Category Archives: ARUGULA

FRITTATINE, “SPAGHETTI CROQUETTES” FROM NAPLES, ITALY

frittatine-010Back to Naples for some inspiration and ideas, there is just so much there to choose from that become magic and a feast in your kitchen and dining room.  FRITTATINE is one of those glories of the CUCINA NAPOLETANA.  Basically it is a SPAGHETTI or MACARONI CROQUETTE, the cooked pasta is bound with a BESCIAMELLA Sauce, cheeses, enhanced with vegetables and cured meats, then formed and coated in a light batter and fried. Many versions add a bread crumb coating over the batter.  My version is the breadcrumbed one. Why?  Because anything fried in breadcrumbs usually rocks and it’s SO GOOD with this creamy molten center that you’ll agree after one bite to continue to use the breadcrumb version.  Some background on this treat—-I’m always talking about my strong Napoletana heritage as it’s the city where my maternal grandmother lived for 10 years of her life, from 10 to 20.  The New York City region is heavily influenced in it’s ItalianAmerican culture by the immigrant Napoletani culture and foods, take spaghetti, take Pizza, take Sausage and Peppers, take Mozzarella, take Zeppole…you get the idea. However, FRITTATINE never really made that leap across the Atlantic like many other Napoletana dishes did.  Strange.  Now Potato Croquettes (or as the Napoletane called them PANZAROTTI) definitely made the jump, think of all the restaurants that serve them as a side dish, or how many of our own kitchens recreate that treat.  FRITTATINE? Never heard of them.  Apparently I missed them on a trip to Naples as they are one of the most beloved and popular FRIED SNACKS in the Napoletana Fry shops known as FRIGGITORIE, the best places to sample Naples’ famous street food.  One night in NYC at one of the the new wave of Pizzerias to hit the US, the PIZZERIE NAPOLETANE, pizzerias that adhere to a prescribed formula for making the unique Pizza Napoletana (of which the American NYC Pizza is based on) I encountered FRITTATINE.  Don Antonio by Starita in Manhattan is a palace of simple Napoletana foods and pizza.  A host of other pizzerie have opened in the last 7 years that follow the same certified formula.  I ordered the FRITTATINE and was in love.  Absolutely love croquettes and this creamy macaroni version made me swoon.Of course I needed to recreate them in my own kitchen and here we are.frittatine-008 Aren’t they beautiful?  They taste as good as they look.  Ones containing prosciutto cotto and peas, provolone and spaghetti or bucatini are the most popular.  This is one of those recipes where, AS LONG AS YOU STAY WITHIN WHAT WOULD ORGANICALLY FIT INTO THE RECIPE, you have some wiggle room. Fine dice of cured italian meats….italian greens….italian cheeses…..that’s what’s allowable.  I used Finely chopped chard and sopressata in mine.  Spinach works too.  Provolone, Caciocavallo, Scamorza, PrimoSale, Parmigiano, Mozzarella, Pecorino, Asiago some of the cheeses that work in this.   No balsamic vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, or gorzonzola please, and no chicken.  please. no chicken. One more rule..lol…No dipping sauce.  No side of Marinara.  They are rich and creamy and full of complex textures and flavors..no dipping sauce.  Overkill.  Let’s now fly over to sunny NAPOLI or just stay in your own kitchen and COOK WITH ME!  Time to make the FRITTATINE, translates as small fried things, or Fried Pasta Cakes.  Frittatine sounds best. FREE-TAH-TEEH-NAY.

MAKES: about 20 2 inch Frittatine                                       TIME: cooking and prep: 3 hours

10 tbsp. UNSALTED BUTTER
1 12 cups TIPO 00 FLOUR, or SIFTED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
4 1/2  cups WHOLE MILK
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. DRIED  IMPORTED FROM ITALY SPAGHETTI OR BUCATINI
4 oz. PROSCIUTTO COTTO, or SALAME or SOPRASSATA, finely diced
8 oz. SMALL DICE OF PROVOLONE, or MOZZARELLA, or SMOKED MOZZARELLA
1/4 CUP FINE CHOPPED BLANCHED SPINACH OR SWISS CHARD, or COOKED PEAS
3 TBS. PARMIGIANO REGGIANO GRATED

 1/8 TSP. FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG
OLIVE OIL FOR FRYING (or CANOLA, or VEGETABLE, or PEANUT)

