Eggplant Rollatini

Fried eggplant stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella baked in the oven with marinara sauce.
Fried eggplant stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella baked in the oven with marinara sauce.

You know how much I love eggplant and this is one of my favorite dishes.

On my restaurant’s menu in the 80s, Eggplant Rollatini was a popular main dish. I ate it often at the end of the evening service.

Make the marinara sauce, fry the eggplant, stuff and bake the rollatini in the oven. You can make this flavorful dish in about an hour.

The creamy ricotta filling is wrapped in crispy eggplant and salty prosciutto. The mild San Marzano tomato, basil and garlic sauce echoes the eggplant’s sweetness.

Watch my eggplant parmigiano video episode to see how to coat and fry the eggplant. Watch me whip up a ricotta filling in my ravioli video episode. But be sure to follow this recipe for the best Eggplant Rollatini ever.

Buon appetito!

Eggplant Rollatini
 
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Crispy fried eggplant with a ricotta and prosciutto filling is baked topped with a simple marinara sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetables
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Eggplant
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • For the Egg Wash
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grated pecorino or parmigiano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat Italian parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Ricotta Filling
  • 16 ounces ricotta
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmigiano
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Marinara Sauce
  • 28 ounce can imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 sprig fresh basil
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmigiano cheese for topping the rollatini before baking
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Making the Marinara Sauce
  3. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands (or a potato masher). Remove any large stems and skin.
  4. Put the oil and the garlic in a pot over medium-high heat.
  5. Saute the garlic until it takes on a light tan color.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the pot.
  7. Add sea salt to taste.
  8. Add the basil and simmer over low heat stirring occasionally until the volume reduces by one-third.
  9. Frying the Eggplant
  10. Cut off the ends of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in ½ inch slices lengthwise. (I don't peel the eggplant so I discard the first and last slice that is completely covered by the black skin on one side.) You should have about 15 slices to coat.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and place the slices in a colander. Put the colander in the sink or over a large plate for about 15 minutes. Bitter dark liquid will release from the eggplant slices.
  12. Wash the eggplant slices well and pat dry. Set aside.
  13. Add the eggs to a bowl large enough to hold the eggplant slices and beat them well.
  14. Add the grated cheese, parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and beat the egg mixture well.
  15. Put 3 tablespoons of EVOO in a large saute pan and heat over medium heat.
  16. Place the egg wash on the counter closest to the saute pan.
  17. Place the the flour in a dish and place it next to the egg wash.
  18. Flour both sides of the eggplant slice. Tap off any excess flour.
  19. Coat both sides of the eggplant slice with the egg mixture.
  20. Saute the eggplant slices until both sides are golden brown.
  21. Remove the slices to a dish lined with paper towel.
  22. Continue coating and frying all of the eggplant slices. Add more oil if necessary.
  23. For the Ricotta Filling
  24. Put the ricotta in a strainer to let the liquid drain, about 15 minutes.
  25. Put the ricotta in a large bowl along with all the other ingredients and mix everything together well.
  26. Assembling the Rollatini
  27. Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with a light coating of the sauce.
  28. Put the fried eggplant on a work surface and cover each with a slice of prosciutto.
  29. Put a tablespoon of the ricotta filling on each slice about 2-inches from the narrow end of the eggplant slice.
  30. Starting at the narrow end roll up the slice and place it seam side down in the baking dish.
  31. Continue making the rollatini and place them in rows in the baking dish.
  32. Sprinkle the grated pecorino evenly over the rollatini.
  33. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the ricotta filling is hot and the mozzarella melts.

 

49ers Super Bowl Meatballs and Roasted Peppers

49ers Super Bowl Meatballs & Roasted Peppers
49ers Super Bowl Meatballs & Roasted Peppers

What do you expect from a guy in San Francisco’s Italian North Beach who hopes the Lombardi Trophy comes home with the 49ers?

Here’s an Italian-American appetizer for your Super Bowl buffet that sports the Niner’s red and gold.

The meatballs are easy to make and will be ready in way less than an hour.

If you don’t want to make them on Sunday, make the meatballs in advance and heat them in the oven when you’re ready to serve. Roast peppers yourself or just buy a jar at the supermarket.

