Carnevale Lasagna

Since today is Fat Tuesday, which is the last day before the start of Lent, I thought I would share my version of Carnevale Lasagna.  Carnevale is the traditional pre-Lenten celebration in Italy, which ends when Lent starts on Ash Wednesday.

Traditionally during Lent, Italian Catholics were not supposed to eat meat during the period of Lent, from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Today, things have changed a bit, and Catholics are only supposed to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent.

The day before Lent was a final day to indulge before the Lenten fast.  My Carnevale Lasagna is made with four layers of Lasagna noodles and three layers of meat mixture.

Maria’s Carnevale Lasagna

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 pounds ground beef
½ pound Genoa salami chopped
1-teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups tomato sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
8 ounces ricotta cheese
4 ounces Parmesan cheese grated
8 ounces Lasagna noodles cooked

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
After the butter is melted add the olive oil.
Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.
Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add the ground beef and the Genoa salami to the skillet and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until the beef is no longer pink.
Add the spices to the skillet, mix thoroughly and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Drain the fat off of the meat mixture and set aside.
Spread about ¼ inch tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
Put a layer of the lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.
Spread a third of the meat mixture and mozzarella cheese on top of the noodles.
Dot with a third of the ricotta cheese and finish the layer by sprinkling with Parmesan cheese.
Continue layering the ingredients ending with a layer of lasagna.
Spread about one cup of the tomato sauce over the final layer of lasagna and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve hot with the leftover tomato sauce.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and the Italian recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years. I am always looking for new, exciting or different Italian recipes, tips and helpful hints. If you have any family Italian recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be happy to share them with the rest of the world.

Con tanto amore – With Lots of Love

Maria

Coniglio Arrosto Morto-Rabbit “Dead Roast” in Wine

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Congiglio Arrosto Morto in Italian simply means Rabbit Dead Roast. This Italian dish is typical of the Tuscan region of Italy. Congiglio Arrosto Morto could be made with beef roast, veal or even chicken but for this dish I prefer to use rabbit because rabbit has a little bit of sweetness that is ideal for this recipe. I know what a lot of you are thinking “rabbit?”. Well, I have to admit, that I used to think that eating rabbit was like eating a cute little furry bunny rabbit. I can still remember the first time I had rabbit. You see, I was tricked. I thought I was eating chicken and I wasn’t told until after the meal was over that I had really eaten rabbit. Since that day I have been a huge fan of rabbit. Rabbit tastes a lot like chicken only a little sweeter. Congiglio Arrosto Morto, Rabbit Dead Roast, is one of the few Italian dishes that does not use garlic. The basic flavors of the dish come from the white wine and the vegetables used in this dish.

Maria’s Congiglio Arrosto Morto
Rabbit “Dead Roast” in Wine

Ingredients

1 rabbit about 4 pounds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 sage leaves
1 sprig rosemary
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 carrot peeled and diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 medium onion diced
1-cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 350.
Cut the rabbit into pieces.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy ovenproof pot.
When the olive oil is hot add the rabbit, sage and rosemary.
Brown the rabbit lightly on all sides for about 10 minutes.
Add the wine and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pot and cook in the oven for approximately 1 hour.
After the rabbit has cooked for an hour add the carrot, celery, onion, chicken stock and bay leaf.
Cover pot and cook in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
Transfer the rabbit to a serving plate and keep warm.
Discard the bay leaf.
Puree the vegetables by passing them through a fine sieve.
Stir the vegetable puree into the cooking juices in the pot.
Cook on top of the stove over medium heat until thickened.
Pour sauce over meat and serve immediately with polenta or mashed potatoes.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and of all the recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years. I am always looking for new, exciting or different recipes, tips and helpful hints. If you have any family recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be excited to share them.

Con Tanto Amore

Maria

Brasato Al Chianti-Beef Braised in Chianti

Brasato al Chianti is a variation on the Italian recipe Brasato al vino, which is wine stew made with marinated beef. Beef Braised in Wine is a dish typical of Tuscany. You can use different cuts of beef to make beef braised in wine but I think the best type of beef to use for this dish is chuck roast. Chuck roast comes from the shoulder and neck of the beef and yields some of the most tasty and inexpensive cuts of beef that is perfect for braising. I prefer to use Chianti Classico when making this Brasato Al Chianti because it just happens to be my favorite type of Italian dry red wine. I also think that using Chianti Classico adds a nice complexity to this dish.

Chianti classico

Brasato AL Chianti is not a difficult dish to make, but it does take a little preparation and time. Brasato AL Chianti – Beef Braised in Chianti is perfect for any special occasion or when it is chilly and cold out.

Brasato Al Chianti
Beef Braised in Chianti

Ingredients

2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck
1 bottle (24 oz) Chianti Classico
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1 onion sliced
1 stalk celery sliced
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1-tablespoon juniper berries
6 slices dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 plum tomatoes peeled and chopped

Put the meat, Chianti, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and juniper berries in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes.
While the mushrooms are soaking, remove the meat from the marinade.
Dry the meat with paper towels.
Strain the marinade and set the vegetables aside for later.
Set aside the marinade liquid for later.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy stockpot.
Add the meat and brown on all sides.
Drain the mushrooms and set aside the liquid for later.

After the meat is brown lower the heat under the stockpot to low.
Add the reserved vegetables, tomatoes, mushrooms and salt to taste.
Add a little of the marinade liquid to the stockpot.
Cover the pot and simmer gently for about 4 hours gradually adding more marinade and mushroom liquid to keep the meat from drying out and moist.
Transfer the meat to a serving platter, slice and keep warm.
Puree the vegetables by passing them through a fine sieve.
Stir the vegetable puree into the cooking juices in the stockpot.
Cook over medium heat until thickened.
Pour sauce over meat and serve immediately with polenta or mashed potatoes.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and of all the recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years. I am always looking for new, exciting or different recipes, tips and helpful hints. If you have any family recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be excited to share them.

