Sunday, January 21, 2007

Italian from Tuscany to New York (aka Rachel Ray Sucks!) - January 2007

Diva: Tiffany

Drinks: Tamara

Fresh Strawberry Bellini

1 bottle prosecco*
2 c pureed and strained fresh strawberries

Place 8 Champagne flutes in the freezer for 20 minutes. Open the prosecco and let it stand in an ice bucket for 5 minutes.
Into a pitcher, pour the 2 c pureed strawberries. Gently pour in the bottle of prosecco and stir gently to combine. Divide among Champagne flutes and serve.

*For virgin bellinis, substitute sparkling water for the prosecco.

Appetizer: Ashley

Phyllo Triangles with Carmelized Onions, Roasted Fennel, Kalamata Olives and Prociutto and Goat Cheese

For Carmelized Onions
1 large sweet onion, vertically sliced about 2 ½ c
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

For Roasted Fennel
1 fennel bulb, sliced
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
½ T olive oil

Additional ingredients
½ c rinsed chopped kalamata olives
3 ½ oz goat cheese
4 oz prociutto
phyllo dough

To roast fennel: cut stalks off bulb. Reserve ½ tsp of the fronds. Cut bulb in half cross-wise. Slice moderately thin and cut again crosswise. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 until tender, about 20 minutes. When cool, add reserved fronds.
Carmelized onions: heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet at medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until very soft, stirring occasionally. This can take about 45 minutes. Remove onions from the pan with a slotted spoon, draining off any excess oil. Cool and mix with the roasted fennel.
To make triangles: preheat oven to 400. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board. Brush with melted butter. Add another sheet of phyllo and cut into quarters lengthwise. Lay a 1 inch piece of prosciutto on a sheet. Spoon 1 level tablespoon of onion/fennel mixture onto the short end. Place 2-3 small pieces of chopped olives on onion-fennel mixture. Place a small dollop of goat cheese on op and finish with a second piece of prosciutto. Fold 1 corner of edge with 1 inch border over mixture, forming a triangle. Continue folding back and forth into triangle to end of strip. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Place triangles, seam side down on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Brush tops of triangles with melted butter. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Salad: Michelle

Italian Salad

1 lb Spinach and mixed salad greens
1 8 oz jar Kalamata olives
3 Roma tomatoes
½ lb Fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil

1 c Olive oil
¾ c Balsamic vinegar
1 bulb Garlic
3 T Honey

Tear greens into bite size pieces
Slice olives, romas and mozzarella.
Gently mix all salad ingredients together.

Mix olive oil, vinegar honey and garlic in a glass jar and shake until honey dissolves. Shake dressing before serving, and dress salad right before eating.

Soup: Stacey
Italian Cream of Cauliflower Soup

1 large head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, diced
½ c olive oil
¼ c butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
5 c chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
salt and pepper
garnishes: lemon wedge, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and homemade toasted sourdough croutons (garnishes are a must for this soup!!)

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil and butter until soft, about 5 mins. Add cauliflower and sauté until browned, about 15 mins. Season with lots of salt and pepper. Lower heat, cover, and cook for 10 mins., stirring occasionally. Add broth, cover again and cook for 20-30 mins. until cauliflower is really soft. Stir in cream, warm and serve. Garnish and Enjoy!!!

Side Dish: Erin
Potato, Apple, and Camembert Timbales

Serves 4

You need four tall ramekins that are each 1 cup capacity. A mandoline or another hand-held slicing device is useful here.

Butter (for the dishes)
6 Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes
1 red cooking apple (such as Cortland, Paula Red, or Jonagold), cored and finely sliced
1 piece of camembert (9 ounces)
4 T butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste
¾ tsp ground allspice
2 T chopped fresh oregano

Set the oven at 400 degrees. Butter the ramekins, line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit it. Brush the paper with butter.

Peel the potatoes and rinse them. Pat them dry with paper towels. With a mandoline or chef's knife, slice the potatoes very thinly; set aside. Core the apple. With a mandoline or a chef's knife, slice it finely; set aside.

Slice the camembert in 8 long pieces. Remove the rind. Cut each slice in two.

Layer the bottom and sides of the ramekins with potato slices, covering the surfaces completely. Pour 1 teaspoon of butter on this layer and press the potatoes down firmly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a pinch of allspice, and chopped oregano. Top with a slice of apple. Add more potatoes, butter, and seasonings, then a slice of apple.

Put 2 pieces of cheese on top of the apple and press down again. Continue layering with potatoes, seasonings, apple, and cheese, ending with potatoes. Brush with melted butter and press down.

Set the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake them for about 40 minutes or until they are firm and golden.

Remove the ramekins from the oven and set them aside to cool for a few minutes. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of each ramekin. Using oven mitts, turn them out onto salad plates. Discard the parchment paper rounds.

Entree: Mariah

Calzone Dough
1 c warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast
Pinch sugar
2 ½ c all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
½ tsp salt
2 T olive oil

To prepare the dough, pour warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar onto the top of the water. Briefly let the water absorb the yeast, then stir to dissolve it. Let stand for 15 minutes until the mixture is foamy. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 c of the flour and the salt on low speed. Add the yeast mixture and oil, and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 c of flour and beat for 1 minute, until the dough just clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should be soft, but use additional flour as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest in a warm place until tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball. Using a rolling pin or your hand, flatten into 6-inch circles on a lightly floured surface.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Filling Recipes

Arugula and Ricotta Calzones

1 large garlic clove, minced
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
5 oz baby arugula (8 c packed)
6 oz whole-milk ricotta (2/3 c)
3 oz whole-milk mozzarella, coarsely grated
2 T finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 large egg yolk
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Cook garlic in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add arugula and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a sieve and press hard on arugula to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible, then coarsely chop.
Stir together ricotta, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, yolk, salt, and pepper until blended, then stir in arugula.

