Cozze gratinate /Mussels au gratin

Thoroughly clean the mussels, discarding the top shell and place them in a baking pan. Prepare a very fine mixure of breadcrums, cheese, pepper, oregano, garlic, parsley and some olive oil.

Mix thoroughly and add the mixure on top of the mussels.Bake at 200 degrees centigrade (390F) for approx 5 minutes and enjoy this “delizia”.

Bombette: Thin-cut slices of pork filled with cheese and other goodies

Ingredients (for 4 people)

16 thinly-sliced medallions of pork loin. Each piece should be about 8cm x 8cm so you may need to trim.

100gr grated cheese (Parmesan, pecorino or other) or little chunks of a melting cheese

150gr cured ham chopped into little chunks or minced beef or sausage meat

A sprig or two of rosemary, a handful of finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Procedure

Lay out the pieces of pork and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little parsley and rosemary on top and then add a teaspoon of grated cheese/or chunks of melting cheese and a little cured ham. Close up each piece into a little ball and put onto a skewer (which should keep them closed up).

Take outside to a charcoal barbecue and in 10 minutes you’ll have some wonderfully tasty little bombs to impress your friends with! 

Beef Braciole

If you grew up in an Italian-American family, the "brasciol" was a Sunday classic !!

Braciole is thinly sliced beef stuffed lightly with bread crumbs, grated cheese and parsley, rolled up and cooked in a sauce. Every family has their own version and their own preferred stuffing, but the principle is the same, and the results are always delicious!

The origins are unclear; some say it's Neapolitan, where they often add raisins and pine nuts to the stuffing; others say it hails from Puglia where it is slow cooked in sauce and served with orecchiette pasta.

REAL-DEAL SOUTHERN ITALIAN BRACIOLE 

4-6 thin sliced beef scallopine or flank steak
1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs, preferably from day-old bread
1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry wine (red or white)
2 cups tomato sauce or tomato puree

Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and garlic in a bowl. Distribute evenly over each of the beef scallops. Roll up the meat and secure with kitchen string or toothpicks.
In a large pan, brown the meat rolls in olive oil. Turn to saute on all sides. Remove from the pan, and add the wine.

Deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits, then add the tomato sauce. (If you’re using plain bottled puree, you might want to add a little oregano and basil to flavor the tomato sauce.) Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste, and peperoncino (red chilli flakes) if you want a little spice, but go easy!

Return the meat rolls to the sauce, cover and simmer about 1/2 hour. Uncover the pan and let simmer another 10 minutes. Serve the sauce on pasta, then serve the meat with a drizzle of sauce over it. You can sprinkle it with additional grated cheese and a bit of minced parsley, if you’d like.

Want the Neapolitan version of braciole? It's simple: take 1-2 slices of prosciutto and slice it into slivers. Add it to the bowl along with a handful of raisins and a handful of pine nuts. Stuff and cook as directed.


                                                                                                                  FRESH PASTA “ORECCHIETTE”

UNLIKE MOST HOMEMADE PASTAS, WHICH CONTAIN EGGS, ORECCHIETTE ARE MADE FROM JUST FLOUR AND WATER. THE LACK OF EGGS AND THE USE OF SEMOLINA FLOUR, WHICH IS HARDER THAN WHITE FLOUR, CONTRIBUTE TO THE PASTA’S PLEASINGLY FIRM BITE.

THE DOUGH IS MADE LIKE ANY OTHER PASTA DOUGH, BY SHAPING THE FLOUR INTO A WELL, PUTTING THE LIQUID IN THE MIDDLE, AND VERY GRADUALLY WORKING IN THE FLOUR WITH YOUR FINGERS.   YOU WILL  USE WARM WATER, IN ORDER  TO DEVELOP MORE GLUTEN IN THE FLOUR, MAKING IT VERY ELASTIC.

AFTER THE DOUGH IS MIXED, IT NEEDS SEVERAL  MINUTES OF KNEADING. 

THE TRADITIONAL WAY TO ROLL FORM THE PASTA SHAPES INVOLVES DRAGGING A KNIFE ALONG A BIT OF DOUGH AND FOLDING IT WITH YOUR FINGER.

YOU CAN COOK FRESH IN SALTED BOILING WATER FOR 4–5 MINUTES, OR LEAVE THEM OUT TO DRY OVERNIGHT AND STORE IN AN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER UNTIL READY TO USE. THE DRIED PASTA WILL TAKE 8–10 MINUTES TO COOK. ORECCHIETTE IS A VERY VERSATILE PASTA, AND CAN BE SERVED WITH JUST ABOUT ANYTHING, A RICH  RAGÙ WOULD MAKE A GREAT PAIRING, OR EVEN A SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE WITH FRESH BASIL AND THE TRADIOTIONAL “CACIORICOTTA”, A HARD,WHITE ,SHEEP CHEESE GREAT ON PASTA.

