Category Archives: AMERICAN CLASSICS

A TASTE OF SUNSHINE….SOUR CREAM LEMON LOAF

So here’s the story…when Stanley Tucci’s CNN Series SEARCHING FOR ITALY premiered weeks ago the first episode was on Napoli (Naples) and its surrounding region. A Spaghetti dish with fried Zucchini known as Spaghetti alla Nerano was featured and one of the key ingredients, infact what makes it the unique dish it is was a locally crafted cheese called PROVOLONE DEL MONACO. I needed to have it. A friend of mine, grazie to Angela Santarelli let me know of an online US Company that imports some hard to get Italian items so I took a look. The company is DOLCITERRA ( https://www.dolceterra.com/) and when I jumped into the website it was like a new door of possibilities opened up. Yes, they had the cheese I wanted but ohhhhhh they had so much more. One of the items was a case of LIMONE DI SORRENTO, lemons from the groves around Sorrento, the area is profumed with the most amazing lemons. They are larger, have a somewhate less sour and sweeter juice, and a thicker and tastier rind/skin than regular lemons. Oh I still love regular lemons, but these are exponentially more aromatic and tastier. I ordered. 4 weeks later my booty arrived. I’ve used them in salad dressings, cakes, savory dishes, drinks. These are prized for making Limoncello too. This is where it was invented, in Campania because of the amazing lemons. Who doesn’t like Lemon Loaf Cake? Ok, those who don’t can exit from the door on your left right now. The rest of you can stay. LOL. I’m a big fan of it so I thought i’d make an American classic, the Sour Cream Ice Lemon Loaf but use these amazing Sorrento Lemons. The result was a huge success. Now don’t look sad, I see you saying..”ughh. where am I going to get Sorrento lemons”. This recipe is for any lemons. The best to use would be fresh Organic Lemons that are firm and fragrant. And if you have Sorrento Lemons that’s just a bonus, but any lemons will work. Let’s get baking!!!

SOUR CREAM LEMON LOAF CAKE

TAKES 2 HOURS

FOR THE LOAF CAKE

3 LARGE FRESH EGGS, WELL BEATEN

1 CUP PLUS 2 TABLESPOONS GRANULATED SUGAR

1 CUP SOUR CREAM (I LIKE FAGE BRAND)

3 TABLESPOONS ORGANIC LEMON ZEST

JUICE OF ONE WHOLE LEMON (OR 2 TBS PURE LEMON EXTRACT)

*NOTE ON THE LEMON JUICE/EXTRACT. THE JUICE PROVIDES A BACKGROUND OF LIGHT LEMON ESSENCE. THE EXTRACT GIVES AN UP FRONT PUNCH OF LEMON, UP TO YOU

2 TEASPOON PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

1/2 CUP VEGETABLE OIL

1 1/2 CUPS SIFTED UNBLEACHED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

2 TEASPOONS FRESH BAKING POWDER (CHECK YOUR EXPIRATION DATES BEFORE USING)

3/4 TEASPOON KOSHER SALT

ICING ( LEMON GLAZE)

1 CUP PLUS 2 TABLESPOONS OF CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR

3-4 TABLESPOONS OF FRESH SQUEEZED LEMON JUICE (LET ME STOP YOU RIGHT HERE, FRESH LEMONS ALWAYS, BOTTLED LEMON JUICE IS A VERY DIFFERENT TASTING PRODUCT, NOT GOOD IN THIS AT ALL)

2 TSPS. LEMON ZEST

1 TEASPOON PURE VANILLA EXTRACT.

Preheat the oven to 350 Degress F. Grease a 9X5 loaf pan with butter or spray shortening. Lightly dust with flour. Shake out excess.

Add the beat eggs to a large bowl and add the sour cream and sugar, whisk briskly. Add the lemon juice, the lemon zest, the vanilla and when fully combined slowly add the oil whisking steadily.

In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder and the salt. Gently blend with a fork till combined. Then add to the wet mixture until no lumps and fully incorporated. Don’t mix for too long.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and place onto a heavy baking sheet (why? ever had a cake decide to grow and pour over the sides? you don’t want that mess on the bottom of your oven!!!

Bake on the center rack for 60 minutes or until the center comes out clean with a knife or toothpick. All ovens bake differently so once you’ve come to the 50 minute mark check the cake, It’s what I do. If you need more time check again after 10 minutes keeping a close eye on the whole thing. If your oven normally runs hot a foil loosely placed over the top helps prevent scorching.

most important: BE PATIENT. let this cool on a rack for 1 hour.

