Tag Archives: Italian

Gina’s Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

 

Preparing for the Puttanesca sauce
Preparing for the Puttanesca sauce


There are many explanations that describe the origin of this dish. Puttanesca (literally means whore’s style spaghetti) is believed to have originated in the Campania region of Italy. In 2007, when we visited the ruins of Pompeii in Naples, our tour guide Marco from Perillo Tours explained to us the story behind the name of this dish. According to him, the ladies of the evening made it to lure the men into their house by attracting them with the aroma of the sauce.  Other sources claim the ladies made it  because it was easy and quick as they were always busy and had little time for cooking.  Whatever the story, Puttanesca is a delicious and lively sauce that you can whip in no time. It’s best served over spaghetti. It is tasty but on the salty side.

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz. peeled tomatoes, chopped or crushed
  • 1 cup meatless tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup capers, drained
  • 2 can of whole anchovies in oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 lb. of spaghetti

    Preparation:1) Bring pasta water to a boil, add salt, and cook according to package directions. I like mine al dente (to the bite)

    2) In the meanwhile, over medium heat, in medium-size saucepan, heat up olive oil, sautee the garlic for 1 minute, add olives, capers, anchovies, continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and pepper flakes. Bring to a quick boil, simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Serve it over spaghetti.Cook’s note: If pasta is done before the sauce, just drain it well and drizzle some olive oil on it to prevent clumping.If you love all these ingredients, you will savor this delicious meal. I recently made it with cod fish over polenta, and it came out scrumptious. Check out my blogpost:  Baccala Mantecato to learn how to desalt the cod fish.

    Wine Pairing Suggestions: Ideally, I recommend the red Lacryma Christi from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy. However, it can be challenging finding this varietal. My next suggestions would be a Primitivo from the Puglia region or a Nero N’Avola from Sicily. Whatever your choice, with or without wine, you will enjoy this punchy pasta (if you like all the ingredients).  Buon Appetito!

    Warning: This dish has a high sodium content

    Disclosure: I did not get compensated for the products that I used
    Recipe developed by: Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Happy Cooking from my Kitchen to yours,
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Wine Connoisseur
    Culinary and Global Cuisines Aficionado

    Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
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Olive Tapenade, Gina’s Style

 

Tapenade is a  Provençal dip/spread that consists of olives, capers and sometimes anchovies. I love anchovies but I am not using it in this recipe.  You certainly can add them for more richness if you like them.  Beware of the  high level of sodium in all the ingredients.  This mouthwatering spread is also found in Italian cuisine.

“Olive-based tapenades with anchovies and/or vinegar are ubiquitous in Italian cuisine and are documented in ancient Roman cookbooks dating back thousands of years before the appearance of the Occitan word tapenade. One of the earliest known tapenade recipe, Olivarum conditurae, appears in Columella‘s De re Rustica, written in the first century AD.[3] .[4] Cato the Elder (234–149 B.C.E.) includes a recipe for Epityrum, an olive spread very like a tapenade, in chapter 119 of his “On Agriculture.”

Follow me in my kitchen and let ‘s have fun with this delicious spread.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer – Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and rinsed
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted (Sicilians are the best) *
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leave Italian parsley + more for garnish
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
  • Half of a lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • Roasted red bell peppers for garnish, fresh or jar ones
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced  or crackers*     Preparation:
    1) Place Kalamata and green olives, parsley, oil, lemon, capers and garlic in a food processor. Pulse 25 times by stopping each time until you obtain a chunky but moist consistency, showing small bits of olives and other ingredients.
    2) Place in a serving bowl and chill. (Optional)
    3) Spread on delicious crusty bread or crackers. Drizzle with olive oil.
    Garnish with parsley and roasted peppers.This spread makes a dazzling appetizer and can be made ahead of time. Cook’s notes: I used Spanish olives, and they worked nicely.
    I don’t recommend that you add any salt to this spread, even if you’re not on a sodium-restricted diet. You can toast the bread to add that extra touch.  The choice is yours. Wine Pairing Suggestions: A lovely chilled white, such as a sauvignon blanc, or any white or red varieties of your choice. Make sure, the acidity level is low to medium. This way, it will not take away the sharpness nor compete with the saltiness of the dish.  It’s ok, if you don’t consume alcohol, either way, you will enjoy this luscious appetizer.I hope you will try this recipe and share your thoughts with me. Please take pictures and I will randomly select a lucky recipient’s photo to be featured on my Instagram profile.  The deadline is May 16th, 2017.                          Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,  Gina Martino Zarcadoolas aka Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
    WSET-Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
    Global Cuisines & Cultures Aficionado

 

Gina’s Luscious Tomato Bruschetta

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Luscious tomatoes

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Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer. It’s a commonly mispronounced Italian word. In America, many people say bru’shetta, but in Italian, it’s pronounced: bru’sketta. How ever you pronounce it, it’s an easy and enticing appetizer. Your guests will enjoy every bite of its lusciousness. I suggest that you have two loaves of bread on hand, in case you burn the first batch. It’s happened to me a couple of times, but luckily, my guests never found out. It’s important that you are glued in front of the oven, because that one extra minute will create an unappealing presentation and an unpleasant taste. Follow me, and let’s have some fun in the kitchen.

