Cook N Bake Italian Series: Involtini di Melanzane alla Mediterranea

Involtini Melanzane alla Mediterranea

This week the protagonist of our Cook n Bake weekly appointment is a pear-shaped black beauty, which in the vegetable world is also better known as the Eggplant!

Eggplant is a perennial plant that grows annually, but what we eat is not the eggplant itself, it’s the fruit, which is classified – believe it or not!- as a berry. This deep purple fruit tastes bitter when raw, but its flavor immediately elevates to a more complex and rich level, which makes it smoother but never sweet. An health advice, that not a lot of people know about, is to make sure that you rinse the eggplant and drain it well before cooking it, but most of all that you salt it, or else this fruit will absorb cooking fats. Eggplant is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine, we see it in the French ratatouille, in the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, in the Greek moussaka, and many Asian dishes. In the United States, the major production is located in Georgia.

Rometti would like to introduce you to one of the many ways to use eggplants, which by the way are perfect for rice, orzo, and meat stuffing. We chose a delicate way of cooking it and present it, the Involtini di Melanzane alla Mediterranea (Mediterranean Eggplant Rolls).

This dish is fresh, savory, and is a great start to a fun, Summer dinner with friends. The Involtini di Melanzane are grilled slices of eggplant spread with tomato sauce, minced black olives, basil and mozzarella, and put in the oven for a few minutes. These delicious bites can be served either hot or cold, and can be garnished with some fresh basil leaves.

Ingredients (for 12 rolls):

12 Basil leaves

12 Eggplant slices

120 g Mozzarella

1 tbsp Olive oil

15 Seedless black olives

1 tsp Oregano

120 ml Tomato sauce

Pepper

Salt

Wash the eggplants and slice them into 12 slices of about 1/4″ (1/2 cm). Salt them and let them drain (on a cutting board or in a drainer) for about 20-30 minutes to get rid of all the water.
Grill the slices, each side for about 1-2 minutes.
Mix the tomato sauce with salt, pepper, oregano, and olive oil. Spread them on each slice, add a few mozzarella dices, minced black olives and a minced leaf of basil. Roll them up, and place them on a tray anointed with oil, and place them in the oven for about 15 minutes. When you take them out you can garnish the plate with a little olive oil and bass leaves.

ENJOY!~

image taken from http://www.ondaiblea.it/2012020744349/laboratorio-dei-sapori-involtini-di-melanzana.html

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Cook N Bake Italian Series: Torta Rustica alle Zucchine

Cook N Bake Italian Series: Torta Rustica alle Zucchine

…Now that the Fourth of July has come and gone, leaving us filled with a belly full of hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, your body may be screaming for some healthy relief.  When a quick and easy salad doesn’t seem to do the trick, Rometti has a fresh, delicious dish that will still satisfy your palate and your veggie craving: the Torta Rustica alle Zucchine (“Rustic Zucchini Pie”). This pie is both a great dish hot, as it is cold, and don’t forget zucchini is seasonal so not only is it light on your stomach, it’s also light on your wallet!

Torta rustica in Italy is essentially a “torta salata”, a salty pie, very similar to the French Quiche.  The main ingredient  of the quiche differs in that heavy cooking cream is used.  In some cases the Italian torta salata might still use cooking cream, however it is more often replaced by cheese.  Based on some traditions the torta salata may also have an additional sheet of puff pastry on top.

Kids usually love this recipe (which is a good trick for them to intake their vegetables). It’s perfect for a quiet family dinner but also a great unexpected treat for parties and gatherings.

Ingredients:

1 puff pastry sheet

5 eggs

3 zucchini

4 tbsp grated Parmisean Cheese

5 slices of Prosciutto Crudo

3.5 oz (100 gr) of fat-free Philadelphia cheese

Salt and pepper

Remove the seeds from the zucchini and cut them in small dices (the seeds would make the zucchini too watery while cooking). Stir-fry them in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s better to use a high flame to cook them quickly and make them crispy. Cut the prosciutto crudo in small stripes and add them to the zucchini. Sizzle them in a pan for two minutes.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and then add the Philadelphia cheese, the Parmeasan cheese, salt and pepper.

