Italy

Risotto Salsiccia : Risotto with Sausage

Risotto Salsiccia : Risotto with Sausage

Ingredients

4 C chicken stock

2 Sweet William's Sausages, flavour of your choice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small-medium white onion, chopped

1.5 C Arborio rice

1 C dry white wine

1 C of your favourite tomato sauce

2 handfuls grated Parmigiano

green onions, chopped, for garnish and extra flavour

- Heat chicken stock in a medium pot – once boiling, turn off heat

- Remove casings from sausages - in a small sautée pan over medium heat, cook crumbled sausage until no pink remains - drain fat and set aside

- In a large sautée pan, over medium heat, cook chopped onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until translucent – add Arborio rice and sautée 2-3 minutes – add white wine to onion/rice and cook until wine is absorbed into rice, almost dry, stirring occasionally – add one ladleful of warm chicken stock to rice – allow to cook until stock is completely absorbed into rice, almost dry, stirring occasionally – repeat until all stock is gone – stir in tomato sauce, Parmigiano and chopped green onions to taste - serve hot garnished with more chopped green onions

 

Arborio Carbonara

I'm a big fan of using Arborio Rice in place of pasta. You literally cook it the same way you would cook any dry pasta, in a pot a well-salted boiling water, for about 11 minutes until al dente, and then drain.

Feel free to double the recipe (when I double the recipe I use three eggs), which will make enough for two people, plus leave you with leftovers for lunch the next day.

Arborio Carbonara

1 C Arborio Rice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

pinch chili flakes

4 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 egg

salt and pepper, to taste

Parmigiano, grated, to taste

- bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil - add Arborio Rice and cook 11 minutes, or until al dente

- while rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan - add garlic, chili flakes and bacon - cook until bacon is almost crispy

- while bacon is cooking, whisk egg, salt and pepper in a bowl

- drain rice and add it to the pan with the bacon - *DO NOT DRAIN FAT* - mix well - you want to coat all of the rice with bacon fat - add the bacon/rice mix to the bowl with the whisked egg - stir well to coat evenly with egg - add a couple of handfuls of grated Parm and mix well - serve hot with more grated cheese on top

* It may sound kind of gross to leave the bacon fat in this dish but, I'm sorry to say, it's a key ingredient (I'm not really sorry to say that). The hot bacon fat emulsifies with the raw egg, turning it into a glorious, silky, delicious sauce. Just go to the gym one extra time and you'll be fine.

Polenta 'Cake' with Black Olive Pesto Filling and 'Nduja Ricotta 'Frosting'

When Joana from Yummy Food Blog emailed me and asked me if I'd like to enter her Mediterranean-inspired recipe contest I was excited, however, as you may know, I don't usually do things the 'traditional' way. 

From Joana - 'I’m asking a small set of bloggers including yourself to write a blog post or recipe all about your favourite dish that’s inspired by Mediterranean style cooking. For example, I’m originally from Portugal and love seafood and veggie dishes that are packed full of fresh herbs and spices such as Chorizo & Pancetta Bake and Bacalhau Com Natas. The most creative and imaginative post will receive a Kindle Fire HD, there is also a second prize of a £25/$40 Amazon Gift Voucher.'

The recipe contest is sponsored by Spanish travel agency, Canarias -

'Canarias.com - experts for all things travel in and around Spain and the Canary Islands. What once was a car rental company with a small fleet of 40 vehicles has become a major tourism company dedicated to the areas of Spanish tourism, car rental, leisure, health and food. We do everything in our power to offer our visitors the best experience by offering the widest range of products and services - everything the client needs to make their vacation unforgettable.'

I've not had the pleasure of visiting Spain, but Sean has, and despite three separate visits to Italy, Spain is still his #1. Now that we know about Canarias.com, perhaps a trip to the Canary Islands is in order?

I came up with a fun Mediterranean-inspired appetizer that's assembled in an round cake tin. It would be neat to present the 'cake' on a beautiful stand at a dinner party!

Polenta 'Cake' with Black Olive Pesto Filling and 'Nduja Ricotta 'Frosting'

6-8-inch round cake tin - greased lightly with olive oil or butter

1/2 C pinenuts

1 C Kalamata olives, pits removed (I buy Kalamatas that are already pitted and sliced)

1 clove garlic, rough chopped

1/4 C Manchego cheese, grated

1 500g tub Ricotta

1 C 'Nduja**

2 C water

1 1/3 C milk

1 C cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter

1/4 C Grana Padano

- Toast pinenuts in a dry pan until golden - combine toasted pinenuts in a food processor with Kalamata olives, garlic clove and Manchego cheese - pulse until 50/50 chunky/smooth - mix with 250g of Ricotta and set aside

- In a small bowl, with a spoon, mix 'Nduja and remaining 250g Ricotta until smooth

- In a large microwave safe bowl, whisk water, milk, cornmeal and salt - microwave in 1-minute intervals, whisking between each minute until thick - about 6 minutes - add butter and Grana Padano - stir to combine - voila! Microwaved polenta!

