New Year’s Eve Menu

Cotechino
Cotechino with Lentils (Image from Cellartours.com)

Still recovering from a wonderful Christmas? Rest up and get ready for New Year’s Eve.

We eat late on New Year’s Eve so that at the end of the meal we can flow right into the midnight ball drop. I minimize my time in the kitchen so here’s a simple menu to maximize your time with friends and family.

Cioppino is a traditional New Year’s Eve dish among North Beach Italian-Americans. I’m combining it with a traditional Italian dish for good fortune in the new year, lentils with Cotechino or roasted Italian sausages.

A glass of Prosecco, the light Italian bubbly, gets things moving in the right direction as your guests arrive.

Start with some antipasti. Keep it simple, maybe some prosciutto di parma with fresh mozzarella drizzled with a great finishing EVOO, or soppressata salami and young pecorino. Scatter some olives around the plate and you’re done. My giardiniera or sweet vinegar peppers make an nice addition to this antipasti platter and my celery mostarda (relish) is always a hit.

Serve the lentils and sausges as your primo piatto, your first course. You can make this dish ahead and just heat it before serving. Make sure you have some good crusty bread on the table to soak up the broth. A fruity, dry red goes well with this dish, a Dolcetto d’Alba or Nero d’Avalo pairs nicely.

For the main course, cioppino is really easy to make so you won’t be away from the party for long. It’s a great fish stew from San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf all cooked in a single pot, less than 30 minutes start to finish. The sour dough bread is a must have with this delicious dish from the sea. I like a Chianti Classico with the fish in a zesty tomato sauce.

For dessert, affogato, a scoop of vanilla gelato showered with a shot of espresso. This is the ultimate simple dessert and the espresso will help you make it to the ball drop.

It never hurts to have a panettone around. The sweet dome bread is studded with candied citrus and raisins. If you have any left over it makes great french toast the next morning.

I’m feeling generous as 2011 draws to a close, so here’s another menu suggestion for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

Crab is in season and they are heavy and meaty this year. Get one live or steamed from your fishmonger and cook the picked crab in a spicy tomato sauce over linguine. A nice start to the meal.

How about a roast?

My porchetta (roasted pork loin stuffed with herbs) with sauteed escarole and truffle roasted potatoes is a celebratory meal. If you want something really quick try my simple roast pork tenderloin or my roast beef studded with garlic and parsley.

Get my free Italian vegetable eBook and pick the side dishes you want to enjoy.

Felice Anno Nuovo! Happy New Year!

 

Calzone From Leftovers

Calzone with Escarole and Calabrian Sausage
Calzone with Escarole and Calabrian Sausage
Calzone with Escarole and Calabrian Sausage

I had dough left over from the Sicilian Semolina bread I made last week and escarole left over from when I made soup the other day. Both were sitting idle in my fridge for days until I was inspired — combine the two leftovers and make calzone, those delicious bread turnovers with a savory filling.

This is a version of Wimpy Skippy from Caserta Pizzeria on Providence’s Federal Hill Italian-American neighborhood. They make it with spinach sauteed with garlic, pepperoni and mozzarella. I kicked it up a notch or two.

If you don’t have any dough in your refrigerator and you’re making the calzone from scratch use either my pizza dough recipe that takes about 90 minutes to make or the semolina bread dough recipe that takes about 2 and a half hours to make. (The prep time includes the time it takes the dough to rise. Mixing everything together takes about 15 minutes for both.) You can make the dough in advance and keep it in the fridge. Just let it sit out to come to room temperature before making the calzone.

Either recipe works well. The semolina dough turns a pale yellow from the durum wheat flour.

Roast your favorite Italian sausage in a 425 degree oven, turning them once, until they are browned, about 30 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool. Slice the sausage into 1 inch thick discs. Set aside.

While the sausage is roasting make the dough.

Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Form each into a ball.

Stretch each ball into a flat round about 10 inches in diameter. Set the rounds aside covered with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel so they don’t form a dry crust.

Turn your oven up to its highest setting. Mine goes to 550 degrees.

Place the dough rounds on a well-floured work surface. Scatter about 4 tablespoons of sauteed escarole on the bottom half of the dough round, leaving a half inch border at the edge. You want a layer of escarole about an inch and a half high. (The sauteed escarole recipe excerpted from my free Italian Vegetable eCookbook is below.)

Top the escarole with 6 sausage slices. Use enough so that you get some sausage in every bite.

Cover the the sausage and escarole with slices of fresh mozzarella.

Fold the top half of the calzone over the bottom half with the filling to form the turnover-shaped calzone. Line up the edges and press down with you finger to seal the dough tightly so that none of the filling leaks while baking.

Brush the calzone lightly with EVOO.

Place the calzone on a well-floured pizza peel and at a 20 degree angle slide them from the peel onto the baking stone. (If you don’t have a baking stone put the calzone on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of your oven.)

You may have to turn the calzone once if they are not baking evenly.

Bake until the calzone are golden brown about 10 minutes.

Let them cool a bit before serving.

