Italian Braised Beef Brisket

Italian beef brisket long braised with herbs and aromatic vegetables
Italian beef brisket long braised with herbs and aromatic vegetables

I wanted to eat some beef brisket when I was in the Big Apple last week but it was too damn hot during the 7-day Heat Dome.

I satisfied my craving when I got back home. Here’s an Italian version of what many typically think of as a Jewish dish.

Beef brisket is easy to make. After the simple preparation, the brisket just sits on top of the stove braising until the meat is fork-tender.

Serve the vegetables on the side with some garlic smashed potatoes, fettuccine or polenta topped with the pan gravy and you’ve got dinner on a plate.

The beef brisket is moist and fall-apart tender. The vegetables are soft and sweet. Serve more of the full-flavored pan gravy on the side for your guests to help themselves.

If you’re lucky you’ll have brisket left over for sandwiches. Be sure to dip your crusty bread in the rich gravy before you put the panini together and you’ll be in heaven.

Buon appetito!

Italian Beef Brisket
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Beef brisket long braised with aromatic vegetables and herbs is a simple but flavorful lunch or dinner all on one plate.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds beef brisket
  • 2 carrots, quartered and cut in 2 inches pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in 2 inches pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in half and quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of Italian parsley
  • 1 cup sangiovese or zinfandel or your favorite dry red wine
  • 1 cup San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 cup water (if needed)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper all over the brisket and rub it into the meat.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large enameled pot or thick bottom sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  3. When the oil ripples brown the brisket on both sides to create a dark crust.
  4. Remove the brisket to a plate.
  5. Add the tomato paste, vegetables and herbs, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and cook until the tomato paste darkens and the vegetables start to caramelize. Scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add the wine and cook until the wine is almost all evaporated. Scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir well.
  8. Lower the heat to medium-low and put the brisket back in the pot along with any juices on the resting plate. Add some water if necessary so that the brisket is almost covered with the braising liquid.
  9. Put the top on the pot and braise the brisket until it is fork tender, about 60-90 minutes.
  10. Remove the parsley and bay leaf.
  11. Slice the brisket against the grain and serve on a large platter with the vegetables and topped with gravy.

 

Flourless Potato & Onion Focaccia

A flourless potato focaccia  with a sweet onion filling
A flourless potato focaccia with a sweet onion filling

Here’s an interesting twist on focaccia.

There’s no flour in this potato & onion focaccia from the southwestern region of Puglia, focaccia di patate e cipolle in Italian.

The “dough” is fashioned from riced potatoes with grated parmigiano and white wine.

The potato dough holds a sweet filling of long-cooked onions with capers and black olives.

The focaccia is topped with bread crumbs and baked in the oven until golden brown.

The creamy potato crust top and bottom has a nutty crunch as you bite into the perky sweet onion filling with the capers and olives.

Serve the focaccia as a side for meat or fish or incorporate it into your next antipasti platter.

Buon appetito!

Flourless Potato & Onion Focaccia
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
No flour in this focaccia. Riced potatoes with parmigiano and white wine form the focaccia "dough" filled with sweet long-cooked onions flavored with a bay leaf, capers and black olives topped with bread crumbs and baked until golden brown.
Author:
Recipe type: Focaccia
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • Onion Filling
  • 2 pounds onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 pitted Gaeta or your favorite black olive, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon drained capers
  • Dough
  • 2 large baking potatoes boiled then peeled and riced or mashed, about 1¼ pounds
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs and extra virgin olive oil for the top and bottom crusts
Instructions
  1. Onion Filling
  2. Pour the olive oil into a large enameled pot or heavy bottomed sauce pan
  3. Add the onions, bay leaf, wine, salt, pepper to taste and the water to the pot.
  4. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the water is evaporated. Be sure the mixture is very dry so the interior of the focaccia is not gummy.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the capers and olives.
  6. Dough
  7. Boil the potatoes with the peel on until they are knife tender.
  8. Peel the potatoes and rice or mash them.
  9. Put the potatoes in a bowl, add the grated cheese, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and mix well.
  10. Add enough of the wine to make a consistent dough.
  11. To Assemble
  12. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  13. Brush the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with olive oil and thinly coat the bottom with bread crumbs.
  14. Spread about half of the potato mixture in an even ¾ inch layer in the pie plate.
  15. Next evenly spread the onion filling.
  16. Top the onion filling with the remaining potatoes,
  17. Brush the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs to completely cover the the top.
  18. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
  19. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Couscous with Veal, Cauliflower, Red Peppers & Saffron

Couscous with veal, cauliflower and peppers
Couscous with veal, cauliflower, red peppers and saffron

Sicily has been on my mind.

I recalled a remarkable day on the northern coast where I learned of 2 new ingredients for my Italian-American cooking, couscous and saffron.

