We are elementary school teachers in Southern California. Davide was born and raised in Venice, Italy. Shawnna was born in Santa Ana, California. We are married and have a son, Alex. We share a passion for traveling and food. With this blog we want to celebrate everything that is passion, tradition, and culture about Mediterranean cuisine, with an emphasis, of course, on Italian food. Buon Appetito !!
Pasta, risotto, rabbit, Spanish tapas, Greek gyros, enchiladas and many more !
Orecchiette con cime di rape is the signature dish of the Puglia region of southern Italy. Orecchiette literally translates as "little ears". They look like little bowl shaped discs that are ideal for catching the wonderful sauce they are to be tossed with. Every village in the Puglia region has a special way of making them. We were the lucky recipients of some artisan made orecchiette from Alberobello, Bari. It is worth the effort and expense to seek out the best orecchiette you can find to make this dish, but if neccessary DeCecco makes orecchiette that are readily available at most supermarkets. This classic dish features cime di rape, also known as broccoli rabe in English, or sometimes referred to as turnip greens. I was able to find broccoli rabe at a local grocery store, but you may need to go to a local ethnic produce market. Make sure it is nice and fresh, your dish will be a real treat.
Olive ascolane are deliciously stuffed green olives which are breaded and fried. They are originally from the Le Marche region of Italy. Thankfully, they are widely found all over Italy, and are easily made at home. In Italy, I would mostly enjoy them as an appetizer at a pizzeria. Olive ascolane are a great crowd pleasing appetizer. All the work can be done ahead of time, so they can just be quickly dropped in the fryer when you're ready to eat and enjoy. While the ideal olive to use for this recipe is the original from Ascoli, they are not available where I live. I have found success with this recipe using other kinds of green olive. I usually try to find a jar of nice, large, green olives. The ones I find are usually from Spain. If they have a pit, of course you need to pit them. I usually end up buying the ones that are stuffed with pimiento peppers, and then I just easily take those out, and the olive has a nice cavity ready to fill.
Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish . The beauty of risotto is that it is so versatile. Whether it's meat, fish, or vegetables the key to a delicious risotto is using the finest and freshest ingredients that the season has to offer. Risotto originates in northern Italy, and is quite prevalent in the regional cuisines of Piemonte, Lombardia, and Veneto. When I make risotto I always use arborio rice, which in my opinion gives a nice texture. In Italy, risotto would never be served as a side dish, it is the first course. This risotto with shrimp and arugula is simple enough to do on a weeknight, yet elegant enough to serve on a special occasion with a nice bottle of white wine. While most risotto is served with a generous sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano cheese, notice it is purposely omitted from this recipe. To combine cheese with your shellfish, or any fish for that matter is a cardinal sin of Italian cuisine. If you want to garnish this dish, go for the fresh parsley.
Peperonata is a delicious side dish that originates in the Puglia region of Italy. It makes a GREAT accompaniment to any meat dish. One nice thing about peperonata is that it can be made ahead of time, and reheated just prior to serving. It is also tasty served room temperature. The peppers and onions make this side dish a very colorful addition to any meal.
I truly love mushrooms! For a lot of different reasons. They remind me of when I was younger and used to take huge hikes in September in the Alps. I love the smell of the trees right after it has rained, and that earthy scent is very characteristic of places where you can find a nice bunch of porcini. There are infinite varieties of mushrooms, and the beauty of this vegetable is that the flavor and aroma are so intense and delicate that most of the time you do not need to cook them for a long time or add any particular spices. The versatility of mushrooms is so vast that you can have them pretty much with anything you like; pasta, rice, chicken, meat. I really enjoy this particular recipe because it is very simple, fresh and easy to cook.
The origins of pesto genovese go way back in time, to Genova, in the Ligurian region of Italy. The word pesto comes from the verb "pestare" which loosely translated, means to crush. Traditionally, pesto genovese would be made with the mortar and pestle. You would grind the ingredients until they reached the consistency of a paste. While that method is surely tasty, and much more romantic, in my household convenience wins over on this one. The food processor is a pesto making champion. I can not stress enough the superiority of homemade pesto over anything you will buy in a store. Envelopes or jars? Yuck!!! Refrigerator section of Trader Joe's? Still not quite there. There is no substitute for making it fresh
This noodle salad is always a big hit at potlucks, picnics, and gatherings. It is quite spicy, which is what I personally love about it. The salad is best made ahead of time, preferably the day before. This gives the flavors time to blend. Also, it is intended to be served chilled, so it needs at least a few hours in the refrigerator after preparation. For the dressing: I know it is cheating, but I absolutely love Trader Joe's Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. I use the whole bottle (12 oz.) for one recipe of noodle salad. It is sold with refrigerated salad dressings at Trader Joe's. If you are unable to get this dressing, the next best thing is the same amount of ready made thai peanut sauce. As you can see from the recipe, if convenience is the priority, Trader Joe's is a one stop shop to make this delicious side dish.
