.  It doesn’t get any better than a Sicilian blood orange or arance.  Their centers are blood red like a pink grapefruit.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry blood oranges, which there is a good bet that they don’t, you can substitue with mandarins for this recipe.  The key is finding a sharp tart orange, the smaller the better the concentrated flavour.

    It is critical that you have a springform pan for this recipe, a round cake pan just will not suffice.  The water used in the glass dish allows for the cake to remain moist while baking.  This will reduce the chance of the cake cracking or separating.

    I hope you like this dessert as much as I do, it displays beautifully and is just so tasty!


    2 16 oz. containers of ricotta cheese (typically found near cottage cheese in the grocery)

    1/2 cup sugar

    6 large eggs

    1/3 cup flour, sifted

    2 blood oranges

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    • Preheat oven to 275 F.
    • Grease and lightly flour springform pan.*
    • Using aluminium foil, wrap the base of the springform pan to prevent seapage.
    • Set pan in a glass baking dish, 13 x 9.
    • Fill glass dish halfway with tap water.
    • In a large mixing bowl, beat ricotta at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
    • With a whisk, stir in sugar and flour into ricotta until well blended.
    • One at a time, beat eggs into mixture.
    • Add spices and vanilla, blend thoroughly.
    • Using a zester or the rough side of a peeler, grate a few spoonfuls of orange peel into a bowl.
    • Peel oranges and segment.
    • Pour one half of batter into springform pan.
    • Gently lay orange segments onto the batter, do not stir.
    • Pour remaining batter over top.
    • Sprinkle orange peel zest over top.
    • Bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean.
    • Remove springform pan from water and allow to cool for at least one hour before unhinging.
    • Serve after slightly cooled.

    *If you can find them, there are aerosol sprays that have flour and oil combined and work perfectly for this purpose.  I prefer Baker’s Joy brand.

    January 1, 2009

    Rice and Beans, Italian style



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