We spent a delightful day in San Vito lo Capo lounging on the soft pink beach, swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea with Tunisia on the horizon and exploring the annual couscous festival in the small town that hugs the coast.

As the sun began to set we headed back to our hotel in the hills overlooking Palermo. We stopped in a tavola calda in Monreale for a quick meal.

I asked the owner Filippo if he could grill swordfish for me simply seasoned with olive oil, oregano and lemon. It was one of his favorites and he was happy to make it for me.

We talked as he brushed the fresh swordfish steak with oregano-infused olive oil, laid it on the hot iron grate over the open fire and sprinkled it with sea salt. It was on the plate in a jiffy with wedges of lemon. Simply delicious.

On the way out we thanked Filippo for the wonderful meal. He went to the counter and came back with “Zafferano: Giallo il Colore della Felicita” (Yellow: The Color of Happiness), a booklet with dozens of Sicilian recipes made with saffron. He autographed it as a gift for me.

This is one of those recipes and the dish includes saffron and couscous, 2 ingredients that I added to my Italian-American pantry after that wonderful day in Sicily. It can be on your table in about 45 minutes.

The saffron bathes everything in a golden hue. The crusted veal is tender and moist, the vegetables soft and sweet and the nutty couscous absorbs the flavors of it all. Another delicious Italian dish influenced by North African cooking.

Buon appetito!

Couscous with Veal, Cauliflower, Red Peppers & Saffron
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Veal with cauliflower, red bell pepper and saffron served over couscous.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound veal, cubed
  • 1 onion
  • ½ cauliflower
  • 2 tomatoes cut into 2 inch pieces or 12 small cherry or pear tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 carrot, cut in ½ inch slices
  • 1 red pepper, cored and seeded, cut 2-inch strips and then in 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup couscous
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • pinch of saffron (the dish is almost as good without saffron)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a enamel or heavy-bottomed pot put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the veal and brown all over.
  3. Add the vegetables and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the vegetables begin to brown.
  4. Pour the white wine, scrape the bottom of the pot and cook until the wine is evaporated.
  5. Continue cooking until the vegetables are knife tender, about 20 minutes. Add some vegetable broth or water if the pot is too dry.
  6. Add the saffron and gently mix all the ingredients well. Reduce the heat to low to keep the stew warm.
  7. Meanwhile, pour the couscous in a bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Put the vegetable broth in a pot and bring it to a boil.
  9. Pour in the couscous, stirring gently.
  10. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the couscous rest for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the remaining butter, stir and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring the couscous with a fork.
  12. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let cool for about 8 minutes.
  13. Place the couscous on a platter and top with the veal stew.
  14. Serve immediately.

 

Orecchiette with Arugula

Orecchiete with arugala in a garlic infused olive oil sauce
Orecchiete with arugula in a garlic infused olive oil sauce

I snagged some baby arugula at the Petaluma farmer’s market yesterday.

Simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a drop or 2 of red wine vinegar and sea salt, the tender peppery arugula is a summer treat.

But arugula isn’t just for salads.

I have more arugula that I want to eat now and I’m in the mood for a simple pasta. This quick recipe fits the bill. The pasta is on your table in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

I like a small short pasta for this dish. I used orecchiette (little ears) but you can use dried cavatelli, ditali or your favorite pasta shape.

What a treat to be able to use this just-cut arugula. I don’t want to lose any of its fresh goodness so I just let the arugula wilt in the heat of the pasta and garlic-infused olive oil.

The orecchiette is bathed in the thick mellow sauce. The lightly toasted garlic slices add a nutty note to the peppery arugula enhanced by light heat from red pepper flakes.

You won’t believe the full flavor from so few ingredients. Simple, quick, healthy and delicious.

Buon appetito!

Pasta with Arugula
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Just-cut arugula warmed by the heat of the pasta with garlic-infused olive oil. A simple summer pasta treat.
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 pound dried orecchiete or your favorite short pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt for the pasta water and more to taste if needed
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
Instructions
  1. Put on a large pot of salted water to boil. (5 quarts water, 2 tablespoons sea salt)
  2. When the water is at a rapid boil add the pasta, stir occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick and cook until the pasta is just al dente.
  3. While the pasta is cooking make the sauce.
  4. Put a skillet or pan large enough to hold the pasta over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the garlic just starts to take on color.
  6. Reduce the heat to low to keep the sauce warm while the pasta finishes cooking.
  7. When the pasta is cooked reserve a cup of the cooking water, strain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
  8. Add some cooking water to thin the sauce and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  9. Add the arugula, toss well and cook until the arugula starts to wilt.
  10. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of grated parmigiano.