Focaccia is a flat oven baked bread. It is often brushed with olive oil, then topped with an herb such as rosemary. Many attribute its origins to Genova. Focaccia is a popular snack, but also a delicious paired with a rich seafood stew to complete a meal. Many of the tastiest breads need a starter dough or require a really long time to rise. What is really nice about this focaccia is that it needs only a couple of hours to rise, and the dough can be made in a snap. This recipe is simply delicious topped with rosemary, but you can be creative. Olives, or onions can also make tasty toppings. Keep it simple, and it is sure to satisfy. Once you make the focaccia, the smell of the baking bread alone will keep coming back for more and more.
Anyone who cares about what they eat knows that Ragu is not the sauce that comes out of a jar. This is the classic Italian meat sauce. It can be served with fresh tagliatelle egg pasta, or spaghetti. This is also the same sauce that is used to make a traditional meat lasagne. There are many variations, but I consider this to be the authentic preparation. A delicious meat sauce is the ultimate comfort food, and it never disappoints.
Nowadays there are more chicken recipes out there than days available to be able to cook each one. It is a very popular and versatile type of meat and it pairs really well with a large variety of ingredients. What I really like about chicken is that you can prepare it as a whole or use a different number of parts, the breast being definitively the most popular. I have tried and cooked chicken breast in many ways and the result has always been satisfying. However one thing that I don't think people try very often is using the chicken as an ingredient to be rolled over and stuffed with either vegetables, cheese, or other types of meat (your imagination is the limit). I always enjoyed for example chicken sauteed in butter with some ham and sage on top, but in this particular recipe the breast is laid flat on the pan, without being rolled. Today I'd like to have a very thin sliced and long ( length is important) chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese of your choice. ( I like Swiss.)
In the summer, when all of the best fruits are at the peak of their season, it is the ideal time to make a fresh fruit tart. This recipe is super versatile, because the best fruit to use is the ripest, sweetest fruit you have on hand. You can use peaches, plums, strawberries, apricots, grapes, whatever your favorite is. While traditionally a tart would be open faced, this one has a sort of a crumble on top. In my opinion, it just makes the tart that much more delicious. No jams, creams, glazes, etc., just fresh fruit and pastry goodness. Beautiful dessert, and also a tasty breakfast pastry if there is any leftover. While those who are super ambitious may choose to make there own puff pastry, I always use the frozen ready made puff pastry, and I find the results to be great, and the convenience can't be beat. This dessert is the ideal ending to a summer barbecue meal.
Imagine yourself eating outdoors with a beer or margarita in hand, an ultra chilled dish of ceviche in front of you, tortilla chips on the side. With the hot days of summer upon us, ceviche is the perfect appetizer or even main course on a warm evening. No cooking required, and it's all make ahead. Ceviche is a seafood dish, consisting of raw seafood which marinates in citrus juice, usually lemon or lime. Most people believe that ceviche originates from Central or South America. Many countries and regions have their own special version. This particular recipe is similar to one that I have enjoyed in Mexico. In Mexico, ceviche would most commonly be made with red snapper. I think it's best with a nice white fish, use whatever is the freshest that you have available. In my opinion, tilapia works great. The fish should marinate at least 4 hours before serving, but your best bet is to make it a day ahead. This way, the flavors are will blended, and you are sure that your fish has the texture you want, and is safe to eat. If you have a chopper, it's the way to go for this recipe, but if not, or you prefer to chop by hand, go for it!
This three bean salad is my mom's recipe, and I suspect it has been around a while, because my copy was typed on a typewriter. Three bean salad is a classic American side dish for a reason. It's delicious, it is simple to make, and it is especially ideal for picnics and outdoor gatherings since it doesn't demand refrigeration. There are many variations of three bean salad, but most all are composed of various types of beans, and a sweet vinaigrette. It is best when made at least a day ahead of time so that the beans can marinate overnight and gain more flavor. It's great at picnics, and as an accompaniment to grilled meat.
