Tag: cheese

Antipasti Platter: Assemble and Serve

Chef Gina Palmacci from Legal Oysteria in Boston created these four antipasti dishes for the Dorm Room Chef video series I shot and produced for the Boston Globe.

I’ve made them at home for special dinner parties. They’d work well for a small cocktail party as well. Think of them as Italian tapas: small plates that are easy to make and very delicious.

You can make one, two, or any combination of these for your platter. I’d suggest using the ingredient list below for your shopping list and then watching the video above to find out what to do. Seeing someone do it is much easier and faster than reading about it.

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Antipasti Platter

October 17, 2018

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Ingredients
  • For the Breadsticks Wrapped in Prosciutto:
  • Breadsticks (sesame or whatever you like)
  • Prosciutto di Parma (this is the imported stuff)
  • For the Stuffed Peppadew Peppers:
  • Peppadew peppers (these are small red peppers that come in a jar and are available at most large supermarkets)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • For the Marinated Olives:
  • Olives (get a variety
  • 3 types will do)
  • Rosemary (crushed)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Toasted almonds
  • Fresh juice from an orange
  • Olive oil (optional, use only if olives are dry)
  • For the Tuna Crostini:
  • French bread, sliced
  • Tuna fish (Italian, from a can)
  • Mayo
  • Capers (chopped)
  • Salt, pepper
  • Parsley (chopped)
  • Lemon juice
  • Red onion (chopped and soaked in red wine vinegar)
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the Breadsticks Wrapped in Prosciutto: Take a breadstick and wrap a slice of prosciutto around it. Put them in a glass to serve.
  • Step 2 To make the Stuffed Peppadew Peppers: Cut small pieces of the cheese and put them in the peppers. Serve on a small tray.
  • Step 3 To make the marinated olives: Mix the olives in a bowl. Add all of the ingredients and toss.
  • Step 4 To make the tuna crostini: Toast the bread slices. Sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper on them. Mix all of the other ingredients in a bowl, except for the red onion. Spread this mixture on the toasted bread slices and top with slices of the red onion.

 

Chickplantasagna is Born

Chickplantasagna is Born

(Above: Layered like lasagna, with eggplant, chicken, and zucchini, chick-plant-asagna was born out of necessity.)

We were hungry.

I had eggplant, zucchini, some leftover cheddar cheese and a new block of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the refrigerator. All day long I thought of those ingredients and asked myself what I could make for dinner. Around 4 p.m., the answer came to me.

 

I just needed chicken cutlets so I stopped at the supermarket on my way home and found some chicken tenders that looked better than the other cuts of chicken there. I brought them home and flattened them between two pieces of aluminum foil (I had nothing else). And that’s where our story (recipe) begins.

 

Zucchini on a cutting board with eggplant slices
You start by slicing the vegetables and baking them. Notice how the eggplant slices (top left) have only a little skin left on them.

 

I don’t believe that salting the eggplant and letting it drain helps get rid of the bitterness so I never do that. Instead, I make sure to buy a really good eggplant: one that is dark in color, one that has a smooth skin without blemishes, and one that is firm to the touch. And I peel the skin, leaving vertical stripes, so that when you slice the eggplant, each slice only has a little skin on it. I believe this helps to keep the bitterness to a minimum.

 

Slices of eggplant on a cookie sheet
Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt before baking.

 

After you bake the vegetables, fry the chicken, and saute a tomato and wine sauce, you assemble the dish ending with a layer of cheese and fresh salsa.

 

A close-up of salsa, cheese, vegetables

 

The dish was delicious but it still needed a name. I posted a photo of it on Facebook and asked for suggestions. My friend Katie M. suggested Chickplantasagna. It was the perfect name for a perfect dish.