The zesty little meatballs topped with sweet roasted peppers will be a winner no matter the outcome of the game.

Buon appetito!

Go Niners!

49ers Meatballs and Roasted Peppers
 
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These meatballs are delicious and easy to make. For Superbowl Sunday they sport the San Francisco 49er colors.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup cubed, crustless hardy (or stale) Italian bread
  • 2 cups water or milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 jar of marinated red and yellow roasted peppers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Soak the bread in the milk or water and set aside.
  3. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with some of the oil.
  4. Put the ground beef in a large bowl.
  5. Squeeze out the liquid from the bread and add the bread to the bowl along with the other ingredients, except the olive oil.
  6. Mix the ingredients well. (I use my hands but you can use a utensil instead.)
  7. Put a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in your hands and roll it into a small meatball about 3-inches in diameter.
  8. Put the meatballs on the baking sheet leaving some room between them so they brown evenly.
  9. Liberally brush olive oil over the meatballs.
  10. Bake the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through.
  11. While the meatballs are in the oven, cut the red and yellow roasted peppers into 1X2 inch strips. (You want 24 red and 24 yellow pepper strips.)
  12. Put the pepper strips in a bowl and mix with the vinegar.
  13. When the meatballs are cool enough to handle put a strip of red and yellow roasted peppers on top of each meatball and skewer with a toothpick.
  14. Serve warm. (You can keep the meatballs warm in a 200 degree oven loosely covered with foil.)
  15. Makes about 24 small meatballs.

 

 

 

 

Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries

Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries
Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries

Panna cotta means “cooked cream”. The classic Italian dessert now enjoyed everywhere was created in the Piedmonte region in the northwest corner of Italia.

Cows have a good life in Piemonte. They graze in beautiful Alpine pastures. It’s no wonder that their milk produces fantastic butter, cream and cheese and is the inspiration for this delicate flan-like delight.

Panna cotta is simple and sumptuous. You can eat it alone or with berries, caramel sauce or amerena cherries. I like to add strawberries macerated with a sprinkle of sugar and a little balsamic vinegar.

Panna cotta scented with vanilla and lemon melts in your mouth. The balsamic strawberries mute the sweetness and add texture to each bite.

Panna cotta takes about 5 minutes to cook. Pour the cooked cream into ramekins and chill for a couple of hours to set. That’s it. No more waiting to find it on a restaurant menu. Now you can eat panna cotta whenever you want some.

Buon appetito!

Panna Cotta
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4½ teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • .25 ounce packet gelatin
  • 2 strips lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons walnut, almond or flavorless vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Lightly brush the ramekins with the oil. Put them in the refrigerator to cool.
  2. Put the water in a bowl.
  3. Add the gelatin. Set aside until the gelatin has softened.
  4. Put the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Heat the cream mixture to a simmer. Take off the heat as soon as small bubbles begin to form at the rim of the pot. Do not boil the cream. Remove from heat and pick out the lemon zest.
  6. Mix 1 cup of the mixture into the gelatin to dissolve the gelatin.
  7. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the pot and mix well. Set aside to cool.
  8. Pour the panna cotta into the ramekins and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until fully set.
  9. To serve, run a small knife around the edge of the ramekin. Upend the ramekin on a plate, shake gently to loosen the panna cotta and carefully lift off the ramekin.
  10. Serve panna cotta chilled by itself or with amerena cherries, fresh berries or strawberries macerated with sugar and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Green Bean & Red Onion Salad

Green Bean & Red Onion Salad
Green Bean & Red Onion Salad

Add this recipe to your list of dishes that you can have on your table in less than 30 minutes. It’s healthy and delicious.

I love the simple taste of green beans drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.

Make the green beans part of your antipasti platter or as a side dish at lunch or dinner, served warm or at room temperature.

I’m not a crunchy vegetable guy. I cook the green beans until they are tender to unleash their full, rich flavor. The red onion mellows in the lemon juice and adds a sweet crunch to the salad.

Buon appetito!