While it’s cooling, add the confectioners’ sugar and zest to a bowl. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix until it’s the right consistency. You may need more sugar. You may need more juice.

Feel the bottom of the loaf pan after an hour has passed. If it’s still warm, give it another hour. Gently Turn the loaf out of the pan. Place on a platter/plate. Then drizzle as little or as much of the glaze as you like. As you can see from the pic i like alot. That wonderful sweet tart sunny lemon glaze is something you want more than less of. This cake tastes best on day 2 if you can make it a day ahead of serving it. However, it tastes amazing on day one as well.

STEAK TIDBITS OVER BUTTERED TOAST POINTS, CLASSIC AMERICAN CUISINE

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Down in the old canyons of Manhattan’s Financial District known as “Wall Street” small business owners catered to the thousands who worked at every income level and from janitor to CEO. Downtown as we called it was a place where people made their livelihoods and commuted in and out of the city. Today’s Downtown is a mix of the old financial center and a buzzing residential and retail community. This dish in the picture is my “ode” to the places that used to feed all of Downtown’s workers. In 1978 I started working in a Brokerage firm on Broadway, 61 Broadway to be exact. When you exited out the back of the building on its lower level you were on “Trinity Place” at the corner of “Exchange Alley”. That still exists. Opposite was the German American restaurant and bar called VOLK’S…food memory here…Their burgers were amazing, char grilled. Their drinks were big. And their Black Forest Cake was fantastic. At the corner of Exchange and Trinity on the south side of 61 Broadway was a parking lot. And next to that was a place that was the “best place ever” to a college kid working in a a financial firm in NYC. MICHAEL’S ONE was the name of this bar/restaurant and it was where the brokers and traders of the firm along with the back office and clerical workers went after the market closed to have a drink and/or something to eat. Well, the drinks were the usual suspects but at the center of this black leather, polished wood, modern dining space was a central grill and cooking space manned by the Chef known as Sylvester. His steak tidbits were a thing of beauty. Sirloin tips seasoned with salt and pepper, then sauteed in a pan with butter…garlic was added then finished with Worchestershire Sauce…cooked only till medium rare, then poured over buttered white toast points. Amazing. They left a lasting impression on this college kid working for the summer. I wound up sticking with that job and making steak tidbits to this day!!

STEAK TIDBITS

TIME: 1/2 HOUR FOR : 2 SERVINGS

1 1/2 LBS SIRLOIN STEAK TRIMMED OF EXCESS FAT. CUT INTO SMALL DICE/CUBES

1 STICK UNSALTED BUTTER

KOSHER SALT

CRACKED BLACK PEPPER

3 MINCED CLOVES OF GARLIC

2 TBS WORCHESTERSHIRE SAUCE

1 TSP MINCED FRESH FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

2 TRIMMED SLICES OF GOOD WHITE SANDWICH BREAD TOASTED THEN BUTTERED THEN CUT DIAGONALLY

Season the meat in a stainless steel bowl with about 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. In a heavy pan (cast iron is wonderful) heat 1/2 the butter just till sizzling. Add the meat in a single layer and let it sit for at least 3 minutes, then give the pan a shake and let the other side cook for about 2 minutes. You may need to do this in 2 batches as you don’t want to STEAM the meat if the pan gets overcrowded. When the meat is done remove to a flat platter and you’ll add it back in after you make the sauce. add the rest of the butter and let it melt into the pan. Now add the garlic and once you can smell the fragrance (isn’t it really a fragrance? Does anything smell as good as garlic in a pan of butter or olive oil? I told you…)then add the Worchestershire Sauce (L&P is my preferred brand, no, i’m not a paid influencer, it just has the best taste for me). Swirl the pan a few times and let this sizzle. Season the meat with the black pepper and remaining salt and add to the pan and JUST WARM IT THROUGH, like under a minute. Divide the steak cubes in 1/2 and pour over the buttered toast points drizzling the remaning pan sauce over the servings. Garnish with the parsley. Enjoy each bite of the juicy and saucy tidbits with the buttery toasty bread.