Chickplantasagna

August 10, 2016
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Chicken tenders (About 9 or 10, flattened by pounding them with a rolling pin between two pieces of wax paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.) Or, if available, use thinly sliced chicken cutlets.
  • Eggplant (1 dark, purple — firm, but not bruised — beauty).
  • Zuchinni (1)
  • Red pepper (1)
  • Cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup shredded)
  • Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup, grated)
  • Fresh salsa (about 1 cup)
  • Tomato Paste, imported and from a tube (about 3 or 4 good squirts)
  • Red wine (about 1/3 cup), and a little water too.
  • Garlic (1 clove, torn open with your fingers)
  • Olive oil, regular, not extra-virgin (about 1/2 cup)
  • Lemon pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the skin off the eggplant by peeling off strips of it using a vegetable peeler. The eggplant will look like it has stripes as some of the skin remains.
  • Step 2 Cut thin (about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick) slices of the eggplant. Brush olive oil on one side of each slice. Brush olive oil on a cookie sheet and put eggplant, dry side down. Cook in a 450 degree oven, turning over once, until both sides are brown.
  • Step 3 Cut thin slices of zuchhini (about 1/4-inch to 1/2 inch thick). Put oil on both sides. Cut long strips of red pepper (about 1/2 inch thick) and put oil on both sides. Cook zuchhini and red pepper on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven until done.
  • Step 4 Fry chicken cutlets in a little olive oil and the clove of garlic. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
  • Step 5 When chicken is done, heat frying pan again. Add the tomato paste and the wine and water and stir. Add salt and pepper. Let the wine and water evaporate a little bit. Stir scraping the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and stir some more. Turn off heat.
  • Step 6 Assemble the dish by putting a little olive oil on the bottom of a ceramic baking dish, along with a few tablespoons of the fresh salsa. Add half of the chicken cutlets. Pour over half of the tomato paste sauce. Add half of the cheeses. Top with half of the zuchhini, red peppers, and eggplant slices. And then repeat this with the remaining ingredients, ending with the rest of the cheese and some fresh salsa.
  • Step 7 Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts.
The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

French cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, as evidenced by this easy recipe for this classic soup.

I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought in Paris more than 20 years ago.  I got it in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens: one of my favorite spots for coffee and a walk.

It’s written by French chef Paul Bocuse and it’s called “French Home Cooking.” It has the best French Onion Soup recipe: one that takes about an hour or less to make.

Don’t worry about making your own beef stock. Just buy your favorite store brand. Although you don’t need individual soup crocks it’s fun to have them and you can probably pick up some cheap at a dollar store or on eBay.

French Onion Soup From A Master Chef

January 30, 2014
: 1 hr
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Butter (2 ounces)
  • Onions (About two medium, peeled and sliced into circles)
  • Flour (About one ounce)
  • Beef Stock (or bouillon or even water. I’ve never used water but Mr. Bocuse says it works) (About 2 1/2 pints)
  • French Bread (Two slices per serving, toasted)
  • Gruyere Cheese (About 3 1/2 ounces grated)
  • Pepper (To taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (About an ounce)
  • Port (optional) (About 1/4 cup)
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan on top of the stove.
  • Step 2 Add onions, breaking them into rings. Cook until lightly brown or just starting to turn lightly brown.
  • Step 3 Stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn’t stick.
  • Step 4 When flour starts to turn brown add the beef stock and stir constantly. Cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in (optional) port about half-way through.
  • Step 5 In a soup tureen or in separate french onion soup crocks create two or three layers of the following: bread, cheese, pepper and sliver of butter.
  • Step 6 Add soup. Then top it off with breadcrumbs and more cheese.
  • Step 7 Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and breadcrumbs have browned. Serve immediately.

(Photo courtesy of Kojach via Flickr.)

 

Parmesan Basket With Risotto or Rice

Parmesan Basket With Risotto or Rice

This is a very special, yet very simple recipe, I got from my brother-in-law Billy Kelley, who spends several months each year in Florence, Italy. He isn’t a cook. He’s an artist who paints in his studio all day and then goes out to eat in some of that city’s best restaurants.

A few years ago he brought me back a small booklet from Trattoria del Carmine which contained several recipes including this one. They filled the parmesan cheese basket with a yellow squash risotto. Here I stuffed it with a plain risotto made with onions and celery. You could also use this risotto or use this recipe as a guide for your own risotto.

You could use a light rice dish too. Just be sensitive not to overpower the crisp tangy taste of the parmesan cup. Be creative. Use your imagination. What else could you fill this with?

Parmesan Basket With Risotto or Rice

March 21, 2012

By:

Ingredients
  • Imported parmesan cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano is best. (Don’t skimp here. I once tried using the cheese they sell in a jar at the supermarket and it didn’t work. The cheese would not melt and it made me wonder if it was cheese at all.)
  • Equipment: A nonstick frying pan.
Directions
  • Step 1 Warm up the nonstick frying pan.
  • Step 2 Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of the cheese in a circle in the hot pan.
  • Step 3 Let the cheese melt until it becomes an intense yellow color.
  • Step 4 Detach the sheet of cheese with a spatula and place it flat over a small cup or 2-3-inch ramekin. Poke it down into the cup or ramekin with your index finger to give it a bowl shape.
  • Step 5 Once it cools, remove it from the cup or ramekin. Put it on a plate and fill it with risotto or whatever you decide will work.

