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Taralli (Italian Pretzels)

Taralli (Italian Pretzels)

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On June 5, 2012 0 Comments

Taralli are Southern Italian pretzels or breadsticks that are sometimes served with cheese, olives, prosciutto, mortadella, salami and, last but not least, wine.

This taralli recipe includes traditional fennel seeds and red wine. Oh yes – pour that “vino” right into the mixing bowl. After the O-shaped taralli are boiled and baked, they’ll surprise you with a bold flavor and crunchy finish.

Vegetarians, pair these funky taralli with cukes, tomatoes, salads and – you got it –  wine! 

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 to 40 minutes
Makes: 15 to 20 taralli

Ingredients:
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground, black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds (also called “anise seeds”)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 large egg
1/8 cup red wine
1/8 cup cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the salt, pepper, fennel seeds, flour and baking powder; set aside.

2. Fill an 6-quart sauce pot 2/3 full with water and set it on a cold stove burner (to be turned on when taralli dough has been shaped into circles).

3. In a 5 to 6-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer, stir together the egg, wine, water and olive oil.  Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until a dough forms. Turn the dough onto a flat and lightly-floured surface. Gently knead the dough for 2 minutes.

4. Pull away a two-inch ball from the dough. Roll the dough on the flat surface and shape it into a 5-inch log (the log should be 1/2-inch thick). 

5. Shape the log into a circle and press to close. Lay the circle, or tarallo, aside on flat surface or on a plate (not floured). Continue shaping remaining dough into taralli, laying them aside on the plate.

6. Bring the water in sauce pot to a boil. Gently drop two to 3 taralli into the boiling water and cook until they come up to the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

7. With a slotted spoon, transfer the boiled taralli to a platter for draining (do not lay taralli  on paper towels or they will stick). Boil the remaining taralli and repeat draining instructions.

8. Transfer the boiled and drained taralli on a parchment-lined 18×12-inch baking sheet. Place baking sheet with taralli on a rack positioned in center of preheated oven.

9. Bake taralli for 15 to 20 minutes. 

10. After 15 to 20 minutes, turn the taralli over and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.

11. Remove the baking sheet with taralli from oven. Transfer taralli to a glass or porcelain platter or a cooling rack.

12. Enjoy taralli warm or at room temperature.

Storing instructions: Place cooled taralli in double plastic freezer bags. Freeze taralli up to one month. 

To thaw: Remove taralli from freezer bags. Place them on a platter and allow taralli to come to room temperature. Place taralli on a baking sheet in a preheated 375°F oven and warm them for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:  Southern Italian reds such as Aglianico (from Naples) or Nero d’Avola (from Sicily).

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

GuacRomanoWatrmrk

Guacamole Romano

In Appetizers / Starters On December 26, 2011 0 Comments

ENTER OUR KITCHEN, WATCH & LEARN

What happens when you combine guacamole with Pecorino Romano cheese? You create an impressive party recipe with a twist – Guacamole Romano.
Happy New Year!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 large, ripe avocados
2 tablespoons chopped red onion,
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt, to taste
Tortilla chips

1. Cut each avocado in half horizontally. Using the knife, cut into the pit. Make a quick twist and remove the pit.

2. With a spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh and transfer it to a shallow mixing bowl.

3. Using a fork, gently mix in the onion and the chopped jalapeño pepper – do not overmix (the guacamole should be chunky).

4. Stir in the Pecorino Romano cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust salt level by adding a sprinkle of salt, if needed.

5. Transfer Guacamole Romano to a bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Text & Photographs ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Salami Mozzarella Quesadilla

Salami Mozzarella Quesadilla

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On September 20, 2011 0 Comments

This simple-to-make snack, lunch, starter or dinner is fast and fun. I’ve always enjoyed a plain cheese quesadilla, but when I created my own version with Genoa Salami and Mozzarella, it became exquisite!

Top these Italian-Mexican quesadillas with my Salsa and … Whatever recipe. It’ll be amore or amor at first bite!

Prep time: 5 to 8 minutes
Makes: 4 quesadillas

Ingredients:
Four 10-inch flour tortillas
16 slices Genoa Salami, thinly sliced
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, warm up two tortillas at a time on medium-high heat by flipping them over at 1 to 2-minute intervals.

2. Set burner on low heat setting.

3. Working quickly, lay 4 slices salami on the half side of each tortilla.

4. Top the salami with ¼ of the shredded mozzarella and fold each tortilla in half (you have made a quesadilla).

5. Flip the quesadillas over immediately (to avoid charring the underside).

6. With a spatula, gently press top of each quesadilla to flatten slightly.

7. Flip quesadilla over once or twice or until cheese has melted and starts bubbling along quesadilla edges.

Serve hot with Salsa and … Whatever (published on this blog on June 28, 2010).

