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Pan Seared Pork Chops With Meyer Lemon

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Meyer Lemon

 It’s the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., and hopefully you’ve got some good soup stock simmering on the stove, made with the leftover carcass from all that turkey you gobbled down yesterday. 

 This recipe, from Domenica Marchetti’s “Rustic Italian” cookbook, is just the antidote for turkey overload.
These garlicky-lemony pork chops are so succulent, you’ll be tempted to gnaw the bones down to the last morsel — not to mention swiping and swishing some crusty bread through that luscious sauce in the pan. I can’t blame you since that’s just what we did.
Start by sautéing thinly sliced garlic and fresh bay leaves (or dried) in olive oil.
Remove them and set aside, then brown some lemon slices in the oil. Then remove the lemon slices while you put in the pork chops.
Season and brown the pork chops, then put the garlic, lemon and bay leaves back in. Add a splash of white wine and lemon juice and cook until done.
A lot of people complain that pork chops are too dry, but that’s mostly because they’re cooked too long. Cook just until the meat feels springy, and there’s some “give” to the meat.
Here’s another way to test doneness. Make a fist. The pork chop should sort of feel like the piece of flesh at the base of the thumb where it attaches to your hand (before the thumb reaches the wrist).
If the pork chop is a teensy bit pink, it’s ok.
Don’t cook it too long, or you’ll be eating a hard, overcooked piece of meat.
The herbal and lemon flavors blend so well in this recipe, and it was so easy and quick to make, I’ll be coming back to this one again and again. Thanks Domenica.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Meyer Lemon
(Costole di Maiale in Padella)
From Domenica Marchetti’s “Rustic Italian” cookbook
printable recipe here

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
4 fresh bay leaves, or 6 dried bay leaves
2 Meyer lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 halved
4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, 6-8 oz. each
(I used 2 very thick pork chops that weighed 1.5 lbs. total)
1/2 cup dry white wine

fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil, garlic and bay leaves over medium-low heat. Sauté until the garlic is lightly golden and the oil is infused with the aroma of garlic and bay leaf, about 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic and bay leaves to a plate and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the lemon slices. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate with the garlic and bay leaves.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Arrange in the pan and raise the heat to medium high. Sear until nicely browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Turn the chops and cook until browned on the other side, 2-3 minutes longer. Since my two pork chops were very thick, I decided to add some white wine at this point to Domenica’s recipe to help them cook more quickly. Let the wine boil down for a minute. Squeeze the lemon halves over the chops and turn to coat them with the juice. Return the garlic, bay leaves and lemon slices to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook (with a lid, if the chops are very thick, as mine were) until the chops are cooked through – 3-4 minutes longer. The pork chop should spring back but still feel tender if gently pressed with a finger, and the center should be very slightly pink.

Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and spoon the pan juices, along with the lemon slices, over the top. Serve right away.

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

Wondering what to do with all those luscious tomatoes ripening in your garden right now? There are only so many tomato salads one can eat in a day. After making bruschetta, pizza, gazpacho and tomato sauce (and popping a few tomatoes whole into plastic bags for the freezer), I needed another idea.

