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Welcome to Mike's Italian Kitchen
on
Cooking For Fun

"Una giornata senza il vino è come
una giornata senza il sole."
"A day without wine is like a day without sunshine."
 

We hope you enjoy the recipes posted
here! This page contains special
family recipes from
Mike M :-)
Thanks, Mike!

 

Pasta Fagioli
1 can cannellini or Great Northern beans
1/2 lb ditalini pasta (little tubes)
about 1/3 cup olive oil
3 oz pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 tsp minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
chopped fresh parsley
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (optional)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
Dash of hot (red) pepper flakes (Optional)

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. Add pancetta/bacon and celery;
cook 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in minced garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add beans, chicken broth, oregano, and tomatoes. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 30, minutes hour.

2. Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions but cut it short by
about 3 minutes until just under done. Drain.

3. Add the cooked and drained pasta. Heat through, about 5-6 minutes. Beans
should break up a bit and make it somewhat creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on some finely chopped Italian parsley. Serve piping hot with crusty Italian bread and Arugula salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper and salt to taste.

Makes 6 servings.


Chicken Marsala "Casalinga" (Home-Style)
1 lb chicken breasts, boned and skinned, pounded as thinly as possible
4 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
2 tbsp small capers, rinsed (optional)
1 glass dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper

If necessary cut through chicken breast as you would a layer cake to make two thin layers, then pound each piece between plastic wrap to get it as thin as possible.

In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat, brown chicken pieces on both sides. Add onion and cook until soft. Add Marsala and reduce by half. Add chicken broth, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is cooked
through, about 15-20 minutes. Check from time to time to be sure there is still some liquid in the pan. The sauce will thicken a bit and is used just to cover the chicken. It is not usually served with any pasta. If you like more sauce, just increase the amount of Marsala and/or chicken broth, but always reduce to thicken sauce a bit. Try serving with a steamed green vegetable and egg noodles mixed with butter and parmesan cheese.


Antipasto

An "antipasto" is something serve "before the pasta". It is usually a mixture of cold cuts, pickled vegetables, cheeses, and olives all arranged nicely on a platter. You might buy most of this at an Italian deli or even in your own grocery store. A typical "antipasto" platter will contain thinly sliced salami, pepperoni, sopressata, whole mushrooms in olive oil, garlic and vinegar, tiny "vinegar peppers" (Italian name escapes me right now) a jar of pickled mixed vegetables (Victoria is a good brand...cauliflower, onions, carrots, string beans, etc.), mozzarella cheese, a piece of dried ricotta or feta (if you can't find dried ricotta], a piece of Parmesan cheese, etc. and then the various black and calamata, green olives scattered about. All this is served with good crusty Italian bread.


Sicilian Meatloaf
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
3 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
1 small red onion, minced
1/2 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli), toasted lightly
1/4 cup currants or raisins, soaked in dry Marsala wine
3-4 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn in pieces and soaked in milk
2 - 3 eggs, beaten
1/4 - 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
(If you use that stuff in the green cardboard box, I'll send my friends from Brooklyn to your house! LOL!!!)
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the above ingredients WELL in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands. Take a small amount, roll into a small meatball or tiny hamburger shape and fry until cooked. taste in order to adjust seasoning. DO NOT TASTE MIXTURE RAW!!!!

Form in a loaf or put in a loaf pan. Bake in 375F oven for 1 hour or until
meat is done. It's great plain or you can put strips of bacon across the top,
or even put some tomato sauce over the top... just enough to cover.

NOTE: This mixture also makes great meatballs to put in your "gravy" as the NYC Italians might call tomato sauce! ;-)

Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes or...peel white and sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise and then across in threes, mix with sliced onion and garlic, salt & pepper,rosemary & oregano, and olive oil. Spread around the meatloaf,  salt & pepper to taste. The onions get caramelized and "burnt" around the  edges... hmmmm good!

Wine choice?  A strong red such as a California red zinfandel or Australian shiraz. SALUTE, AMICI!!!


Minestra
1/2 pound Italian fennel sausage (or kielbasa, andouille, chorizo, etc.)
2 small pork chops, cut in half
2 country-style pork ribs, cut in half
1/4 lb "belly pork" (unsmoked bacon), cut in thick chunks
1/4 lb salt pork or thick bacon, cut in thick chunks
4 small chicken thighs
2 beef short ribs or 1/2 pound beef chunks for stew (chuck)
1 ham bone or ham hock
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, sliced
1 head Savoy cabbage, shredded
1 can Italian cannelini beans, drained and rinsed gently
chicken broth and/or beef broth to cover
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Crusty Italian bread.. a good Tuscan loaf would be terrific

In a large heavy soup pot, saute salt pork in the olive oil to render the fat. Remove salt pork and reserve. Brown meats lightly. Remove and reserve.
Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 6-10 minutes over medium high heat. Add shredded cabbage and saute about 3-4 minutes. Turn heat up to high and add white wine...stir until cabbage is wilted and wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add chicken/beef broth and return all the meat to the pot. Add oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to slow boil and skim any residue that rises to the top. Reduce heat,
cover and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Stir occasionally. In the last 15
minutes add the drained and rinsed cannelini beans, if using them.

