Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Sea scallops with caviar and green beans


Sea scallops with caviar and green beans

Here is a recipe I created for serving scallops. A dear, dear friend of mine brought back some red caviar from a recent trip and asked me to make something with it. I often think in red, green, and white (the colors of the Italian flag), and came up with this:

Sea scallops with caviar and green beans (serves 2)

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 large sea scallops (never use frozen, they do not taste good)
1 jar red caviar
1/4 pound green beans
salt and pepper to taste for the green beans
4 or 5 red radicchio leaves, minced
zest of half an orange, minced
1 small clove of garlic, minced
balsamic vinegar for decoration

Prepare the green beans first. You don't have to do what I did, but it will look nicer if you do. I took each green bean; and with a very sharp knife, I split it into quarters. Time consuming, yes. But worth it. Or you can purchase French green beans if your greengrocer carries them.

Place the cut green beans in a saute pan with a tablespoon of the olive oil and let them cook until just tender, don't over do it. It takes about 3 minutes or so. Set aside.

Make a gremolata with the orange zest, garlic and radicchio. Set aside. (The classic gremolata is made with parsley, lemon and garlic, but the idea here is to invent!)

Wash and pat dry the scallops. Take a large saute pan big enough to hold the scallops without crowding (if the pan is too small, the scallops will steam instead of saute.) Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat until the oil slides around in the pan. Add the scallops and saute for 2 minutes or so, and then turn them over. They should take on a nice brown color. Cook until they are translucent. Don't over cook them! Depending on the size, the total time should be about 5 or 6 minutes.

Place six scallops on each of two warmed platters (see picture). Place a teaspoon or less of the caviar on top of the scallops. Place the cooked green beans in the center and sprinkle with the gremolata. Take the balsamic vinegar and drizzle it over the dish, as shown.

The combination of the sweet and salty works well with this. No need to salt the scallops, as the caviar is salty enough.

If you don't want to use caviar, try mincing a red pepper, sauteing it until just cooked, and top the scallops with that. Don't forget to salt the scallops and red peppers, since you will not be using caviar in this alternative method.

A nice Chenin Blanc works well with this, too.

Buon Appetito a tutti!

Isabella will be on a trip for a few days. I'll post another recipe next week.

Happy eating one and all!

Saturday, May 21, 2005


frittata with spinach, mushrooms, red peppers and mozzerella cheese Posted by Hello



Here's an easy Sunday morning breakfast, lunch or light supper--an Italian omelette or frittata.

You can let your imagination run wild with this. I like to use vegetables and a little bit of pancetta. Here's the recipe for the frittata in the picture:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz. Italian pancetta, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/2 half medium to large red pepper, chopped
3 full cups thoroughly washed baby spinach, wilted
1/2 cup mushrooms of your choice, chopped
3 or 4 slices of fresh mozzerella cheese
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup medium cream
pinch of baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste, and a few spinkles of red pepper flakes
minced fresh herbs for garnish (parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, etc.)

Place the spinach in a saute pan with just the water that clings to the leaves. Cook over medium high heat just until wilted. Set aside.

In an omelette pan, saute pancetta in olive oil until crisp, add garlic and onions and cook until just tender, add peppers and mushrooms until cooked soft. Add the wilted spinach. Add cream and baking powder to beaten eggs and pour over the vegetables. Place slices of mozzerella cheese on top and let the frittata cook over medium low heat until the eggs begin to set. Take the saute pan and put under broiler and finish cooking the frittata until the cheese bubbles and browns a bit. Remove from broiler. Sprinkle with minced herbs. Let cool a minute and serve in wedges.

The frittata can be served warm or cold. Serve with crusty bread and salad for lunch or a light supper.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Little neck clams with rapini, tomatoes and pancetta Posted by Hello


Clams Rapini with Tomatoes and Pancetta

My first ever post on The Hungry Blogger was a recipe for clams oreganata.

I live by the sea; and each day as I inhale the scent of the salt on the east wind, I think of ways of preparing the fruits of the Atlantic to capture the freshness and essence of il mare . That something usually involves clams. Or mussels. Or scallops. Or clams. Or clams.

Here in the Northeast, we have the quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria--pronounced KO-hog) and this mollusk is generally used in chowders, clam pie, or fritters . The smaller of the quahogs (2 1/2 to 3 inches) are the cherrystones, and the smallest (2 1/2 inches or less) are the little neck clams. Little necks and cherrystones are eaten raw with a squeeze or lemon and a dab of tabasco and horseradish. Of course they can be used in the classic clams casino or any other way your imagination allows.

I used little necksfor this recipe, as I did for my first post, clams oreganata. But this time I combined the clams with the queen of green leafy vegetables, broccoli raab (or rapini) tomatoes, pancetta, garlic and shallots.