Thankfully, I found it on Domenica Marchetti’s blog, Domenica Cooks. As soon as she posted this classic Roman recipe, it struck a note of nostalgia and hit one degree of separation. My late friend Clo, who was a native of Rome, (and who was also friends with Domenica’s mom) used to make these each summer. Although I’ve made tomatoes stuffed with quinoa, it was time for me to follow Domenica’s lead (and bring back memories of Clo) and stuff tomatoes with rice.
They are delicious hot, warm, lukewarm or cold – perfect to take on a picnic or a lunchbox.
Start by hollowing out the tomatoes – cut a rim with a small paring knife around the circumference of the tomato. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon.
Place the pulp into a colander and press out the juices as much as possible (or until you get tired).
Pour those juices into the cooked rice and mix with the herbs and cheeses.
Place a little oil on the bottom of the baking pan, then spoon the rice mixture into the tomatoes and cover the tops with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 1/2 hour, or until the top is nicely browned.
Ciao Chow Linda is also on Facebook and Instagram. Click here to connect with me on Facebook and  here for my Instagram page to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
And if you live in the Central N.J. area, join me on Saturday, August 29 at 11 a.m. at the West Windsor Farmer’s Market, when I’ll be on a panel discussion with other food writers and photographers, including Rome-based Katie Parla and NJ Monthly columnist Pat Tanner.
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
Adapted from Domenica Marchetti’s “Pomodori Ripieni”
Ingredients
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ripe round medium tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked Arborio or long-grain rice (I used arborio)
  • 1 cup cubed or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
Instructions
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the bottom and sides of a baking dish just large enough to fit the tomatoes with olive oil.
Boil the arborio rice in an uncovered pan on medium heat with the water, about 12 minutes. I like to slightly undercook it since it will cook further in the oven once inside the tomatoes. Nearly all the water should be absorbed by that time. Dump into a bowl.
Slice the top off each tomato. Set a colander over a bowl and scoop out the insides of the tomatoes, leaving a wall about 1/4 inch thick. I used a small paring knife and spoon.  Just be sure not to pierce through the tomato. Set the tomatoes aside; press the pulp and seeds to extract as much tomato juice as possible into the bowl. Discard the solids that remain in the colander.
Combine the cooked rice with the juices from the tomatoes. Stir in the mozzarella and Parmigiano cheeses, along with the parsley, basil, and oregano. Season with a little salt and pepper. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and mix everything together well.
 Spoon the rice mixture into each tomato, filling to the top without overstuffing. Sprinkle a little extra shredded mozzarella on top.
Bake uncovered for 35-40  minutes;  Remove from the oven and let cool until warm or at room temperature. Scatter a few basil leaves over the top and serve. (Leftovers are delicious straight from the fridge.)
Berry Cheese Tart

Berry Cheese Tart

 This was supposed to be a strictly strawberry tart with farm fresh Jersey strawberries. ‘Tis the season, after all. But I couldn’t resist snacking on a couple of those luscious red beauties nestled in the container beside me on my drive home from the farm. (OK, so I ate more than a couple if you must know, but how can you not at this time of year, when they’re so sweet and delicious.)
Hence, rather than make another 1/2 hour round trip to the farm, I opted for a two minute walk to my local health food store, where the organic raspberries and blueberries tempted me.
I’ve made berry tarts before, with different fillings, including this one with a traditional pastry cream, and this one with a mascarpone-lemon curd filling.
This time though, I opted for a cream cheese filling. I used only one eight-ounce package of cream cheese, and let the berries take the starring role, but if you prefer more filling, just double the recipe and bake it for another 10 minutes or so. Another feature of this tart is the layer of slivered almonds below the filling, above the crust. It adds more flavor but also helps to avoid a soggy crust.
I used Domenica Marchetti’s delicious recipe for the crust, but added a little almond extract rather than the lemon, to continue with the almond theme.
Berry Cheese Tart
tart crust:
Domenica Marchetti’s recipe:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon (I used one 1 teaspoon. almond extract instead)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Note: This makes a lot of dough – enough for two tarts. Or make one large one and several small ones, or one large tart and use the rest to roll out delicious cookies that taste like shortbread.
Filling:
1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 large or extra large egg
Topping:
1 quart strawberries (two if you want to use only strawberries)
or add blueberries and raspberries
quince jelly (or any clear jelly)
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. You’ll need only one of these halves for this tart. Use the rest for another tart, freeze it, or make small tarts or cookies.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a tart pan with a removable bottom (mine was 9 inches in diameter, but you can use a smaller one) Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick the bottom all around with a fork. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. I “blind-bake” the crust by buttering some aluminum foil and pressing that lightly over the raw dough. Then add some beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool completely while you mix the filling.
Put the cream cheese, sugar, cream, almond extra and egg into a food processor and pulse until well blended and smooth.
Spread the sliced almonds over the pre-baked crust, then pour the filling on top. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes or until set.
Let the tart cool and place the berries on top. Heat some of the jelly in the microwave slightly to make it spreadable. Using a pastry brush, cover the berries with a thin layer of the jelly. Refrigerate and serve.
Ciao Biscotti Giveaway

