Roasted Italian-style potatoes

My wife and I absolutely loved our honeymoon in Italy. Italy was my first international trip and we both can’t wait to go back…whenever that day might be. Of the many fantastic experiences, food ranked pretty highly–we had some of the best meals ever while we were there, and so of course, when I got back home, I had to try to mimic some of them. This side dish is one such attempt. I’m sure an authentic version would be far simpler to prepare, but I suppose I can claim immunity by not being Italian, right? But rest assured, the flavors are definitely there.

Roasted potatoes

For the uninitiated, eating out in Italy is a little different than here in the USA. For instance, whereas here you might order an appetizer, meal, and dessert, over there (and I’m sure in many other countries), you were more likely to order a starter, a first course (which you might characterize as being similar… click to read more…

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Pumpkin Gnocchi in brown butter herb sauce

So it seems that a lot of people know that they have heard of gnocchi before (pronounced “nyo key”) but they don’t really know what it actually is and have never tried it. Despite being listed alongside pasta dishes, gnocchi is not a pasta, but is actually a kind of Italian dumpling. Also worth noting is that gnocchi is not stuffed with anything, but rather incorporates all of the major flavors into the actual dough, which when cooked just right, can give you that tender center. It is usually based on a starch and flour-centric dough, containing things like potato, squash, ricotta, spinach, or today’s focus (what with October rolling around the corner): pumpkin.

Pumpkin gnocchi in brown butter herb sauce

Now if you’ve heard anything about gnocchi being hard to make, its not–its just a time consuming endeavor that requires care and patience (sounds believable, right? 😮 ). But if you’ve ever had a really good plate of gnocchi before, you know that its worth… click to read more…

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Creamy garlic pasta

For some of my dishes, I like to have a pasta with a light flavor as a side dish. I’m not a big fan of Alfredo because to me, that’s just too heavy and also kind of dull on the palette. I mix up a sauce that I guess is kind of Alfredo-like, but not really. It’s light tasting, creamy, herby, and has some mellow garlic flavor throughout.

  • pasta (I use half of a package of linguine)
  • ~1.5 cups of white wine
  • parsley
  • ~10 leaves of fresh basil
  • 3 shallots (the greens, not the bulb)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • knob of butter
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • chunk of parmesan reggiano
  • handful of olives (pitted, obviously)
  • a few capers
  • fennel seeds
  • dash of dried pepper flakes, to taste
  • a good sprinkling of dried oregano

Mince the garlic and fry briefly to mellow out the flavor a little bit. Then… click to read more…

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Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala is a really simple Italian-styled dish to prepare and is incredibly flavorful. There’s a surprising number of recipes out there for this dish, but they do something to the sauce which takes away from it–dillute it with water, mix in cream, substitute in a non-Marsala wine ( 😮 ), and so on. The whole point of this dish is to take the distinctive flavor of Marsala wine and focus the attention on that. So with that in mind:

  • 1-1.5 lbs chicken cutlets (veal scallopini would work wonderfully, as well!)
  • ginger powder
  • Italian-flavored bread crumbs
  • knob of butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ~2 cup Marsala wine (which is roughly one bottle of cooking Marsala wine)
  • 1/2 cup Chicken broth
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
  • 8 oz small mushrooms (e.g. baby bella, or whatever kind you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • black pepper
  • optional: dried sage

Trim your chicken and… click to read more…

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Italian-flavored bread crumbs

I love Italian food and I’m well aware that having “Italian breadcrumbs” is about as authentic and authoritative sounding as calling General Tso’s chicken “Chinese food.” So given that disclaimer, I figured I could get away with calling it “Italian-flavored.” Well I guess I could get away with “Italian-American,” as if I really know. No pretensions here. Just humor me.

Italian-flavored bread crumbs

I like to have this handy for dishes which typically call for dredging something in egg and flour prior to frying. For dishes like chicken parmesan, the breading can really contribute a lot more to the flavor of the dish than plain old flour, and you’d be very surprised how much more dressed up a simple dish can become by paying a little extra attention to the smaller stuff that we usually just ignore.

So without further ado, gather the following:

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (you could just as easily substitute plain bread crumbs and/or flour and

click to read more…

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