     PARMIGIANA DI MELANZANE (ITALIAN BAKED EGGPLANT WITH PARMESAN)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3  LARGE EGGPLANTS, SLICED LENGTHWISE INTO 1/4-INCH SLICES
  • 2 TABLESPOONS COARSE SALT, AS NEEDED
  • VEGETABLE OIL FOR FRYING
  • FLOUR FOR DREDGING
  • FRESH EGGS
  • TOMATO SAUCE
  • 2 FRESH MOZZARELLA CHEESE, SLICED
  • FRESHLY GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE

PLACE A SINGLE LAYER OF EGGPLANT SLICES IN A COLANDER SITTING ON A PLATE AND SPRINKLE WITH COARSE SALT. COVER WITH A SECOND LAYER AND SPRINKLE WITH SALT. REPEAT WITH REMAINING EGGPLANT. PLACE A PLATE ON TOP AND ADD A WEIGHT TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE EGGPLANT SLICES. LET STAND FOR ABOUT 1 HOUR.

RINSE EGGPLANT SLICES UNDER RUNNING COLD WATER TO WASH OFF ALL THE SALT. PAT DRY ON ALL SIDES WITH PAPER TOWELS.

HEAT OIL IN A DEEP SKILLET OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT. DREDGE EGGPLANT SLICES IN FLOUR ON BOTH SIDES AND ADD THEM IN THE WHISKED EGGS. DEEP FRY EGGPLANT UNTIL GOLDEN, 2 TO 3 MINUTES PER SIDE. DRAIN ON PAPER TOWELS.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES F.

SPREAD A LAYER OF TOMATO SAUCE OVER THE BOTTOM OF A BAKING DISH. COVER WITH A SINGLE LAYER OF EGGPLANT SLICES. TOP WITH MORE SAUCE, MOZZARELLA SLICES, AND PARMESAN CHEESE. CONTINUE MAKING LAYERS, 3 TO 5, FINISHING WITH TOMATO SAUCE AND GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE.

COOK THE DISH IN THE PREHEATED OVEN FOR 30 TO 40 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM OVEN AND LET STAND FOR 20 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

                                             TIRAMISU'

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE:

1-2 DOZEN OF “SAVOIARDI “, OR SPONGEFINGERS.

250 G MASCARPONE CHEESE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

4 EGGS.

A TOUCH OF SUGAR.

COFFEE COOLED TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.

COCOA POWDER FOR DUSTING.

 

TO GET STARTED, SEPARATE THE 4 EGGS, AND PLACE 3 OF THE EGG WHITES IN ONE BOWL, AND 4 EGG YOLKS IN ANOTHER. WHISK THE EGG WHITES  TO A FIRM CONSISTENCY. YOU WILL KNOW THE EGG WHITES ARE READY WHEN YOU PULL A BEATER OUT OF THE MIXTURE AND A LITTLE PEAK STICKS STRAIGHT UP. ADD 3 TABLESPOONS OF SUGAR TO THE EGG YOLK BOWL. USE A HAND MIXER TO WHIP THE EGGS TO STIFF TO A YELLOW PALE COLOUR. MIX IN THE MASCARPONE WITH THE HAND MIXER UNTIL INCORPORATED, THEN GENTLY FOLD IN 4 SPOONS OF EGG WHITES.

TO DIP, PLACE THE ESPRESSO MIXTURE IN A FLAT AND SMALL DISH, SO THE ENTIRE LADYFINGER SOAKS EVENLY. THE SPONGEFINGERS ONLY NEED A QUICK SOAK, ABOUT 1-2 SECONDS. AS YOU SOAK THEM, PLACE THEM IN A 8×8 SQUARE DISH IN AN EVEN LAYER. THEN POUR OVER A LAYER OF THE MASCARPONE CREAM TO COVER, AND REPEAT.

 YOU COULD PREPARE THE TIRAMISU’ IN SMALL GLASS RAMEKINS FOR A MORE ELEGANT PRESENTATION. JUST BREAK APART OR CUT THE SPONGEFINGERS TO FIT THE GLASS.LET THE TIRAMISU SIT IN THE FRIDGE FOR A GOOD 3-4 HOURS.

SERVE THE TIRAMISU COLD, WITH A DUSTING OF COCOA POWDER ON TOP, AND ENJOY IT!