Ciao Biscotti Giveaway

 Update March 15, 2015: The winner of the giveaway book “Ciao Biscotti” is Carolyn Immordino MacCleod.

Anytime my friend Domenica Marchetti writes a new cookbook, you can be assured it’s going to be good. Long a champion of Italian cooking, especially that of the Abruzzo region, her cookbooks are well researched and well written, apropos for a woman who worked as a newspaper journalist before moving to culinary writing. She has now published a new book – “Ciao Biscotti” – that will keep biscotti lovers happy for a very long time.
Some of the old classics are here, like almond or anise biscotti, but she’s also included some recipes for some not-so-traditional ones like browned butter and Toblerone, and cardamom-pecan. One chapter deals with the savory side of biscotti, such as crispy pancetta, or smoky gouda, giving you even more reason to uncork a nice bottle of wine and chill out with a biscotto or two.
The final chapter highlights a few cookies that aren’t biscotti, such as hazelnut meringues or Nutella sandwich cookies. The temptation to try out each of the recipes in the book is strong, but I had to limit myself to three for now —
olive oil and citrus, that I drizzled with a lemon glaze:
chocolate chunk with cherries:
 and chocolate-dipped toasted coconut:
It’s hard choosing a favorite, because they’re all so delicious, but if you were to peek inside my cookie tins, you’d find that someone’s been dipping into the chocolate-dipped coconut ones with a little more gusto than she should have. I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes in the weeks ahead.
 I’m including the recipe for the chocolate-covered coconut biscotti, but for others, you’ll just have to get the book.
You won’t be disappointed, although I have a different experience in freezing biscotti than Domenica, maybe because when I bake them a second time, I do so at a higher temperature than she does.
Let me add my nerd notes here: biscotti means twice baked, in case you didn’t already know. The prefix “bis” is used in several instances to indicate repetition of some sort or other. When you’re at the end of a performance in Italy and want the singer to perform one more song, you don’t yell “encore,” you yell “bis.” Also, while nonno is grandfather in Italian, bisnonno is a great grandfather, the same way that bisnipote is a great grandchild, or great nephew or niece.
Which brings me back to the second baking and freezing. For the second baking, I do leave them in the oven longer and at a higher temperature than Domenica suggests in the book, because I like them to be uncompromisingly hard and crunchy. I crank up the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees and leave them in for another ten to fifteen minutes or so, flipping them over halfway, until they’re golden on each side, and checking continually to make sure they don’t burn. That dries out any remaining moisture and makes them as crunchy and addictive as eating potato chips.
I find that the extra baking time and temperature means that they freeze well and never lose their crunch, even the frosted ones. But first try baking according to Domenica’s directions and see if that works best for you.
For those of you who live in the Philadelphia, Pa. area, Domenica will be at Fante’s fabulous kitchen store on 9th St., this Sat. March 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so you can get a copy personally autographed by her. Free samples of biscotti too!
But I’d also like to give one of my readers a chance to own a copy, so I’m offering a giveaway here. All you have to do to win a copy of “Ciao Biscotti” is to leave a comment below (on the blog NOT in email, for those of you who receive updates via email). Domenica herself recently held a giveaway on her blog for a copy of the book and asked readers to leave a comment describing something sweet about Italy. I loved reading some of the comments, whether it was about a sweet Italian food, or a sweet memory of Italy — so I’m asking my readers to do the same. If you’ve never been to Italy, then describe what you love about Italian food, art or music. I’ll let the computer choose a winner with a randomly generated number. You don’t need to have a blog to enter, but if you don’t, please leave an email address so I can contact the winner. Grazie.



