Fresh, fast and frugal!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Breakfast Means Pancakes

Best ever pancakes are buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade applesauce as any brainy gourmet would know...

give em a stack...

Weekend Chicken Cacciatore

Just imagine a weekend getaway to Naples...

You will need to buy boneless chicken breasts, green olives, diced or fresh chopped tomatoes, and pitted prunes. As a side, try buckwheat groats, they are simply delicious as in full of good flavor.

Begin by quickly searing the chicken in a skillet lightly drizzled with olive oil.  Once 'seared' as in browned, move the breasts to a large glass dish also drizzled with olive oil and sprinkle on dried herb: rosemary, mint and oregano. Then, add 1 large can of diced or fresh chopped tomatoes, one jar of green olives, pitted prunes as much as you like, cover with foil and pop in the oven (375F) for just about 40 min.

As for the side of groats, you can either boil in the bag or prepare as you would stove top rice. When done, drain and pour out the groats onto a large serving bowl. Take out the cacciatore ~ and serve!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Medaglioni di maiale in salsa di panna pepe nero

Medaglioni di maiale  ~ Pork Medallions of the Basilicata region. 

Basilicata was once a very poor region but the inhabitants were strong and survived many onslaughts, always making the best of what they had. Pork is an integral part of Basilicata's cuisine and always cooked quickly and simply.

You will need to buy a nice boneless pork loin. Cut thick medallion slices and lay them into a sizzling hot skillet of olive oil seasoned with sea salt, black pepper,garlic powder along with plenty of rosemary, mint and oregano. Brown on all sides on high heat and then cover reducing heat to med. Prepare a young
fresh picked zucchini by washing and cutting it french style or as small sticks. Toss them in, stir a bit and then add 1/3 cup of heavy cream. I also like to add a dollop of tomato pesto. Turn to low and simmer for 6-8 min.

Boil water for a nice pasta of wide egg noodles. Once tender, drain and ladle into a low lipped serving dish, pour over the medallions and sauce. Talk about quick and simple.

Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Polpette Agnello d' Abruzzo

Polpette Agnello d' Abruzzo con melanzane e zucchine ~ Lamb Patties with eggplant and zucchini

Abruzzo is located in central Italy, stretching from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea; and, includes mainly mountainous and wild land. The Abruzzo region has two types of climate that are strongly influenced by the Apennine Mountains, dividing the climate of the coastal and sub-Apennine hills from the interior's high mountain ranges. Coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters and rainy hills having a climate where temperatures progressively decrease with increasing altitude and precipitation with altitude. 

Today, we are making ground lamb patties with a side of eggplant and zucchini. So simple and yet so delicious. You will need to buy at least 1 pound of ground lamb or more depending on the number of guest/family. What else ...should be coming out of the garden this time of year: eggplant, zucchini and one or two purple bell peppers (green if not purple).

You will want to wash and dice your eggplant and zucchini and start cooking them first. I like to use 4 tbs of olive oil and 3 tbs of coconut oil along with seasonings: sea salt, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, rosemary, mint and oregano. Toss in your veggies once the oils melt and begin to sizzle the seasonings in the pan.  Stir until you get browned edges, then cover for 10 min. on med heat, stirring occasionally. Once tender, remove and set aside. Using the same skillet, add another 4 tbs of olive oil and a bit more of the same seasonings. Then lay in your patties and sear on both sides on high heat. Reduce the heat and cook covered for 10 min on med to low heat.

You can also prepare some potatoes and tomatoes from the garden.

Tutti a Tavola!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bistecca marinata con salsa di panna ~ Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto

Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto   ~ This is the region of Italy that my family hails from!


Bistecca marinata con salsa di panna is marinated Steak with cream sauce.  

You will need to buy a sirloin tip or round tip steak. Begin this dish early (2-3 hrs before cooking) by marinating your steak in balsamic vinegar and salt and black pepper corns; plus, dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. When you are ready to cook, prepare a skillet with 5 tbs of coconut oil and 3 tbs of olive oil. Pound your marinated steak with a meat tenderizer, and then powder lightly with flour. When you oils start to spit at you, lay in your steak and sizzle away on high heat, turning so that both sides get brown. Reduce heat to low and add 1/3 cup of heavy cream, 2 tbs of horseradish mustard and 1 tbs of Worcestershire sauce and a caper or two if you have and like them of course. Cover and simmer for no more than 3-4 minutes on med.

Prepare a side, I like potatoes. As a garnish, given the season, use fresh fruits.

