It has been a while since my last blog post. After only a few days at the new job, I realized it wasn't for me - the environment and the business structure was VERY fishy, unlike anything I've ever witnessed (other people warned me before I accepted, and I should have listened) - and so I returned to my other job while I still could, and was so happy to be back. It's funny how you see places with a different perspective, especially after a bad experience. Immigration has ended and finally everything is going back to normal, I will have more time to focus on my blog and my personal business. This weekend I'm teaching a cooking lesson, even though chefs and especially Italians are known to be very jealous of their recipes and their kitchen I love cooking with people and teaching them. I remember when I used to live with my mother, it was a struggle to even WATCH her when she was cooking! I love the idea of one day teaching my kids to cook - have them all with me in the kitchen. My wife says her Italian grandfather is the same as my mother - NO ONE is allowed in the kitchen while he is cooking.
Back to our recipe, this one is very simple and doesn't take much effort (except for making the ravioli). I came out with this a day that I didn't have much choice in the fridge but it turned out to be very nice and handmade ravioli are honestly good even on their own! The tricky part with this recipe is to make the sauce. I'll explain you later when we get to it. If you want to know how to make the ravioli, go back to my previous ravioli blog and you will find all the instructions you need. Let's get started!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
WHAT TO DO:
Time to eat! Hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know how it comes out.
Hope you all are well, and cooking more than I have been lately! Life has been very busy due to immigration - we got called for the green card interview and had to run around and collect paperwork, find evidence of our marriage, and pay lots of lawyer fees. People don't know what the process is like unless you've walked through it - and we had it easier than some! Kate and I were really stressed and worried about the process ... the interview didn't go well at all. They ask you tons of questions about your life and relationship - and I was so panicked that I actually said that I always give my wife amazing gifts, (kind of hilarious because it's the thing I'm LEAST good at.) At the end, they told us that we would have to wait a month to know the results. Thank God after only a week, I received my green card and now we can finally start living a normal life. (Even though it will never be normal because we are not normal ourselves.)
There are so many things that have been in transition and job has been one of them. Tomorrow I will start working a new job at Volvo, and I'm so excited about it! I love challenges and I love new experiences, and I hope all will go well. It's convenient because it's right next door to our house, so I can walk there and not bother Kate with always having to pick me up/drop me off. Even though she doesn't mind usually. What's going to be really nice about this is that I will work a more regular schedule - never past 6 or 7pm, leaving me energy and time to cook!
Regarding this new blog post, it has been kind of funny to me to be inspired by sandwiches. As a chef I've never considered them to be something to invent or to find new ways to make them. There are many reasons and one of them is certainly that in Italy we don't really make too many complicated sandwiches because it is enough to have a warm "rosetta" (Italian bread) with a slice of prosciutto to make an amazing sandwich. When I came to America I've realized that in here there are so many different kinds of sandwiches, and there is so much stuff in them! I was kind of shocked because as an Italian I don't put too many ingredients all together (especially in sandwiches) and also fascinated because it gave me so many different ideas to create new ones!
This two sandwiches I'm going to share are definitely ones that American will love - at least my wife did! I've used "Focaccia" which is a classic Italian bread that is used a lot in Italy to make sandwiches, and I think it will definitely make it more tasty. It's actually a kind of pizza, which not many American's know. I will explain how to make focaccia in a different post, it's a long procedure and it would be better for you to have pictures of it!
Here you go, your sandwich is ready and you've found a very fast and tasty way to eat something good without spending too much time! Enjoy (or not). Let me know what sandwich creations you come up with!
Ciao amici! It's been a little while since posting, so I thought today I'd bring you all up to date with some life events, as well as a quick, easy recipe I invented this afternoon. This past Monday marked the two year anniversary of my wife and I meeting for the first time, back in Italy. It was such a dramatic beginning to what turned out to be a dramatic relationship. Guess it set the tone. She was there on a two-week class, and had met me two days before leaving. I knew she was the one for me since the first time she walked in the bar where I used to work at the time. I asked her out for a coffee the following afternoon, we chatted for a couple of hours. The last night, the night before she flew home, she came back to the bar and waited for me to finish my shift (3am!). We walked to a park and there I kissed her for the first time. It would have been more romantic if it hadn't been 25 degrees out, but even still, it was something out of a movie. Neither of us knew what would happen, or if we'd even stay in touch. But we did, spent eight months talking on FaceTime ... and now we're married. So glad she took a chance on this random Italian guy.
foreign, but I'm learning to take my Italian approach and mix it with the things around me. I've also learned that I invent best when I walk into the kitchen completely unprepared, and use whatever I've got at the moment. Trying to plan ahead of time just doesn't work for me. So, here's one of my first non-Italian recipes, which turned out really delicious, and also really healthy.