Green Bean & Red Onion Salad
 
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Green bean salad is fast and delicious. Add it to your antipasti platter or as a lunch or dinner side dish.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetables
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound green beans
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice the red onion and cut the slices in half.
  2. Put the onion in a bowl, add the juice of ½ lemon and the sea salt. Set aside to let the onion's flavor mellow in the lemon juice.
  3. Put on a pot of salted water to boil.
  4. Cut off the stem end of the green bean and cut them in 3-inch pieces.
  5. Cook the green beans in boiling salted water until knife tender.
  6. Drain the beans well and add to the bowl with the onion.
  7. Add the EVOO to the bowl and mix the salad well.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Grilled Steak with Herb Sauce (Bistecca con salsa delle erbe)

Grilled ribeye steak with an herb and EVOO sauce
Grilled ribeye steak with an herb and EVOO sauce

Want a fast weekday evening meal? You can have this flavorful steak on your table in less than 15 minutes.

Ribeye, strip or porterhouse steaks work well. Cook the steaks on an outdoor grill or in a grill pan on top of the stove.

I was in a hurry and only had to feed myself, so I had my butcher cut ribeye steaks about an inch thick. They grill to medium-rare in just 4 minutes.

For a fancier and more classic version of this traditional dish, use a thicker steak. A 24-ounce, 3-inch thick steak will take 8-10 minutes for medium rare and serves 2-4 people. Cut the steak across the grain and serve the slices on a platter topped with salsa.

Make the herb sauce in a food processor in minutes. Start with a base of fresh basil, Italian flat parsley and EVOO. I had rosemary and oregano in the fridge so I added a little of both to my salsa. Marjoram, tarragon or fresh thyme work well too. Salsa delle erbe goes well with other grilled meats, fish and chicken too.

Serve the steak and herb sauce with baby spinach sauteed with olive oil and garlic or a green salad dressed with red wine vinegar, EVOO and sea salt and you’ve got dinner.

Buon appetito!

 
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 rib-eye, strip, or porterhouse steak, sliced about an inch thick per person
Instructions
  1. Put the herbs, garlic and ¾ cup EVOO in the food processor and pulse a few times until the herbs and garlic are finely minced, almost a paste consistency.
  2. Season herb sauce with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld.
  3. Put steak on a plate, season both sides generously with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO.
  4. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat on top of the stove.
  5. Cook the 1-inch steak for about 3 minutes on the first side and cook on the other side for about 1 minute for medium-rare. Adjust the cooking time if your want a more rare or more done steak or your using a thicker steak.
  6. Place the steak with the browned first side you grilled up and let rest for 5 minutes. Spoon the herb sauce over the steak. Serve immediately.

 

Panettone Bread Pudding

Panettone Bread Pudding
Panettone Bread Pudding

Panettone is a buttery bread studded with raisins and candied orange, lemon and citron peel.

Italians, especially in the north, love to eat panettone at Christmas and New Year.

Dunk panettone in your morning espresso or cappuccino. Panettone for dessert pairs well with a glass of vin santo or marsala. Leftover panettone is ideal for bread pudding or even french toast.

I didn’t have any panettone this holiday season but I couldn’t pass up buying one last week at a post-holiday 50% discount. After a few days I had my fill so I decided to use it up and made panettone bread pudding.

Bread pudding takes about 10 minutes of actual work to make. The rest of the time is just waiting for the panettone cubes to toast, then to absorb the custard mixture and bake in the oven. It’s an easy recipe with a big payoff.

My bread pudding has a rich and creamy interior with a golden, crunchy top. The buttery flavor sparkles with sweet raisins and candied orange peel. A little dark rum in the custard deepens the flavor. I had to add a dollop of freshly whipped cream to balance everything out.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Panettone Bread Pudding
 
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Panettone bread pudding is easy to make with a creamy, sweet interior and a golden, crunchy top.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 Panettone (1 pound loaf) cut into cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of heavy cream, 1 for the egg custard and 1 for whipping
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or ameretto
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the panettone into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the oven until they lightly brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Put the eggs, 1 cup cream, milk, vanilla, sugar and rum in a bowl large enough to hold the toasted panettone cubes.
  5. Beat the mixture well and add the panettone cubes and mix well. (You may need to push down on the cubes to ensure they all absorb the egg custard mixture.)
  6. Let the panettone cubes sit in the bowl to give them time to absorb all of the custard, about 30 minutes.
  7. Lightly butter a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Pour in the panettone cubes and spread them evenly in the pan.
  8. Bake the bread pudding in the oven until the custard is cooked through and the top has browned, about 50 minutes.
  9. Remove the bread pudding and set aside to cool.
  10. Whisk the remaining cup of heavy cream to soft, stiff peaks.
  11. Place a square of the bread pudding on a plate and top with a dollop of whipped cream before serving.