I think I did justice to this little prince of the sea, and here is the recipe so that you, too, may revel in the joy of the little neck.

Clams rapini with tomatoes and pancetta (serves 2)

2 dozen little neck clams, scrubbed and washed
4 oz. pancetta (or unsmoked bacon) cut into strips
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 shallot thinly sliced
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups thoroughly washed rapini greens (broccoli raab), with stems cut off
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs (parsley, mint, thyme, tarragon, etc.)

Cook the pancetta in a large fry pan, big enough to hold the clams, until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Saute the garlic and shallot in the pan in which you cooked the pancetta. Add a bit of olive oil if needed. Saute the garlic and shallot until tender (about 2 minutes). Add the tomatoes and cook about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook another 2 minutes.

Add the clams, cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, cook about 5 minutes. Add the rapini, cover and continue to cook until the clams completely open (about another 5 minutes).

Divide the clams, rapini and tomatoes between two shallow bowls. Top with the pancetta, drizzle with olive oil and minced herbs.

(This can be served over linguini if you so desire.)

Serve with crusty bread and a dry white wine (a chenin blanc is nice, or a dry Vouvray).

Listen to the music of Astor Piazzola .

You will love the little neck for eternity.

Buon appetito, amici!

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Mmmmm. Red cow cheese with aged balsamic vinegar. Posted by Hello


pezzata rossa reggiana (red cow cheese with balsamic vinegar) Posted by Hello


I recommend this. Posted by Hello


RED COW CHEESE [not mad cow disease]

Here is a site where you can read about this exceptional cheese from Parma http://www.3-p.it/en/soci_granadoro.asp , locally known as Pezzata Rossa Reggiana. I served it the other night after having the individual lasagnas, and it was a delicate, heavenly finish to the meal. It is expensive, running at about $30 a lb., but you don't need a huge amount (I bought 1/4 pound, and that was more than enough, with a chunk left over for another finish to a meal.)

The perfect addition to the cheese is an aged balsamic vinegar. Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsamic_vinegar. You may have to visit a specialty store to purchase this, since I think the grocery stores carry only the mass produced vinegars. A bottle of aged balsamic is a good investment. Just drizzle a bit of it over the red cow cheese, and eccola! you have a superb dessert. The really old, aged vinegars are so sweet and thick, you can drizzle it over vanilla ice cream or fresh fruit, and experience a wonderous taste delight.

If you wish, you can accompany the red cow cheese and aged balsamic vinegar with red or green grapes or figs in season, and I promise you'll love the change from a heavy caloric dessert. Follow up with an espresso, and you're living la vita locale!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Lasagna alla Isabella Posted by Hello


lasagna noodles Posted by Hello


Lasagna alla Isabella

This is not a thick, heavy, drowning in red sauce and ricotta and meat lasagna that weighs a ton and takes two weeks to digest. Ugh! This lasagna is delicate and vegetarian.

The filling is lightly seasoned steamed spinach, roasted tomatoes and toasted pignole (pinenuts), topped with a good quality mozzerella cheese and a sprinkle of real parmesan and served with a cardinale sauce.

This recipe is for 2 servings, so I use 8 sheets of lasagna noodles, total (four sheets for each serving).I use homemade lasagna noodles that are available in a local store specializing in homemade pastas. If you don't have this resource near you, I recommend Barilla's thin lasagna noodles (not those thick curly edged Prince brand noodles that overwhelm the dish). And I pre-boil the fresh homemade or the Barilla noodles to soften them up a bit and so that they don't absorb too much of the sauce.

Ingredients for the lasagna:

8 sheets of fresh made lasagna noodles or Barilla brand lasagna noodles(the noodles are approximately 6 inches by 4 inches)
8 to 10 oz. fresh spinach, stems removed and washed thoroughly
2 medium tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
4 slices (about 1/4 inch thick) of good quality mozzerella cheese (not that white rubbery stuff you get in the supermarket. Buy the real thing!)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups cardinale sauce (recipe below)
fresh thyme sprigs for garnish

Cardinale Sauce:

1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup half and half or cream
a knob of butter

Saute the garlic in the olive oil until tender. Discard or leave in, as you choose. Add the tomatoes and cook gently for a minute or two. Add the thyme and nutmeg. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add cream and cook until it thickens. Add the butter and cook another minute. Turn off heat and let rest.

Lasagna preparation:

Cook the lasagna noodles for 2 minutes in a large amount of boiling water. (I cook them two or three at a time so they won't stick together.) Lift out of the water with tongs and set on a large plate. Continue until all 8 sheets of the noodles are parboiled. Set aside.