Degree of difficulty: Easy –  Serves: 8-10 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

-2 lbs. of grape tomatoes, cut-up
-1/4 tsp. of sea salt
-Freshly ground black pepper, optional
-1 tbsp. flat-leave Italian parsley, chopped
-1 tbsp. basil leaves, chopped
-1-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (+ more to drizzle)
-2 loaves of bread, sliced diagonally
-Parmegiano Reggiano, parmesan cheese for grating

Preparation: 

1) In a medium-sized ceramic or glass bowl, mix tomatoes, salt, black pepper, parsley, basil, garlic, vinegar and oil together.
2) Refrigerate for a minimum of an hour before serving.
3) In a single layer on a flat tray, drizzle the bread with olive oil and broil for 2-3 minutes until it’s golden brown in color. Remove immediately.
4) Spoon the tomatoes on top of the toasted bread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve at once. Voila! Repeat the process as needed.

Cook’s Notes:
1) Broil the bread, just before your guests arrive
2) Instead of adding garlic to the tomatoes, you can rub it on the bread before broiling it and then, toss it out. It is an Italian technique.
3) Do not use the top shelf of the broiler as it is too close to the burner.
4) Do not leave the oven unattended.
5) Use Italian or French baguette bread

I hope you will make this delightful appetizer. I suggest you practice broiling the bread a couple days before your event.  This way, by the time your guests arrive, you have mastered the technique.

Wine suggestions: Sparkling wine, Prosecco, Champagne or a lovely crisp white wine of your choice.

Wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year full of bubblies!
Have fun and stay safe!

Gina/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
WSET-Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines

Recipe: Foodiewinelover
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

Gina's Luscious Tomato Bruschetta

Baccala Mantecato, A Venetian Delicacy

img_2237 img_2236I first found out about this delicacy when I was visiting Venice in 2007 with my beautiful family. I was intrigued because I had never savored baccala that way before. Baccala is Italian for dried salted cod fish. It’s a delicious spread (dip) that originated in the region of Venice, Italy. It’s not that difficult to prepare but it can be a bit tricky. If you follow my instructions carefully, your spread will be a success just like mine. You will be using fillet (boned) code fish that’s cured in salt. It’s usually found in a plastic bag near the seafood department of your grocery store. I am certain, you can also find it in the outdoor markets without the plastic, depending what part of the world  you live in.  Fear not, it’s cured with lots of salt and it’s not easily perishable. If  you don’t properly prepare it, you will be left with a dish that is inedible due to the high sodium content. You will need a little less than two hours from start to finish to obtain the final results. Today, I am using a food processor and not my hands, which could be a daunting task. This is the perfect appetizer for an Italian-themed party, and pairs lusciously with Prosecco or any bubbly of your choice. I promise you, if your guests like seafood, they will be impressed with your culinary skills.

Serves: 8-10 as an appetizer –  Level of difficulty:  Medium

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. Salted Cod Fish boned
  • Water to boil the cod fish and potatoes
  • 2 medium gold potatoes, peeled, cut up
  • 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish, optional
  • Garlic bread, crostini,  or polenta

    Preparation:
    1) Rinse the salt off the fish. Next, In a large plastic bowl, place the cod fish and cover it with fresh room temperature (tap)  water. Let it soak for about 45 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat the same process for another 45 minutes. (You will be adding fresh water and let it soak a second time)  for a total of at LEAST 90 minutes. Drain again.
    2)Place in a large saucepan, cover with fresh water and boil for 5-7 minutes until it becomes a little flaky.  There will be large chunks and it will not fall apart at that point.  Drain. Set aside.
    3) In the meanwhile, boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. *
    4) It’s time to put it all together. In a food processor, put the cod, potatoes, garlic, half and half and PULSE for about 40 – 60 seconds or so, until all the ingredients come together nicely. At that point, you should see some little chunks of fish, and the mixture will appear a little dry.
    5) Slowly, add the oil and run the food processor on HIGH until you obtain a mousse-like texture as in mashed potatoes. (about 30-60 seconds). Always, check your food to make sure you do not over process it. You will run the risk of changing the texture by liquefying it too much. The spread will look creamy, with flakes or little shreds of fish. It’s done. Look at my pictures!
    6) Spread it over bread,  drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with black pepper and parsley.  You can also serve it in a bowl, and let your guest dig in. Traditionally in Venice, it’s served over polenta. Either way, you eat it, it will be delectable and very enticing to the taste buds.
    I hope you have enjoyed this delicious and healthy recipe, and plan to make it soon. Let me hear about your experience. From what I gather, people are having a difficult time obtaining the right consistency. It may take some practice.
    Cook’s notes: * You can use the same pan you used for the cod to boil the potatoes to avoid a mess in the kitchen.
    Make sure the sauce pan is large enough, if not, the water will overflow and create a mess when cooking the fish.  I have a few tricks up my sleeves, having been in the kitchen for nearly 30 years. To make the bread, drizzle with olive oil, and a dab of butter. Broil for 1-2 minutes. Voila!