Chocolate-Dipped Toasted Coconut Biscotti
from “Ciao Biscotti” by Domenica Marchetti
printable recipe here

1 T. vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups/285 g. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup/50 g. unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
3/4 cup/150 g. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 cup/50 g. sliced honey-roasted almonds or sliced almonds, toasted (I used toasted pecans)
5 Tbsp/70 g. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch/12 mm. pieces, at room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz./115 g. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Lightly coat an 11 by 17 inch/28 by 43 cm. rimmed baking sheet with the oil. (I used a Silpat silicone mat and you don’t need any greasing at all.)
Combine the flour, coconut, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the almonds and mix briefly on low to combine.  Add the butter in pieces and mix on medium low speed until the mixture looks like damp sand. Pour in the eggs and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a disk. Divide it in half. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll one portion of dough into a rough oval. Place it lengthwise on one half of the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 2 1/2 in/6 cm wide and 12 in/30 cm long. Shape the second piece of dough in the same way, moistening your hands as necessary. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops oven.
Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until the bottom edges are lightly browned and the tops are set — they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, and them transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C. (I raised it to 400 degrees F./200 degrees C.)
Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on the diagonal into 1/2 in/12 mm-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are crisp and golden. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely.
Arrange the slices cut-side up on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Dip one end of each biscotto into the melted chocolate and set them on the wax paper. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the chocolate is set. Let the biscotti return to room temperature before serving.

Italian Gals Cookie Exchange

Italian Gals Cookie Exchange

Over the years, I’ve whittled my Christmas cookie baking to two or three types. Fortunately, I know I can count on my father’s wife to bring me a tin of pizzelle and my friend Lilli to bake me some of her almond paste cookies. But this year, I can add three more types of cookies to my cookie tray, thanks to a cookie exchange with three of my favorite Italian food bloggers, – Adri, Domenica and Marie.
We started our first annual “Italian Gals Cookie Exchange,” baking cookies and shipping them to each other at our homes across the United States – from  California and Illinois to Virginia and New Jersey.  Who says you have to live in the same town to have a cookie exchange?
The arrivals were greatly anticipated and felt like an early Christmas present.  The first two arrived on the same day, including Domenica’s delicious cranberry hazelnut biscotti, one of the recipes that will be included in the newest cookbook she’s written, about to be released in March, called “Ciao Biscotti.”
 Adri’s heavenly three-nut fingers came in a tin beautifully lined in striped tissue paper, with each pair of cookies individually delicately wrapped inside its own waxed paper envelope. The buttery cookies, with almonds, hazelnuts and pecans, just melted in the mouth.
And the reputation for Marie’s legendary cucidati preceded the actual cookies. I’ve been reading about them for years, since she makes hundreds of them each Christmas and I’ve been so anxious to try them. They were every bit as delicious as what I had expected and brought back memories of Christmases with my late husband’s Aunt Jenny, who baked a similar version.
 My contribution were these chocolate-y, spicy cookies that my mother made each Christmas when I was growing up. She called them “brownies” but they’re nothing like American brownies, except for the chocolate. In addition to the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, there’s another unexpected spice that gives them a zing. For me, they’re a taste of my childhood and it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. The recipe, adapted from Alfred Portale, is listed below, but you can see step by step photos of how to make them on a post I wrote here, shortly after I started the blog in 2008. They’re actually based on a Sicilian cookie called either “tutu” or “toto,” according to reports I received from readers. Sometimes they’re even referred to as “Meatball cookies.” I think you can see why.
 Also included on the plate below are a couple of “intorchiate,” a cookie I wrote about in my last blog post.
I hope we four bloggers continue to maintain this tradition each year, and that we have inspired you to start your own cookie exchange, whether you live close to your friends, or far away. Just make sure to bake cookies that aren’t too fragile so they won’t break during shipment, and to keep it to a maximum of two dozen cookies and four people. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot on shipping and you’ll be baking until la Befana comes home on January 6.
In the meantime, Buon Natale and best wishes for a wonderful 2015 to all my readers. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog through the year and for those of you who leave comments, an extra bacione.



