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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

Burger Bliss

In Fun Foods, Sandwiches, Panini & Burritos On August 21, 2010 10 Comments

Last week, while in La Jolla, California, my husband and I decided to stop at a deli for lunch. Since our server spent so much time raving about the burgers (the house specialty), it was clear that I should try the turkey burger. I anticipated being served a delicious burger made with choice meat, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. However, I soon found myself biting into a leathery, salty patty containing equal parts dry meat and overcooked rice grains. I must admit that my dog, Enzo, is served better meat than that!

A few days later in Los Angeles, I decided to have the burger my way – I combined ground turkey with fresh veggies, herbs and spices. As I bit into my deli specialty, I finally experienced that long awaited burger bliss.

PREPARING THE MEAT FOR THE BURGERS:
1/2 medium brown or white onion
1/2 small zucchini
1/2 medium carrot, peeled
1 pound extra lean ground beef or dark ground turkey meat (organic meat preferred)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, beaten with 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (optional)
Dash ground cumin and ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a food processor, grind together the onion, zucchini and carrot until finely chopped.

2. In an 3-quart glass or porcelain mixing bowl, combine the chopped ingredients with the ground meat, mint, parsley, salt, bread crumbs, chipotle chiles, cumin and nutmeg with a fork until mixture is uniform.

3. With wet hands, divide meat mixture into six portions.

4. Shape each portion into 4 to 5-inch patties, about 1/2 inch thick; set aside on a platter.

5. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Cook patties in two batches on medium high heat, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

6. To test doneness, press down on one burger with a spatula. If juices run clear, the burgers are done.

7. Place burgers inside panini rolls and place on a serving platter; transfer to dining table.

ASSEMBLING THE BURGERS:
6 panini bread rolls preferred
2 tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 red onion, finely sliced
6 lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
Condiments (catsup, mustard, relish)

1. On a serving platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes and onions alongside the lettuce.

2. Place the platter and the condiments next to burgers on table. Ask each guest to garnish their own burger.

Serve burgers with a side of fries or gourmet veggie chips.

Note: Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are sold in a can and are found in the ethnic foods section of most supermarkets or in Latin American grocery stores.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Baja Chicken Tostadas

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Poultry On August 12, 2010 2 Comments

On a recent trip to Baja California, Mexico, my husband and I stayed in a condominium resort on the coast. Whenever I want fast food in Baja, I can quickly find a “pollo rostizado” (rotisserie chicken), some tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cilantro and chiles. I then emulate the locals by making a tostada out of whatever ingredients I have found.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 to 12 corn tostada shells
4 to 5 cups precooked rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded and meat diced
5 to 6 cups shredded lettuce
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 cup finely shredded purple cabbage
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
One Salsa and … Whatever recipe (found in our Recipes, under “Salad Dressings, Salsas & Savory Sauces)
2/3 cup grated Cotija, Manchego or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Place tostada shells on a serving platter and the chicken in a serving bowl in center of dining table.

2. In a separate serving bowl, combine the lettuce, carrot, cabbage and cilantro.

3. Arrange a bowl of the salsa and a bowl of grated cheese next to other bowls.

4. Ask each guest to assemble their own tostadas: add some chicken to tostada shell, followed by lettuce mixture, some salsa and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

5. Enjoy with chilled white wine, beer or a shot of Tequila.

Keep in mind that the fun part is trying to eat the tostada while it breaks and falls apart with every bite.

Buen Provecho!

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Mango Coconut Thai Rice

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On August 2, 2010 2 Comments

While lounging under a palm tree at the beach last week, I was suddenly overcome by the memory of a trip to Thailand. In my mind I was comparing the fruitless palms of Santa Monica to those bursting with coconuts on the shores of North Pattaya Beach. One of our meals on the beach had included a side of rice containing coconut and my favorite fruit, mango. Here’s the recipe that I recreated upon my return to Los Angeles.

Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, white parts finely sliced (green tips discarded)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup Jasmine rice, uncooked
2-1/2 cups coconut water
2 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala spice or curry powder
1/4 cup coconut milk combined with 1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mango (cut into 1/4-inch pieces)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4 to 6 purple cabbage leaves (for garnish)

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Stir-fry the onions, bell pepper and rice on medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the coconut water, shredded coconut, salt, Garam Masala or curry powder.

3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 12 to 15 minutes or until rice looks dry.

4. Pour the coconut-water mixture evenly over the rice. Cover and continue cooking on low for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

5. After 3 to 5 minutes, uncover and gently stir in the cilantro, mango and red pepper flakes.

6. Divide rice evenly among cabbage leaves and serve as a side to poultry, seafood or meats.

Note: Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend and can be found in ethnic grocery stores or online.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy’s Cool Coffee Granita

In Fun Foods On July 19, 2010 0 Comments

In July, it’s too hot to drink my afternoon coffee. Instead, I treat myself to a cool coffee granita (Italian shaved ice), made with freshly brewed espresso, sugar and lime juice. Topped with my 5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream, this granita can also be enjoyed as a grand finale to a summer dinner.

Active prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (for freezing)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground espresso coffee beans
3 cups water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream (found in our Recipes, under Desserts, Creams & Sauces)

1. Brew the espresso coffee in an automatic drip coffee maker using the standard method as in making American coffee.

2. Alternatively, combine the ground espresso beans with the water in a saucepot and bring to a boil.

3. Immediately remove pot from burner and let stand 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Pour and strain the brewed coffee through a paper filter into a glass or porcelain bowl.

5. Stir the sugar and lime juice into the warm coffee and pour into a shallow metal 12 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan and set in freezer.

6. Freeze for about 50 minutes.

7. Using a fork, scrape the iced granita away from edges of pan, and gently stir into the middle of the mixture.

8. Return the pan to freezer. Stir the mixture every 20 minutes (approximately twice more) until the granita (shaved ice) has formed completely.

9. Serve in individual glass bowls, ramekins or cups and top with 5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream (found in our Recipes, under Desserts, Creams & Sauces).

10. Garnish the cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few espresso coffee beans.

Serve with biscotti or other dry cookie variety.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real