DILL MUSTARD CREAMED ONIONS, FOR THANKSGIVING OR ANY DAY

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Welcome to the end of the year holidays in the USA.  First up is Thanksgiving, the 3d Thursday of November.  Personally, it’s my favorite holiday.  It’s about being thankful for just about anything.  I like that premise.  I’m thankful for you all reading and following my blog and my social media pages.  Thank you all. Creamed onions, you like them?  There’s 2 camps out there I think.  There’s Camp “THEY TASTE LIKE WALLPAPER PASTE” and there’s Camp “WE HAVE THEM EVERY YEAR AND LOVE THE TRADITION”.  Ok, there’s no scientific proof of any of that…lol. It’s just my own personal casestudy.  I’m a newcomer to CREAMED ONIONS as part of the Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Prior to Thanksgiving 1975 I had never seen or heard of them.  I know, 1975, Ancient history.  Let me continue. My wife’s family made them.  They were totally foreign to me.  And she only lived 15 minutes away from me!! I loved creamed anything but each year I thought, this dish is pretty tasteless.  It could use A FOOD OBSESSION MAKEOVER. Using the traditional base of this dish one can add some enhancements which now turn it into a flavorful side with some personality.  Mustard and Dill are very complimentary especially with the sweet onions and the cream sauce.  After some experimenting with different combos (one included bacon or smoked ham but was too overpowering) I came up with this one.  I hope it becomes a treasured part of your Holiday cooking.  Works well with Roast Turkey, Game, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, even Seafood.  Let’s cook.  This will make enough for 8 sides. 

MUSTARD AND DILL CREAMED PEARL ONIONS

8 CUPS WATER

2 10 OUNCE BAGS OF PEARL ONIONS(FROM THE PRODUCE SECTION)

3 TABLESPOONS OF ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

4 TABLESPOONS OF KOSHER SALT

PINCH OF ALLSPICE

2 TABLESPOONS OF UNSALTED BUTTER

2 CUPS MILK, USE WHOLE MILK

1 TABLESPOON OF DIJON MUSTARD

DASH OF WORCHESTERSHIRE SAUCE

1/2 TSP OF DRY ENGLISH MUSTARD

2 SPRIGS OF CHOPPED FRESH DILL

FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER

In a large heavy saucepan bring the water to a boil and add 1 1/2 tbs of the salt.  Add the onions.  In 12-15 minutes they will be tender.  DRAIN.  When they are cool enough to touch trim off the root ends and pop the onions out of their skins.  A sharp pairing knife works best for this.  Lay them out on a tray to dry.   

In that same heavy saucepan melt the butter over low heat.  Add the flour and dry mustard, and allspice.  Whisk until it starts to sizzle and let it cook for 2 minutes.  Add the Worchestershire and whisk. Now the remaining flour, Dijon, and then slowly whisk in the milk.  Bring the heat down to low and let this cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep the heat on low and add the onions.  Cook slowly for another 10 minutes.  Give a few frequent stirs.  Onions should be tender and the sauce should be thick and reduced. NOW add the dill and taste for seasoning adding any salt as necessary and give a good grinding of black pepper.  Let this sit for a few hours before gently reheating and serving.  Or make it ahead of time and gently reheat after you’ve let it come to room temperature.

SUMMER CORN AND TOMATO SHRIMP SALAD..A SEASONAL TREAT

20258328_10210202426719502_1348156829950459464_nLiving in the Garden State (that would be New Jersey)Summer here produces some of the country’s finest produce, namely Tomatoes and Corn.  Our markets and backyards are bursting with this bounty and they BEG to be used in many ways.  I try to be creative keeping true to cuisines and flavor profiles.  This Warm Tomato and Corn Shrimp Salad came about while wondering what to cook one summer’s night.  The Shrimp, for this dish to be a success have to be fresh and US Wild Caught.  Our markets are getting more and more of these shrimp for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to live where the Shrimp boats operate. Many of my local (Central Jersey Shore) supermarkets and seafood markets carry the U.S. caught Wild Shrimp.  They just are better looking…better tasting..better for you.  In Asbury Park near me is Local 130, a wonderful fishmonger who specializes in LOCAL fish and seafood as well as wonderfully well sourced and sustainable product from other U.S. locations.  These Shrimp came from off the coast of South Carolina.  Like little sweet crisp sea candies. The shrimp is sauteed then tossed with lightly sauteed corn off the cob and diced ripe tomatoes.  Then a dressing is poured over the whole thing that’s been infused with fresh Rosemary and its all tossed together and served on a platter over baby greens.  I like the Baby Arugula.  Baby Spinach or Baby Kale work too.  Let’s make some Shrimp Salad now!!