Chimichurri is the quintessential Argentinean condiment and/or marinade. It can be used as a marinade for a succulent steak, or more simply in the form of churripan. Churripan is everything street food is supposed to be- fast, delicious, and genuine. With barbecue season upon us, why not give your gathering a South American flair? For best results, make your chimichurri a few hours ahead of time, to give your flavors some time to come together.
The first time I had tagliatelle ai funghi done right, it was at Trattoria Stella in Serramazzoni, in the foothills of Modena, Italy. When a gastronomical memory persists for over 15 years, you know you had a true culinary pleasure. The beauty of tagliatelle ai funghi is the simplicity, and how the quality of each ingredient can be perceived in each and every bite. When prepared with fresh handmade egg pasta, the dish is divine.
Clams and mussels are two very popular shellfish all over the world. There are many ways that they can be prepared. I remember that one of my favorite ways of eating them was a long time ago in Spain in a town called Tossa De Mar, about an hour north of Barcelona. Each individual mussel was covered in a spicy tomato sauce. What kind of patient cook would go through such a preparation for each single mussel? Well, someone who wants make sure you still remember his delicious recipe fifteen years later! In Italy and all over the Mediterreanan, clams and mussels are very commonly paired with pasta. Very popular are the linguine with clams in a white wine sauce. Another intriguing and very tasty way to have clams is the clam chowder, a dense, creamy soup very popular in the Northwestern region of United States One of my absolute favorite way of eating clams and mussels, however is very particular to the northern Italian region. The term used is "cassiopipa" and it indicates a terracotta container where originally the clams and mussels were cooked on a low heat on traditional fishermen boats. Here you can make your own clams and mussels in a delicious tomato broth.
We have been enjoying crab cakes for quite a while now, thanks to our New England friends. In the Veneto region of Italy polpette di tonno, or tuna cakes, have been around forever, but are sadly so undiscovered in the United States. Polpette di tonno are delicious, simple to make, and leftovers are especially tasty. They would commonly be found in a Venetian wine bar as a "cicchetto" or appetizer along with a glass of white wine. They can also be served as a main course. I like to put them on a nice bed of arrugala, nothing else needed. (Except your favorite white wine.) Nothing could be simpler or more satisfying.
Empanadas are believed to have originated in Spain or Portugal. The word empanada comes from the word "empanar" which means to coat with bread or pastry. So, an empanada is a bread or pastry that surrounds some kind of delicious filling. Empanadas were brought to South America by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. Just about every country in South America, as well as many regions within each country have their own version of the empanada. This recipe is from my friend Pablo's aunt Liliana, who is from Rosario, Argentina. It is a classic empanada with a meat picadillo. Personally, it's my fave. These empanadas make a great starter, or they can be served as the main course. They are wonderful with a nice Argentinean red wine, like a malbec, or bring out the sangria on a hot summer day. This recipe is for about 4 dozen, or 48 empanadas. That sounds like a lot, but they go fast, and they are real crowd pleasers for gatherings.
Modena is located in Emilia Romagna, known as the culinary bread basket of Italy. Tigelle are the quintessential food of Modena, a symbol of pride. So, what are tigelle? Simply put, they are a disc shaped bread, about the size and shape of an English muffin. The similarities stop there. Once baked, tigelle have a soft center, and a crisp crust. To be eaten, they are split open with a knife, then filled in a variety of ways. Below are some of the most common ways to enjoy tigelle: -with pesto modenese (see recipe below) -with thinly sliced Parma prosciutto nothing more -with your favorite salumi, coppa, soppresata, bresaola, et. al -with stracchino (or another creamy cheese, like brie), arugala, and grated parmesan cheese -with nutella for dessert
Have you ever met anybody that cringes about the idea of having anchovies on their pizza? Well I actually belong to the opposite category of consumers. I absolutely adore seafood in every form and shape. The sharper the taste is, the better. I used to be somewhat puzzled by customers when I was working at a restaurant , when they would return seafood plates back to the kitchen, because in their opinion it was "too fishy"...well, isn't what fish is supposed to taste like? I guess my palate is not as refined. I recently also discovered great benefits in eating seafood for a lot of different reasons. Sardines definitively fall into that category. Forget your daily does of vitamins, these little wonders are rich in vitamin B12, selenium, omega-3 oils, protein, phosphorus and vitamin D. Basically what that means is cardiovascular health, memory, joints, skin and energy levels. Today, with this recipe I'll upset a little bit the nutritional value, because I will fry them, but once you try just one, you'll understand my weakness.
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