Tutti a Tavola!  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Salmone con capelli d'angelo pasta

Salmon with angel hair pasta topped with fresh 'grated' zucchini ~ Salmone con capelli d'angelo pasta fresca guarnita con zucchine 

While there is good fishing in many Italian waters, the only salmon that I know of comes out of the Adriatic Sea ~ Salmo obtusirostris, also known as the Adriatic trout.  Whenever, you are in Venice, you have to visit the fresh market and see what I mean. Fish mongers are among the many vendors.  There is nothing like fresh fish for dinner. 

You will need to buy at least four to five fillets. Before cooking, marinate your fish in the fresh juice of one whole lemon. Let that stand for at least an hour. Then take your covered skillet and pour in about 4 tbs of olive oil and 2 tbs of coconut oil. Season your oils with red pepper flakes, sea salt, garlic powder and fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Once they spit at you, lay in your salmon allowing any of the lemon juice and citrus flesh to remain on the fillets. On med. heat, let the fillets sizzle on one side only for about 3-4 minutes. Then add 1/3 cup of heavy cream, cover and quickly poach til the meat is pinkish white.

In the meantime, boil salted water and prepare to cook your pasta, remember that angel hair pasta cooks faster, so you need only about 6 min. maximum.  Drain and ladle the pasta onto a serving platter. Have washed a half small fresh picked zucchini to grate over the top of the hot pasta, then top with either slivers of parmesan cheese or fresh grated.  Remove your fish and place onto another serving platter, pour out your sauce over the top.

Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Zucchine Spezzatino Con Prugne ~ Medaglioni di Maiale in Salsa di Ginger Arancione

Zucchini goulash with plums and pork medallions in a ginger orange sauce. 

In Italy it is common in cooking to use what is in season as in just off the tree or from the garden. Why not? When everything is in its prime, ripe and delicious, coming into harvest at the same time, it only seems natural to combine them in a tasty dish.

What's in harvest? Zucchini, tomatoes, plums and green peppers.

Many people Italians love fried zucchini or oven baked with Parmesan.  The zucchini flower is also edible and often deep fried as an appetizer.

Since I love zucchini squash and plums, I had to combine them into a robust sweet and savory goulash. For the meat lover in your family, pork medallions in a ginger orange sauce is an excellent summer meat dish.

The goulash should be started first. Wash and quarter 4 cups of fresh zucchini from the garden along with green peppers. In a covered stock pot, melt in 4 tbs of olive oil and the same of coconut oil. To that, add one chopped onion and 3 peeled gloves of whole garlic. Once the onion and garlic begins to brown slightly on the edges, you can add your zucchini and peppers, at this point I like to toss in sprigs of fresh dried rosemary, mint and oregano. Stir occasionally on med. heat so that the browning continues on the onion and begins to appear on the edges of the zucchini and peppers. Cover and let cook for a few minutes while you wash and chop fresh tomatoes which you can add to the goulash and finally, your fresh dried plums - prunes. Cover again and cook until the zucchini is quite tender.

In the meantime, prepare your pork medallions. Take your covered skillet and melt in 3 tbs of olive oil and the same of coconut oil. To that, add red pepper flakes, powdered garlic, sea salt, and fresh dried herbs. Turn up the heat, to ready searing your pork on both sides. When you have achieved your goal, reduce the heat and add fresh ginger and 1/4 cup of orange juice concentrate, you can also use a thick apricot nectar which I also like to use in the goulash on the very end... before serving.

Simmer for 6 min. on low heat. Prepare your table, pour out your goulash onto a low lipped serving dish and the pork medallions onto a large serving plate as there will be much liquid sauce.

Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dal Piemonte ~ Manzo con Peperoni Verdi

From the Piedmont ~ Beef with Green Peppers

Price per serving for two: $2.94
You will need to buy boneless chuck steak. I found a nice marbled 1/2 inch cut for $4.64. To that you can serve pasta, potatoes, tomatoes or sliced sauteed squash in olive oil topped with Parmesan cheese. To begin, earlier in the day, take your steak and marinate in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a pinch or two of sea salt and fresh rosemary. When you are ready to cook, take your covered skillet and melt in 3 tbs of olive oil and the same of coconut oil. Wash and chop fresh green pepper from the garden or local market, as much as you like. Add them to the spitting oils in the skillet.

Once the peppers have browned on the edges, move them aside if your skillet is large enough or remove and set aside. Turn up the heat and sear your steak on both sides. When you see a bit caramelizing going on, move your peppers back in and place them over the top of the steak, adding an additional sprig of fresh rosemary. Let the steak sizzle until you have your preferred taste: rare, med. rare or well done.

As a side dish, I simply put out fresh sliced tomatoes from the garden and as a topping, creamy goat yogurt which also tastes great as a condiment on the steak.

Tutti a Tavola!