 

Orecchiette with Cauliflower & Anchovy

Orecciette with Caulifower & Anchovy
Orecciette with Caulifower & Anchovy

April Bloomfield just bought North Beach’s iconic Tosca Cafe on Columbus and will soon be serving her food there. She has a cult following at her restaurant The Spotted Pig in NYC’s Greenwich Village. I wondered what was in store for us when she arrives here in North Beach.

She describes her dishes as “British, but with Italian undertones.” I haven’t been to The Pig and I wanted to find out more about April’s British take on Italian food.

I came across one of April’s pasta recipes and decided to give it a go. I’m adding it to my list of dishes where the sauce can be cooked in the time it takes to boil the pasta. You can get these pasta dishes on your table in less than 30 minutes.

April first had the dish in Puglia, the southern most region on Italia’s Adriatic coast where it was served by a skilled home cook she was visiting. Her hostess made it with homemade orecchiette, small ear-shaped pasta. Quality dried orecchiette from Italia works well too.

Don’t be scared off by the anchovy in the sauce. Anchovy melts in hot oil and adds dimension to any dish. It’s an umami, like miso, a preserved ingredient that is known as a “5th taste”. The anchovy in this dish adds flavor and depth to the sauce.

The little pasta hats capture the sauce. The anchovy and garlic sauce is mellowed by the sweet cauliflower with a rosemary accent.

I love this pasta and can’t wait for April Bloomfield to wow us with more of her food at the revived Tosca Cafe. Try my riff on her recipe to get a preview of what’s coming to North Beach.

Buon appetito!

3.0 from 1 reviews
Orecchiette with Cauliflower & Anchovy
 
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Orecchiette with cauliflower & anchovy is a really simple, flavorful pasta dish you can have on your table in the time it takes to boil the pasta.
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 pound or 500 grams imported Italian dried orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO, plus a drizzle to finish the dish
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 anchovy filets, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmigiano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.
  2. Cut the cauliflower florets into bite size pieces.
  3. Cook the florets in the boiling water and cook until knife-tender, about 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the florets with a slotted spoon or spider to a plate and set aside.
  5. Over a medium-low flame, put the EVOO in a saute pan large enough to hold the pasta.
  6. Add the onion and garlic, add a sprinkling of salt and cook until the onion is soft and slightly caramelized.
  7. Add the anchovy and rosemary and mix well with the onion. Cook for about 2 minutes. The anchovy will dissolve and disappear.
  8. Add the florets and a sprinkle of salt and mix well with the other vegetables. Cook for about 10 minutes. (If the sauce is too dense add some boiling water.)
  9. While the cauliflower is cooking add the orecchiette to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
  10. Strain or drain the orecchiette and add to the cauliflower sauce. (If you drain the sauce, reserve a cup of the pasta water.)
  11. Coat the orecchiette well with the sauce and cook for about a minute or so. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  12. Put the orecchiette on a serving platter, top with a drizzle of a good finishing EVOO and the grated parmigiano.
  13. Serve immediately.

 

New in North Beach

HRD Smokin Grill on Green in North Beach
HRD Smokin Grill on Green in North Beach

Lots of good things happening in the Village food scene.

Dogfather’s on Green is now HRD Smokin Grill, right next to Golden Boy Pizza on Green Street. The folks from the SOMA’s HRD Coffee Shop have staked a claim that they can draw a crowd for their famous spicy pork kimchi burrito and Mongolian cheesesteak. Dinner only for now. Here’s Guy Fieri’s video of his visit to the original HRD Coffee Shop.

Tony Gemigniani got 2 1/2 stars in Michael Bauer’s Capo’s review in Sunday’s Chronicle. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana on Stockton is a blockbuster and Tony has scored with his latest endeavor that celebrates Chicago’s Italian-American food traditions. I agree with Bauer, hats off to Tony for creating some nostalgia in North Beach. We’ve lost too many old-time places. Capo’s with its ’30s look and feel is most welcome.