To serve:  remove meats and slice so that chunks may be eaten with a soup spoon. Paint a few slices of the Italian bread with olive oil and toast. Put a few pieces in the bottom of a soup bowl. Put a variety of the meat pieces in the bowl and ladle on the cabbage/soup mixture. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top of the soup.

Serve with an Arugula salad, more crusty Italian bread, and a dry white
Italian wine... perhaps a Pinot Grigio or Lacrima Christi, or Est, Est, Est.
Anyone ready for dinner? ;-)

This soup is even better the next day after all the flavors have had time to
mingle...sort of like the people here on CFF!  LOL!!  Enjoy!


Pappardelle alla Vodka
2 cans Italian plum tomatoes
8 oz olive oil
1 large clove garlic
Fresh basil (to taste)
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup onion -- chopped
1 pint heavy cream
1 stick butter
4 oz vodka
1/2 cup green peas (optional)
1 lb pappardelle (recipe follows)

1. In a medium saucepan sauté garlic in 4 ounces of olive oil. Add the 2 cans peeled tomatoes, remove any stems and seeds. (Put the through a sieve) Add basil and black pepper to taste. Stir well and let simmer for 20 minutes.

2. In a separate sauce pan sauté the chopped onion in 4 ounces of olive oil.
Add tomato sauce and stir constantly; place flame on low-simmer, then add the cream. Add the peas, if using. Stir again and add the vodka, mix and allow time for vodka to evaporate (about 5 to 7 minutes).

3. Prepare pasta to just before "al dente", drain well...but DO NOT RINSE!!!!

4. Mix the butter into the pasta and add to the pink sauce. Sauté 2 to 3
minutes to let pasta soak up some of the sauce and cook until "al dente".
Serve immediately!

NOTES : You can substitute "penne" or "corkscrews" or any other chewy-type pasta. You can also add some chopped prosciutto ham to the sauce, if desired.
 


Spaghetti with Red or White Clam Sauce
Serves 6 for appetizers or 4 for main course

NOTE: For White Clam Sauce just leave out the tomatoes.

1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 six-oz cans chopped clams, with their juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup crushed canned Italian plum tomatoes (28-ounce can)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp salt, plus more for seasoning

1. In a large covered spaghetti pot, bring a 4 quarts of water and a tbsp of salt to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a heavy skillet (with a lid) large enough to hold the pasta later on, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, and slowly cook, stirring, until just golden, about 4-5 minutes. Reserve clams but add the clam juice, wine, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and salt and
pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the clams are quite salty. Stir, reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add clams,
stir to heat through. If they are canned, they are already cooked. You don't want to cook them too much.

3. When the water boils, add the pasta, stir well, and cover until it returns
to a boil. Uncover, and boil until "al dente"...just tender to the bite. Do
NOT rinse or make the spaghetti too far in advance.

4. Reserving 1/2 cup cooking water, drain pasta in a colander. Add the
drained pasta, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper to taste to the sauce, and
mix well, adding a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water if needed to coat the pasta evenly. Cover, and cook 1 minute. Serve immediately.


Here's a recipe my grandmother used... think she saw it on TV back in the
1950's... from an Italian cooking show called "The Bontempi's", a husband and wife team. I remember it was on WORTV in NYC. If you like the taste of fennel, it is delicious served with boiled white rice.

Nana's Italian Beef Stew
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2" pieces for stew
1 med onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1-2 cloves garlic, minced fine or crushed
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1 tbsp Italian wide-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a heavy ovenproof casserole heat oil over medium high heat. Salt and pepper beef just before adding the pieces to the pot. Brown beef thoroughly on all sides in small batches, reserve. Add onion and celery and brown. Add tomato paste. Cook stirring for 1-2 minutes. Return browned beef to the pot. Add wine, water, more salt and pepper, if desired, and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and bake in oven for 1 to 1/2 hours or until beef is fork tender.

Before serving stir in the crushed garlic, fennel seed, and parsley. Cook on
top of stove one more minute. Serve with boiled white rice.  Delicioso!


We usually made this one at Easter, but it's delicious any time.