Cocoa Christmas Cookies
or Italian “Brownies”


printable recipe here
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 1/2 tsps. baking powder
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup milk
2 cups chocolate chips

If using raisins and walnuts as Portale did, add 1 1/2 cups of each

glaze:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, black pepper. Combine and set aside.
2. With a heavy duty mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in vanilla, jam, and milk. Set mixer to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating only until it is incorporated. Add the chocolate chips. The batter will be extremely stiff.
3. Place a large piece of waxed paper or parchment paper on the counter and flour it generously. Take a large spoon and scoop out a couple of heaping cups of the stiff batter onto the floured surface. Use a spoon to release it if needed. Flour your hands well and begin to shape the batter into a log shape, about an inch in diameter, rolling it back and forth on the floured surface. Use the paper to help mold it. Place the “logs” into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
4. Remove from refrigerator and cut into sections about 1 1/2 inches wide. You can leave it this shape, or roll it between the palms of your hand into a flattened ball, which is the traditional shape.
5. Place balls on a parchment-lined or greased and floured cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. The tops will crack – this is normal. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool. Cover with the glaze when completely cooled.
For the glaze:

Mix sifted confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice with a spoon until the desired consistency. I make mine almost like a frosting rather than a glaze, which means you’ll need to add more sugar. If you prefer yours to be more of a drizzle, adjust with more lemon juice.

This recipe makes about 6 to 7 dozen cookies and they freeze well. Just make sure the glaze is dry before putting them in the freezer. They will get hard if you leave them at for more than a week.

Very Berry Tart

Very Berry Tart

 “It’s spring! It’s spring!” Babar, the king of the elephants says one sunny day he opens his window and sees that the leaves and flowers seem to have opened overnight. Don’t ask me why that line stands out to me, (maybe because I read it hundreds of times to my kids), but that’s what I think of when I see this tart. It’s as pretty as a fine spring day, and tastes equally delicious too, with its luscious lemony filling.

The crust is really special too – it’s the same one I used for the ricotta tart I made for Easter from Domenica Marchetti. But I blind-baked it first this time, then added the filling. After you’ve placed the dough into the tart pan, use a fork to prick it all around.
Spray one side of aluminum foil with Pam, or butter it lightly, then press it down over the dough and add some beans or rice to keep the dough from puffing up during the baking.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before adding the filling. (Hint – if you want to take the easy way out – go buy a pie crust all ready for the oven. I won’t tell. But Domenica’s crust recipe is so much better than anything store bought.) The filling is a snap to make, since all you do is open a jar of lemon curd and mix some of it with mascarpone cheese.
Now comes the fun part – arranging the berries in a pretty design.
Spread some clear or light colored jelly over the berries and chill before serving.
And don’t forget to open the windows to enjoy the spring flowers that seem to have opened overnight.

 

Very Berry Tart
tart crust:
Domenica Marchetti’s recipe:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Note: This makes a lot of dough – enough for two tarts. Or make one large one and several small ones, or one large tart and use the rest to make delicious cookies that taste like shortbread.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. You’ll need only one of these halves for this tart. Use the rest for another tart, freeze it, or make small tarts or cookies.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a tart pan with a removable bottom (mine was 9 inches in diameter, but you can use a smaller one) Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick the bottom all around with a fork. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. I “blind-bake” the crust by buttering some aluminum foil and pressing that lightly over the raw dough. Then add some beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before adding the filling.
filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup lemon curd
berries for top
light colored jelly or jam for glaze
Blend the mascarpone and lemon curd together with a whisk. Spread it over the baked tart crust.
Top with berries (I used a combination of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), arranged in a pretty design. Spread a light colored jelly or jam over the top. I used homemade quince jelly, but apricot or apple or orange would be fine too. Warm it in the microwave first to loosen the jelly a bit so you’ll be able to spread it better.
Domenica Marchetti’s Lemon Ricotta Crostata And Cookies Too.