 

 

Raw & Cooked Salad

A simple and complex salad to welcome summer
Raw & Cooked Salad

Summer just arrived and I’m starting to get in the mood for the bounty slowly hitting the market.

This simple yet complex salad is my bridge to the new season.

Insalata cruda e cotta is an interesting mix of fresh and cooked vegetables and will be on your table in about 30 minutes.

Sweet roasted onions, just tender green beans, crunchy lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and exploding creamy potatoes, complex flavor and texture in every bite. The oil and vinegar dressing with perky capers and briny black olives elevates this simple salad to a whole new level.

Serve insalata cruda e cotta as part of an antipasti course , a light lunch or as a side for meat or fish.

Buon appetito!

Raw & Cooked Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Cooked and raw vegetables tossed together with black olives, capers, oregano, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. A perfect simple summer treat.
Author:
Recipe type: Italian
Cuisine: salad
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sweet onions
  • ½ pound red potatoes
  • ½ pound green beans
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 head butter or Bibb lettuce
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped (I like Gaeta or oil-cured olives)
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel the onion and cut into ¾ inch slices.
  3. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes until the onion is softened and lightly carmelized on the edges, turning them over once at midpoint.
  5. Break the slices into rings and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil and cook just until the potatoes are knife tender.
  8. Take the potatoes out of the water and cut into 2 inch wedges.
  9. Put the potatoes in the bowl.
  10. Trim the beans and cook them in the boiling water until they just start to soften, about 4 minutes.
  11. Strain the beans, cut into 2 inch pieces and put them in the bowl.
  12. Put the olives, capers, the rest of the olive oil, vinegar in the bowl.
  13. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and mix all the ingredients well.
  14. Cut the tomatoes into 2 inch wedges and add them to the bowl.
  15. Rip the lettuce leaves into bite size pieces and add them to the bowl.
  16. Toss with the other ingredients to coat everything well with the dressing.

 

 

White Bean & Tuna Salad

Cannellini beans and canned Sicilian tuna salad with olives and red onion
Cannellini beans and canned Sicilian tuna salad with olives and red onion

I love cannellini beans and Sicilian canned tuna. Putting these 2 pantry staples together in this salad makes me very happy.

You can use canned beans but since there are only 2 main ingredients in the salad I like to use dry beans. They aren’t mushy like the ones in the can and don’t break apart as you mix the salad together.

Soak the beans overnight. But, if you’re like me and didn’t plan ahead use my speedy method to prepare the dried beans for the salad in about 2 minutes.

The creamy beans infused with celery, onion and bay leaf are the perfect base for the briny tuna, sweet red onion and tangy olives. Every bite is a delight.

Serve the white bean and tuna salad as part of your antipasti platter or on a bed of lettuce as a light meal with a hunk of crusty bread.

Buon appetito!

White Bean & Tuna Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Combine 2 of my favorite ingredients, cannellini beans and Sicilian canned tuna, to create a full-flavored salad.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans
  • 1 celery stalk with top leaves, cut in large pieces
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 7-ounce can Sicilian tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • ⅓ cup Gaeta olives
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Italian flat parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans in cold water to cover overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans
  3. (If you forgot to soak the beans overnight put the beans in a pot and cover with water at least 2 inches above the beans. Bring the pot to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Take the pot off the heat, cover and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse and continue with the recipe. If you're really desperate use canned beans. Be sure to rinse them well.)
  4. Put the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches and bring the pot to a boil.
  5. Add the celery, onion and bay leaf, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or longer until the beans are tender.
  6. While the beans are cooking, put the red onion in a large bowl and cover with the vinegar. Let the onions sit in the vinegar for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the olives to the bowl.
  8. When the beans are cooked add them to the bowl.
  9. Add the olive oil and parsley to bowl. Gently mix the beans to coat the beans with the olive oil.
  10. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix the beans gently.
  11. Break the tuna into small pieces and add the tuna to the bowl. Mix the beans gently to distribute the tuna.
  12. Let the salad sit for about an hour before serving.

 

Braciole–Neapolitan Stuffed Beef Rolls

Beef roll-ups with a zesty bread stuffing in a San Marzano tomato sauce
Beef roll-ups with a zesty bread stuffing in a San Marzano tomato sauce

These braciole are beef rolls filled with prosciutto, provolo and a bread stuffing with chopped egg, parsley, garlic and pecorino.

The braciole braise in San Marzano tomatoes to create a sauce with deep rich flavors and a brick red color.

In Italy the sauce is typically used to dress pasta as a first course followed by the braciole accompanied by a vegetable.

The sauce fills the house with the aroma of sweet tomatoes, garlic and oregano. You know long before the meal that you’re in for a treat.

The braciola is fork tender. The prosciutto and provolo add salty zest. Every bite is a surprise, a sweet raisin here, a crunchy pine nut there, all hidden in the rich bread and chopped egg filling.