Tosca Cafe has been facing eviction since the fall. Would the North Beach icon go the way of Caesar’s and other North Beach institutions that were shuttered over the last few months? The answer is a resounding no. New York City celebrated chef April Bloomfield and her partner restauranteur Kevin Friedman who own The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village and other spots, bought the place.

They pledge to keep Tosca as it has always been.  That may include keeping the former owner Jeannette Etheridge around to reign over the place as she had for decades. The new owners are adding a full food menu. I can’t wait to see what the talented Bloomfield has in store for us.

Fior d’Italia re-opened late last month after a brief hiatus. Chef-owner Gianni Audieri promised a come back when he closed the restaurant last year. Now that it’s back I wonder if will regain the title “oldest Italian restaurant in America”.

Geppetto, the Italian deli across the street from Capo’s has been “on vacation” for months. Pete Mrabe who owns the popular Don Pisto on Union and Chubby Noodle, the just-reopened permanent pop-up in Amante’s on Green, is taking over the space. Fresh pasta and sandwiches are on the menu. I haven’t seen much activity in the space so it may be a while before it opens.

Txoko, the Basque place on Broadway closed on New Year’s Eve. The outrageous sandwich shop Naked Lunch took over the space and opened this weekend.

So when’s the last time you visited North Beach? Lots of fantastic new and well-established food choices beckon. What are you waiting for?

Buon appetito!

Tuna Stuffed Roasted Pepper Roll-Ups (Peperoni Ripieni con Tonno)

Tuna Stuffed Roasted Pepper Roll-Ups
Tuna Stuffed Roasted Pepper Roll-Ups

This is getting to be a habit. Another gathering of friends and another request to bring an appetizer. “No meat and no cheese please, and make sure the appetizer is “finger food.” OK, I’ll take the challenge.

I’ve been thinking about these stuffed pepper roll-ups and they fit the bill.

Roast yellow and red peppers right atop the flame on your stove or in the oven. Clean the roasted peppers and cut them into wide strips. Whip up imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil with chopped anchovy and capers, stuff the pepper strips and you’re done. If you don’t want to roast your own peppers, use store-bought roasted peppers in a jar. You’ll be done even faster and they’re almost as good.

Oh, I forgot the “finger food” part.  Just cut each pepper roll in half and add a toothpick. You’re all set. No fork needed. Usually I serve the whole pepper roll-up as part of my antipasti platter. I always have forks on my table.

The meaty, sweet peppers are a mellow wrapper for the zesty tuna stuffing. I always eat more than one.

The tuna stuffing makes a fantastic panino or use it as a crostini topping too.

Buon appetito!

Tuna Stuffed Fire Roasted Pepper Roll-Ups (Peperoni Ripieni con Tonno)
 
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Meaty, sweet fire-roasted peppers with a zesty tuna stuffing.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 6-ounce imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 anchovy filets, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat parsley, chopped and more for garnish
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. You can roast the peppers on the top of a gas stove or under the boiler.
  2. If using the stove top method, place a pepper directly over the gas flame until the skin is wrinkled and slightly charred all over. (I use all my 4 burners and char at least 4 peppers at a time and use long tongs to turn the peppers to char them evenly.)
  3. Or, place the peppers on a baking sheet and under the broiler on the high setting, place the peppers on the top shelf under the broiler. Turn the peppers until their skins are wrinkled all over and slightly charred.
  4. Put the blackened peppers in a paper bag or on a plate covered with a bowl. Set the charred peppers aside to cool.
  5. When cool enough to handle, rub the charred skin off with your hands.
  6. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and remove the stem, core and seeds.
  7. Cut off the top and bottom to even off the pepper and lay out the pepper flat on a work surface. Use a knife to scrape off any skin or seeds that you missed.
  8. Cut the half pepper in half again. You want strips about 2-inches wide.
  9. Set the pepper strips aside while you make the filling.
  10. Put the tuna in a bowl. Break the tuna into very small pieces.
  11. Add the EVOO, anchovy, capers, parsley, vinegar, mayonaise and mustard to the bowl and mix well with the tuna. The mixture should be whipped almost into a paste consistency.
  12. Try the stuffing and add salt and ground pepper to taste. Mix well.
  13. Lay the pepper strip flat inside facing up and put a tablespoon of the tuna stuffing at one end.
  14. Tightly roll up the pepper strip.
  15. Place the pepper roll-ups on a serving platter. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle the chopped parsley evenly over the rolls. (If you serve this as finger food, omit the EVOO drizzle, cut the roll in half and insert a toothpick to hold the roll together.)
  16. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

