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Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

In Appetizers / Starters, Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings On April 22, 2017 0 Comments

I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed Italian breadsticks, aka grissini. Some grissini are soft, while others are drier. But no matter where you’ve had grissini, the homemade ones are best. Here’s our favorite family recipe!

Active prep time: 8 minutes (dough mixing) and 25 minutes (shaping breadsticks)
Inactive prep time: 15 minutes (yeast rising) and 40 minutes (dough rising)
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes

Ingredients:
7/8 cup warm water (110°F)
1 teaspoon Rapid Rise® Yeast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour

Prepare the Dough:
1. In a small sauce pot, heat the water.

2. While water is heating, place the yeast in a 2-cup metal or wood bowl (do not use glass or porcelain, as these cold elements will halt the rising process of the yeast).

3. When water is barely warm, pour it slowly into the bowl with yeast; gently swirl the bowl around.

4. Cover the yeast-water mixture with aluminum foil; set it aside on a wood surface or trivet; let it rise for 15 minutes. Do not set the yeast on marble, granite or tile surface, as the cold surface will halt the rising process.

5. After 15 minutes, transfer the water-yeast mixture to a 2-quart metal, wood or plastic mixing bowl (no porcelain or glass).

6. Gently stir in the olive oil, salt, black pepper and fennel seeds.

7. Gradually (a little at a time) and with a wooden spoon, add the flour until a sticky dough has formed.

8. Transfer the sticky dough onto a lightly-floured wood surface.

9. Gently knead the dough until it is uniform and soft.

10. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil.

11. Set bowl with dough aside on a wood surface (do not set it on marble, granite or tile surface) away from draft.

12. Let dough rise for 40 minutes.

Shape the Breadsticks or Grissini:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Lightly flour a flat work surface.

3. Transfer dough onto floured work surface.

4. Shape the dough by gently stretching and patting it outwards until it forms a 12 X 8-inch rectangle.

5. Using a pizza cutting wheel or a sharp knife, cut 3/4-inch wide strips (crosswise) to measure 8 inches in length.

6. Without using too much flour (the dough should grasp your fingers and not slide away), gently roll the dough into a 14 to 16-inch long piece.

7. Fold the dough in half, forming a loop at one end – place the shaped breadstick dough on a parchment-lined 18 X 12-inch baking sheet.

8. Repeat the rolling process for remaining dough strips and transfer them onto the baking sheet spaced 3/4-inch apart.
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9. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper – continue shaping and placing looped dough pieces on baking sheet.

Bake the Breadsticks:
1. Place one baking sheet on top oven rack and the other on the bottom oven rack.

2. Bake the breadsticks for 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, invert the top baking sheet with the bottom baking sheet; bake for an additional 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes, if breadsticks still look white on top, turn them over.

5. Bake the breadsticks for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

6. Serve the breadsticks warm or cold with cheese, olives and a variety of appetizers, together with your favorite wine.

TO REFRIGERATE BREADSTICKS: Place breadsticks in a food storage bag, sealed, or in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
TO FREEZE BREADSTICKS: Place breadsticks in double freezer food storage bags for up to 2 months.
At serving time, transfer breadsticks to a serving platter or basket and let thaw at room temperature for 1 hour.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Green Omelet

In Eggs Selections, Holidays On April 7, 2017 0 Comments

The word “green” has a healthy connotation these days. If we’re eating “green”, then it can be assumed that your intake of foods consists mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a recipe for a green omelet. The eggs turn green when you add finely-chopped spinach or chard. Add parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and serve the omelet at your Easter Brunch! Happy Easter!

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves:4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely-packed
3 cups spinach leaves (you can combine fresh chard & spinach leaves), loosely-packed
3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, loosely-packed
10 to 12 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
dash ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:
1. In a salad spinner, combine the mint, spinach (and/or chard) and parsley leaves.

2. Wash, drain and spin dry the leaves – finely chop all leaves.

3. After leaves are finely-chopped, set them aside in a 3-quart mixing bowl.

4. In another 3 to 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the eggs, salt, black pepper and grated cheese.

5. Using a fork or a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture.

6. When egg mixture is uniform, stir in the chopped leaves to combine.

7. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet; when oil is hot but does not smoke, pour the egg and leaf mixture into skillet.

8. On high setting, check that the edges of the omelet begin to curdle; immediately set heat on medium-low and cover the skillet.

9. Every so often, using a spatula, lift sides of omelet and title skillet so that the raw egg escapes to bottom of skillet.

10. Cover the omelet and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.

11. When omelet top has set, using the spatula, cut it into fourths.

12. Gently flip each omelet fourth over and cook on low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes.

13. Check underside of omelet. If it looks golden-green, the omelet is ready to be served.

14. Transfer omelet to a serving platter. Cut omelet to yield 10 to 12 pieces. Serve as part of a breakfast menu or at lunch with a green salad.

Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Nancy’s Tuna Tartare

In Appetizers / Starters, Fish & Shellfish On March 24, 2017 0 Comments

Prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer) or 2 (as a main dish)

Tuna tartare is one of my favorite appetizers to order at a restaurant. However, by preparing this delicacy at home, I can avoid paying $16.00+ for a mere 1-cup serving at each outing.

My recipe for tuna tartare is a perfect dish for Lent – bon appetit!

Ingredients:
One 8-ounce sushi grade tuna filet, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Persian cucumber, peeled & cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely-chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons organic Tamari sauce
salt, to taste (add this after Tamari sauce, as it may be too salty)
4 to 8 corn tostada shells (flat)

Directions:
1. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together except for the tostada shells.

2. Using a large spoon, gently toss so that all ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.

3. Divide tuna tartare among 2 to 4 plates. Ask guests to spoon some tuna tartare onto a tostada. Bon appetit!

White Wine Pairing: Chilled Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio are suggested.

Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (Vegan)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On March 12, 2017 0 Comments

I finally figured out how to make chewy, coconut oatmeal cookies. And yes – they’re deliciously vegan. Enjoy!

Active prep time: 25 minutes
Inactive prep time:30 minutes
Bake time:10 to 14 minutes
Makes:12 cookies

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (white, as opposed to wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil (preferably safflower, sunflower or canola oil)
2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut (preferably Baker’s® brand)
2 cups raw, old-fashioned oatmeal (do not use instant oatmeal)
1 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons dark or light molasses

Prepare Cookie Dough:
1. Line an 18 X 12-inch baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a 3 to 4-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer, combine the oil, coconut, oatmeal, sugar, water and molasses.

4. If using a mixing bowl, with a hand mixer, beat all ingredients until they are uniform. If using a stand mixer, set speed on medium-high and mix all ingredients until they are uniform. Do not overheat.

5. Gradually (a little at a time), add the flour-salt mixture until the ingredients amalgamate or hold together.

6. Turn out the cookie mixture onto a floured, 16 X 12-inch waxed paper sheet.

7. Press the mixture to form a circle that is 1/4-inch thick. The circle may extend to a 12 to 14-inch diameter.

8. Slide the waxed paper onto a flat platter or baking sheet.

9. Refrigerate the baking sheet with cookie dough for 30 minutes.

Shape & Bake Cookies:
1. After 30 minutes, transfer the baking sheet with refrigerated cookie dough to a counter or working table.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F.

3. Using a 2.5 or 3-inch round cookie cutter (or an inverted glass), cut out the cookies.

4. Using a wide spatula, carefully transfer the raw, cut cookies onto a parchment-lined 18 X 12-inch baking sheet.

5. Gather the leftover dough to form a round mass.

6. Lightly four a second waxed paper sheet and press the dough mass onto its surface so that it is 1/4-inch thick.

7. Repeat cutting the cookies and transfer them with the spatula to the baking sheet.

8. Repeat gathering the dough and cutting and transferring cookies until dough is finished.

9. Place baking sheet with cookies on a rack positioned in center of oven.

10. Bake cookies for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check to see if cookies have turned light golden brown. If they look too light, bake cookies for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
NOTE: Every oven is different, so temperature and bake times may vary.

11. When cookies are done, transfer the baking sheet to a counter or trivet. Let cookies cool so they can set.

12. After cookies have cooled to room temperature, using a spatula, transfer them to a serving platter.

13. When cookies are completely cool, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

TO FREEZE COOKIES: Gently place coconut oatmeal cookies in double, freezer food bags and freeze up to one month. To serve, transfer frozen cookies to a platter or plate. When cookies are at room temperature, they are ready for serving.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Pasta with Chickpeas (Pasta e ceci)

In Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On February 25, 2017 0 Comments

For the Italian cook, food ingredients from a working kitchen are never wasted or thrown out. While growing up, I watched my Nonna use whatever she found in her pantry – a pasta package that was partially used. She’d break up raw spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine into small pieces. After cooking the broken pasta, she combined it with chickpeas and tomato sauce. We called this comfort food pasta e ceci.

You can make this in minutes and call it Pasta with Chick Peas! If you want to feel like you’re standing on the Italian peninsula, then combine a few long pasta varieties (in leftover packages) and cook them all together in one pot.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine, broken into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt
One 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, rinsed & drained again
2 to 3 cups pre-made tomato sauce

Directions:
1. Bring a 4 to 6-quart saucepot of water to a boil.

2. Add the pasta and salt to the boiling water.

3. Cook the pasta according to package directions or until it is al dente (crunchy-tender), about 8 to 10 minutes.

4. When pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander.

5. Add the pasta back to the sauce pot; stir in 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce and the drained chickpeas.

6. Stir and heat through.

7. Serve in individual bowls. Ask guests to add grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese to their pasta with chickpeas.

Note: Enjoy this dish with a favorite Chardonnay (white) or Chianti (red) wine.
Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real