I quickly sauteed baby spinach in extra virgin olive oil with a touch of butter and a smashed garlic clove, the spinach a mellow interlude to the complexly flavored braciole and oregano-scented tomato sauce.

I love meat roll-ups. Watch me make another kind of beef braciola and a pork braciola as part of my Sunday Gravy video episode. And here’s a tasty recipe for quick veal scaloppine bundles stuffed with mozzarella and basil.

Buon appetito!

Braciole--Neapolitan Stuffed Beef Rolls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Braciole, slow braised beef rolls stuffed with prosciutto, provolo and a savory bread stuffing in an oregano-scented San Marzano tomato sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Braciole
  • 6 thin beef slices, about 6 by 8 inches and about ½ inch thick. Pound the beef if necessary to get the right shape and thickness. (I use thinly sliced sirloin when I want to cut the braising time. Minute or flank steaks or bottom round slices work well but will need at least 2 hours to braise.)
  • 2 cups stale bread, crust removed and cubed
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped
  • ⅓ cup grated pecorino or parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat parsley, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced prosciuto
  • ¼ pound provolo or provolone, cut into 1 inch strips
  • For the Sauce
  • 28-ounce canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into a small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
Instructions
  1. Put the stale bread in a bowl and cover with water.
  2. When the bread is soft squeeze out the water and put the bread in a large bowl.
  3. Put the eggs in a pot and cover with water. Over high heat bring the water to a boil. When the water boils shut off the heat, cover the pot and let the eggs sit in the water for 12 minutes so they're hard boiled.
  4. When the eggs are cool enough to handle remove the shell and roughly chop the eggs.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, chopped egg, raisins, pine nuts, parsley, grated pecorino, 1 tablespoon olive oil and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  6. Mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Lay the beef out on a working surface.
  8. Cover each slice with a thin slice of prosciutto. Tap the prosciutto all over with the back of a chef's knife so it adheres to the beef.
  9. Spread the stuffing evenly over all of the beef slices. (Leave an inch border around the edges so the stuffing doesn't spill out.)
  10. Place a strip of provolo near the end of the beef slice.
  11. Tightly roll up each beef slice starting at the end with the provolo.
  12. Attach a toothpick through the braciole to hold it together while cooking. Or tie the braciole tightly with string at each end.
  13. Sprinkle the braciole with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  14. Put a pot over medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil.
  15. When the oil is hot add the braciole and brown them all over. (Lower the heat if necessary so the braciole don't burn.)
  16. Set the braciole aside on a plate.
  17. Put the onions, garlic and chili flakes in the pot and sauté until the onions are translucent. (Be sure to scape up the fond, the dark bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.)
  18. Add the tomato paste and toast in the oil until its color darkens.
  19. Add the oregano and bay leaf and mix all the ingredients well.
  20. Add the tomatoes and bring the sauce to a low simmer.
  21. Put the braciole and any juices that collected on the resting plate back in the pot.
  22. Braise the braciole covered by the sauce until the braciole are fork tender, at least an hour or as long as 2½ hours depending the cut of beef you used.
  23. When tender, slice the braciole in 2 inch slices.
  24. Put some sauce on a serving platter.
  25. Lay out the braciole slices and top with additional sauce.

 

Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns

Prawns wrapped in prosciutto roasted with olive oil, sage and garlic
Prawns wrapped in prosciutto roasted with olive oil, sage and garlic

I didn’t want anything heavy for lunch. I had a hankering for shrimp but didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking some up.

Here’s a simple dish that will be on your table in 15 minutes after you peel and clean the prawns.

Flavor extra virgin olive oil with garlic and fresh sage in a baking dish. Lay in the prawns wrapped in prosciutto. Drizzle them with EVOO and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Bake the prawns in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Plate them up, drizzle the oil from the baking pan all over and eat. How simple is that?

A whiff of sage and garlic precedes each bite. The salty, crispy prosciutto enhances the sweetness of the tender, moist prawns with just a hint of heat from the black pepper. A simple, yet complexly flavored dish.

I served these prawns with steamed rice on the side to soak up the sauce and a baby field greens salad simply dressed with EVOO, homemade red wine vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. A perfect Sunday afternoon lunch.

You can also serve these prawns as an antipasto, maybe with giardiniera, my  pickled vegetables.

Buon appetito!

Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Prosciutto wrapped prawns quickly roasted in the oven with sage and garlic infused extra virgin olive oil.
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 12 large prawns
  • 6 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel and devein the shrimp and pat them dry.
  3. Put the sage and garlic in a baking pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon EVOO and place in the oven for 2 minutes to flavor the oil.
  4. Take the baking pan out of the oven.
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 350.
  6. Wrap each prawn with prosciutto.
  7. Lay the prawns in the baking dish in a single layer. (Be careful the baking dish will still be hot.)
  8. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Cut the butter in small cubes and scatter over the prawns.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes.
  11. Put the prawns on a serving dish and pour the oil from the baking dish all over.
  12. Serve immediately.