2 lbs shelled and deveined US WILD CAUGHT SHRIMP.  The 16-20 size is what I use for this.

seasoned flour (salt, pepper, paprika)

Olive Oil

2 cups corn cut off the cob

2 medium sized ripe Tomatoes, medium dice

1/2 fine diced Sweet or Vidalia Onion

2 tbs unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups GREEK YOGHURT, drained

1 1/2 TBS, honey

1 TBS Finely diced FRESH ROSEMARY…do not use dried.

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS White Balsamic Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar

Pinch of ground Cayenne

Kosher Salt and Black pepper to taste

Baby Greens

 

First make the dressing.  Whisk together the Yoghurt, honey, 1/2 the rosemary, 1 tbs olive oil, the vinegar, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.  Reserve.

Lightly dust the shrimp in the flour, shake off the excess and saute’ in a wide pan with about 1/8 inch olive oil.  Saute in batches, adding more olive oil as necessary.  Cook only 2-3 minutes on first side, then 2 minutes on the other, or until both sides are golden.  Reserve and drain on paper towels.  Add the butter to the pan and when it’s melted saute’ first the onion, then add the corn and tomatoes, and 1/2 the rosemary, season with salt and pepper.  Cook this for at least 10 minutes on medium.  In a large mixing bowl add the shrimp and toss with the corn and tomato mixture.  When blended gently blend in the dressing.  When well blended let it sit for 10 minutes.  Using a large platter, make a nice bed of greens on it and then pile the shrimp salad on top.  Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve.  Feeds 4-5.

 

 

LOBSTER ROLLS, MY VERSION

165994_3211681293308_1441686714_n (1)“Summertime…..and the living is easy….”.   My friends, Summer is my favorite of all seasons.  It’s when everything is in bloom, in season, pools, beaches, swimming, lounging outside, Summer is my season.  The foods of Summer reflect its heat and sunshine.  Tomatoes, corn, Watermelon just to name a few are some of the reasons I love summer’s food so much.  There’s one American sandwich that is the epitome of Summer for me.  The American Lobster Roll.  Now please, this is not a blog that entertains the silly “my style is better than your style” nonsense.  How can you say they are not ALL GOOD???  Succulent North Atlantic Steamed Lobster meat, coarsely chopped and given a bath of warm butter or a light coating of Mayonnaise lovingly piled into a Top Split New England style Hot Dog Bun.  The bun is toasted on its sides in more butter.  Maine, Connecticut, they all have their “styles”. I suggest you try them all.  Why does one have to “win”?  However I’m most partial to the lightly mayo’d one, but would be happy with the warm butter as well.  I generally make them in the more Maine style. With a touch of Mayo.  There used to be no “green” involved if it were to be called a Maine Lobster Roll but only a few months ago I was up in Kennebunkport (A Lobster Roll and Maine Seafood Central) and in two different spots, the Lobster rolls did contain a bit o’green.  Some lettuce on one…some chives and celery on the other.  Let’s cut to the chase.  To make 4 Lobster Rolls I steam 4 Lobsters.  You see, once you start to crack the cooled steamed lobsters open, you’ll be coarsely chopping the claw and tail meat and popping chunks mindlessly into your mouth before they get into the bowl.  I’ve done the research.  Trust me.

Steam 4 1 1/2  lb Lobsters.  Let them completely cool before cracking them open and removing the meat.  Once the meat is removed, pick over for any shells and coarsely chop.  Reserve in a bowl.

Whisk together the following:

3/4 cup Hellman’s Mayo (this is my version remember, this is what I use)

Juice of 1/2 Lemon, freshly squeezed  (for the love of all that’s sacred in food, NEVER BOTTLE LEMON JUICE)

Pinch of Kosher or Sea Salt

1 celery stalk, finely minced

1 tsp fresh chopped chives (this is entirely optional, if you find this offensive in your lobster roll, forget you even read this …LOL)

Blend all this then add the lobster and blend well.  Let this sit in the fridge for 1 hour.

The rolls, New England Top Split Hot Dog Rolls.  I don’t live in New England,  I live at the Jersey shore.  And I used to live in Staten Island NYC.  And in both places I was able to get the top split rolls.  They are essential to making this a Maine or New England Style Lobster Roll versus making a Lobster Salad Sandwich.  They have Flat sides.  Toast both sides of these rolls in butter.  Good salted butter.  Sort of like the way you would toast the bread on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Let’s assemble….