If you have a microwave, place the spinach on a microwave safe platter and nuke them until they just wilt (about a minute and a half). If you don't have a microwave, place the spinach in a large saute pan and heat through using only the water that clings to the spinach leaves after you've washed it. Cook until it just wilts. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Put the sliced tomatoes on a baking sheet with sides (so the juices don't run all over the oven), sprinkle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Toast the pinenuts on top of the stove in a small saute pan over medium heat until they take on a golden color. Remove from heat and set aside.

Take an oven proof casserole dish that can hold the lasagna noodles (a 13 x9 will do) and spread some of the sauce over the bottom just to coat it.

Place two sheets of the lasagna noodles side by side in the casserole. Spread some of the spinach on each of the noodles, sprinkle some of the pinenuts on top. Place a second sheet of the noodles over the spinach layer. Place two or three of the roasted tomato slices on top of this layer. Sprinkle some parmesean cheese over them. Place a third layer of noodles over the tomatoes and use up the rest of the spinach and pinenuts and whatever is left of the tomatoes. Place the fourth and final lasagna sheet on top of this. Spoon some cardinale sauce over it, just to cover it (don't drown it! No one wants to eat dead lasagna!). Place two slices of mozzerrella cheese on each top layer, cover with aluminum foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place under broiler just until the mozzerella cheese bubbles and takes on a golden brown color. Remove.

Take two warmed platters and spoon a puddle of the cardinale sauce on the bottom. Take a large spatula and carefully lift each serving of the lasagna out of the casserole dish and place one on each of the platters. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, place a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme over the top and serve immediately. Serve with a nice dry chianti.

Delicioso! And light!

Total time for preparation to table: about 1 hour.

For dessert: a few chunks of red formaggio di Parma (very expensive, but oh, so worth it!) with a sprinkling of aged balsamic vinegar. I will post on this in a day or so.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Kiss Me Goodnight Posted by Hello


Kiss Me Goodnight Redux

Ciao amici cari!

This past Mother's Day weekend, I had the pleasure of reading my poems from the anthology "Kiss Me Goodnight" at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Hadley, Mass. We had a good crowd in attendance, considering the incredibly foul weather on Saturday. Rainy, cold, and cold, rainy. It was truly a filthy weather day. Six of us women who live in New England gathered together and read our stories and poems about our mothers. Afterward, we had a book signing and were able to get to know each other. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet these wonderful, talented women. We are planning to do more readings this summer and fall. And again, my thanks to the two editors from Minnesota, Ann Murphy O'Fallon and Margaret Noonan Vaillancourt, who worked so hard to get this anthology published.

As a gift to my mother, I'm posting one of my three poems published in "Kiss Me Goodnight."


I was never a bishop,
but the world's a dream
we die in. I breathe

into her blue robe, take day lilies
from a jar out of her room
to a pail in the yard.

Who would believe the grass
growing so quickly
between the bricks,
the purslane spreading like rash

over the patio. We're done
with her dresses, hangers
and plastic bags, the trunk of yarn.

Stepping over collapsed boxes
of shoes, I carry her collection
of holy cards to the yard, burn

the saints with matches,
that from these may grow
in full sight of her

in pure stone,
the other life,
continuing long.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


lemon squares Posted by Hello


real lemon Posted by Hello


Lemon Squares

Ciao Amici! Buona primavera a tutti!

Here is a wonderfully easy and delicate lemon dessert to make for your next dinner party or just to reward yourself for being the fabulous person that you are. (Note to my friend, Wandering Coyote, the real pastry chef: if you see a way of improving this, please do so and let me know in the comments.) I believe the reason these squares are so heavenly is because they are made with real lemon juice. Please. Don't use canned lemon spread, or bottled lemon juice! Or Isabella will have to give you a good scolding and banish you from her kitchen forever!


8x8x2 inch glass baking dish
350 degree oven
See below for baking time

1 cup unbleached flour (I always stick a wire whisk in the flour canister or bag and give it a vigorous stirring before I measure out the flour.)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, (1 stick) room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, scant
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (I use a very, very sharp mushroom knife and slice the zest, avoiding the white part. Then I mince it.)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
additional powdered sugar for dusting

Mix flour, butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar together until well blended. Press into ungreased baking pan, building up approx. 1/4 to 1/2 inch edges. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, beat granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder and salt together until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minuted). Pour over baked pastry. Bake just till lemon filling is set (test with finger in center) about10 to 15 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is and if you use a glass or metal pan.

Cool. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Cut into squares. These melt in your mouth!

NOTE: You may substitute lime zest and lime juice for the lemon and make lime squares.

Place a jaunty vase of daffodils on your table and serve these little spring delights to your guests.

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