Here’s the sauteed escarole recipe excerpted from my free Italian Vegetable eBook.

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:80]

 

Christmas Eve Feast of Seven Fishes (Cena di Vigilia)

Arancini with aioli

UPDATE: There is now a video recipe for Cioppino, the simple and easy seven-fish San Francisco stew: WATCH NOW

Italian-American families have their favorite dishes for Christmas Eve fish dinner – some serve 7 fish (for the 7 sacraments or 7 virtues), some serve 10 (for the 10 stations of the cross) and others 13 fish (for Jesus and the 12 apostles). I serve 7 fishes not for the religious symbolism but to draw family and friends to the table to enjoy a great 3-course fish meal and each other during the holiday season.

When I was growing up my family ate fish because it was a Catholic rule, no meat on Christmas Eve. We loved this meal so much we still cook it many years after the meat ban was dropped by the Church. It’s a big part of my holiday tradition. You can catch some of my excitement in the video we just released. I fried up some squid.

If you want to eat some fish on Christmas Eve or any day of the year check out some of my fish posts from the past year. Cook one dish or a bunch at the same time. You’ll be eating well in any case.

Let’s see if we can get to 7 fish dishes. Your first one is Calamari Fritti above.

Continuing the antipasto (before the meal) theme, how about some steamed mussels and clams with a hunk of garlic bread for dunking in the broth? (Like the calamari fritti eat these as soon as they’re done.)

Cod fish cakes anyone? If I was serving the cakes with other dishes in the antipasto I’d make the cakes much smaller, almost bite size. (You can make them ahead and warm them in the oven before serving.)

Maybe arancini (fried rice balls) stuffed with bay shrimp and served with a spicy aioli? (You can make them ahead and warm them in the oven before serving.)

Here’s one that you can put out in the antipasto course or use as a secondo piatto (second course) dish. I always have to have some sole on Christmas Eve.

For the primo piatto (first course) linguine in a spicy crab tomato sauce.

Here’s a great secondo piatto (second course), halibut baked with roasted cherry tomatoes, potatoes and green olives. I like to roast the whole fish, a branzino or sea bass, using this recipe. Just put the herb(s) inside the fish otherwise follow the original recipe. Debone the fish before serving.

That’s 7, but hey, it’s the holidays so here are a few more: fried shrimp, sword fish with salmoriglio sauce and  shrimp with oregano and garlic, simply roasted in a hot oven; and baccala salad below.

Check out my free vegetable eBook for some ideas of sides to serve with these fish dishes. Buon Natale!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:78]

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:79]

 

Weekend Recipe: Sonoma Sole

Petrale Sole in a Caper White Wine Butter Sauce

We drove up to Sea Ranch on the Sonoma/Mendocino coast. I was exhausted from driving the switchbacks in the rain and fog and wanted something fast to cook for our dinner. The fishmonger in Gualala had some really fresh petrale sole.

I quickly sauteed the sole in olive oil and butter and poured a caper white wine pan sauce all over.

A little steamed broccoli with EVOO, sea salt and lemon was a great side.

The sole filets take on a golden crust and are flakey and moist. The edges are crisp and nutty. The caper butter sauce gently enhances each bite. The mellow broccoli spears round out the plate. A really quick and healthy lunch or dinner.

The sole recipe is below and here’s the broccoli recipe from my Vegetable eBook.

Sautéed Sole with a Butter/Caper Pan Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. sole, flounder or other flat fish
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian fresh parsley
  • lemon slices, as garnish

Instructions

  1. Put a saute pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper the fish.
  3. Lightly dredge the fish in flour. Shake off any excess.
  4. When the butter is melted saute the fish until a golden crust begins to form, a minute or two on each side, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
  5. Remove the sautéed fillets to a serving platter.
  6. Turn the heat to high.
  7. Add the white wine to the pan, scrape the fond on the bottom of the pan and stir to dissolve the brown bits.
  8. Add the capers to the pan and stir until the sauce thickens, about a minute.
  9. Pour the sauce over the fillets, sprinkle with parsley, scatter the lemon slices about.
    Serve immediately.

Gianni’s First Recipe eBook is Available Now

Things have been busy around the Village lately. I did a live pasta-making demonstration in front of friendly crowds on Sunday at the Noodle Fest; our next regional dinner – Venetian at da Flora – is open for reservations; you can join me on my food adventure to Italy this Fall; and now, we’ve released my first cookbook

It’s a nicely crafted eBook, with nine recipes and photos, and it’s optimized for iPhone and iPad (the iBooks app) – with linked table of contents for easy navigation. (It works on all platforms and devices.) This eBook introduces my vegetable series, and includes some vegan dishes. Stay tuned for other recipe themes to be announced soon.

Purchase link and screen shots below. Enjoy!

Veggie Recipes, Vol. 1
Veggie Recipes, Vol. 1
A bunch of the most requested vegetable dishes by those at my table. (I’ve included some of my vegan niece’s favorites.) These recipes will serve 4-6 people but they are all scalable.