2 cups UNSEASONED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS

Gently melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup of the flour and while stirring cook for 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, gently whisking (gently or you will splatter the hot milk/flour everywhere).  Once it’s boiling reduce to a simmer and let it cook until thickened, takes about 5 minutes.  Make sure to frequently stir so the flour doesn’t collect on the bottom and scorch.  Now set this aside, cover the pan with plastic wrap.
If using Spaghetti or Bucatini, break them half. Cook the pasta you are using just till al dente according to the package directions.  Drain and shake well to make sure all the water evaporates.  Add all the other ingredients except for the besciamella sauce and the breadcrumbs. Mix with the cooked pasta.  Now pour the sauce over it and mix well.  Press the mixture into a lightly greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap.  Keep in the Refrigerator for no less than one and 1/2 hours.frittatine-001frittatine-002frittatine-005 You can use a 2 inch round cutter OR do what I did, and hand form about 20 of these frittatine.  Once they are are formed, place back into the fridge for 10 minutes.
 Make the batter by Whisking 1 cup of flours with 1 cup of water to make a batter.  Set aside.  Pull the Frittatine out of the fridge and dip first into the batter, then into the plain breadcrumbs. Line on parchment paper over trays till they are all coated.  Heat a heavy pan or saucepan with 2 1/2 inches of your oil until the thermometer reads 325 degrees F.  Now gently add a few of the frittatine at a time into the pan.  Fry till golden on each side.frittatine-006

When they are golden on both sides and somewhat firm to the touch, drain on paper towels or paper bags or racks.  SERVE immediately..you want them to be very creamy.  frittatine-007

Serve with an Arugula Salad with parmigiano, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and lots of fresh lemon juice.

frittatine-009Seriously, how good do they look???  Make them even smaller for a party appetizer or passed hors d’ouevres.  Just break up the pasta smaller or use small pasta for it

What fun it is to cook with you…..can’t wait to see your FRITTATINE!! BUONA CUCINA!!!

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PASTA WITH RICOTTA, PROSCIUTTO AND ARUGULA..SIMPLE PASTA FOR A QUICK MEAL

001  One can never have too many PASTA recipes and ideas, it is just too easy to create a tremendous meal with a pot of water and some good pasta, fresh or dried.  Comforting and filling, PAPPARDELLE, a medium width long sheet of pasta from Tuscany is what today’s post is all about.  You may see this most commonly served with a long simmered Ragu’ of Wild Boar (Cinghiale) or Duck (Anatra) or Bolognese style sauces but let’s not limit ourselves.  Have a 1/2 hour to get dinner ready?  This may be of interest to you.  I know it will be.  I’m pairing it with wilted Arugula, Prosciutto and tossing it with a good ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  A hint of garlic and you are eating really well..where’s that crisp white wine or sparkling water???  Dinner is served!  A little about Pappardelle…I like to know all about whatever it is I’m eating.  Makes it taste better.  In Tuscan dialect the verb PAPPARE denotes eating with glee, having fun,  with the joy a child might have.  I’ll agree. Pappardelle make you happy and there’s an excitement at your plate.  Is that a little much?  I’m not thinking so, but maybe you are.  You’ll feel it when you eat this easy dish.

SERVES: 4                                                 TAKES: 40 minutes

1 LB. EGG PAPPARDELLE, FRESH IS BEST, BUT THERE ARE EXCELLENT EGG PAPPARDELLE THAT ARE DRIED

1 1/2 CUP RICOTTA

1/4 cup freshly grated PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

1/2 TSP. BLACK PEPPER or PEPERONCINO

1 clove sliced GARLIC

2 CUPS CHOPPED BABY ARUGULA

1/4 LB. CHOPPED PROSCIUTTO

2 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Pinch of SALT

Cook the Pappardelle according to the package instructions.  While you are waiting for the water to boil you can get the “sauce” completed.

In a wide pan heat 1 tbs. of Olive oil.  Add the prosciutto and cook for about 5 minutes to melt the fat on it and lightly caramelize it.0002  Add the garlic and let it get fragrant (LOVE THAT TERM WITH FOOD, I’M STARVING AGAIN WHEN I HEAR THAT!!), this should only take about 1 to 2 minutes..do not let it burn.  Add the arugula and cook for no more than 2 minutes and pepper.           10965_1151469789308_1304531591_30356921_1242298_n  Remove from heat.  Season with salt if needed. Drain your Pappardelle retaining 2 tbs. of the water.004   Add the al dente pappardelle to the pan of prosciutto and arugula. Gently mix well.  Fold in 1 1/2 cups of ricotta and 1/8 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano  Let it sit for 5 minutes then add the additional ricotta and DRIZZLE  with the remaining oliveoil. serve.  More Parmigiano and pepper if you like.  I like.20 Angelo-Brocato-New-Orleans  done.  Just a note here you may be thinking one clove of garlic is not enough.  I appeal to your senses of at least trying a dish in a more Italian fashion.  Too much garlic, in my opinion in this dish reduces it to a pile of garlic noodles.  Some Italian dishes do in fact have a real punch from garlic, others simply do not and are flavored with it, like this one.  Try it.