Wine pairing suggestion: chilled Pinot Grigio (white) or Cabernet Sauvignon (red).

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Mozzarella di Bufala Starters

Mozzarella di Bufala Starters

In Appetizers / Starters On September 27, 2010 0 Comments

Mozzarella di bufala is made with fresh buffalo milk. This delicacy is a specialty of Campania, Italy, where the production of dairy products is rooted in the region’s ancient Greco-Roman past. In 1570, the great connnoisseur of regional Italian cookery, Bartolomeo Scappi, mentioned “mozzarella di bufala” for the first time in his culinary treatise, Opera. The word “mozzarella” derives from the verb “mozzare”, a hand gesture which divides an elongated piece of “pasta filata” or freshly pulled cheese into single “mozzarelle” (Italian, for mozzarellas).

Notice the photo with the mozzarella and layout of ingredients – these starters are intended to be fun to make, pleasing to the eye and exquisite. The final photo is what you get … and what you eat!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
One 8-ounce fresh buffalo mozzarella packed in water (cut into 4 slices & then in half
-OR-
Four 2-ounce fresh buffalo mozzarellas (each cut in half)
4 wooden skewers, set aside until ready to use
8 slices olive bread
8 fresh basil leaves
1 vine-ripened tomato, cut into 4 slices
1 Heirloom tomato (reddish-yellow in color), cut into 4 slices
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 olives, for garnish

1. If using one 8-ounce mozzarella, cut it into 4 slices and cut each slice in half to yield a total of 8 pieces.
If using four 2-ounce mozzarellas, cut each one in half (you will have a total of 8 pieces). Set aside.

2. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or a glass, cut each slice of bread to yield a total of 8 round bread slices. Save the leftover bread pieces in a sealed food storage bag for another use (such as enjoying them on a future binge).

3. For each serving, use 2 bread rounds, 2 basil leaves, 2 mozzarella slices, 1 vine-ripened tomato slice, 1 Heirloom tomato slice and assemble as follows:

4. Push a skewer through the center of one bread round, positioning the bread within a 1/2-inch of the skewer’s tip. Follow with a basil leaf and then alternate the mozzarella and tomato slices. While assembling, drizzle oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the mozzarella slices.

5. End with a basil leaf and a bread round.

6. With shears, trim the remaining skewer, leaving 1/2-inch of the skewer tip outside the bread round.

7. Repeat above assembly three more times. Arrange on a platter, garnish with olives and serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

Wine suggestion: chilled Greco di Tufo – this is one of my favorite whites from the region of Campania, Italy.

Note: Do not prepare this recipe ahead of time, as the mozzarella will become watery and change its texture.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Parma Prosciutto, Melon & Apple Carpaccio

Parma Prosciutto, Melon & Apple Carpaccio

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On September 18, 2010 0 Comments

For this classic antipasto, I wanted to be artistic and innovative in presenting Parma prosciutto and melon. I added apple “carpaccio” and a balsamic reduction. The balsamic “sauce” complements the sweet fruit and savory prosciutto. Buon Appetito!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar (dark brown variety)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 to 4 ounces sliced Parma prosciutto
1 cantaloup melon (8 to 12 slices)
2 Heirloom or green apples (Granny Smith or Pippin variety)
Juice of 1 lemon

1. In a small saucepot, combine the vinegar and sugar.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium-high heat until mixture is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer balsamic reduction to a small glass or porcelain bowl and set, uncovered, in freezer until cold enough to drizzle, about 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Check coolness by stirring with a spoon after 5 minutes and tasting (do not freeze). If reduction is still warm, leave in freezer an additional 5 minutes.

5. Alternatively, the balsamic reduction can be prepared and chilled in refrigerator a day ahead.

Meanwhile, prepare prosciutto and fruit -

1. From its narrow end, gently roll up each prosciutto slice until it forms a small log.

2. Arrange prosciutto logs at one end of a large serving platter and set aside.

3. Cut melon in half, lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and pulp.

4. Cut melon into 8 to 12 slices, remove rind and place next to prosciutto on platter. Set aside. Save remaining melon for future use.

5. Cut apples in half and then into fourths. Remove core from each fourth and then cut apples into thin slices.

6. Immediately sprinkle apple slices with the lemon juice – this avoids blackening.

7. Arrange apples decoratively on platter with prosciutto and melon.

8. Serve immediately – ask guests to help themselves to some prosciutto, melon and apples and to drizzle some balsamic sauce over apples.

Enjoy with bread and white wine.

Wine suggestion: Malvasia or Greco di Tufo (both are Italian whites).

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real