 

Suppli al telefono: Fried Arborio Rice Balls Video

Suppli al Telefono
Suppli al Telefono

We had fun in the Cookhouse kitchen in North Beach. I was still on this kick cooking the food of Roma and Napoli so I could get in the groove for an upcoming trip to those cities. Stay tuned for some episodes we shot in Italia!

Suppli are tasty egg-shaped fried rice balls. The surprise in the middle give them their name.

You may know these as arancini. They remind Sicilians of oranges. But in Rome, they’re called suppli al telefono for the telephone lines formed when you bite into melted mozzarella at the center.

The rice inside the crispy crust is flavored by a thick flavorful tomato-meat sauce. The best bite is when you hit the oozing mozzarella telephone lines in the center.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Suppli--Fried Arborio Rice Balls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the tomato/meat mixture:
  • 1½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound ground lean beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups passato di pomodoro or tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the rice:
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • For the breadcrumb coating:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into rectangles the size and shape of large sugar cubes (about 24 pieces)
  • Olive oil, preferably extra-virgin, for deep-frying
Instructions
  1. To make the tomato mixture:
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms with warm water to cover and let stand for 15 minutes to rehydrate. Drain, squeeze out the excess liquid and chop finely.
  3. In a fry pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the beef, onion and mushrooms and sauté until the meat is no longer red, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato puree and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has reduced by about one-third, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. To make the rice:
  6. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a rapid boil over high heat.
  7. Add the 1 tablespoon of sea salt and the rice and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the rice has softened but is still al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the rice and spread it out on a large platter or roasting pan to cool slightly.
  8. When cool put the rice in a bowl and add the eggs, butter, parmigiano, a pinch of salt and the tomato mixture. Mix to combine well. Let cool to room temperature.
  9. To form the croquettes:
  10. Whisk the egg in a small, shallow bowl.
  11. Pour the flour into a second shallow bowl and the breadcrumbs into a third bowl.
  12. Using a spoon or your hands, scoop up some rice and with your hand form into a ball the size and shape of an egg to make the suppli.
  13. With your finger, make an indentation in the side of the suppli, insert a piece of the mozzarella deep into the center and close the rice around it.
  14. Roll the suppli in the flour to lightly cover all over, then the beaten egg coating it all over, and then roll in the bread crumbs, again coating evenly.
  15. Place the ball on a large, flat plate or tray. Repeat with the remaining rice and cheese, evenly coating each suppli.
  16. When all the suppli are formed, cover the plate and refrigerate the suppli for at least 1 hour or up to overnight before cooking.
  17. Preheat an oven to 200°F. You can keep the suppli warm on a sheet pan in the oven as you cook them.
  18. To cook the suppli:
  19. In a heavy saucepan or deep, heavy fry pan, pour in olive oil to a depth of at least 2 inches and over medium-high heat the oil until a bit of rice dropped into the hot oil sizzles immediately on contact.
  20. Working in batches, fry the supply, turning as needed to color evenly, until they are a deep sunburned color and have a nice crisp crust, 5 to 7 minutes.
  21. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain, then transfer to the platter in the oven while you fry the remaining croquettes.
  22. Serve the croquettes while the mozzarella core is still hot. They may be eaten with a knife and fork, but for the traditional telephone-cord effect, they should be eaten by hand so the telephone line forms as you bite into the mozzarella center.
  23. Makes about 24 croquettes.

 

Escarole 2 Ways

Escarole sauteed in olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sea salt
Escarole sauteed in olive oil with garlic, chili flakes and sea salt

The escarole in the market today was gorgeous, light green heads with fresh, tender leaves. I get 2 uses from a head of escarole.

Save the yellow-green inner leaves for a simple salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon or red wine vinegar and sea salt. Serve the escarole salad as a first course or as an accompaniment for meat, fish or pasta.

Another favorite for the rest of the darker green outer leaves is to quickly saute the escarole with olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sea salt (scarola in padella).

The escarole is sweet and tender bathed in the garlic-infused olive oil with a bit of chili heat. Healthy and delicious. Serve the sauteed escarole as a side for meat or fish.

Sometimes for a light meal, I’ll just have a bowl of sauteed escarole with a hunk of crusty bread that I dip in the olive oil broth.

This is an easy dish and a universal cooking method for most green leafy vegetables that I use often. Add it to your repertoire.

Buon appetito!