MEATBALL CLASS IN SESSION: SAUSAGE, FONTINA AND ARUGULA SIMMERED IN WINE AND OLIVE OIL

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MEATBALLS!!  I’m calling this blogpost a cooking “class” because I hope to impart some openmindedness about cooking, especially MEATBALLS here.  I will bet ca$h that people hear the word MEATBALL and have a singular type or recipe in mind and never leave that safe insular world of that ONE version they have lodged in their heads.  Let me help you out of that space, it’s too confining.  There’s a world of meatballs out there from all different regions and cuisines.  I’ll start off this Cooking Class on meatballs with one I developed last night for dinner.  Freshly made Italian Sweet Fennel Sausages, Fontina Cheese, Baby Arugula, White Wine, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil are a few of the ingredients that went into this version.    There are meatballs with specific guidelines or recipes…like Swedish meatballs or all the Frikadeller, Kottbullar, Albondigas, Polpette for Sunday Sauce (Gravy) but away from those specific traditional recipes there’s many types made from all types of meats with all types of other ingredients.  Here’s where I just through a requirement out there, when creating your own meatball recipes have a region or cuisine in mind and stay true to those ingredients or you run the risk of creating a disaster.  The Fontina led me to be a little more Northern Italian in my approach, certainly this is not a Northern Italian recipe just leaning on some of it’s ingredients for a delicious meatball that works.   A really nice response on Facebook and Instagram after my posting the finished balls is what is prompting this blogpost.

What is making me call these Northern Italian?  Fontina mainly, a delicious creamy and nutty cheese from Northern Italy (also, Wisconsin, Denmark, Sweden) which melts beautiful.  It set off the whole flavor pallette for me.  The meatballs are fried and finished off in a pan of White Wine, Garlic and Olive Oil, a hint of oregano, sort of a sauce that is pretty popular in lots of Italian, North and South  scallopine style dishes..certainly it leans to the North.  The Sausage is used all over Italy but it’s important for this dish you use Italian Sweet Sausage.  There’s also no tomato in this dish.  I also used Parmigiano-Reggiano in the dish, so let’s start cooking shall we?

FOR 4-6, MAKES ABOUT 18 MEATBALLS   TIME: ABOUT 45 MINUTES

1 1/2 LB. GOOD QUALITY SWEET ITALIAN PORK SAUSAGE OUT OF IT’S CASING

1/2 CUP DICED FONTINA CHEESE (MAKE SURE IT’S CHILLED FIRST OR IT WILL MELT AND STICK TO THE KNIFE AND CUTTING SURFACE, SMALL DICE SIZE)

1 1/2 CUPS FINELY CHOPPED BABY ARUGULA LEAVES

1 TBS. WHITE WINE (I USED ONE FROM THE VENETO, FIND ONE FROM NORTHERN ITALY TOO, MAKES YOUR DISH A LITTLE MORE TRUE TO A REGION)

1 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

3 TBS. GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE

1/8 CUP SOAKED ITALIAN OR WHITE BREAD, MILK OR WATER, SQUEEZE OUT EXCESS.

1 FINELY MINCED SMALL CLOVE OF GARLIC

FOR SAUCE:

1 CUP WHITE WINE

2 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1 SMASHED CLOVE OF GARLIC

PINCH OF DRIED OREGANO (CERTAINLY A SPRIG OF FRESH THYME WOULD WORK WELL ALSO)