Load up 4 rolls with the Lobster mix.  That’s it.  Now you can get fussy or creative but the more you add to this the further away from the traditional Maine style you’ll be getting.  I’ve seen recipes that use paprika, capers, olives, mesclun or other greens, tarragon, parsley, etc.  My version?  Basic.  Pretty much.  Let the Lobster be the star…oh sure, Lobster Tarragon Salad is wonderful and delicious and i Love it on a Kaiser Roll, but it’s not a Maine Lobster Roll.  There’s a little uniqueness about it.  I’ll stick with that.

TOMATO, ONION, AND BACON JAM…A HEAVENLY COMBO, AN EASY RECIPE

18765994_10209606262095759_5350010286680538053_nHere’s my recipe for a tasty “jam” that takes advantage of the sweet small cherry or grape tomatoes and smoky salty porky American Bacon.  Throw Sweet Vidalia onions in to the mix and you have my TOMATO, BACON AND ONION JAM.  A Sweet and Sour mix of heavenly flavors that really work on grilled meats like Burgers, Hot Dogs,  and even tasty over a block of cheese or sliced cheeses on a crouton or cracker.  The trick is to be patient, the bacon needs to fully cook or you have rubbery, wobbly unwanted surprises in the jam.  Nobody wants that.  Let make some JAM! My favorite application of this jam is on a cheeseburger, as pictured above.

1 lb.   CHOPPED AMERICAN BACON, some like thick cut for this, i do not. Regular cut is what I use.

2 pts. CHOPPED CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES, tossed with some Kosher Salt to taste

2 TBS UNSALTED BUTTER

2 MEDIUM SIZED VIDALIA OR SWEET ONIONS, FINELY DICED

1 CUP DARK BROWN SUGAR

3 TBS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

pinch of Allspice or Cinnamon

1 TSP KOSHER SALT

1 TSP BLACK PEPPER

1 TSP. TABASCO SAUCE

1 SPRIG ROSEMARY OR THYME

2 TBS PURE MAPLE SYRUP

Use your heaviest bottomed pot (always a good idea when cooking anything with lots of sugar, helps prevent burning).  Add the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently to evenly cook the bacon.  After 10 minutes your bacon should be at the proper texture,  remove the bacon and add the butter.  Stir.  When the butter is melted add the onions.  Slow cook these stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Then add the Tomatoes.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and continue to cook until the tomatoes soften.  Should take 20 minutes.  Now add the all the other ingredients except the maple syrup and rosemary.  Bring to a boil.  Now add the syrup and rosemary/thyme, stir and simmer until it’s thickened, about 30 minutes.  Stir frequently.  Remove from heat and let it COMPLETELY COOL DOWN.  Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Store in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks on the BOTTOM SHELF.  That’s the coldest part of your fridge.   ENJOY!!!

SPIEDIES, MARINATED AND GRILLED SKEWERED CUBES OF MEAT FROM NY STATE,ANOTHER ITALIAN AMERICAN CREATION

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WHO LOVES GRILLED MEATS?  I see lots of raised hands out there so this blogpost is just for you.  Ever have a SPIEDIE??  Well it’s time you did and they are extremely easy to make at home.  They are an ItalianAmerican version of a typical skewered meat/poultry dish popular around the world, but in this fashion it’s typical of the Mediterranean version.  SPIEDO is the Italian Word for KITCHEN COOKING SPIT.  italian meats threaded on skewers in some fashion generally take the name Spiedini which has different regionalities to it depending on the location in Italy or Sicily.Maybe you’re familiar with SPIEDINI, the small rolls of filled meat/poultry threaded with onions and bay leaves, sometimes slices of Italian Bread.  Or you’ve probably had the more well known Greek SOUVLAKIA which is REAL close to ItalianAmerican Spiedies with a few less marinade ingredients and the Greeks us TZATZIKI sauce and a Pita.  Spiedies just get more of the marinade on them and can be rolled up into a slice of American White Bread or an Italian long roll.