Take the puff pastry sheet and lay it without removing the parchment paper which it came with in a baking tin, leaving the excess pastry on the outside of the tin. Don’t forget to use a fork to punch some little holes at the bottom! Put the zucchini and the prosciutto crudo inside the puff pastry, then add the eggs and the Philadelphia cheese.
Turn the edges of the puff pastry inside and put it in the oven at 392 F (200 C) for 30 minutes, until the puff party becomes golden.
ENJOY! ~

Cook n Bake Italian Series: Spaghetti al nero di seppia

Cook n Bake Italian Series: Spaghetti al nero di seppia

Lately two main topics have been dominating my socially engaging conversations: how people spend the Summer months in Italy and the importance of recycling, in the sense of avoiding wasting. Apparently, there is nothing that connects the two, however the dish that I am going to present this week surprisingly links them together.

Spaghetti al nero di seppia (squid ink spaghetti) immediately catches one’s eyes because of the unconventional black glow that comes from the squid black ink used to savor the spaghetti. If you can go past the fact that they are black, you will find yourself adventuring into a culinary experience that you will never forget. With the first bite you will savor that special, concentrated yet very refined seafood taste, which immediately will transport your mind to that magical atmosphere of the Mediterranean coast. If you have been traveling in Italy during the Summer months, you might have noticed that Italians escape from the cities to migrate towards the coast, towards the sea. It’s during those much awaited couple of weeks that the magic happens: people regenerate, fall in love, and relax while sipping on a fresh drink and stocking up on seafood. Spaghetti al nero di seppia is not just a dish, it’s a memory of the fun times spent at the seaside, under the sun, on a golden sand, caressed by a gentle Summer breeze.

Now, dear Reader, you are probably still wondering where the recycling part is in the dish. It’s hidden in the history of the condiment itself. Squids were a common food back in the day in this wonderful, landscape-breathtaking Italian isle called Sicily, however using the black ink to dress spaghetti or linguine was of humble origins. At the time, in fact, people were so poor that they avoided wasting any part of a food source, so the sicilian “massaie” (women that spent lots of time taking care of the house duties, something in between housewives and housekeepers) started experimenting the ink as a condiment.

I love this recipe because it reminds me of my Summers in Italy, and the “sapore di mare” (sea taste) brings me back to the happiness of those Summer nights.

Spaghetti al nero di seppia can either be made with black spaghetti, which means you add the black ink to the homemade pasta so that the spaghetti are actually black, or with regular spaghetti dressed with a black ink sauce. To make it easy for those who don’t like or don’t have time to cook from scratch but would love to indulge in this delicious recipe, I am using the black ink sauce recipe version.

Ingredients:

12 oz (350 gr) spaghetti

17.5 oz (500 gr) squids

salt

red pepper if desired

4 tablespoon of Extravirgin Olive Oil

1 glass of dry white wine

1 garlic clove

1 small shallot

2 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste

0.40 oz (10 gr) di nero di seppia

Mince the shallot and the garlic and sizzle them in a pan with some olive oil. Take the squids, remove the heads, eyes and interiors but keep the ink sacks on the side. Cut the squids in small pieces and add them to the pan with the shallot.
Add the wine and stir the sauce for a few minutes, then you can add, if you like, the tomato paste, salt, red pepper, and the black ink. Turn the gas on low and stir every now and then.
Cook the spaghetti in a separate pan, and when they are ready (if you like you can cook them al dente, tender crisp) drain them and add them to the pan with the squids until they become black.
Spread the minced parsley on top, add a little lemon slice to decorate (and the lemon juice is amazingly complementary to seafood) and serve with a big smile on your face.

ENJOY! ~

image taken from http://www.italianfoodnet.com/ita/ricette/spaghetti-al-nero-di-seppia

Cook n Bake Italian Series: Suppli’

Cook n Bake Italian Series: Suppli'

When I cook I am usually pretty good with measuring ingredients, except for rice, and sometimes pasta. For some obscure reason, rice always tries to flee the container and jump into the boiling water, leaving me with too much to eat for one meal, and not enough for the following day.
Lately I got the habit of increasing my regular portions so that I will have enough rice to use for Suppli’, a life-saver yet fun dish that kids love, but adults crave too!