                                                                                    ... this dish is gluten free

Summer Fruits... Plums are Yum

In Europe, this time of year is full of flesh and I mean yummy purple plum flesh, juicy and sweet. Generally, Europeans love to cook with a variety of summer fruits and plums especially either fresh or dried. The best chicken cacciatore is made with dried plums - prunes. Check out Brainy Archives for summer fruit dishes!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Pollo ~ Alla Cacciatora con Prugna Secca

Cacciatore means ‘hunter’ in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared ‘hunter-style’ with onions, herbs and usually tomatoes, often bell peppers and sometimes wine. Chicken cacciatore typically, but not always, includes base ingredients of onion, garlic, and tomato.

Not surprisingly, in Sicily you can have your cacciatore with fresh dried fruits, i.e. plums.  This is truly a hunter style for you have ever hunted the best plums from the tree, you know what I mean.

Chicken cacciatore with fresh tomatoes, onion and plums is a family and man's meal. Its true because of the wholesomeness of the dish and its preparation - hunter style. You will need to buy at least two larger chicken breasts with bone and skin on. Take your covered skillet and saute one large (peeled/chopped) onion and a half glove of (peeled/chopped) garlic in 3 tbs of olive oil and the same of coconut oil. I always like to add my seasonings to the oils as the melt and blend in together: dried rosemary, oregano and mint along with red pepper flakes and a pinch of sea salt.

Lay in your chicken once the onion has gone transparent. Brown your chicken breasts on both sides allowing the skin side to get a bit browner and crisping on the edges. Now you want to add either a small can of diced tomatoes or use your own fresh from the garden. Cover and let simmer for 20 min. or longer depending on the size of the chicken breasts. After twenty or so minutes, you should add as many dried plums as you like to the cacciatore ... just before serving. 

Hopefully, in the meantime, you started a salted water to boil your linguine pasta. Once the pasta is tender, drain and rinse and ladle into a low lipped serving platter. Lay over the pasta your chicken breasts and cover with the wonderful delicious sauce making sure a few prunes appear on top, grate some Parmesan and garnish. 

Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Subiaco Chicken Skillet Parmsagini with Angel Hair Pasta

Price per serving for two: $2.84

The Subiaco Monastery in Italy is incredibly beautiful and serene. Angels seem to fly from the mountains as cloud thrust about in a rushing wind. Food in the mountains is always simple, spontaneous. If all you have is a skillet, you will do fine. For this dish, all you will need to buy a package of boneless and skinless chicken breasts.

If you don't have in the pantry, a small tube of tomato paste, and a package of angel hair pasta and don't have time to make pasta from scratch, then stop by the store. As an additional side, I prepared fresh sliced cucumber from the garden with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a dollop of sour cream topped with fresh parsley.

Before cooking, prepare your cumber salad by washing, peeling and slicing your cucumber into a glass dish, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mix the sour cream on the end... before serving.

Now, take your covered skillet and melt in 4 tbs of olive oil to that add chopped garlic and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. I also like to add some fresh dried oregano, red pepper and a pinch of sea salt. As soon as the oil and seasonings are hot, add your chicken, saute on high heat till browned on both sides.

Turn down the heat to med and add 4-5 tbs of tomato paste, blending with your oils/seasoning to cover your chicken. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 min. In the meantime, prepare water for boiling your pasta. When it begins to roll, add a few pinches of salt and add your pasta. Angel hair cooks rather quickly so keep stirring it and checking for tenderness. Once it is tender, drain and rinse and pour out to a low lipped dish. Your chicken and sauce will be ready to lay over the top. Of course, put on the Parmesan!

That's all there is to it.

Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pork Milanese with Creamy Lemon Sauce

Price per serving for two: $3.00

You will need to buy a package of pork tenderloin steaks or boneless center cut chops. For a side dish, you can prepare fresh from the garden zucchini and yellow squash. When I was a girl, I love to help my mother in the garden. My specialty from seed to table was squash. I loved all kinds then and I still do. This time of year, nothing tastes better than garden fresh vegetables.

Take your covered skillet and melt in 3 tbs of coconut oil and the same of olive oil. Sprinkle in your spices: red pepper flakes, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt and some fresh herbs, rosemary, mint and oregano straight from the garden. Once the oils spit, lay in your pork. Brown on both sides on med. heat. When both sides have browned, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top of the meat, continue to cook on med. heat for a minute and then turn down the heat so that the sizzling subsides; finish off by adding 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Let this simmer for 8-10 min.

In the meantime, wash and slice your squash. On med. heat, in another skillet, melt in 3 tbs of olive oil and 2 tbs of coconut oil along with a generous dollop of fresh creamy butter. Toss in your squash and lightly salt. Saute, by letting them sizzle until they caramelize on the edges and then cover to cook for about 6-8 min on low heat, turning occassionally.

That's all there is too it.

Tutti a Tavola!