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Chocolate Ricotta Cake – Happy Easter

In Meats On April 1, 2019 0 Comments

During Holy Week (one week prior to Easter), it is customary for Italian Roman Catholic women to prepare baked goods for the upcoming feast on Sunday. Finally, on Easter Sunday, Southern Italians make a gran finale with homemade ricotta cake.

This chocolate ricotta cake is one of my traditional recipes. Just mix all ingredients together and bake the cake – that’s it. It’s chocolaty and moist. Enjoy this dessert at Easter!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 35 minutes (every oven will differ in temperature)
Makes: One 9-inch cake

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
2/3 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil (preferably safflower or sunflower)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2% milk fat)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar and nonpareils candies, for garnish
fresh mint leaf sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Chantilly Cream (found in The Kitchen Buzzz’s Recipes)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & ground cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

3. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch spring form pan; set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted chocolate, sugar, egg, oil, ricotta cheese, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.

5. Gradually (a little at a time), whisk in the combined dry ingredients. Keep mixing until the batter is smooth and thick.

6. Pour the batter into prepared spring form pan, cleaning sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

7. Transfer the cake pan on a rack set in center of oven.

8. Bake cake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, insert a pointed knife in center of cake. If knife comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, bake cake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Test once more (the cake should be done). If not, bake a few minutes more and test again.

9. Transfer the cake to a counter to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

10. When cake is cool, using a knife, gently loosen the cake from sides of pan and remove.

11. Place the cake on a serving platter.

12. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar and nonpareils. Garnish each serving with mint leaf sprigs.

13. Serve this cake by itself or with a dollop of Chantilly Cream (recipe is in The Kitchen Buzzz’s Recipe index).
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

 

Shrimp & Scallop Salad with Olive Oil & Lemon

In Meats On January 8, 2019 0 Comments

We’re a week into 2019 and you’re probably on a diet, right? Okay, I get it. But it doesn’t mean you have to eat bland or boring foods.

Make this simple shrimp and scallop salad. Dress it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Enjoy it with a green salad or your favorite side dish!  If it’s just two of you, the leftovers will last 3 days (refrigerated).

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3/4 pound fresh wild, medium shrimp (shelled & deveined)*
3/4 pound bay scallops (frozen & thawed)
1/2 red bell pepper, stem & seeds discarded
1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 2 fresh lemons (limes can be substituted)
salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Place shrimp in a 3-quart saucepot and cover with cold water; bring to a boil.

2. When shrimp come to a boil, cook 3 to 4 minutes or just until their flesh turns opaque and pink.

3. Drain shrimp and place in a 2-quart glass or porcelain bowl; set aside.

4. Place scallops in a 1-quart saucepot and cover with cold water; bring to a boil.

5. When scallops come to a boil, cook 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, taste a scallop. If it tastes raw, cook for up to 1 more minute.

6. Drain scallops and add them to the shrimp in bowl; set aside.

7. Cut the flesh of red bell pepper into 1/4-inch thick strips. Cut strips into 1/4-inch pieces and add them to the seafood in bowl.

8. Add parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; toss gently.

9. Taste the shrimp and scallop salad; adjust seasonings, to taste.
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real

*NOTE: Opt to purchase wild, medium shrimp from Mexico – their flesh tastes sweet. If shrimp are farm-raised, they taste bland and flavorless. When seafood markets sell shrimp either frozen or frozen and thawed, they are considered “fresh” or “fresh frozen”.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Parsnips & Shishito Peppers

In Meats On November 21, 2017 0 Comments

This side dish of roasted butternut squash, parsnips and shishitos is perfect for Turkey Day!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
12 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large parsnips, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
8 Shishito peppers, sliced lengthwise, seeds discarded & flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together.

3. Transfer tossed ingredients to a 16 X 12-inch rectangular baking pan.

4. Bake/roast for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes, toss all ingredients.

6. Place roasting pan with ingredients 6 inches away from top oven broiler element.

7. Broil for approximately 5 minutes or until roasted vegetables look golden brown.

8. Serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Organic Homemade Ketchup

In Meats On November 7, 2017 0 Comments

Lately, I’ve been craving ketchup – without Monsanto corn syrup and other artificial ingredients.

Here’s my organic, homemade ketchup – you won’t believe how DELICIOUS this is!

The gourmet flavors of this ketchup depends on high-quality tomatoes. I use Bionaturae Organic Strained Tomatoes (available at Wholefoods, Bristol Farms & Gelson’s supermarkets):
Image.TomatoesOrganic

Yield: 2 cups ketchup

Ingredients:
24 ounces Bionaturae® or Mutti® Organic Strained Tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup organic agave nectar
1/2 cup organic, pure maple syrup
3/4 cup distilled, white vinegar
1/2 brown or white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, heart removed & discarded & flesh finely minced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Pour ground tomatoes into a crockpot.