Suppli’, originally of Rome, Italy, is little ball of rice, plain or with tomato sauce, raw egg and a piece of mozzarella in the center. The ball has to be soaked in egg and coated with breadcrumbs before putting it into a pan of hot vegetable oil and fried (or baked, if you prefer). If you add mozzarella, when you bite into the suppli’ it forms a sticky string, and gives it the name of Suppli’ al telefono (Suppli’ on the phone, because the string reminds of a phone cord!). Suppli’ is very similar to the Sicilian arancini, usually filled with peas, meat sauce, mozzarella and slightly bigger than suppli’.

Whether you are hosting a kids birthday party or a more sophisticated cocktail reception, a family dinner or a filling snack to eat in front of the tv, Suppli’ is much appreciated as an appetizer, and one that pairs well with a fresh cocktail or a Limoncello Bellini!

Ingredients:

10.5 oz (300 g) Rice

about 2 cups (1/2 l) Milk

Salt

3 Eggs

0.35 oz (10 g) Parmesan

Grated Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 spoon Flour

1 cup Breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil

Bring the rice to a boil in a pan filled with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk. Add some salt. Let the rice cook for 12/14 minutes, drain and let it cool down. When the rice is cool enough add 2 eggs and the grated Parmesan cheese, the lemon zest and one spoon of flour. Work the rice into small rounded or elongated balls, pass them into some flour, then egg, and finally breadcrumbs. Fry them into a pan with hot vegetable oil until they turn golden brown.

ENJOY!~

 

Cook n Bake: Italian Series; Crostata alla frutta

Rometti Crostata di Frutta

Hello Everyone,

From now on every Thursday, Rometti is going to have a brand new weekly blog called Cook n Bake which will include different series on specific counties and their cuisine. This blog will provide you with familiar and unfamiliar dishes from many different parts of the world.  You absolutely cannot miss some of these delicious recipes we’ll guide you through week after week. This will also be a great place for you to share your recipes, please share your thoughts ideas and recipes with our readers!

Let’s start with Italian cuisine which I am very familiar with being Italian myself. There are many chain Italian restaurants in the US  that try to pass their food for authentic Italian. Well, don’t be fooled! Just because they’re putting together some pasta and meatballs on a plate, doesn’t always mean they are capturing the true essence of Italian preparation, fresh ingredients, and cooking.  Our goal will be to show you that balance for all palates,sometimes rich, sometimes delicate flavors will work their magic and let you savor the true taste of Italy.

Our first dish is the Crostata, which is a baked dessert tart that can be made with either fresh fruit with pastry cream, as well as jam with ricotta. The Crostata di frutta, popular throughout the year but especially in the Summer, is a fresh, sweet bite to top off a light meal or to simply enjoy with a cup of tea (or, if you prefer Rometti Limoncello which pairs very well with this kind of crostata because of that lemony hint from the cream).

Ingredients:

for the shortbread (pasta frolla):
10.6 oz (300 g) superfine flour (farina “00”)
7 oz (200 g) integral baking flour
9 oz (250 g)unsalted butter
4 eggs: 3 yolks + 1 whole egg
7.5 oz (220 g) sugar
lemon zest

for the cream:
3 oz (80 g) cornstarch
7 oz (200 g) sugar
juice from 1 lemon
7 oz (200 g) water
1 knob of butter
4 teaspoons of cherry jam

In a bowl mix the two kinds of flour. Add the butter let to soften at room temperature. Mix everything together until it’s a crumbly mixture. Add the eggs (3 yolks and 1 whole), sugar, the lemon zest and mix until you get a soft and homogenous mixture.
Let it set in the refrigerator for about 30 min, which will give you some time  to start preparing the cream.

In a pan, mix the cornstarch with the sugar, slowly add water, the lemon juice and the knob of butter. Put the pan on the stove at a low temperature and keep stirring. As it thickens add the jam, and once everything is mixed take it off the stove and let is cool down.

Flat the shortbread in a 10″ pan (26cm) of diameter, make some holes in it with a fork, cover it with some baking paper, lay on it some rice or dry beans and put it in the over for 20 min at 356 F (180 C). The rice serves to keep the shortbread down during the baking.

Take the crust out of the oven and let it cool down for a little bit. Remove rice and baking paper.
Lay the cream on top of the shortbread and decorate with fresh fruit as you like. Use some fruit jelly to keep the fruit in place when you cut it.

Refrigerate the crostata before serving it.

Recipe credit: http://www.lacucinaitaliana.org

ENJOY~