Escarole 2 Ways
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 head escarole, remove the core, (optional: save the tender yellow-green inner leaves for a salad), cut the head in half, and cut in 2 inch ribbons
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup water (if needed)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put the EVOO, garlic and red chili flakes in a cold pan.
  2. Heat over medium-high until the garlic takes on a bit of golden color.
  3. Add the escarole and toss so that all the leaves wilt.
  4. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. If there is no liquid in the pan add some water to help steam the escarole.
  6. Saute for 3 minutes or until the escarole is tender.
  7. Place the escarole in a bowl and drizzle with a little very good EVOO.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

Spinach Pies–My Bridge to Italy

Spinach Pies from Naples via Providence RI
Spinach Pies from Naples via Providence RI

Making spinach pies today is a culinary bridge from the States to my upcoming temporary home in Naples.

The filling is inspired by the  “Wimpy Skippy,” a crowd-pleaser from Caserta Pizzeria on Providence’s Federal Hill, an Italian-American bastion.

I’ll find variations of spinach pies, called calzone in Italy, with all kinds of fillings when I’m in Naples. Neapolitans often fry calzone but I’m baking mine instead.

If you don’t want to make your own pizza dough, buy some at the market. Making the filling and the assembly are super easy.

Watch my pizza dough recipe to see how I make one pound of dough that will make 4 big calzone.

The golden tender crust has a nutty flavor. Garlic scents the sauteed spinach filling. Oozing mozzarella tamps down the heat from the pepperoni. A meal in a tidy envelope.

I hope my next post will be one of the 2 episodes we shot recently in North Beach. I’m shooting video in Roma next week with my friend Luca and his crew. We’ll post those episodes too.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Spinach Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Spinach pies or spinach calzones are encased in pizza dough. These are stuffed with spinach sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, topped with pepperoni and fresh mozzarella then baked in the oven.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Spinach Stuffing
  • 4 cups cooked spinach, chopped
  • ⅓ cup black olives, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 16 pepperoni slices
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
Instructions
  1. Set your oven to its highest setting. (Mine goes to 550 degrees.)
  2. Put a skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and garlic.
  3. Heat the oil and cook the garlic until it just starts to pick up some color.
  4. Add the black olives and stir well.
  5. Add the spinach and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients well.
  6. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
  7. If your using my pizza dough recipe, cut the dough into 4 pieces.
  8. On a well-floured board roll out the 4 dough pieces into thin rounds, about 10 inches in diameter. Or, form the rounds using your hands to stretch the dough.
  9. Starting in the middle, but ¼ of the spinach stuffing on the dough and spread it towards the rim leaving one inch border without the stuffing.
  10. Top the stuffing with 4 pepperoni slices and cover with sliced mozzarella.
  11. Fold the top half of the dough over the stuffing to form a turnover shape.
  12. Pinch the dough around the edge with your fingers to tightly seal the spinach pie.
  13. Using a pizza peel, slide each spinach pie on a pizza stone and bake until the dough is golden on top, about 8-10 minutes.
  14. (You can bake the pies on a cookie sheet brushed with olive oil if you like.)
  15. Take the spinach pies out of the oven and cool for a minute or two on a wired rack.
  16. Serve the spinach pies whole or cut in half.
  17. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
  18. (You can make the spinach pies ahead an heat them in a 375 degree oven for about 3 minutes.)

 

Meatballs Neapolitan Style

Meatballs from Napoli
Meatballs from Napoli

My trip to Italy is fast approaching. I wanted to do a couple of posts before I leave and the dishes had to be simple.

Meat-eaters love meatballs. These are from Naples and may be a bit different than what you’re used to eating here in the States. My Mom made them this way once in a while.

Usually for meatballs I use a combination of beef, pork and veal ground together but this time I’m only using beef. The addition of raisins and toasted pine nuts adds flavor dimension and texture to the meatballs.

The spicy meatballs are fork-tender. The sweetness of the raisins in tempered by the basil tomato sauce. The soft crunch of the toasted pine nuts is a welcome surprise. Simply delicious.

You can serve the meatballs with a vegetable or salad and with or without tomato sauce. I like them both ways. Don’t get too fancy though, the meatballs should be the star of your light lunch or dinner.

Use the tomato sauce to dress pasta or save it to use another time.

Keep an eye out for my 2 new video episodes that we shot in North Beach before I headed to Italy. I’ll spend 2 days shooting video in Rome. Hopefully, we’ll get a couple of new episodes of my shopping and cooking from my apartment kitchen in the heart of Roma.

Buon appetito!