 

Una Pizza Napoletana’s Mangieri Back in the News

Una Pizza Napoletana
Pizza Napoletana

I’ve been following Anthony Mangieri for years on both coasts. Actually I’ve been following his pizza.

The guy had a reputation for making pizza Napoletano, pizza as made in Naples where it all started, my personal favorite. Some even said that Anthony’s pizza was better than you can get in Naples and certainly the best in America.

The only problem was that his pizzeria in New York City’s East Village was only open until he ran out of dough and you had to wait on the sidewalk a couple of hours to get in. Hey, it’s only pizza. I ain’t waiting, so I never went.

I got excited when I heard that Mangieri was closing his New York place and moving to San Francisco. The city’s beauty beckoned. Hell, he could make pizza anywhere, right?

I followed the progress at his new SOMA pizzeria, Una Pizza Nepoletana on 11th near Folsom. Anthony didn’t like the first brick oven he imported from Naples. He ripped it out and 40 grand later he had a new wood-burning beehive brick oven that suited him better. Mangieri’s pizza is artful.  No less would do.

When he finally opened, same thing. The wait on the sidewalk was 2 hours. Hey, it’s only pizza. I ain’t waiting.

I got a chance to walk right into Una Pizza Napoletana one night at a private event. No waiting. There was Mangieri, a solitary figure standing at a stainless steel worktable in the middle of a large room. The Maestro was at his alter. The brick oven was behind him, watched over by Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of fire. Read all about that special night at Mangieri’s Una Pizza Napoletana and some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.

In Paolo Lucchese’s article about Mangieri in Sunday’s Chronicle, Anthony says that some nights the pizzeria is empty now. What happened to the 2-hour waits?

When Anthony first started making true pizza Napoletana in Jersey years ago, nobody knew what it was. In just the last few years, pizza Napoletana became famous. Lots of places making Neopolitan-style pizza opened in San Francisco. Farina, Zero-Zero, Tony’s Pizza Napoletano, Pizzeria Delfino, Flour and Water, Mozzeria, the list goes on and on.

We’re in a pizza bubble and I’m think it’s about to burst. Can all these places survive as the glow of pizza oven fades and the crowds more on to the next new craze?

I think Anthony will be making pizza for a long time, no matter what. It’s in his blood. If you haven’t been to Una Pizza Napoletana visit Mangieri soon. You won’t be disappointed. Just don’t ask for a salad.

Here’s Paolo Lucchese’s Anthony Mangieri article from Sunday’s Chronicle and some extra “scenes” with Anthony that Paolo didn’t include in the article.

Pasta with Broccoli & Garlic

Gemelli with Broccoli & Garlic
Gemelli with Broccoli & Garlic

My friend Susan called from Jersey and the subject of her renowned cavatelli with broccoli came up during our conversation. Actually, we talked about “gavadeal” and broccoli, as cavatelli is known in the Jersey southern Italian-American argot.

The broccoli in my fridge had to be used soon. After sharing recipes with Susan, I had to make a broccoli and garlic sauce for the gemelli pasta sitting on the shelf.

Gemelli means twins and it got its name from the two strands curled around each other to form the pasta. Use gemelli, cavatelli, or your favorite short-cut pasta.

Pasta in a broccoli and garlic sauce packed with flavor is ready in the time that it takes to cook the pasta. The garlic and olive oil enliven the mellow broccoli. The pasta absorbs the sauce and echoes all the flavors. The chili pepper flakes give you a little hot sparkle with each swallow.

I like to dissolve an anchovy fillet or two in the hot oil to deepen the sauce’s savory flavor. It’s your choice to add anchovy or not. If you don’t like hot, leave out the crushed red pepper flakes too. Make pasta with broccoli and garlic your way.