SAVORY & SWEET SEARED CHICKEN
WHAT YOU'LL NEED (serves 2):
WHAT YOU'LL DO:
Let me know how yours turns out - tag me in your Facebook or Instagram posts so I can share! Be sure to follow me for more cooking ideas (and romantic updates ;)
Ravioli are surely one of the most tasty handmade pasta all'uovo "egg pasta" you can ever make. In Italy we make a distinction between pasta all'uovo (ravioli, tagliatelle, fettuccine) and traditional pasta (spaghetti, linguine). The distinction basically concerns the use of eggs that make those kinds of pasta more tasty and heavier and we don't consider them as much an "every day meal" as the traditional ones. The flour I've been using is the usual caputo 00 flour that is not as heavy as the American "all purpose" and definitely makes the pasta taste completely different. It's non-GMO and organic, which definitely adds to the health benefits.
Making ravioli takes a decent amount of time and effort, and a lot of patience but the result is so good that you won't regret it, especially if you're a true foodie. The traditional ravioli recipe is filled with spinach and ricotta, with a square shape, but you can also make a round shape and fill them with almost anything. In this recipe I've used with sausages and ricotta, which was amazing and definitely worth trying!
Try pairing a full bodied red wine with this dish, like Chianti Classico.
If you're up for an afternoon or evening covered in flour, and have some good music, get both ready because we're about to get started!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
Ravioli: (Serves 2)
WHAT TO DO:
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Let me know how your ravioli turn out, and if you have any ideas or suggestions, send them my way! Also be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more cooking ideas and tips!
Sometimes when I want to cook, the best thing is for me to browse the market and get inspired by whatever happens to jump out to me. It's actually a bit difficult for me, here in the US to become inspired by the foods in the markets, because it all is rather bland. Even the fruits and veggies (organic even) don't usually appeal to me. I'm spoiled by the freshness of Italian open air markets, where local farmers lay out their produce picked that weekend. I'm learning contentment though, and finding ways to make the less-fresh foods here still taste good.
In this case, the suggestion of the butternut squash came from my wife. In Italy we don't have butternut squash, and I have to admit it was kind of phenomenal. It has an earthy, yet sweet tone, which blends well with salty cured meats, and warm creams. It was certainly an experiment to use this in a recipe, but this is where my passion for invention comes in. As long as I can see the basic idea of a food, it's fairly certain I'll be able to make something with it. In this case, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of results, but I was extraordinarily pleased with the flavors and consistency.
If you're looking for a hearty, warm, unique, and actually fairly simple recipe that will both impress both your spouse and your taste buds, look no further!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
WHAT TO DO:
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Most Americans think pizza is pizza - what difference can there be between the Italian version and the kind you find here? When I came to America, I found many things were different, and pizza was certainly one of them. The main differences are 1 - the flour that is used, and 2 - the quality of the ingredients used on top. In Italy, vegetables and meats have tons flavor on their own, so we don't need to pile things on to compensate for lack of taste. In America, pizza is made with American flour, which is processed and typically has a ton of additives. In Italy we use 00 flour, finely ground, and entirely non-GMO. The chemical makeup of it is entirely different, and so much more flavorful. Similarly to the pasta, I use an imported flour from Naples to make my pizzas. (I'll link to the company in the recipe below!)
Yesterday evening, we had some friends come over and I made pizza for them, using things I had laying around the kitchen. I made two very simple pizzas - one with mozzarella, zucchini, and mushrooms, and the other with mozzarella, fontina, prosciutto, and walnuts. When our guests tasted them, they were blown away. They said it was different from any pizza they had before, with such unique flavor. It wasn't anything magical, but what really made the difference was the light consistency of the crust, and the simple flavorful toppings, unpolluted by spices.
Pizza is one of those meals that can be made simply, (fairly) quickly, and is very versatile, (and who doesn't love pizza???) so it's great to have a few options in your recipe box for whenever you have a get-together, or want a Friday night in.
PERFECT PIZZA CRUST
Pizza crust is one of those things that in theory is really easy, but in practice, takes some time to get used to. Weirdly, not ALL Italians know how to make pizza, and I was one of them. (It's not something they teach in culinary school either, unless you study to become a Pizzaiolo (pizza chef)). I've been teaching myself and gotten better exponentially. The two keys to pizza crust are a REALLY hot oven, and patience. So let's go!