Meatballs Neapolitan Style
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Meatballs from the heart of Naples, flavored with garlic, pecorino, raisins and pine nuts served with or without tomato sauce
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups cubed dried crustless bread
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh Italian flat parsley
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil for frying (or use your favorite frying oil)
  • Tomato Sauce (Optional)
  • 1 28-ounce can imported San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sprig of fresh basil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Soak the bread in water.
  2. Add all of the ingredients (except the oil) into a mixing bowl.
  3. Squeeze the bread to get rid of the water then break it up and add it to the bowl.
  4. Blend the mix well with your hands (or a fork). (I squish it in my hands until the mixture is very well blended.)
  5. Take about a ⅓ cup of the mixture in your hands and roll it into a ball.
  6. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. When the oil ripples, add the meatballs.
  8. Brown the meatballs well. You want to develop a dark, firm crust all over, about 10 minutes total.
  9. Serve immediately with your favorite salad or vegetables.
  10. Tomato Sauce (Optional)
  11. Put the olive oil and garlic in a pot over medium-high heat.
  12. When the garlic starts to brown add the tomatoes.
  13. Add the basil.
  14. When the tomato sauce rapidly simmers reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  15. Add the meatballs and let them warm in the sauce for about 10 minutes.
  16. Serve the meatballs immediately topped with a bit more of the tomato sauce.
  17. Makes about 12 meatballs.
  18. (You can use the tomato sauce for pasta or save it for another use.)

If you want to serve the meatballs with tomato sauce, here’s a simple recipe that will be ready in about 30 minutes.

 

Pasta & Chickpea Soup (Pasta e Ceci)

Pasta e ceci, pasta with chickpeas is a toothy, delicious soup from Rome
Pasta e ceci, pasta with chickpeas is a toothy, delicious soup from Rome

I’ll be in Rome and Naples soon so I’ve been cooking dishes from both cities to get ready for the trip.

Here’s another Roman favorite that would be at home in Naples as well. The Romans prefer long pasta in their chickpea soup and the Neapolitans prefer short pasta.

My Mom made it with ditali, a short pasta tube. I made this one with broken taglierini, a long flat pasta.

Smashed potato thickens the garlic and rosemary infused tomato broth. The chickpeas add meaty texture to the silky pasta. This soup is really satisfying and it’s good for you too.

Sometimes pasta e ceci will be lunch with a hunk of rustic bread and maybe a small salad.

While I’m in Rome, my friend Luca and his crew will shoot my shopping trips to Campo di Fiori and other neighborhood markets and me cooking in my apartment kitchen near the Spanish Steps. It should be an adventure. I’m a little nervous.

To get you in the mood for the shoots from Italia, we’ll soon post 2 episodes we shot a couple of weeks ago at Cookhouse here in North Beach, a Roman treat and a meal in a pouch from the Bay of Naples.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pasta & Chickpea Soup (Pasta e Ceci)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Pasta e ceci is a simple Italian peasant chickpea soup full of flavor and texture.
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 14-ounce can imported San Marzano tomatoes, smashed by hand
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 small dried chili
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ pound taglierini or other long, flat pasta broken into 3-inch pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • grated pecorino (optional)
Instructions
  1. If your using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight. Cook them in rapidly simmering water until tender, at least an hour. Save the cooking water. Canned garbanzo beans work well too.
  2. Put a large pot of well-salted water (5 quarts water, 2 tablespoons sea salt) over high and bring to a boil for the pasta. (If you don't want to clean another pot, you can cook the pasta right in the soup.)
  3. Put a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
  4. Saute until the garlic starts to brown.
  5. Remove the garlic and rosemary.
  6. Pour the tomatoes and their juice, the chickpeas and the potatoes into the pot.
  7. Add the water to the pot. (If you cooked dry beans, use the cooking water.)
  8. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the potatoes are knife tender, about 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the potatoes to a plate and roughly smash them with a fork. You want some intact small pieces too. Return the potatoes to the pot.
  10. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  11. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  12. If the soup is too thick, add some of water and bring the soup back to a simmer.
  13. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until very al dente.
  14. Drain the pasta.
  15. Add the pasta to the soup pot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  16. Serve the soup in individual bowls immediately with a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (In Naples, they would add a sprinkle of grated pecorino too.)

 

This may be my last dish from Rome. After Rome we’re moving to an apartment in Naples and then on to the Amalfi coast and the beach near Gaeta. I have to move south to the food of Campania. So, the recipes I post this weekend will be 2 of my favorite dishes from Naples.

Roman Stewed Spring Vegetables

La Vignarola, Roman stewed spring vegetables
La Vignarola, Roman stewed spring vegetables

La Vignarola, stewed spring vegetables, is a simple dish that’s a real crowd-pleaser in Rome this time of year and you can be eating some in about 30 minutes.

Quickly braise each of the 3 spring vegetables separately. Brown guanciale or pancetta with a little extra virgin olive oil. Add the vegetables to the pan along with some of the cooking liquid to make a light broth.