- spread a thin layer of polenta in greased cake tin - top with olive pesto/Ricotta mix - top with another layer of polenta - top with 'Nduja/Ricotta Mix - top with another layer of polenta - leave yourself enough 'Nduja/Ricotta mix to 'frost' the outside of the cake

- place cake tin in fridge to cool/set one hour - flip cake onto plate and 'frost' with remaining 'Nduja/Ricotta - can be served warm or cold

***'Nduja is a SPICY spreadable salami made in Calabria, Italy. I ordered mine from Bottega Nicastro in Ottawa!

Blood Orange Marmalade

I spend pretty much every morning like this. Ok, well not exactly. Take away the toast and the homemade blood orange marmalade and you'll have a more accurate portrait of how I spend my mornings.

Two cups of coffee + figuring out how and when we're going to get back to Italy.

The blood orange marmalade was kind of a happy accident. I saw Meyer Lemons for the first time ever at my local grocery store, bought a bag and came home planning to make lemon marmalade. Sean made a wicked pasta the other night - linguine with garlic oil, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese and lemon - and suddenly I didn't have enough lemon for my recipe (but that's ok it was totally worth it). I still had three blood oranges sitting on my counter so I just put 2+2 together, you know?

I used a BBC's Good Food recipe for Lemon Marmalade and made a couple of my own teeny tiny modifications to make the steps more clear. I also recently came across this fantastic visual for marmalade set-times on Kitchen Heals Soul (which is really what inspired me to make it in the first place) - it's really beautiful - you should check it out!

Blood Orange Marmalade

500g citrus + more for extra juice if needed (I used 3 blood oranges + 1 lemon in the recipe and 2 more lemons for extra juice)

5 C water

5 C sugar

cloth or paper sachets ( I used 4 little paper tea filters I got at David's Tea)

thermometer

- wash fruit - slice off stem ends - cut fruit in quarters - place in a tall pot with water - bring to a boil then simmer 45 minutes - 1 hour until peels are soft - remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes to cool

- remove fruit from pot, squeezing a bit to remove liquid - remove peel from fruit with fingers - press seeds, pith and flesh through a sieve with the back of a spoon into a measuring cup to extract juice and reserve - add juice from pot to measuring cup - you need 3 C total juice - you may need to squeeze your reserved fruit and/or add water to make 3 C

- put leftover pith, pits and flesh into sachet(s) - slice peel into tiny bits

- OPTIONAL - strain juice through a fine sieve - I did this twice - it removed many little impurities and left me with a sparkling clear jelly

- Place 3 C juice, sliced bits of peel (I only included the peel from maybe one blood orange - I didn't want to overdo it - use as much as you think you'd like), sachets of fruit guts, and sugar in pot (make sure your pot is TALL - mine foamed up a ton and almost boiled over at the end) - bring to a boil and then continue to boil until you reach 221ºF on a thermometer - remove pot from heat and let stand 15-20 minutes - remove sachets (I pressed mine on the side of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much pectin as possible) - spoon into jars

 

Quartered blood oranges ready to go.


 

I cut up three blood oranges and one lemon then covered them with 5 C of water.

 

 

After fruit boiled and cooled a bit, I removed the quarters and juiced them into a measuring cup.

 

 

I used the pads of my thumbs to separate the peel from the guts then I pressed the guts (seeds, pith, flesh) through a sieve with the back of a spoon, into the measuring cup, to extract any remaining juice.

 

 

I spooned the pressed guts into 4 little paper tea sachets that I got from David's Tea and sliced the peel up into little bits.

 

 

Make sure you use a TALL pot. You have to cook your marmalade to 221ºF and it foams up A LOT at that point. Mine almost boiled over. Don't worry about the oily scum on top - it disappears.

 

 

Beautiful glossy blood orange maramalade. After cooling 15-20 minutes, I removed the sachets, pressing them along the inside wall of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much jelly/pectin as possible.

 

 

Because I poured my juice through a fine mesh strainer - TWICE - I ended up with jewel-toned sparkling marmalade.

 

 

Toast, coffee, marmalade and Italy. Yes please.

Romesco Part Two : Ling Shrimp and il Mercato Spring Garden

I found my love for Italy at il Mercato Spring Garden.

You see, I worked there for five years - three as a waiter, two as the Assistant Manager.