Italian Meat Pie (Pizza Rustica)
9" Square pan
1 1/2 lb ricotta
1 lb mozzarella, cubed
6 eggs, beaten slightly
1/4 lb ham, thick slice, cubed
1/4 to 1/2 lb Genoa salami, cubed
1 stick pepperoni, cubed
1 stick dry sausage, cubed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, or to taste
1 Crisco Pie Crust, top & bottom

Mix first 8 ingredients together well. Pour into 9" square pan, lined with
piecrust. Top with piecrust. Poke a few slits to let steam out and bake at
350 F until a knife inserted comes out clean, about 50 - 60 minutes.


Here's a dessert that is out of this world! Again, we usually made this at
Easter.

Ricotta Pie
Pastry:
2 cups sifted flour
1 cups Crisco
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 to 2 tbls cold water
Filling:
1 1/2 lbs ricotta
1/4 cup sifted flour
1/8 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten until foamy
1 cup sugar
2 tbls orange rind
2 tbls lemon rind
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup citron
Chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut flour, salt and Crisco. Add beaten egg yolks and water. Roll out 3/4 of batter for bottom crust. Cut strips for lattice trim on top.

Filling: Mix ricotta, flour, salt, orange & lemon rind and vanilla. In separate bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar until sugar is almost dissolved. Add ricotta mixture. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle citron and chocolate chips on top. Add lattice. Bake at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes.


Here's a very basic Italian home-style tomato sauce (gravy... if you're from Brooklyn!). It is a Neapolitan recipe and you'll notice it contains NO onions or green peppers. It is the basis for several other tomato-based sauces...everything from the fresh and light summer basil sauce which is hardly cooked at all.... to the longer cooked meat sauces of the winter time.

Basic Tomato Sauce (Salsa di Pomodoro)
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
2 to 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cans (35 oz) Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano are the best), chopped
roughly or just squeezed into a bowl (use juice and tomatoes)
1 small can tomato paste, optional - cook longer if you do not use tomato
paste*
1 tomato paste can of water*
1 to 3 bay leaves
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
3 tbsp fresh Italian (wide-leaf) parsley, minced
Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan (not aluminum as it will react with the tomatoes), heat the olive oil over medium heat until a haze forms. Add garlic and turn heat to low; cook, stirring frequently until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil, parsley, and tomato paste, water, and salt and pepper. Bring to boil, stirring, then turn heat to low or simmer. Cook partially covered (lid slightly ajar) stirring occassionally until slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. If not as thick as you like, simmer longer. If too thick, add some water and simmer just a bit to incorporate.

That's it. If you want to add meat (meatballs, sausage, bracciole, pork
chunks, beef chunks, chicken, etc, before you add the garlic, brown
whatever meat you want to use in the olive oil, then add the garlic, etc.

*Note: If you do not want to use tomato paste, you can used crushed Italian tomatoes. Cooking the sauce longer will thicken it. Just be sure to simmer over low heat, partially uncovered and stir frequently.

The secret of pasta: The other important thing is this. Whatever pasta you are using, and with a red meat sauce you probably will be using something other than spaghetti, for example, rigatoni, cavatelli, bucatini, shells, bow-ties, ziti, spirals, etc.). Spahetti, Linguine, etc. are used more for fish sauces actually. [Yes, there are exceptions! ;-)] Boil the pasta according to the package directions once the sauce is ready. Please do NOT cook the pasta before hand!

When pasta is ready (al dente, to the tooth, firm but not hard), drain
thoroughly but DO NOT RINSE!!!!!!. While pasta is draining, put a few large spoonfuls of the sauce into the pot in which you boiled the pasta and return the pasta to the pot and mix thoroughly. Each piece of pasta should be covered slightly with the sauce so it is no longer white. That's the secret of pasta tasting like pasta - it shouldn't be left plain. Now you can dish it out and spoon more sauce over it - as much as you like. Italian
Americans like more sauce. Italians like less.

We used to serve the meat (if any) as a separate course with a green salad,
never with the pasta course. So, you'd start with a pasta dish, go on to
meatballs, sausage, etc. and a green salad. We'd then bring out the main
course - some kind of roast and vegetables and potatoes! Then, fruit and
nuts - then desserts, coffee, liquors - that was between 1 pm and 5 pm. By
7 pm the cold cuts were brought out and we'd start over!   ;-)  Buon Appetito!


Polpetti (Meatballs)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup pignoli (pine nuts) - optional
1/2 cup currants or raisins soaked in Marsala for 30 minutes - optional
12 sprigs Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 to 8 large eggs

In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly the three meats with the bread crumbs, cheese, the garlic, parsley, and pine nuts and raisins, if used, salt and pepper and eggs. Shape the mixture into medium sized ovals, the size of extra large eggs.

