Oct 29

 

Two well-known Italian combinations are melon and prosciutto, and mozzarella, tomato and basil. Instead of just serving slices of melon and prosciutto or a caprese salad, try presenting them in a whole new way—with skewers.

Melon-Provolone-and-Prosciutto-Skewers

Melon, Provolone and Prosciutto Skewers

1 cantaloupe

24 thin slices prosciutto

6 ounces provolone, cubed
1⁄2 bunch mint leaves

 

Cut the cantaloupe into 1-inch thick rings and set one of the rings aside for later use. Remove the rind from the remaining rings and cut the cantaloupe into small cubes. Thread the melon, prosciutto and provolone pieces onto skewers in alternating order, beginning with 1 mint leaf. Arrange the reserved cantaloupe ring on a serving platter. Stick the skewers in the cantaloupe ring and serve. Serves 6

Wine paring: Dry and crisp white

Mozzarella-and-Cherry-Tomato-Skewers

Mozzarella and Cherry Tomato Skewers

24 bite-sized mozzarella balls (bocconcini)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
24 basil leaves
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Thread the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves onto skewers in alternating order. Repeat until all of the ingredients have been used. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and sprinkle with the chives. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the olive oil and serve. Serves 4

Wine paring: Dry and crisp white

  • These recipes were featured in the October 2010 issue of our e-magazine Cibo. To subscribe, please click here.
Oct 21

How to make the best soups for the cold weather and upcoming holidays

Soup is the ultimate comfort food, whether it’s a warm, cozy minestrone or a simple broth. Try these helpful tips for a full-flavored bowl of goodness.

1.  Store your carrot peels, celery leaves, mushroom stems or any other vegetable trimmings in a bag and freeze. Simply add them to your soup stock to infuse an appetizing veggie blend.

2.  Save the rinds of hard cheese, such as Grana Padano to enrich the flavor of any soup. (Or freeze the rinds and use them later.) Toss them into the pot, simmer and remove before serving.

3.  To salvage an over-salted soup, slice some potatoes into the pot. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, and remove before serving. The potatoes will absorb the salt. You can reuse the potatoes them in another dish, like gnocchi or potato gateau.

4.  For easy autumn elegance, make an edible soup bowl out of an acorn squash or a small pumpkin. Simply slice in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes before adding the soup.

Oct 14

Although it’s easier to go out and buy a bag of candy for all the upcoming fall and winter holidays, it can also be satisfying to create your own confections. Making homemade candy sounds intimidating at first, but with the right tools (like a candy thermometer), it’s a job that can be easily tackled. And, with the right packaging, you can also create a homemade gift that friends and family are sure to love.

Croccante

1 cup sugar
11⁄3 cups almonds, or substitute hazelnuts, peanuts, or sesame seeds, shelled
and toasted
1⁄4 teaspoon vanillin powder (optional)
sesame oil for brushing

Place the sugar in a saucepan with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to prevent it from burning and so it dissolves. When the sugar reaches 356° (you can test this with a candy thermometer), or turns a light amber color, add the almonds and vanillin, if desired, and mix to combine. Pour the mixture onto a marble slab brushed with sesame oil and, using a lightly oiled metal spatula, continue to mix the sugar with the nuts while quickly flattening it out and, using an oiled rubber spatula, shape it into a square or rectangle. You will need to work fast because the sugar will begin to harden immediately. Set the marble slab aside to allow the croccante to harden completely, then cut it into pieces and store in airtight jars.  Makes about 1 pound

Oct 8

October is the peak of the white truffle season in Italy. Although most people imagine pigs hunting for this delicacy, they are not the only animal used to find it. In addition to female pigs, dogs are also used to find truffles, which are difficult to locate because they grow at the roots of plants and trees. Sows are naturally attracted to the smell, which is similar to the pheromones of male pigs. Dogs need to be specially trained to sniff them out, but are used more often because unlike pigs, they won’t eat the truffles.

If you love the flavor of truffles, but can’t afford your own fresh one, truffle oil is a less costly alternative. It’s also much easier to store than fresh truffles and just 1⁄2 a teaspoon is often enough to perfume an entire dish. Make sure you store the oil away from heat and light and use it within a couple of weeks of opening the bottle.

Truffled Pizza

You can also opt to use frozen pizza dough instead of making your own from scratch.

For the dough:
11⁄3 cups water, warm (110°)
1 pinch sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:
1 pound Robiola cheese (if unavailable, substitute mascarpone)
1 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
 extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 pound baby arugula
cornmeal for the baking sheet
truffle-flavored olive oil

Make the dough: Mix the sugar into the water and add the yeast. Stir once and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mix olive oil and salt into yeast mixture and begin adding flour a little bit at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. When it becomes too thick for the spoon, mix with your hands. Add flour until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough. Knead dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes. Coat the inside of a mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball inside, flipping it so that its entire surface gets oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Punch to deflate dough, turn it out onto a countertop and divide it into 3 pieces. Knead each small piece until smooth and uniform and allow to rest for 20 minutes under a dish towel before shaping.

If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 550°. Stretch each portion out into a 9-inch diameter disk. Lightly sprinkle a rimless, nonstick baking sheet with cornmeal. Place the pizza dough onto the baking sheet. Sparingly brush each dough disk with olive oil. Place the Robiola in a bowl and stir until it becomes smooth and spreadable. Spread a layer of cheese onto each disk of dough. Top with a layer of prosciutto slices. If you are using a pizza stone, slide the dough disks directly onto it. Otherwise, just place the entire baking sheet into the oven.

Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and top with a few leaves of baby arugula. Drizzle with truffle oil to taste onto the hot pizza and serve immediately. Makes 3 9-inch pizzas

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