So what makes these Mediterranean treats ItalianAmerican? Let’s go back to the old country for a moment.  In the ABRUZZO region a popular dish is cubes of marinated skwered lamb called SPIDUCC’..or SPIDDUCCI. In True ITALIAN fashion each section of the ABRUZZO has local terms for this dish.  ARROSTICINI, ‘RUSTELLE, ARRUSTELLE, all pretty much are the same thing.   The term SPIEDIE though is pure ItalianAmerican.   The cubes are marinated in a simple dressing of Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar (PUT DOWN THAT BALSAMIC!!! IT COMES FROM UMBRIA NOT THE ABRUZZO!! Lidia Bastianich says it best, foods from an area taste best when you use the ingredients from that area/region. Balsamic while delicious is not a substitute for all vinegar dishes, there, I’ve said it.  I know, in America it’s used on everything.  My purpose in  blogging is to give you the real deal, or close to it.  If you use balsamic, just don’t tell me LOL.), garlic or onion, peperoncino, salt, lemon juice, herbs like mint, oregano, basil, bay.  The lamb cubes would be marinated for as long as possible, threaded onto metal skewers and slow roasted over hot coals.    One of the world’s most popular ways of cooking meats yet still amazing wherever you have it.   The American connection comes in via Ellis Island during the great Italian Immigration from 1880s-1930s.  Many paesani from the Abruzzo settled in the area of Central New York State around Binghamton NY.  As is the norm they brought with them dishes from their homeland and adapted them to the new surroundings.  Lamb was first used but in the USA immigrants found ALL meats were easy to get and well priced so in true American fashion varieties of meats and poultry were used to make these Arrosticini or Spidducci which turned into the ItalianAmerican word, SPIEDIES.  Legend hotly contests who the creator of the first one in a restaurant was and who had the first “sauce” for them, but the Iacovelli family of Endicott, NY near Binghamton  in the 1920’s-1930’s gets the most credit.  Plenty of other stories about who and what but that’s where an Italian regional dish made the jump into ItalianAmerican cuisine.  These SPIEDIES were marinated in the cook’s version of SPIEDIE Sauce, and grilled, then with a piece of American White Bread (see, this is what makes things ItalianAmerican too) you roll the bread around the spiedie and pull it off into the bread.  Instant SPIEDIE SANDWICH. Italian Rolls used also.  Now let’s get your charcoal grill stoked and ready for grilling, or prep that gas grill and get this Summer on the road with a platter of SPIEDIES for your dining pleasure!!!

2 LBS MEDIUM CUBED MEAT/POULTRY..Pork, Lamb, Beef, Chicken, Turkey
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup LEMON JUICE, not the bottled stuff, use fresh Lemons
1 cup RED WINE VINEGAR
1 TSP PEPERONCINO
3 finely minced GARLIC cloves
2 Bay Leaves
1 TSP CRUMBLED DRIED MINT OR
2 TSPS FRESH MINCED BASIL, not both
1 TSP MINCED FRESH PARSLEY

1 1/2 TSP DRIED OREGANO

you will need to make 2 batches of the marinade.

SALT and BLACK PEPPER, to taste (be generous with it)

LONG HEAVY DUTY WOODEN SKEWERS (soaked overnight in water), or METAL SKEWERS

Double the marinade recipe and blend well.  Let this sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  Now separate in equal amounts.  Cover and reserve one batch for serving with the finished Spiedies.  Add the meat to the other batch and make sure all the cubes are in the marinade.  Add the squeezed cut lemons to the bowl and cover. Marinade in the fridge optimally overnight, or no less than 3 hours. Remove the marinating meat from the fridge and LET IT COME TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.  Thread the cubes on the skewers, depending on the length of them make sure to leave some blank space at the tip and the end of the skewers.  On a well oiled medium heat grill start cooking them lining them up without touching each other and give them at least  7 minutes per side, or more, esp with the chicken/turkey.  You can rotate them a few times to get them more evenly grilled.  Discard the first marinade and use a little of the 2d batch to baste certainly using a new bowl. Keep the rest of the marinade for serving with the finished dish.   Remove the finished Spiedies from the grill and place on a platter. Have the extra Marinade and sliced bread or rolls handy to wrap around the SPIEDIES, PULL OFF, add more marinade and ENJOY.  Makes enough for 6-8 servings.

In the Summer an Annual SPIEDIE FEST is held in Central NY…here’s the link:

https://www.spiediefest.com/

 

Happy Cooking!!!  Oh yes, you can buy Spiedie Sauce already made.  Or not.  Make your own.

 

 

 

 