Domenica Marchetti’s Lemon Ricotta Crostata and Cookies too.

 This crostata recipe comes from Domenica Marchetti. And it graced our dessert table on Easter this year (along with a bowl of marinated strawberries and way too many jelly beans and chocolate Easter eggs. The lemon flavor in this dessert is subtle, but adds a soft tang that gives it an elegant distinction. And the crust – oh my, the crust is so delicious I will be using it as my tart crust from here on out. The recipe makes more dough than you will need, as Domenica points out. You’ll be glad though, when you taste the wonderful treats that you can make from the excess dough (hang in there, it’s coming at the end of the post.)

For this crostata though, I first drained the ricotta. Try to find freshly made ricotta if possible, rather than a supermarket brand. I place a coffee filter in a colander, add the ricotta, then cover the top with plastic wrap and put a weight over it (something like a heavy can). I let it drain overnight in the refrigerator, but if you’re pressed for time, even a few hours will help.
At least one cup of liquid came out – that would be liquid that would otherwise give you a soggy crust.
The mascarpone in the recipe adds a creaminess that ordinary ricotta tarts don’t have.
The dough is really easy to work, so the lattice strips don’t fall apart as in other recipes I’ve used.

 

There’s not a lot of sugar in the filling, so a dusting of powdered sugar over the top adds a nice touch of sweetness. And it will cover up any cracks that may appear in your lattice work.

Remember those leftover dough scraps I mentioned? Domenica suggests you make cookies with them and sandwich them together with a bit of Nutella. Ottima idea Domenica!
 Next time I may vary the filling and use some dulce de leche or homemade jam as well. But these Nutella ones were a bit hit and disappeared in no time. I have another batch all ready to go, to share with students in a class tomorrow.

Domenica Marchetti’s Lemon-Ricotta Crostata
printable recipe here
Ingredients

  • For the dough
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • For the filling
  • 8 oz fresh sheep’s milk ricotta or well-drained cow’s milk ricotta
  • 8 oz mascarpone
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving (I like it a touch sweeter, so would add another 1/4 cup sugar – Ciao Chow Linda)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon, plus 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions

 

Make the dough
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Rewrap the smaller portion and return it to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the large portion into an 11-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the filling
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, whole egg and yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and zest. Using a stand mixer or a handheld beater, beat the ingredients on high speed for about 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
Assemble and bake the crostata
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Scrape the filling into the shell and smooth it with a silicone spatula. Roll out the reserved piece of dough into a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker, and cut it into 3/4-inch-wide strips with a fluted pastry wheel. Carefully place the strips over the filled tart shell in a lattice pattern, gently pressing the ends of the strips into the sides of the tart shell. Use any remaining strips to form a rim around the perimiter of the crostata.
Bake the crostata for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is puffed and just set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the ring of the tart pan and let the crostata cool completely before transferring it to a decorative platter. Dust liberally with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

 

NOTES This recipe will leave you with four leftover egg whites. Don’t toss them! Use them to make these meringue cookies. You will also likely have leftover dough. Gather the scraps into a ball, wrap and chill. Then use the dough to make these nutella sandwich cookies.If you don’t plan to serve the crostata within a couple of hours of baking, cover with foil and store it in the refrigerator. Let it come back to room temperature before serving (although it’s also really good cold).

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Stracotto Di Manzo Or Italian Pot Roast

Stracotto di Manzo or Italian Pot Roast

When the temperature dips to 5 degrees fahrenheit and snow blankets the ground like a down comforter, many of us seek solace in the kitchen with winter comfort foods. Foods that we wouldn’t dream of cooking in July seem perfect for combatting January’s frigid days – foods like this pot roast from Domenica Marchetti’s book, “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.”