(For 2 Pizzas)
WHAT TO DO:
BIANCANEVE - WHITE PIZZAS
Let me know what you think of these pizzas if you try them, and what substitutions/changes you make that you love! Also be sure to give me a follow on Instagram and Facebook for more recipe ideas and cooking tips :)
Let's kick this thing off by starting with one of my staple pastas that I use in many of my recipes. I make all my pasta by hand, using imported flour from Naples (which I buy on Amazon). It's a bit pricey, but it's worth it. Recently I had someone asking for the sub ingredients in the flour I use, and told me, "there should be around 8 ingredients in flour". Say WHAT. Flour should just be flour. I use Mulino Caputo, a wonderful brand that only has ONE listed ingredient on their flour: "Soft Wheat Flour 00".
Traditionally, pasta is made with '00' flour, which is a different grind than the 'all purpose' flour here in America. It leads to a lighter, softer, and more pleasant pasta than if you use the all purpose. (Trust me, we've experimented). Also, it is non-GMO.
The most simple pasta you can make is with water and flour, like spaghetti. For vegans, this will be the way to go if following my recipes. I will make a post on how to make spaghetti sometime soon. However, the pasta we're making today is with eggs and flour, and is called Tagliatelle. It is similar to fettuccine in it's makeup, and is a wonderful base for almost any pasta dish you could create. Andiamo! Let's make pasta!
(Note: If you want to use other pasta alternatives from local markets, feel free, and let me know which ones you find and if they work with the recipes!)
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
1. A pasta maker (link to a cheap option here)
(or a rolling pin).
2. Two eggs - (due uova), preferably organic or free range...we use Nellies Free Range)
3. Four cups Caputo 00 Flour
4. A large bowl (optional)
5. Kitchen cloths (or cling film)
6. A sharp knife
7. A pasta rack (optional) - this is for hanging and drying the pasta. You can always lay it on a baking sheet, or drape it over other things, like your friends.
8. A fork (not optional, I will explain later why)
WHAT TO DO:
1. If using bowl, place two of the four cups of flour inside. Otherwise, make a large pile directly on the countertop and create a small crater in the center. (Basically make a volcano, and inside the volcano is where the eggs will go.)
2. Crack the eggs into the bowl, or center of the volcano, which will will name Vesuvius, since the flour we are using is from Napoli.
3. Grab the fork (told you you'd need it) and slowly mix the eggs, grabbing small bits of flour as you go. Once the eggs are slightly deconstructed and have a bit of flour mixed into them, get rid of that pesky fork and get in there with your hands. Knead the eggs thoroughly throughout the flour, until it is gooey, and evenly mixed.
4. Now it will be very sticky and gooey. Yum. Spread some extra flour onto the counter, and take your beautiful sticky flour ball (you should consider naming him at this point) and place him onto the counter. Sprinkle some flour and pat it into the pasta. Take your kitchen cloth and place it over top of your baby, and leave it for 30 minutes. If using cling film, pat extra flour around the entire ball of pasta, and wrap the whole thing in cling film. Leave for 30 minutes.
5. After 30 minutes take your baby out of the cling film or kitchen cloth. At this point sprinkle more flour all over the pasta ball, working it into the dough until it is no longer sticky. Take your knife and cut a slice off, about 1 inch thick.
6. Inside the slice is sticky, so sprinkle more flour on both sides, and using your hands or rolling pin, press the slice until it is about 1/4 thick or so. It should not be circular, it should be oblong - narrow and long.
7. If using pasta maker: Take the thin piece of dough, and using the first setting on your pasta maker ( setting 0) feed it through. Fold in half and feed it through again. Repeat the process 2 more times. Sprinkle flour on your dough, and increase the setting to 1. Feed dough through. Increase setting to 2 sprinkle flour, and feed it through. Repeat this process until you reach setting 5.*
8. The piece of dough may be long, so cut in half. Feed the pasta through the 'tagliatelle' setting on the other side of your pasta maker. Most have 2 settings, one for spaghetti, and one for tagliatelle, catching the pieces as the come through. Lay on a flour covered baking tray or hang on a pasta rack. Repeat until all your pasta has been made!
STORING YOUR PASTA
You can eat your pasta right away, boiling it for 4 - 5 minutes (not NEARLY as long as pasta from the market) or you can store it to eat another day. Leave it out until it is dry, (an hour or so) and then you can stack it, and freeze it.
Follow me on Instagram, and Facebook, and be sure to share tag me in photos of your master pasta creations. I LOVE seeing what you're making!
Ciao amici! Welcome to my home and my table. I love inventing new recipes and can't wait to see what we can cook up together!