Con Tanto Amore

Maria

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Chicken Scarpiello

I thought today I would share one of my favorite Italian recipes Chicken Scarpiello.  Yes, I know, Chicken Scarpiello is not a traditional Italian dish.  It is believed to have originated in New York in the United State and “Scarpiello” in Italian means “shoemaker or shoe fixer”.  They’re a couple of thoughts on how this dish got its name. The first idea on how Chicken Scarpiello got its name is that this dish refers to “shoemaker style”, meaning that is a meager dish.  The second thought on how Chicken Scarpiello got it’s name may well be the fact that shoemaker refers to the word cobbled, meaning that all the ingredients can be thrown together.  My recipe uses boneless chicken breasts, but the original recipe uses a whole cut up chicken.

Chicken Scarpiello

Ingredients

1 package mild/sweet Italian sausage
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 Portobello mushrooms sliced
1 red bell pepper sliced thin
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 small Vidalia onion sliced
1/2 cup of flour
4 boneless chicken breasts
½ cup white table wine
¼ cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh Italian Parsley (optional)

In a large frying pan cook the sausage until in is no longer pink.
Remove sausage from pan, let cool and slice sausage into rounds.
In the same frying pan add the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of butter, mushrooms, red pepper, garlic and onions.
Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft.
Dredge chicken breasts in flour covering both sides of the chicken.
Place chicken breasts in frying pan.
Cook chicken 2 to 3 minutes on each side until no longer pink (longer if using chicken pieces or things).
Add the sausage and white wine to frying pan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until wine has reduced.
Add the chicken stock, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Add a tablespoon of melted butter and 3 tablespoons of flour to pan and mix.
Lower heat, cover pan and cook for 20 minutes or until mixture thickens.
Serve over rice or noodles topped with fresh Italian parsley.

I hope you enjoy my version of this non-traditional Italian recipe for Chicken Scarpiello.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine & More Recipes and of all the recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years.  I am always looking for new, exciting or different  recipes, tips and helpful hints.  If you have any family recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be excited to share them.

Con Tanto Amore

Maria

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L’inizio – Maria’s Potato Gnocchi

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Con tanto amore, this to me is what Italian Cuisine is all about.  Made “with lots of love”.  Italian food is about simplicity mixed in “with lots of love”.  I think that is why Italian Cuisine has become popular.  Simple, fresh, local foods are fused with lots of love to create absolutely amazing dishes that anyone can make.  Throw in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garlic, fresh produce, fresh herbs and wonderful Italian wines and you get foods that are healthy, artistic, marvelous and yes, exciting. Not only do I have a passion for Italian food, but I also love cooking and creating Italian dishes.

I guess that’s what Italian Cuisine is for me.  Using foods and produce that are locally available and fresh to make simple,  wonderful and delicious dishes.  My passion is food, so what could be better than writing a blog about food. Sounds great but, food/recipes is really too big for just one blog.  So, after a lot of thinking I decided that I would write about my favorite type of food, which happens to be Italian Cuisine.

Mostra di pani e dolci tradizionali della Sard...

Well, this too presented some problems for me, since Italian food, not only varies from region to region but Italian cuisine is quite varied and vast. Italian cuisine has been around since the 4th century BCE. That’s over 2,000 years.

So, where to start. That’s when it hit me.  Why not start at the l’inizio “beginning”.  And the beginning of Italian food for me is pasta!  Sounds simple, but there are so many types of pasta and so many different dishes, my head was swimming with were to start.  So, I decided, why not start at the beginning.  The beginning of pasta or if you will the precursor or forerunner of pasta in my option is gnocchi.  So, what better way to start a journey of Italian Cuisine than with gnocchi or Italian dumplings.

Maria’s Traditional Potato Gnocchi
Patata Gnocco

Ingredients

2 lbs baking potatoes (about 4 large potatoes)
1-cup flour
2 eggs
1-teaspoon salt

Bake the potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove potatoes from the oven and let the potatoes cool to room temperature.
Scrape the insides of the potatoes into a medium to large mixing bowl.
Mash the potatoes with a potatoes masher.
Add the flour and mix together with the potatoes.  Add the eggs and salt and mix until you have a firm, smooth dough.
Divide the dough into thirds.
On a floured surface use your hands to gently roll each section into a long rope about 1 inch around.
Cut the rope into 1 to 2 inch pieces.

Gnocchi

Take the cut pieces of dough and using your finger lightly press the gnocchi onto the back of a fork, to make ridges in the dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop the gnocchi, a few at a time into a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the gnocchi float to the surface and stay on top.
Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and drain.
Serve hot with melted butter, fresh chopped Italian parsley and your favorite Italian cheese or serve with your favorite sauce.

Tip: If you have never made gnocchi before, it takes practice to roll the gnocchi on a fork to make the ridges (the ridges or grooves hold the sauce).  If you do find this part difficult, you can just cut the gnocchi and cook them.

Gnocchi Paddle

You could also purchase a Wooden Gnocchi Board (also called a Gnocchi Paddle) to make gnocchi. Grooves in the surface of the board give gnocchi their characteristic texture as the dough is rolled down and shaped on the board.  I don’t have one of these, I make my gnocchi by rolling them on a fork.



I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and the Italian recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years.  I am always looking for new, exciting or different Italian recipes, tips and helpful hints.  If you have any family Italian recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be happy to share them with the rest of the world.

Con tanto amore – With Lots of Love


Maria