2. Swirl 1/2 cup water in empty tomato container and pour the mixed liquid into crockpot.

3. Add agave nectar, maple syrup, vinegar, onion, garlic, salt, mustard powder and cayenne pepper.

4. Whisk all ingredients to combine.

5. Cook on high, uncovered, until mixture is reduced by half and very thick, 8 to 10 hours.

6. Stir every hour or so.

7. Let ketchup cool to room temperature.

8. When ketchup has cooled, it will be thick with small bits of cooked onion running throughout mixture. If a smoother consistency is desired, transfer ketchup to a blender and puree about 20 seconds.

9. Transfer ketchup to a 2-cup jar. Seal jar tightly and refrigerate up to 4 weeks.

10. Use ketchup as needed.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Pappardelle with Meatballs

In Meats, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On August 7, 2016 0 Comments

On weekends, I like to go back to my southern Italian roots. For example, today I was craving a good dish of pasta with traditional tomato sauce and meatballs.

Yes, you have to make the tomato sauce from scratch, prepare the meatballs separately and then combine the two together. But no worries – the recipe is fast, neat and healthy. I broil the meatballs instead of frying them.

The best part is that leftover meatballs and sauce keep up to 5 days, refrigerated. Buon Appetito!

Tomato Sauce Prep time: 20 minutes (while meatballs are broiling)
Meatball Prep time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium brown or white onion, peeled and finely chopped
One 28-ounce can Muir Glen Organic® Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Dash freshly-grated nutmeg
2 bay leaves (optional)
Salt, to taste (start with 1 teaspoon)

Directions for Tomato Sauce:
1. In a 4-quart saucepot, heat the oil. When oil is hot but does not smoke, add the chopped onion.

2. Stir-fry the onion on medium-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.

3. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée the tomatoes.

4. When onion is translucent, stir in the puréed tomatoes.

5. Add the nutmeg (just a dash), the bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt.

6. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil.

7. When tomato sauce boils, immediately set heat on medium-low and cook/simmer for approximately 15 minutes. During this time, you can start the meatballs (see below).

8. As the sauce cooks, stir occasionally.

9. After 15 minutes, taste the sauce. It should no longer taste raw. Adjust salt level, if needed.

Meatball Ingredients:
1 to 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef or dark ground turkey (organic, preferred)
1 small brown or white onion, finely chopped in a food processor
1/3 cup finely chopped, fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Dash ground black pepper
Dash freshly-ground nutmeg (a tiny amount)
1 to 2 large eggs, beaten

Meatball Directions:
1. Using plastic cooks’ gloves or your bare hands, in a 5 to 6-quart glass or porcelain bowl, mix together all ingredients.

2. Set meat mixture aside and wash your hands very well (if you do not use gloves).

3. Prepare an 18 X 12-inch baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Oil the foil with a basting brush or with your hand. Set baking sheet aside.

4. Set a 2-cup bowl of cold water on counter. Dip your hands in the water so they are wet (this will prevent the meat from sticking to your hands).

5. Grab enough meat mixture to form a 2-1/2-inch ball and set it on oiled, lined baking sheet.

6. Repeat shaping the meatballs, wetting your hands in between every 2 to 3 meatballs. Continue this procedure until you have set all meatballs on baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.

Broil the Meatballs & Add them to Tomato Sauce:
1. Set the top oven element to “broil” – make sure the top oven rack is set 6 to 7 inches below the broiling element.

2. Place the baking sheet with meatballs on the oven rack; broil the meatballs for approximately 8 to 9 minutes or until they look golden brown.

3. When meatballs have turned golden brown, using tongs, turn them over and broil the other side for 8 to 9 minutes.

4. When the meatballs have turned golden brown, take one at a time with tongs and gently drop it in simmering tomato sauce.

5. At this point, simmer the sauce with meatballs for an additional 10 minutes.

Ingredients for the Pappardelle:
1 pound pappardelle or other pasta variety
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (garnish)

Directions for Pappardalle:
1. Bring a 6-quart sauce pot of water to a boil.

2. When water boils, add the pappardelle and salt to the water.

3. Cook pappardelle for 9 to 10 minutes or until it is “al dente” (crunchy-tender).

4. Drain the pappardelle in a colander.

5. Return the pappardelle to the sauce pot and add 3 to 4 ladles of tomato sauce. Stir with tongs.

6. Divide the pappardelle among 4 to 6 pasta bowls or dinner plates.

7. Add 1 or 2 meatballs to each serving.

8. Serve immediately and ask guests to add a sprinkle of cheese, if desired.

Wine Pairing: Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon (reds) or chilled Chardonnay (white)
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real