    codfish2016
    Salted Cod fish

     

     

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Baccala Mantecato – Exclusive pictures by Foodiewinelover

All photos are exclusively mine except for the small picture of the bag – I wanted to show you what it looks like. If it says boned, chunks, it will work also. It’s IMPORTANT that you used the fillet (without the bones) Keep in mind, there are probably different companies depending on where you live.
This recipe was created in my kitchen and I take full credit for the measurements and method of preparation.

I hope you will try this delicious spread and share your thoughts with me. I would love to hear your feedback. I may come back to add some personal photos from our trip to Venice. I need to publish this today, as my followers on social media are patiently waiting for the recipe.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas – Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

 

Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe & Ricotta Salata

Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata
Here is another one of my mouth-watering pasta recipes to include in your weekly repertoire. It is a classic southern Italian dish from the Puglia region. Some people use Pecorino Romano cheese and hot Italian sausage. This my variation of  an easy-to-follow recipe and super tasty. If you like spicy food, I recommend using the hot Italian sausage to add some kick to this dish. Let’s have some fun in Gina’s Kitchen.

Serves: 6 -8 Level of difficulty: Easy to medium

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Orecchiette, pasta shape (little ears)
  • 3 lbs. sweet Italian sausage with fennel, cut up in pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to drizzle
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, (rapini) rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup of garlic, chopped
  •  1/2 -3/4 cup  low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. Ricotta Salata cheese, cubed

    Preparation:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, boil the sausages for about 15 minutes. Drain well. Add 1/4 cup olive oil in same pot, and sear them on each side until they obtain a nice golden brown color. You may have to this in 2 batches. Remove, cut each link  in 2-3 pieces. Set aside.
  2. In the meanwhile, in another pot, bring salted pasta water to boil, and cook according to package directions. 5 minutes prior to cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe and cook in same water. This will save you time and less cleaning.  Drain well. Drizzle with a little oil to avoid clumping. Set aside.
  3.  In an extra large skillet, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, sautee the garlic, deglaze with chicken broth,  cook for 1 minute, add the pasta with the broccoli rabe, sausages, season with salt & pepper, and finish with the cheese. Add more chicken broth if necessary. Lower the heat, stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil and serve at once.

    Wine pairing suggestions: A chilled Gavi, Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, or a Riesling if you are using the hot Italian sausage. Always cook with love and your food will love you back!

    Recipe written by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for FoodiewineloverFoodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine, & Travel Lifestyles
    Orecchiette with Sweet Italian Sausage, Brocolli Rabe & Ricotta Salata

Pasta with Pancetta, Peas & Ricotta

Pasta with Pancetta, Peas & Ricotta
Pasta with Pancetta, Peas & Ricotta

This is one of the easiest and most delicious pasta dish you will come across. I assure you, even if you don’t like peas, you will enjoy them  because they are bathing in the pancetta fat. I like to use a short pasta for this recipe. The last time I made this dish, I used a pasta shape called Fusilli that looks like a corkscrew. I sent my son shopping for me, and he told me he could not find the Fusilli but found Rotini instead. They are very similar in shape and look like corkscrews, except the Rotini is shorter.  Recently, a Facebook friend posted this dish on his profile, and it looked delicious. I tried it for Christmas, and it was a big hit. I made it again In January for my family. Sadly, this was the last time my dad was able to eat (food) my pasta. I will not get into personal details but this recipe has a lot of emotions attached to it. I am hanging on to hope that someday, soon, he will be able to taste my pasta again.  Let’s get cooking! Follow me in Gina’s Kitchen!

Level of difficulty: Easy – Serves: 4-6 as a main meal

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. pancetta, sliced 1/2-inch thick, then chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • 10 oz. frozen peas, thawed
  • 15 oz. ricotta, whole milk
  • 1 lb. Rotini or any short pasta or your choice
  • 1/4 cup pasta water, (save after draining pasta)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese)

Preparation:

1) In a large stainless-steel skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, brown the pancetta, for about 10 minutes, (do not over cook,  you don’t want them too crispy) add the peas, continue cooking while stirring for another 10 minutes or so, until you obtain a nice brown color like you see in the picture. At this point, turn the burner on the lowest setting.