KENTUCKY DERBY WALNUT AND CHOCOLATE PIE…FOR DERBY DAY AND BEYOND

1907996_284906375011003_4427021404753604595_nIn the city of Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of May each year the horserace known as the KENTUCKY DERBY is held.  It’s pretty much become a national event but no where is it more celebrated than in Louisville.  I remember going there 3 days after the event a few years ago to visit clients and remember all the decorations and banners that were still up for the “RUN FOR THE ROSES”.  In true A FOOD OBSESSION style I came home with a few new food ideas and some local cookbooks.  I also made my way over to the BROWN HOTEL to have the American classic sandwich, the HOT BROWN, named for it’s location of birth.  A Hot Brown is a broiled open faced sliced Turkey breast sandwich on thick white bread with Mornay Sauce, Parmigiano, Tomato and Bacon.  It’s amazing.  That trip introduced me to another Louisville cuisine creation, the DEBRY PIE.  Let’s get something out of the way first.  Unless you buy one from Kern’s Kitchen, the business which invented it in 1950 by Walter and Leaudra Kern at their Melrose Inn , Prospect , Kentucky, you cannot call it DERBY PIE.  In 1968 they smartly trademarked the name and while there’s no crime in creating a pie that is similar, you can NEVER call it DERBY PIE. So there you go.  Instead call it anything you like, but since it’s part of Kentucky Derby food culture  I will call it KENTUCKY DERBY WALNUT AND CHOCOLATE PIE.  Whew. Now I’m safe.  The Kern’s have sued over 25 times to protect there trademarked name so remember, you don’t want to be the next victim.  LOL.  The pie is sort of a mashup of a southern Pecan pie with chocolate and a Toll House Pie, sort of.  The recipe I use came from the Washington Post:

SERVINGS: 6 – 8
INGREDIENTS
  • One 8- or 9-inch unbaked pie shell
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh whipped cream for garnish(optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have an 8 or 9-inch pie plate at hand.

Place the unbaked pie shell in the plate. Sprinkle the bottom of the pie shell evenly with chocolate chips.

Whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Gradually mix in the butter, then add the nuts and vanilla extract and bourbon. Carefully pour mixture over the chocolate chips, in a circular motion so it does not disturb the chips. Bake for 1 hour, until the filling is set.

Should be served warmed up…top with the Whipped Cream, over even better, which a good Vanilla Ice Cream….a drizzle of hot chocolate sauce, maybe whipped cream too, up to you.  It’s delicious..and it’s fantastic all on it’s own, it’s rich.  HAPPY KENTUCKY DERBY DAY!!!

CHICKEN VESUVIO, ITALIAN AMERICAN CLASSIC DISH FROM CHICAGO

tarteflambvesuvio 011Italian American cuisine is so widespread through the USA and often there are subtle or major differences in the same dish based on the region.   Sometimes it has to do with ingredient availability and often it’s just the style made popular by a chef or cook in a regional ItalianAmerican restaurant borrowing from their own home kitchens.  Such is the case with the Classic ItalianAmerican dish, CHICKEN VESUVIO.  At it’s base is a bonafide Southern Italian chicken preparation.  Chickens were not a popular food  as they were more prized for their egg laying.  Chicken cutlets were definitely not historical to Southern Italy’s cuisine.  The heritage chicken dishes were usually stewed or slow roasted dishes which helped tenderize the chicken’s meat after it was no longer producing enough eggs for the family.  Think Chicken alla Cacciatora…or Chicken roasted in a pan with a strong acid (to help make the meat more tender) like Wine, Lemon, or Vinegar.  Into that pan herbs that were growing wild or around the house  would be added with a good amount of onion or garlic..sometimes both.  Potatoes and sometimes other vegetables would be added as the chicken baked and it was all mixed with lard or olive oil.  I don’t think there’s an ItalianAmerican who didn’t grow up on a version of this dish.  Scarpariello is a version of this dish.  Vesuvio is a version of this dish.  Why Chicago? Why Vesuvio?  As with all foods this one is steeped in many legends.  I’ll just give what I think could be the reason.  In the 1930’s there was a restaurant in Chicago called VESUVIO and many fingers point to this dish being served on the menu.  It became popular and in time became a Chicago dish made in restaurants in that city both Italian and non-Italian.  One of the most popular versions of the dish is made with the addition of peas.  That’s how I first had it in Chicago and that’s the version I love the most.  I’ve also had it with Mushrooms and/or Artichoke Hearts, but I had the version with peas most often.  All versions start off with searing/browning the chicken in hot olive oil first.  This is key because that pan frying creates a specific taste.  Then the chicken is transferred to a baking dish with all the other ingredients and baked till tender.  My recipe is pretty much an adaptation from the Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse version.