Add this basic pasta sauce technique to your repertoire and you will open the door to a dozen variations. To spark your imagination, here’s a look at cavatelli with 2 sauces, broccoli rabe and a vodka cream sauce, that we made when “Cavati Carol” was in town with her special pasta machine. Carol hails from Rhode Island where cavatelli are known as cavati. Here’s another twist on this basic pasta sauce using arugula and cavatelli.

If you’re hungry and in a hurry, use dried pasta imported from Italia and this dish can be on your table in way less than an hour.

Buon appetito!

Pasta with Broccoli & Garlic
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 pound of gemelli or another short pasta
  • 3 cups of broccoli florets
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup EVOO
  • 1-2 tablespoons sea salt for the pasta water plus salt to taste for the sauce
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Cut the florets in bite-size pieces.
  3. When the water is boiling add the florets and cook them to your desired doneness. I like mine just as they are knife tender. Take them out earlier if you like a crunch.
  4. While the florets are cooking, in a skillet large enough to hold the cooked pasta add the EVOO, anchovy if using, the garlic and red pepper flakes. Over medium-high heat saute the garlic until it is translucent and the anchovy has dissolved into the sauce, about 2 minutes.
  5. With a spider take the florets out of the boiling water and add them to the saute pan and mix to coat the florets well with the oil.
  6. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
  7. With a spider drain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan. You want some of the pasta water for the sauce so don't drain the pasta well as you add it to the sauce. (If you drain the pasta instead of using a spider, reserve a cup of the pasta water.)
  8. Mix the pasta and broccoli together well to coat everything with the sauce. (If the sauce isn't wet enough add some of the pasta water. The pasta will absorb the sauce as it finishes cooking in the saute pan so it won't be watery when you serve the pasta.)
  9. Off the heat mix in the grated cheese.
  10. Place the pasta on a serving platter. Drizzle with a good finishing EVOO and a sprinkle of grated pecorino.

 

Fried Fritters (Pasta Cresciuta)

Savory Fritters with Anchovy & Sweet Fritters with Powdered Sugar
Savory Fritters with Anchovy & Sweet Fritters with Powdered Sugar

Frying is an important Neapolitan cooking technique practiced by generations of southern Italian-Americans.

One of my fans wrote that he continues his wife’s grandmother’s Christmas tradition by making savory fried fritters with an anchovy filet in the middle for the family to enjoy every year. I was inspired to fry up some.

Savory or sweet, I ate a lot of these fried dough balls growing up in Jersey. We’d crowd around the stove as my Mom pulled the golden orbs out of the frying pot to drain on a big brown paper bag and grabbed one as soon as she set them down. I get some anytime I’m on the east coast and I make them often in my kitchen.

Besides their proper name, pasta cresciuta, southern Italian-Americans in Jersey call these fried fritters zeppole. The fried dough is omnipresent at Italian street fairs dusted with powdered sugar.

In Rhode Island they dust them with powdered sugar and call them doughboys. Mix fresh chopped clams into the risen batter and Rhode Islanders call them clamcakes. When I’m in Point Judith I devour Iggy’s clamcakes with a bowl of chowder and finish the meal with a couple of doughboys for dessert.

I love frying and I’ve been doing a lot of it over the holidays. Frying is a quick cooking method that requires your full attention and you’ll get better at it over time. Just be patient and make sure that the oil in your frying pot is always at 375 degrees.

I like both savory and sweet pasta cresciuta. On the savory side, I enjoy mixing in chopped anchovies, chopped squash blossoms or chopped fresh clams after the batter rises. On the sweet side, I just fry up the fritters and shower them with confectioner’s sugar. The irregular golden fritters have a crispy exterior and are light and airy inside.

Pasta cresciuta should be eaten hot out of the oil, as soon as they drain a bit. The fritters don’t hold up well and are not not as tasty when reheated.

These fried yeast fritters are very different from sweet custard filled zeppole enjoyed in Campania, the region around Naples. Watch me make zeppole di San Giuseppe where I fry some and bake some.

But be forewarned, the cooked dough in the zeppole di San Giuseppe episode is not the same as the batter I use in this recipe. The one I use here is an uncooked batter that resembles a very loose or wet pizza dough.

Here are a couple of my other favorites that I fried up this holiday season, struffoli and calamari, one sweet and one savory.