2) Simultaneously, In a large pot, bring the pasta water to a boil. Add salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. I always cook mine al dente, meaning to the bite in Italian, (undercooked for 1-2 minutes) that is your choice, but I recommend it. Save some pasta water, and drain.

3) Add pasta to the pancetta and peas, slowly stir in the ricotta, the water, parmesan cheese, black pepper.  Please note, the burner is still on the lowest setting to warm up the ricotta. Stir it just enough to incorporate all the ingredients and remove quickly.  Drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately while it’s piping hot.

My family had a feast, and my biggest joy in life is seeing them relish my food. This is what fuels me to keep cooking. My life has been hectic, but I am hoping to find more time in the kitchen.

I hope you will try this recipe, and when you do, please share your thoughts with me.

Pasta with Pancetta, Peas & Ricotta
Pasta with Pancetta, Peas & Ricotta

Wine pairing: I recommend a medium to full-bodied red wine with enough acidity to cut though the fattiness of this savory dish. A Chianti, Rosso, Super Tuscan, (and the list goes on) will make a superb pairing. I am not a huge fan of white wine but occasionally, I do enjoy a crisp one with certain meals.

Cook’s note:

1) The use of butter is an option, and you can add it at the end with the ricotta.  It will  make the dish creamier and add richness but it is also added calories. If you are on a low-fat diet, you may want to avoid it altogether and stick to the olive oil. I did not use butter and surprisingly the taste was amazing.

2) Regular bacon can be used instead of pancetta.

This dish is inspired by Timothy Eric DeMarco
This is the ratio and method that I used in my version of the recipe.
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

Happy Cooking!

Gina aka Foodiewinelover
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HEAVENLY NUTELLA PIZZA

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones. For me, it was about spending quality time with my family and close friends, and enjoy the deliciousness of life. Not only, did I host Christmas Day dinner, but, I also cooked a Prime Rib dinner for my son’s birthday on New Year’s Day. As you can imagine, I have been busy in the kitchen,  That’s not all,  I also made a very easy and delicious treat, a Nutella Pizza to start 2016 on a sweet note.  If you are like me, and don’t have a knack for baking, this dessert is for you. It’s so easy, a 5-year-old can make it, (with an adult’s supervision.)  I bought freshly made store-bought pizza dough, and Nutella, a scrumptious hazelnut spread with cocoa. It is the star ingredient in this recipe. I use raspberries and hazelnuts as toppings, but you can use any toppings of your choice, just like you would do in a regular pizza.

Servings: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb.  pizza dough*
  •  Flour to sprinkle on cutting board
  • Pam – spray
  • 1 – 13 ounce jar of Nutella
  • Confectioners sugar for garnish*
  • Raspberries, or any fruits of your choice
  • Roasted hazelnuts, or any nuts

    Preparation:

    1) Pre-heat oven to 500 degree F.
    2) In the meanwhile, put dough out to reach room temperature. Sprinkle some flour on a wood board, and use a rolling-pin to roll the dough. Stretch it as if you are making a pizza.
    3) Spray Pam on the bottom of a round 13-inch pizza pan,  place the dough and press it down around the edges. Take a fork, and poke a few holes on pizza to avoid bubbles during baking.4) Place on the middle rack, and bake for exactly 6 minutes, depending on your oven.  To check for doneness, lift the bottom of pizza with a fork or knife, and if it has a nice golden brown color, then it’s done. Remove it, and put it on a board.
    5)  Using a spatula, spread the Nutella all over the pizza while it’s hot.  Sprinkle the sugar, and garnish with fruits and nuts. Cut in triangles like a pizza. It gets a little messy but that’s all part of the fun! There will be lots of finger-licking!

    I love the idea of hazelnuts because that is one of the ingredients in the Nutella, but you can use any other nuts.

    My family told me that I was trying to kill them, in a good way, of course. It was mouth-watering, and devilishly scrumptious.

    Tips: 1) You can make a homemade pizza dough
    2) Serve it at once, while nutella is hot.
    3) Confectioners sugar is the white powder sugar

    WARNING: Highly addicting!

    Wishing all of you, a Happy and Sweet New Year in The Kitchen!

     

    Updated – 10/27/2016 Dedicated to my beloved dad in heaven.  RIP July 2016

    Nutella Pizza
    Nutella Pizza

    Nutella Pizza

    Nutella Pizza
    Nutella Pizza

    Nutella Pizza

    Gina, Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine, & Travel Lifestyles 

    Photo: by Gina for Foodiewinelover
    Recipe: by Gina for Foodiewinelover