My first shift was opening night of the 'new' location across the street from Park Lane - March 29, 2004. Until that point in my life, I had never seen such madness, and to top it off, had never heard of things like Short Ribs, Tallegio or Primitivo.

I was scared and excited as hell to be there.

Almost ten years later the restaurant is gone but it left me so much:

Sean, my wonderful husband. We met at il Mercato. He was my boss.

Cathy and Susan, two of my bffs, as well as many other friendships that I cherish.

An incredibly fierce devotion to, and desire to learn about, Italian ingredients, cooking and wine.

The interesting thing about this blog post is that the recipe I'm posting isn't Italian. It's Spanish.

That's something else I learned at il Mercato. Italian cooking varies from region to region within 'the boot', and oftentimes, ingredients, recipes and methods from surrounding countries - Austria, France, Croatia, Spain (and others) - are used.

Romesco is an example of that.

At one point we had a dish on the menu called 'Ling Shrimp' (although, if we're being honest - every seasonal change of the menu had some variation of a Ling Shrimp. THIS Ling Shrimp was linguine tossed with Romesco and sautéed shrimp). It was one of my favourite pastas during my time at il Mercato and so, yesterday, I decided to try and recreate it from memory.

If I told you I nailed it would you think I was bragging?

'Cause I did.

Nail it that is.

Romesco is garlicky and crunchy with a hint of vinegary tang. You can use it with shrimp, chicken, on top of a steak, on a crostini topped with feta or goat cheese, or anywhere else you want a hit of super jacked up flavour.

 

Romesco Sauce (yields about 2 Cups - takes about 4 hours ---> 3 of those hours to roast tomatoes and red pepper)

4 fresh tomatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch discs

1 red pepper, seeds and pith removed, cut into pieces

10 cloves roasted garlic

5 cloves raw garlic, rough chopped

1/2 C Parmigiano, grated

1/8-1/4 tsp chili flakes (depends on your preference for heat - add more if you like)

1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (add 1/4 tsp, taste and add more if you want)

1/4 C olive oil

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

A 2-inch wide slice of stale baguette, torn into small pieces

50g hazelnuts, skinned, toasted, rough chopped

50g blanched almonds, toasted, rough chopped

- Preheat oven 225° - lay tomatoes and red pepper pieces in a single layer on two parchment lined baking sheets - drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven for three hours, flipping tomato slices and pepper pieces after 90 minutes - after three hours, remove skin from roasted red pepper pieces

- in food processor, pulse roasted tomatoes, roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, raw garlic, Parmigiano, chili flakes, salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar until just combined

- add crumbled bread and pulse until mixed in - if Romesco is too thick add more olive oil by the teaspoon and red wine vinegar by the 1/2 teaspoon and taste

- add hazenuts and almonds - pulse until nuts are processed but still chunky

 

Ling Shrimp for Two

1/2 pound linguine

1 Tbsp butter

10 jumbo shrimp, shelled, de-veined

1 C Romesco

1/2 C pasta water

grated Parmigiano

- bring a large pot of salted water to a boil - cook linguine according to package instructions until al dente

- when pasta has 5 minutes left to cook, heat butter in a sautée pan over medium heat - cook shrimp (about 2 minutes on each side)

- scoop out 1/2 C pasta water before draining pasta - put hot drained pasta back in pot and add the 1/2 C pasta water, Romesco sauce and cooked shrimp - toss with tongs until Romesco 'melts' through and coats linguine and shrimp (this is not a saucy pasta - the Romesco is going to cling to the noodles and shrimp - see photo above)

- garnish with grated Parmigiano 'se ti fa piacere' - if it pleases you

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Smoked Salmon Rice Salad : Eat In Eat Out Magazine

I first blogged about my friend Carlo in December with his fantastic recipe for Carbonara. Originally from San Fiorano, Italy, Carlo loves eating and tlaking about food as much as I do. We spend a lot of time discussing recipes, dishes that he remembers his family making at home in Italy and dishes that the now prepares for his wife Tiffany, and their two boys, Luka and Matteo.

When Lori Kennedy of Eat In Eat Out magazine asked if I'd like to be in the summer issue's blogger spotlight, she also requested two original recipes. My strawberry Nutella ice cream sandwiches were featured in the magazine and my Smoked Salmon Rice Salad were featured on the website for a week.

I must give credit to Carlo for the Rice Salad inspiration; I had never even heard of cooking rice this way until he told me about it. You take risotto rice - Arborio, Carnaroli, or what have you - and cook it in boiling water like pasta until al dente. Afterwards, you drain and cool it, then mix it with whatever you like. I chose to mix mine with a zippy homemade lime dressing, Willy Krauch's smoked salmon (aka the best smoked salmon in the world), capers and red onion.

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