Thursday, August 18, 2011

Little Italy’s Italian Fest

I’ve said it before - in my next life I am coming back Italian.

I love the true Italian bond and have made it my own: “La parole é sagra” or “the word is blood” because it is the word of every Italian I know that food and wine rules.

Italians do nothing better than cook and eat. I can do that. In fact, I can pretend to be Italian in this life but my blue eyes and blonde hair gives me away every time.

One thing I have noticed – in every Italian household I’ve been to it’s a sacred ritual to gather around the dinner table. Just how many people can crowd around an Italian table? There is always room for a few more chairs so said my dear friend Vinnie. Question is: How fast can you say grace and get into the eating and drinking?
What I really love most about Italians is that they are so sensual. There is always a sense of togetherness with every experience. They are as intimate with their wine as they are with their sauce, their family or their guests.

Is this Chicago’s best neighborhood festival? One of mine favorites because they inspired me to cook Italian this week even though Italian cooking is something I do better with eating out at than cooking in.
One thing for certain - I love the fact that there is always a place for me at the table.

Buon Appetito!

Italian Chips

This recipe has just one easy ingredient - parmesan cheese!

Bake parmesan cheese until it begins to turn color. Make sure you line your baking sheet with parchment paper and leave plenty of room between the piles. The cheese will melt and become lacy as they bake and spread out.

I want to experiment with different types of Parmesan to see which brand results in the best taste.

The parmesan crisps are so beautiful you can serve them as an hors d'oeuvre with dip or they go really well with soups or salads.

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick reusable baking liner. Drop level tablespoons of cheese 3 inches apart; spread to form 2-inch rounds. Leave plenty of room between rounds. Transfer to wire rack; cool two minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining cheese.

This recipe serves about 6 people but can be easily multiplied to serve as many people as desired.

Lemony Veal Scallopini

I love the fresh taste of lemon and this Italian favorite is an old standby recipe for when I have company and want to make something quick, easy and delicious.

I serve pasta as a side dish – usually just some simple linguini with a little olive oil and garlic.

I slice the mushrooms with my OXO Chef’s Mandoline Slicer (the most useful kitchen tool I own) so they are paper thin.

Funny thing – I haven’t made this recipe for years but one bite convinced me that old recipes are just as treasured as the new ones.

2 (4 ounce) veal cutlets
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

Flatten cutlets to 1/8-in. thickness. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add veal; seal bag and shake to coat evenly.

In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil. Add veal; cook over medium heat for about 1 minute on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

Add mushrooms to skillet; cook and stir for23 minutes or until tender. Top the veal.

Stir broth into skillet, stirring up any browned bits. Add parsley, a little lemon and the remaining butter; cook and stir 2 minutes longer or until slightly thickened.

Pour over veal and mushrooms.

       Photo La Cucina Italiana

This is a really good appetizer. I’ve also had this dish as Bresaola all'olio e limone with emulsified oil with lemon juice poured over the Bresaola with white pepper. I am going to experiment a little and try adding different citrus,vegetables and cheeses.

Bresaola is made from lean beef which is very lightly salted, marinated in wine and Italian herbs, and then dry-cured.

Bresaola all’olio aromatic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
1/2 pound thinly sliced bresaola
2 lemons, very thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed and discarded

Remove leaves from rosemary sprig. Chop together parsley and 5 rosemary leaves; reserve remaining rosemary leaves.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped herbs, oil and garlic. Let stand 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange bresaola and lemon slices on serving plates, alternating the meat and citrus. Remove garlic from oil then spoon oil mixture over bresaola and lemon. Garnish with reserved rosemary leaves.