Serves 4-6                                                   takes 2 hours

4 LARGE RUSSET POTATOES

3/4 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

8 CLOVES OF GARLIC Gently bruised

2 CLOVES OF GARLIC, finely minced

1 5-6 lb ROASTING CHICKEN cut into 8-10 pieces

2 TBS KOSHER SALT

1 TBS BLACK PEPPER

1 TBS  OREGANO, or 2 TBS MINCED ROSEMARY OR THYME

1 TSP. GRANULATED GARLIC

1/3 CUP CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

1 1/2 CUPS DRY ITALIAN WHITE WINE

1 CUP CHICKEN STOCK (LOW SODIUM)

1 CUP FROZEN GREEN PEAS, cooked

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges.  Heat some of the olive oil in a large Skillet and salt the potatoes.  When the skillet is hot add the potatoes and get them golden on all sides.  Add 1/2 the whole garlic and let this cook for only another minute.  REmove the garlic and potatoes to a platter.  Add more olive oil.  Now Season the chicken with salt, granulated garlic, 1/2 the oregano or herbs, black pepper. Fry the chicken just until golden on all sides, Takes about 8 minutes. Then deglaze the pan with the Wine.   Let this cook for 10 minutes, making sure you’ve scraped all the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the Chicken into a baking pan and add the potatoes and all the other ingredients except for the peas.  Roast this until the chicken reaches 155 degrees F.  Takes about 40 minutes.  At the end, add the peas and blend in with the dish.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Make sure the potatoes are tender as well.  Baste the dish with the pan juices before you serve.  The temperature and time should ensure you not losing juices in the pan BUT if it looks that it might happen then add more wine or stock.  A salad or a nice platter of sauteed greens goes great with this ItalianAmerican Classic.  Happy Cooking.

BUTTERMILK RICOTTA PANCAKES WITH LEMON AND STRAWBERRY SYRUP

strawricottaplns 004PANCAKES!!!  For Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Middle of the night…always a good time.  One of the staples of the AMERICAN BREAKFAST SCENE the pancake is like a hug.  Easy to make,  quick to cook, what’s not to like?  The addition of Italian Ricotta to these pancakes gives them a slightly lighter and international flavor.  A bit of lemon is added and a syrup of Strawberries, Limoncello and Lemon Zest add color and flavor to your tall or short stack.  You decide how many you want.  First we will make the Syrup and have that ready for when you delicious cakes are hot.  Oh, why am I talking about Strawberries in the dead of Winter?  Florida knows best.  It’s Strawberry season there and most National stores are carrying the sweet treats right now.  I’m giving this whole meal a little ItalianAmerican mash up…so enjoy!!

STRAWBERRY LIMONCELLO SYRUP

1 PT. SLICED STRAWBERRIES

2 CUPS GRANULATED SUGAR (VANILLA SUGAR IF YOU HAVE IT)

2 TBS WATER

1/8 TSP FRESH LEMON JUICE

1 TBS LIMONCELLO

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan add the Water, Strawberries, Lemon juice, and the Sugar..Mix.  Keep on Low heat and stir frequently.   As this cooks the berries release their juices.  Bring to a low boil once there’s liquid in the pan.  Then reduce to a simmer and add the Limoncello.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Done.  You should have a pan of beautifully fragrant and red syrup and berries.  Place to the back of the stove.

PANCAKES

2 JUMBO EGGS

3/4 CUP BUTTERMILK

1 CUP RICOTTA CHEESE, WHOLE MILK, DRAINED

1 TSP. LEMON ZEST

1 TBS MELTED BUTTER

2 TBS. VANILLA EXTRACT

1 CUP UNBLEACHED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR, SIFTED

1 TBS. GRANULATED SUGAR

1/2 TSP. BAKING SODA

1/2 TSP. KOSHER SALT

BUTTER FOR GREASING THE PAN BETWEEN COOKING

EUROPEAN BUTTER ( OR A GOOD AMERICAN BUTTER), BROUGHT TO ROOM TEMPERATURE

In a large bowl blend everything up to the flour still it’s all well mixed.  Slowly add the flour, baking soda, sugar, salt to the bowl and gently mix the dry with the wet ingredients.  Mix till smooth.  Let this sit for 5 minutes only.  Heat a non stick or regular skillet.  Grease the surface with butter.  Pour 2 pancakes into the pan leaving some space inbetween.  Or make them as large or small as you want.  The bigger the pancake the harder the “flip” so I like 2 medium small sized ones.  MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON MEDIUM HEAT or they will burn before you are supposed to flip them.  When there’s a bunch of bubbles on the surface, it’s time to flip!   You’ll not have to cook them as long on the other side.  As you stack them add a little of that room temperature butter to them.  How many does it make?  no idea since your size will determine that but this should work to feed at least 3 hungry eaters.  Serve with extra butter and Pour the sauce over the pancakes.  Fantastic.  Happy Cooking!!!