You should end up with about 22 meatballs. Brown the meatballs in 2
tablespoons of olive oil and proceed with the recipe for basic Italian Tomato Sauce. The pine nuts and raisins make them VERY Sicilian! ;-) ... right, Godfather?  LOL!!!!

Yield: about 2 dozen meatballs


Homemade Italian Sausage
5 lbs pork shoulder
1 cup cold water
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 lb hog sausage casing

Trim the meat of all gristle but remember to not trim too much fat as the
mixture should be approximately 80 percent lean to 20 percent fat. Cut the
meat into chunks and pass through a meat grinder using the largest die. Pass the meat through again, this time using the medium die. Pass the sausage meat through one more time on this medium die.

In a large bowl mix the ground meat with the water, salt, pepper, fennel
seed, cheese and parsley. Wash the casing well under cold running water and allow water to run through the casing so that any holes may be detected. Fit the grinder with the sausage stuffing attachment and place the casing over the stuffing tube by feeding it on and bunching it up on the tube..

Place the meat in the hopper on top and begin to push the sausage meat down into the hopper so that it begins to feed into the casing. As the meat feeds into the casing, allow the casing to slide into your open hand. Catch the stuffed sausage as it comes out of the machine. Go at a slow and steady pace so that the sausage is fully, evenly, stuffed and without air pockets. To make individual links, twist the sausage every few inches as it is stuffed and let the finished ring of sausage lay on the work space as you finish the process. Continue until the meat is finished. Keep refrigerated and use with in one week or freeze for later use.

Saute and brown before putting into the Basic Italian Tomato Sauce.
Naturally, there are many more uses for this sausage meat: Chicken  Murphy, Sausage and Peppers, Sausage and Eggs, stuffings, etc.

Yield: approximately 5 pounds finished sausage


Bracciole for Salsa di Pomodoro
(Beef Rolls for Basic Italian Tomato Sauce)
4 lg pieces top round steak pounded thin or thinly pounded pork steaks,
about 1/4 inch thick , about 2 1/4 lbs
Stuffing:
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese
2 tbsp finely minced Italian parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lg egg
2 lg egg yolks
14 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup currants or raisins, soaked in hot water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (NOT the stuff in the green
box... PLEASE!)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, pine nuts,
raisins, salt and pepper. In another bowl, place the whole egg and yolks;
beat lightly with a fork. Add to the bread crumb mixture and mix well. Divide stuffing into 8 portions.

2. Line pounded slices of round steak or pork on work surface with ends of
meat facing you. With a metal spatula or your hands, spread stuffing over the
meat, leaving at least 1/4 inch border of meat on all 4 sides. Do NOT
overfill. Starting at ends of steak, carefully roll up like a jelly roll and
tuck ends in. Tie each roll with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals; tie
lengthwise once. Do not tie too tightly or the twine will cut into the meat
during cooking.

3. Saute and brown in olive oil and then place in the basic Italian Tomato
Sauce to cook along with the sauce from the beginning.

Variations:

Once bread stuffing is spread out on the meat you might want to place thin strips of soprassata or Genoa salami, cut into 2 x 1/2 inch strips... or even mix some ground veal into the bread stuffing before spreading it on the meat. Some people even put in hard-boiled eggs... so, when you cross slice it...you also get a very nice presentation effect.


Mike's Sicilian Pot Roast
1 (3-lb) piece boneless chuck roast (have your butcher tie it for you; it
makes it easier to handle)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lbs onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced carrots
1 bay leaf
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cups red wine
1 cup Marsala
4 cups beef stock

Preheat oven 300 F. Season the roast with salt and pepper. Dust it with the flour. Place the olive oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and brown the roast evenly on all sides. Remove the roast to a platter.

Place the onions, bay leaf, garlic, red pepper and thyme in the pot. Lightly
season with salt and pepper and, stirring periodically, sauté for 7 to 8
minutes or until the onions are wilted. Add celery and carrots. Sauté for 4
minutes stirring occasionally. Add the red wine and marsala, bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by half. Add the roast back to the pot with the stock, adjust the seasonings and allow to come back to a boil. Place in oven for 2 - 3 hours turning the meat every hour, until fork tender. Remove the meat from the pot and keep it warm on a covered platter.

On stove top, bring the sauce to a boil and reduce by about half. You should end up with a gravy that is light brown in color and the consistency of heavy cream. Remove the string from the roast, cut it into thin slices, remove the thyme and bay leaf from the sauce. Spoon the sauce, including the onions, on top of the meat slices and serve.

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If you have comments, suggestions or a
recipe to submit email us at
devriesb@vianet.ca

Webpage designed and maintained by Leilani Devries