Start the balls…break up the bread into a bowl, add all the ingredients and when all blended (wait, where’s the salt and pepper??? do not add any extra..you are using Italian sausage, it’s already seasoned).  Same with the garlic…before I write out my recipes I always research “like” recipes because it’s good to make sure you are giving proper instructions and there’s always a tip or two to pick up here and there.  What I do notice is the overkill in many ingredients which turns a dish in to a  ONE note flavored dish.  Most of the sausage “meatball” recipes I’ve seen have up to 3 cloves of garlic in them.  I love garlic but 3 cloves of garlic will turn this recipe into a “Garlicball” recipe. I want you to taste the olive oil, the sausage, the wine, the Fontina and the arugula..not just garlic.  So, that’s why is a relatively small amount that goes into this recipe.  When forming the balls, about walnut sized for more even cooking, try to press the cheese into the centers as best as possible.  Some will melt out, that’s ok and creates a kick-ass tasty crust, don’t panic.  After you’ve formed the meatballs, begin to fry them in a wide pan, about 1 tbs of olive oil om medium heat for about 8 minutes on side one…then turn and fry for 5 minutes, now…carefully add a little more olive oil and one smashed clove of garlic, as soon as it’s taken on light color, remove.  Add a pinch of oregano, then the white wine, shake the pan up to distribute all the sauce or before you start remove the meatballs, start the sauce and add the meatballs back. See!! There’s lots of ways to get to the same spot.  NO KITCHEN PANIC HERE!!!

007  See that crust on them?  OK,, yes, yes I did , i picked at one.  Delicious.  Since these are made with pork there is no medium rare, the balls must be fully cooked.  You finish them by slowly simmering them for an additional 20 minutes in the olive oil and wine bath.  Check for them being done by simply cutting one in half.  You see pink? 5 minutes more.  But after the initial frying then the simmering process you should be done.

Let them sit in the wine for about 5 minutes after removing from the heat, then serve.

006  Platter the meatballs and pour the pan sauce over it..this is not a thick gravy so don’t think it needs to be thicker.  Serve this with a pasta dish. or with some good bread and sauteed greens.

Happy Cooking!  Have I changed your concept of what a meatball is?  If it kills me my mission will be to pull you all out of the one food(meatloaf, meatballs, pasta sauce, etc)  one recipe mindset and you’ll start to create great versions of your own never saying “I just am sick of making   (insert food here) the same way all the time!”.

 

 

 

POTATO, TOMATO, AND ARUGULA WALNUT SALAD..GREAT WITH GRILLED FOODS

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SALADS are truly underrated in many kitchens.  So often you can really make an entire meal out of one and not with a tons of fats or carbs.  However I love carbs and one of my favorite ways to get my fix is through POTATOES.  Hello?? There are more way to make a potato besides french frying it or mashing it.  Not sure if there are many other ingredients with such great versatility in the kitchen.  Hit up a local green grocer, Farmers Market, Farm stand or your supermarket’s produce counter and you will find a host of ideas like a recent trip to the Farm market did for me.  I bought (locally grown, how fortunate is that?) POTATOES, ARUGULA, RED ONIONS, TOMATOES and for a side salad/dish for grilled chicken we were having that night I put together this salad which I crowned with a simple VINAIGRETTE and toasted WALNUTS.  For you nut averse types you will miss out on the nutty crunch and taste but the salad without the nuts is still quite wonderful.  I urge you to try it.

For 4-5 people.     Takes abour 1 hour start to finish, or less.

1 lb cleaned small redskin potatoes, boiled in plenty of salted water until they are just tender (a fork will glide right thru them), about 15 minutes then GET THEM OUT OF THAT WATER or they will continue to cook and start smashing onto each other.  Dramatic perhaps but once they are smashed they are overcooked and tasteless.  Remove with a slotted spoon or a spider and place into a bowl of ice water.  GENTLY, don’t turn them out at the same time because they will get crushed.  Let them sit for about 5 minutes cooling down.  It’s ok if they are slightly warm though when you make the salad.

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tbs. Dijon Mustard

kosher salt,  fresh ground black pepper

3 tbs. finely diced red onion

2 tbs. good Apple Cider or Champagne Vinegar (or Sherry Vinegar)

2 ripe, seeded, diced beefsteak tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups chopped baby arugula

1/8 cup toasted walnuts

While the potatoes are cooking, prep everything else.  The vinaigrette is simply made by adding all the ingredients except for the oil into a boil..whisk together well.  Now in a slow stream whisk the OliveOil in.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve on side.

When the potatoes are cooled, drain, pat dry and quarter them.  add the tomatoes, and the arugula.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss together well.  IMPORTANT HERE…check the taste…you have to always taste you food as you go along.  If you are satisfied with the seasoning, then add the walnuts and the vinaigrette and toss, gently getting everything coated with the dressing.  Let this sit for a good 15 minutes.  Then serve.  It’s a great salad, especially during the Summer months.  Hit those produce markets, food never tastes as good unless you are growing it yourself.