Happy frying. Buon appetito!

Fried Fritters (Pasta Cresciuta)
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2½ teaspoons yeast (one package)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • Safflower or your favorite frying oil
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, using a fork or whisk dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of warm water (about 100 degrees), mix in a ½ cup of flour and let it stand for about 15 minutes until it starts to bubble up.
  2. Add the remaining 1½ cup of warm water and the salt and mix well.
  3. Add ½ cup of flour to the bowl and mix well.
  4. When the flour is well incorporated add another ½ cup of flour to the bowl and mix well.
  5. Add the last ½ cup of flour a little at the time and mix well. You may not have to use it all. You want to end up with a soft, smooth dough that is on the wet side and very elastic.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour until the batter is bubbling and double in volume.
  7. (If your making savory fritters, add chopped fresh clams, chopped anchovy or chopped squash blossoms to the bowl and mix them well into the batter.)
  8. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep wide pot or cast iron skillet to 375 degrees. (I use a candy thermometer hung on the side of the pot to ensure the oil stays at 375 degrees while frying.)
  9. Drop an overflowing tablespoon of the batter into the hot oil. Add more tablespoons of batter to the oil but don't overcrowd the pot.
  10. Move the fritters around so they have plenty of room to fry.
  11. When the bottom side of the fritters frying on top of the oil start to turn golden, flip them over and fry the other side.
  12. When the fitters are golden all over drain the fritters on paper towel.
  13. Dust sweet fritters with powdered sugar and savory fritters with a sprinkle of sea salt and serve immediately.

 

Year of Italian Culture in America

Italian Consulate in San Franciscco
Italian Consulate in San Francisco

2013 is the Year of Italian Culture in America, a campaign by Italy’s Foreign Minister to create renewed buzz and help Americans learn more about Italia. Events are planned throughout the U.S.

San Francisco will play a leading role in the festivities.

I can’t wait for spring when Adoration of the Shepherds, a major painting by Caravaggio, one of my favorite Masters, arrives at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum.

Mauro Battocchi, the new Italian Consul in San Francisco, is heading up the festivities here. The Consul, who assumed the post last September, has his own blog, San Francisco Italy. I’ll be following him to stay on top of all things Italian in the Bay Area.

Here’s a SF Chronicle piece on the Consul and the 2013 festivities.

Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Garlic

Spaghetti Squash Sauteed in Sage & Garlic Infused EVOO
Spaghetti Squash Sauteed in Sage & Garlic Infused EVOO

A friend suggested a winter squash as a side for my New Year’s Eve veal roast stuffed with spinach. Spaghetti squash was a perfect choice.

The yellow spaghetti squash balanced the colors on the plate. The slightly sweet squash accented by mild sage and garlic infused EVOO was a nice contrast to the roast with a zesty spinach stuffing.

Stumped about how to handle spaghetti squash? It’s actually easy to cook. The hardest part is carefully splitting the squash in half.

Bake the squash for an hour and pull out the long spaghetti strands. Quickly saute the spaghetti squash in EVOO or butter gently flavored with your favorite herbs and aromatics. Or top it with marinara sauce and grated parmigiano. It is spaghetti squash after all.

Spaghetti squash is a versatile, simple and delicious side dish that you can enjoy often.

Buon appetito!

Spaghetti Squash with Sage and Garlic
 
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Spaghetti squash is easy to turn into a versatile side dish for your next meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetables
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squasth
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel and smash the garlic clove.
  3. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. (Use a big, heavy, sharp knife to safely cut through the squash.)
  4. Drizzle the cut sides with the other tablespoon of EVOO.
  5. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for an hour, until the squash is knife tender.
  6. Remove the squash from the oven, turn it cut side up and set aside to cool.
  7. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out all the seeds and discard them.
  8. Use a fork to gently pull out all of the spaghetti squash strands. Keep the strands as long as possible. (I like to start at the top and scrape towards the bottom of the squash.)
  9. Put the EVOO, sage and garlic in a sauté pan.
  10. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  11. When the oil is hot add the spaghetti squash and quickly saute to cover all the squash with the infused olive oil.
  12. When just heated through remove to a serving platter. Dust with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  13. Serve immediately.