I love all of Domenica’s cookbooks, including her latest, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” so deciding on a recipe for dinner wasn’t easy.
This one comes from Domenica’s mother Gabriella, a delightful woman who contributed much to Domenica’s love of cooking and the food of Abruzzo in particular. It’s a recipe that evokes Domenica’s childhood and turned the humble dish into a special occasion meal. Last night, as snow fell and the landscape turned white, I decided I needed a special occasion meal too.
 I hadn’t made a pot roast in years and picked up this large chuck roast at the supermarket earlier in the day. If you buy a piece with heavy veins of fat, as this one, you could carve some of it out before cooking, or do as I did and skim the fat from the liquid once it finishes cooking.
Season the meat with salt and pepper, then sear it on all sides, a process that takes four to five minutes.
 The vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes) and seasonings are added to the pot, along with some wine and broth, then the oven does the work for the next two and a half hours.
What emerges is a flavorful, cut-it-with-a-fork tender pot roast that will leave you wishing for even more snowy days when you can hunker indoors with a hearty meal.
 Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles, polenta or whatever starch you prefer. My side dishes were farro with peas, and steamed butternut squash. The sauce from the roast is still quite chunky, but you could puree it with a stick blender if you prefer a smoother version. Consider setting some aside and adding it to some freshly cooked pasta as a first course.

 

Stracotto di Manzo Alla Gabriella
From “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy”
by Domenica Marchetti

printable recipe here

 

  • 1 boneless chuck roast, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup passato di pomodoro (tomato puree) or canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth (homemade is best), or water
  • Instructions
    Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. In ad Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle place the roast in the pot. Brown it on all sides, turning it every 3 to 4 minutes, for even coloring. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a plate.
    Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is pale gold but not browned. Stir in the thyme, followed by the wine, tomatoes, and the broth. Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Let the pot roast braise, turning the meat every 30 minutes, for about 2 1/2 hours or until it is fork tender and the sauce is deliciously thick and red-brown.
    Remove the meat from the sauce and either cut it into thin slices or large chunks. Arrange the meat on a serving platter and spoon the sauce on top.

 

Domenica Marchetti At Le Virtù

Domenica Marchetti at Le Virtù

 Sometimes there is a confluence of all things good and right in the universe and one of those things happened last week, when Le Virtù, my favorite Philadelphia restaurant organized a special evening featuring foods from Domenica Marchetti’s latest cookbook, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.” 

Each course was accompanied by wines that complemented the food perfectly – mostly from Abruzzo, but also from the regions of Le Marche and Puglia. The bread service included a cherry tomato and red onion focaccia; pizza bianca with roasted fennel and assorted grilled flatbreads (sorry, I forgot to take a photo.) The breads were terrific alongside this chicory salad, made more savory with the addition of anchovies in the dressing – similar to the flavor in a Caesar salad.
On a cold winter’s night, Domenica’s ribollita satisfies both body and soul.
The winter risotto was a perfect blend of sweet butternut squash and bitter Tuscan kale, held together with a swirl of Parmesan cheese.
Chef Joe Cicala deviated from Domenica’s recipes for the main course – whole roasted suckling pig. The crackling outer skin was irresistible, along with the tender meat flavored with garlic and rosemary.
Vegetables followed, including my favorite, broccoli romano –  hard to find in my neck of the woods. It  too, was prepared with anchovy sauce, but as with many recipes that include anchovies, you’d never know it. The anchovies just heighten the flavors without overpowering the vegetable.
 Served at room temperature, a winter salad of cauliflower had a fiery kick to it.
 Fennel with sultana raisins and chili pepper offered a balance of sweet and spicy.
And speaking of sweet, the evening ended on a high note with a pumpkin semifreddo and sweet potato fritelle resting atop a mocha sauce, with toasted pumpkin seeds, prepared by pastry chef Angela Ranalli Cicala.
If you missed the evening with Domenica, there are still plenty of reasons to come down to this gem of a Philly restaurant.  The restaurant, owned by Francis Cratil and Cathy Lee, offers one of the most authentic and delicious menus featuring the food of Abruzzo. Their new fall menu is now available here.