Sausage Calzones
1 1/3 pounds raw Italian spicy sausage, casing removed
4 small brown mushrooms
A drizzle olive oil
2 c ricotta
A handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
A handful grated Parmigiano
2 T chopped pimento

Brown sausage in a small skillet in a drizzle of olive oil. Transfer the cooked crumbled sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Combine sausage with ricotta, mushrooms, parsley, garlic and pepper. Roll out dough and halve cross-wise. Place a dough rectangle on a nonstick cookie sheet. Use 1/2 c mozzarella on half of each dough rectangle and pile a mound of filling on half of the total area. Fold dough over and pinch edges to seal. The result is a rectangular turnover.

For half-moon shaped calzones, trim excess dough. Bake calzones 15 minutes or until golden all over. Serve calzones with warm tomato, marinara, or pizza sauce for dipping.

Dipping Sauce Recipes

Five Minute Spicy Marinara:
2 T (two turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic crushed
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (32 ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Italian dried seasoning
1 handful Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Add olive oil to medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper to the heated olive oil; when pepper snaps and garlic sizzles, stir in crushed tomatoes. Season sauce with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook for five minutes and stir in parsley. Serve.
Yield: 4 servings

White Clam Sauce

2 T olive oil
½ c chopped fresh parsley (preferably Italian)
8 garlic cloves, chopped
4 6 ½-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved
½ c whipping cream
¼ c dry white wine
1 T white wine Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped parsley and chopped garlic and sauté until garlic just begins to color, about 45 seconds. Add reserved clam juices, whipping cream, dry white wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Simmer until mixture is reduced to thin sauce consistency, about 10 minutes.

Pesto Sauce
4 c Basil Leaves, well packed
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
1 c pine nuts or walnuts or a combination
1 ½ c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino cheese or a combination
1 ½ c extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.


Large bunch of ultra-fresh basil(1 c after finely mincing)
1 large garlic clove, very finely sliced and then minced (You can use more than this, but a little bit of raw garlic goes a long way!
½ c very finely diced sun-dried tomatoes, preferably oil packed
2 t raw sugar (turbinado) (or Splenda)
½ c pine nuts, preferably roasted and finely chopped or ground.
1/3 c finely diced or grated Parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino Romano cheese
Enough very good extra virgin olive oil to produce desired consistency. (I have never measured the olive oil, I just go by feel. I would say around 1/3 c, though. The better the olive oil and the quality of your basil, the better the pesto.)

Dessert: Sara
Chocolate Genoise Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate genoise cake:
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of baking soda
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Chocolate ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
To assemble:
2 cups seedless raspberry jam
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Garnish: Raspberries, mint sprigs, powdered sugar

Genoise: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan.

Into a small bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch and baking soda. In a large metal bowl set over barely simmering water, whisk eggs and sugar with a hand-held electric beater until thick, foamy and doubled in volume. Mixture should form a ribbon when beaters are lifted. Make sure that mixture does not get too hot and curdle eggs. Remove from heat and gently fold in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in melted butter and pour into cake pan. Bake 20 minutes until cake is springy to touch. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a cake rack, turn out and cool completely.
Ganache: In a small saucepan bring cream to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened, but still pourable.

Assembly: Halve cake crosswise. On a cake rack set over a baking sheet, cover bottom cake layer with raspberry jam and replace top layer. Over center of cake pour ganache and smooth over top and sides with a palette knife until evenly coated. Let icing set, about 1 hour. To decorate, pipe whipped cream as desired, arrange raspberries and mint and dust with powdered sugar.

WildCard: Lovina
Rosemary Focaccia with Portabella and Parmesan

For the dough:
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 c lukewarm whole milk
2 ¼ c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt

For the topping:
1 T butter
2 large portabella mushroom caps
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ c fresh grated parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, to coat the baking sheet and the dough

For the dough:
Combine the yeast, sugar, and milk in a food processor or mixer with a dough hook. Add 1/2 cup of the flour. Stir well, cover with a towel, and let rest in a warm place for 25 minutes.
Mix in the olive oil, salt, and 1 cup of flour, until well incorporated. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough adheres to the hook. It should remain soft and slightly sticky. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Remove from the bowl, shape the dough into a ball, flatten slightly, and put into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a towel and put in a warm place for about 1 hour, to let the dough rise until doubled.

For the topping:
Slice the portabella mushroom into long thin strips. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the portabella mushroom. Salt and pepper to taste. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet.
Lightly flour the dough and punch it down. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 10 inches. Brush off any excess flour and transfer to the oiled baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Press your fingers into the dough to make evenly spaced indentations all over the surface, being careful not to puncture or tear the dough. Scatter half the Parmesan over the dough. Lay out sautéed mushrooms over the dough. Sprinkle with lemon zest and rosemary and a dash of sea salt. Top with remaining Parmesan.
Bake for about 25 minutes until the bread is crisp on the bottom. Let cool in the pan to room temperature. Cut into squares, "fingers," or triangles to serve.

Caprese Appetizer

1 package of marinated fresh mozzarella balls (small)
1 package of grape tomatoes
½ c fresh basil, torn into bite sized pieces
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar
½ tsp fresh lemon zest

Cut mozzarella balls and tomatoes into halves and toss together with basil. Whisk together EVOO, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Pour over the top when ready to serve and toss. Serve on a small platter with a jar of toothpicks.

Lottery: Nicole

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