Apr 27

Cooking For Rookies will give you always simple and tasting recipes in addition to the basic ones that you will find any time you may need them in the House dedicated and located at LA PIAZZA ITALIANA-The Italian Square. To find all passed recipes and the basics just .

This basic recipe calls only for olive oil and basil as flavorings. During the summer months, use fresh plum tomatoes rather than canned tomatoes as we suggest below, for an even fresher, homey flavor

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 basil leaves
5 cups peeled chopped plum tomatoes (canned chopped plum tomatoes are fine if fresh tomatoes are not in season)

Heat the olive oil in a 11/2-quart pot. Add the basil and cook for 5 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes, season with salt, and bring to a boil; cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 2 months. Makes about 1 quart

Apr 20

Gnocchi di patate, or potato gnocchi is one of the great treasures of Italian gastronomy. Its texture is soft and pleasantly chewy, like little edible clouds. Many consider gnocchi a delicacy, but this does not take away from the fact that it is a very approachable dish. It pairs perfectly with just about any sauce and is easy to make at home.

The word gnocchi derives from the Longobard knohhil, meaning knot of wood. Gnocchi was actually present in medieval Italian cuisine, but it was not the potato dumplings that we eat today. Rather, it was a round, doughy pasta made from either flour or semolina. Our beloved potato gnocchi only first came into existence at the end of the 18th century because the potato came from the New World, and when it was first introduced to Europe everyone had strong aversions to it. When solanin and scopolamine were discovered in the potato’s leaves, it began to be used to feed the infirm and sickly. But, despite its virtues, reactions to the potato remained ambiguous since these compounds had the ability to produce hallucinogenic effects and were believed to give witches the power fly.

After 1663, when famine struck Ireland, Europeans began to see the potato as another source of nourishment. However, it was not until the famous French scientist and agriculturalist Antoine Parmentier, that the potato became a fundamental part of the continent’s cuisine. While being held captive by the Prussians during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), Parmentier witnessed firsthand the potato’s uncanny ability to nourish people, even a group as large as an army. Upon returning to France, he studied the potato extensively and discovered that it was healthy and full of nutrients. Thanks to Parmentier’s efforts, the potato became recognized as an edible food and many potatobased recipes followed, like the famous soupe Parmentier, made from potatoes, cream, chervil, salt and pepper, which is named in his honor. Parmentier was able to bring such fame to the lowly potato that he even managed to convince Louis XVI of its virtues, which made the king decide to grow them in the royal gardens.

At the beginning of the 19th century the potato received its definitive consecration through Antonin Carême, one of the era’s great chefs who was famous for preparing meals for the European nobility, when he included it in his haute cuisine. Thanks to this blessing, potatoes became an ingredient worthy of the most exquisite dishes, which helped turn the gnocchi into the gnocchi di patate.

by Christopher O’Leary

1 pound baking potatoes,scrubbed and unpeeled
1 egg
1 cup flour, plus extra
4 cups pre-made sauce, heated
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. While still hot, peel, put through a potato ricer onto a clean work surface and set aside to cool. 2. Mix in the egg and a pinch of salt, then add the flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough comes together. 3. Cut the dough into 3 pieces and roll each one into long, even ropes, about the thickness of your finger. Cut into 1-inch pieces and roll each piece off the grooves of a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork. Spread them out on a floured surface. 4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and drop in a few gnocchi at a time. As soon as they float to the surface, lift with a slotted spoon, drain well and place in a bowl. 5. Serve with you favorite pre-made sauce and Parmigiano. Serves 6 to 8

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Apr 11

4 pieces top round beef,
1⁄2 lb. each
3 eggs
2 c. breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground pepper
1⁄4c. olive oil for frying
1 lemon, juice only, plus slices for garnish

1. Place the beef between 2 pieces of waxed paperand pound the pieces with a mallet, until 1⁄4-inchthick. 2. In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs togeth-er. In another shallow bowl, add the breadcrumbsand season with salt and freshly ground pepper. 3. Dredge each beef cutlet in the eggs, shaking offany excess, and then in the breadcrumbs, shakingoff any excess. 4. Meanwhile, in a skillet over highheat, warm the olive oil. Add the breaded cutletsand cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. (This can be done in batches if necessary.) 5. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the beef. Serve immediately with the lemon slices. Serves 4

1. After pounding the beef, dip it into the eggs and coat completely.

2. Next, dredge the cutlet in breadcrumbs and shake off the excess.

3. Cook beef for 2 to 3 minutes per side in a hot pan with olive oil.

Note: This is a great dish to make more for a quickdinner another night. Follow the steps above, butdo not add the lemon juice. Allow the cutlets to cooland then wrap them individually in plastic wrap, label and freeze in freezer bags.

To defrost: Remove the cutlets from the bags and plas-tic wrap. Transfer them to a baking sheet and cookunder the broiler for 4 minutes on each side. Add lemon juice and more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Replace: top round beef with veal, eggplant or chicken

Medium to full-bodied red wine, such as a Super Tuscan or Barolo

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Apr 6

Lamb’s role in a religious holiday such as Easter isn’t a surprise since it was one of the first foods to be offered to deities. Today, the sacrificial lamb is still significant in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. For instance, at Easter the lamb is associated with Jesus and his sacrifice, and Jesus is referred to as the “Lamb of God.” Beyond religion, its cultural and economic role is significant, since it has been domesticated for over 13,000 years, and has been a part of diets throughout the world.

Lamb itself is very versatile when it comes to its preparation, and this is why it’s prized in Italian kitchens. Lamb should be eaten fresh between the months of October and June, and is typically roasted or stewed. Roasting is one of the most classic ways to cook lamb, and its leg, called the “cosciutto” in Italian, is one of the best parts for this method. The loin, or carré, is also used for roasting, as well as the shoulder, or spalla, which is typically roasted in a pan.

Roasted Lamb

Roasted Leg of Lamb

1⁄2 leg of lamb, about 5 1⁄2 pounds, bone in
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
lamb stock, heated (optional)
mint leaves for garnish (optional)
hard-boiled eggs for garnish (optional)
Mint Sauce (optional) (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400°. Make slits along the top and cut side of the lamb and stuff them with the garlic and rosemary, if desired. Arrange the lamb in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and transfer to the oven to cook until golden brown on top. Lower the oven temperature to 350°, baste the meat, cover with aluminum foil, and continue to cook, basting every 15 minutes (if desired, you can baste the meat with heated lamb stock), until a meat thermometer inserted into the lamb reaches at least 145° (the thermometer should not touch the bone), or until desired doneness. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before serving or slicing. Serve garnished with mint leaves and hard-boiled eggs and accompanied by the Mint Sauce, if desired. Serves 6 to 8

Mint Sauce

1 cup sugar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon white peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons mint, chopped

In a saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in 1⁄2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, wine and white peppercorns and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce reduces by 1⁄2. Stir in the mint, cook for 1 more minute and remove from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly. Makes about 1 cup

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