When everything is heated through put the vegetables on a serving platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and your ready to eat. Serve La Vignarola as a side-dish or as a first course with a hunk of rustic bread to sop up the flavorful broth.

The sweetness of the peas is mellowed by the meaty fava beans and tender sliced artichoke hearts. With your first bite you know spring has arrived.

I’ll be in Roma soon and my Roman friend Luca and his crew will shoot a couple of episodes while I shop the outdoor markets and cook in our apartment kitchen near the Spanish Steps. You might have noticed I’ve been cooking Roman dishes lately to get in the groove.

We shot 2 new episodes last week at Cookhouse in North Beach as a run-up to my Italy trip. Watch me making a Roman favorite for your antipasti or afternoon snack (uno spuntino) and a classic main course from Naples. We’ll post the first one real soon.

Buon appetito!

Roman Stewed Spring Vegetables
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
La Vignarola, stewed artichokes, fava beans and peas Roman-style.
Author:
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 small artichokes
  • 2 pounds fava beans
  • 2 pounds spring peas
  • 2 ounces guanciale or pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 green onions
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Squeeze the juice of a lemon into a bowl of water. As you clean the artichokes, put them in the acidulated water until your ready to braise them all. (This keeps the artichokes from oxidizing and turning brown.)
  2. Pull off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes until you get to leaves that are light green-yellow in color.
  3. Cut off the dark top of the artichoke.
  4. Cut off the stem evenly and peel off any green tough skin on the artichoke base.
  5. With a spoon, scoop out the choke (small purple leaves and fuzzy center) in the middle of artichoke. (If your using baby artichokes, they won't have developed a choke yet.)
  6. Shell the peas and set aside in a bowl.
  7. Shell the fava beans, remove the skin and set aside in a bowl.
  8. Put a cup of water in a small pot over medium-high heat and add the artichokes.
  9. When the water boils cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  10. Braise the artichokes until they are knife tender, about 10 minutes.
  11. With a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  12. Add more water to the pot if necessary, raise the heat to medium-high and add the fava beans.
  13. When the water boils cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  14. Braise the fava beans until tender, about 7 minutes. (Don't over cook the fava beans or they'll lose their bright green color.)
  15. With a slotted spoon, remove the fava beans to the bowl with the artichokes.
  16. Add more water to the pot if necessary, raise the heat to medium-high and add the peas.
  17. When the water boils cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  18. Braise the peas until tender, about 5 minutes. (Don't over cook the peas or they'll lose their bright green color.)
  19. With a slotted spoon, remove the peas to the bowl with the other vegetables.
  20. Save the vegetable cooking water.
  21. Cut the artichokes in half and cut the artichoke half in 1-inch slices and put the slices back in the bowl with the other vegetables.
  22. Slice the green onions in 1-inch pieces.
  23. Cut the guanciale or pancetta into 1-inch cubes.
  24. Put another pan over medium-high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  25. When the oil is hot add the guaciale or pancetta and brown.
  26. Add the green onions and cook until soft.
  27. Lower the heat to meidum-low, add the artichokes, fava beans and peas to the pan along with 1 cup of the vegetable cooking water.
  28. Simmer until the vegetables are heated through.
  29. Put the vegetables on a serving platter and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste and a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil.
  30. Serve immediately.

 

4 North Beach Sandwiches on 2 Top 10 Lists

Molinari Deli on Columbus
Molinari Deli on Columbus

4 North Beach places own top spots in 2 recent San Francisco best sandwich lists.

Molinari’s and Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store are on both lists, Eater SF’s Most Iconic Sandwiches and Sean Timberlake’s Citysearch Guide’s Best Italian Sandwiches.

Giordano Brothers and L’osteria del Forno are on Timberlake’s list too.

Stop in Molinari’s to get a Renzo Special (prosciutto, coppa “hot or mild” fresh mozzarella, with sun dried tomatoes). Be sure to take a number as you enter the deli. Grab your choice of bread for your sandwich from the bin while you’re waiting for your number to be called.

Head to Mario’s on Washington Square Park for a meatball sandwich oozing melted cheese and marinara sauce on focaccia from Liguria Bakery just across the Square.

Giordano Brother’s “all-in-one” sandwich is an homage to a Pittsburgh tradition, stuffing a truck driver’s whole meal between 2 slices of bread so he can eat lunch behind the wheel. North Beach’s Italian-French Bakery bread holds your meat and cheese picks, delicious french fries and oil & vinegar coleslaw.

L’osteria del Forno house-made focaccia sandwiches can’t be beat. If you want a bigger meal their simple, Tuscan food will not disappoint.

And Eater SF’s downtown pick near my office, Sentinel’s corned beef focaccia sandwich never fails to sate my lunchtime deli cravings. The Sentinel is a street front walk-in for take-out only.

Buon appetito!

Citysearch List

Eater SF List