Saturday, January 30, 2010

Swordfish with fresh tomato sauce

In order to keep the swordfish the star of this show, only fresh, ripe tomatoes can be used. Before trying this dish, one might imagine that a tomato sauce would overpower the flavor of the fish, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The end result will be light and delicious.

4 swordfish steaks (about an inch thick)
1 chopped onion
1 chopped celery stalk
1 minced clove of garlic
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup white wine
salt to taste

In a large skillet, sautee the onion, celery and garlic until nice and golden. Add the tomatoes and sugar, stir together, and cook for about 5 minutes. Next, add the wine and cook for another five minutes over medium to medium high heat. Season the tomato white wine sauce with salt to taste. Finally, put the swordfish in the pan and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring the tomatoes, and moving around the swordfish occasionally to avoid sticking. After about 5 minutes gently turn the swordfish over. Allow to cook for about another 5 minutes, checking frequently for doneness. When you are ready to serve, place a piece of swordfish on each plate, and top with a generous layer of the tomato sauce. Enjoy with a nice white wine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Radicchio Lasagne

This recipe was inspired by a dish I had at an amazing agriturismo called La Pasina just outside Treviso, Italy. Winter is definitely the season for this rustic delight.  In most American supermarkets we can find radicchio which comes in a ball shape, this is known in Italy as radicchio di Verona. Although it is not the radicchio that would normally be used in this recipe, it can be used with satisfying results. Ideally radicchio di Treviso would be used, which has the same purple color, but comes in the shape more similar to an endive. Allow time to make this dish, and know that the results are well worth the effort.

about 1-1 1/2 pound of radicchio (thinly sliced, then chopped into small pieces)
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 pound ground turkey
3 tbsp tomato sauce (tomato puree from a can is fine)
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups bechamel sauce (see recipe below)
1/2 onion diced
1 9oz box lasagne (I use Barilla's no boiling require, fresh is better if you have the time/desire)
3 oz. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (half stick) unsalted butter
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium to high heat, brown the diced onion in olive oil. Then add the ground turkey. and cook for about 10 minutes until it is nicely browned.   Next add the chopped radicchio. When using radicchio di Verona (the ball kind), at this point I add about 2 tbsp of sugar to take away some bitterness from the radicchio. (This is of course, optional.) Stir well, then add the white wine.  Once the wine is mostly absorbed, add the tomato sauce.  Cook for about another 10 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in the bechamel sauce and the ricotta.

To assemble the lasagne, generously butter a baking pan. I like my lasagne to have more layers, so for this one I think 9x13 is too large.  I prefer something smaller and deeper. You may choose the size you prefer.  On the bottom of the buttered baking pan, put a layer of lasagne, then cover it generously with your sauce/filling. put a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top of the sauce. Next put another layer of lasagne, covering it with sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan. Repeat this process according to the size of your baking pan.  The last layer should be of sauce with a generous covering of parmesan cheese. Place the lasagne on the middle rack of an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Cook the lasagne for about 45 minutes, when a golden crust should have formed on top.  Before serving, let stand for at least 10 minutes. Enjoy! Also, leftovers are wonderful if there are any. A nice merlot would go well with this dish.

Bechamel sauce (makes 2 cups)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp butter)
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
dash of ground nutmet

Melt the butter in a small heavy bottom sauce pan. Add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes over medium heat. In another small sauce pan, heat the milk until almost boiling. Gradually add the milk to the butter/flour mixture, stirring constantly. A wire whisk is helpful to avoid lumps. Once all of the milk has been added, bring to a gentle boil, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Sauce should be somewhat thick.  Season with salt pepper and nutmeg, stir well, then remove from heat.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade is a staple at my house. It is delicious to pull out as an impromptu happy hour snack, and it's always great to set out when company is coming. The olive tapenade keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week, but rarely lasts that long at my house. I serve the tapenade in a small bowl, then on the side to scoop it up I especially like pita chips. You can also serve it with crackeres, bagel chips, or just about anything you like.

Ingredients for 1 batch:
approximately 15 oz. jar of green spanish manzanilla olives, I use the ones stuffed with pimento, but you can use whatever kind you like.
1 can (6oz drained wt) black pitted olives
1 clove of peeled garlic
2 tbsp of capers (I use the ones in vinegar)
extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor combine the green and black olive, and capers (drained of their liquid), and the garlic clove. Add about 1/4 cup olive oil. Pulse the food processor until you get your desired consistency. Some people like their olive tapenade quite course, although I prefer the olives a little more finely chopped. Add more olive oil as needed. Enjoy!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I first tried moussaka while visiting Greece, and absolutely fell in love with it. While there, I had to buy a greek cookbook for the traditional recipe. Here is the recipe that I have adapted for all to enjoy. It is somewhat time consuming to make, but WELL worth the effort. Moussaka is a hearty main course, no side dishes necessary. Maybe a greem salad if you like.

2 lb. Italian eggplant
1 lb. potatoes (I use russet)
1 lb. ground beef
14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 chopped onions
1 clove garlic
oil for frying vegetables
salt, pepper
grated parmesan cheese

bechamel sauce:
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup flour
1 quart whole milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, a dash of nutmeg

Wash and slice the eggplant, I slice them about 1/4 inch thick using an electric slicer, but you can of course slice them by hand. Slice the potatoes to about the same thickness. Fry both the sliced eggplant and potatoes in a generous amount of olive oil until nicely golden brown. Set aside.
In a saucepan, saute the onions and garlic until golden, then add the ground beef and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer about 30 minutes.
To assemble the moussaka, grease an approximately 9x13inch baking pan with butter. Layer half the potatoe slices in the bottom of the pan,cover with half the meat mixture, and sprinke with grated parmesan cheese. Layer the remaining potatoes, the eggplant, and the other half of the meat mixture. Then get ready to make the bechamel sauce.
To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. In the meantime, heat the milk until nearly boiling in a separate saucepan. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Continue to stir almost constantly. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs. Gradually add the eggs to the bechamel sauce and mix well. Pour a thick layer of bechamel sauce over the top of the moussaka. Bake the moussaka at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. Let the moussaka stand at least 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!