Winter Risotto with butternut squash and Tuscan kale
from “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy” by Domenica Marchetti
printable recipe here

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 8 ounces Tuscan kale, coarsely shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth, heated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions

 

Warm the olive oil and the onion in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the onion is softened and translucent. Add the squash and kale and toss to coat them with the oil. Sprinkle in the salt. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the kale is completely wilted and the cubes of squash are just tender.
Pour in the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the grains are shiny and glassy-looking. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Let it bubble for a minute or so, until it is almost absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium-low and begin to add the broth, a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, until the liquid is almost absorbed. You do not need to stir the risotto constantly, but be sure that you do stir it often, and take care that the rice grains do not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Continue to cook the risotto and add broth, 1 or 2 ladlefuls at a time, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is almost but not completely cooked. It should be al dente–still rather firm and chalky at the center. Check by tasting a few grains. Stir in the butter and cheese. Then stir in a final ladleful of broth to achieve a creamy texture. The risotto should not be stiff or runny; it should mound softly on a spoon. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you like.
Spoon the risotto into shallow rimmed bowls and serve immediately, with additional Parmigiano cheese on the side.

 

Clam Stew With Greens And Tomatoes

Clam Stew with Greens and Tomatoes

 For the clam lovers in your life, this one is easy and anyone who tries it will be happy as a …., well you know.  It’s another recipe from Domenica Marchetti’s recently published cookbook “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.” Domenica uses Tuscan kale and savoy cabbage in her recipe, but since I had swiss chard growing in the garden, that’s what I substituted. It’s my favorite of all the greens, and it worked perfectly here. 

The recipe says it makes up to 6 servings, but I guess we were gluttons. I’ve made it twice now, and both times as a main course. Two of us finished the whole thing – all four dozen clams. For more moderate eaters, or as a first course, it would stretch further.
Clam Stew With Greens and Tomatoes
Greens:
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
  • 8 oz./225 gr. Tuscan kale, coarsely shredded
  • 8 oz./225 gr. Savoy cabbage (use the dark outer leaves), halved lengthwise and shredded
  • fine sea salt
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cups/480 gr. chopped canned tomatoes, with their juice
Clams
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup/240 ml. dry white wine
  • 4 dozen fresh littleneck or other small clams, scrubbed clean
4 to 6 thick slices bruschetta (toasted or grilled bread slices)
To make the greens: Warm the olive oil and garlic in a large saucepan or deep-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the garlic is soft and translucent, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the greens by the handful – as much as will fit in the pan. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the greens begin to wilt. Continue to add more greens to the pan and cook until they are all wilted. Season with salt and the red pepper flakes and cover. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover partially, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have thickened slightly to a sauce consistency.
To cook the clams: While the greens are cooking, warm the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Add the clams and cover the pan. Cook the clams at a lively simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they just open. Using tongs, remove the clams to a large bowl as they open; discard any that are not open. Once all the clams have been removed, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth into a small bowl. Pour the strained liquid into the saucepan with the greens, and then add the clams. Usinga large serving spoon, gently incorporate the clams into the greens. Heat briefly until the greens and clams are warmed through.
Place a slice of bruschetta in the bottom of four or six shallow rimmed bowls. Spoon the clams and greens, as well as some of the liquid, into each bowl and serve.
Pancetta variation: Put 1 to 2 oz/30 to 55 g. diced pancetta in the large saucepan where you will cook the greens. Do this before you add the sliced garlic. Cook until the pancetta is just crisp and has rendered some fat. Add the garlic, and 1 T. of oil if you like, and proceed with the recipe as directed.