Soup and Sandwich Night With Style (Instead of Take-Out)

Presentation helps build an appetite.
Presentation helps build an appetite.

So maybe you forgot to go shopping or make a dinner plan. You’ve worked all day and now you have the dreaded task of figuring out what’s for dinner.

You hate to spend money on take-out again: a pizza, subs, chinese food, etc. But you’re pressed for time and what else can you do? Here’s an idea: stop by your local deli or supermarket on the way home and pick up the ingredients for a quick and easy “soup and sandwich” night, only this time take it to a higher level by buying the best ingredients available. They’ll think you’ve been planning this for weeks.

Ingredients/Shopping List:

  • Soup (Pick up a couple of cans of your favorite)
  • Salami (1/2 pound of imported genoa salami or “Oldani” if it’s available. My favorite deli in Boston’s North End carries it and it’s better than the imported. Hard to believe, but true.)
  • Cheese (1/4 pound of a soft Pecorino cheese; or fontina)
  • Bread (The best Italian bread you can find. It should have a hard flaky crust and soft middle with lots of holes.)
  • Olives (Get a mixture of the large green, and small black)
  • Shrimp (1/2 pound of the frozen, cooked shrimp.)
  • Cocktail Sauce (1 bottle)
  • Pickles (Cut up some large dill pickles and put in a side dish)
  • Tomatoes (This time of year, the best tomatoes are usually the grape tomatoes. Slice them in half and put in a side dish)
  • Wine (A good red wine)

What I did:

Slice the Italian bread into thick sandwich slices.

Put bread, side dishes of tomatoes and pickles, the salami, and the cheese on a large platter.

Thaw the shrimp and place around the rim of martini glasses.

Put cocktail sauce in a side dish.

Put olives in an olive tray or bowl.

Heat up the soup and serve.

Find more dinner ideas in the Food section.

(Note: If you’d like to print this dinner idea, click on the headline on this post and then use the print button at the bottom of the post. In other words, print from the “permalink” not from the homepage.)

Quick Appetizers in a Pinch

Quick Appetizers in a Pinch

(Photo by Katie Hogan)

This is so simple, you’ll probably say it’s ridiculous for me to even write about it. But this is a great solution when you’re rushed for time and you promised the host or hostess last week when they invited you over for a pool party that you’d bring an appetizer.

Three words: Supermarket Deli Bar

Head to the deli bar and start filling up those plastic boxes with what looks good. Here I chose grape leaves, stuffed olives and stuffed cherry peppers. I also saw an interesting rolled-up salami and cheese concoction and grabbed that too.

Next stop: The Cracker Aisle

There I picked up some water crackers and some basil crackers. On the water crackers I put slices of the salami, cheese rollup. And on the basil crackers, I made tiny Caprese salad hors d’oeuvres by placing a slice of fresh mozzarella, a slice of tomato and a slice of fresh basil.

Next: It’s All in the Presentation

Arrange on some nice trays or platters. Cover with saran wrap and have someone hold it carefully in their lap while you drive to your destination.

Everyone out of the pool for some fine snacking.

 

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

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I got this recipe more than two decades ago and it stands up to the test of time. It’s from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine, the January 1996 edition. I used to have a subscription to that wonderful publication and saved all of the issues. I still make these stacks a few times a year for family and friends who request them. Trish, particularly, is fond of them.

 

Sliced zucchini on a cookie sheet
Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before baking.

 

They are easy to make. You roast the vegetables on cookie sheets with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then you assemble the stacks, skewered with rosemary sprigs. Bake in the oven at 450 degrees.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “9 Recipes to Help you Relax and Enjoy the Holidays,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

June 9, 2009
: 6
: Easy

There's a little bit of work to this: slicing and baking. But it's still pretty simple to make.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/4 pounds zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 4 large plum tomatoes(about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium red onions cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound medium red potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella, cut into six 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
Directions
  • Step 1 Brush cookie sheets with olive oil and place slices of vegetables on them. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven until tender and lightly browned.
  • Step 2 Stir ricotta, salt, pepper, and thyme in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Assemble the stacks on an oiled cookie sheet as follows: Eggplant slice, ricotta mixture, two potato slices, two zucchini slices, one slice of onion, a slice of mozzarella, two tomato slices, two more zucchini slices, and another onion slice. Top this with more ricotta mixture and then cover it all with an eggplant slice. Make five more of these.
  • Step 4 Put a hole through the stack using a metal or wooden skewer. Then stick a rosemary sprig through that hole. Rosemary sprig should have leaves on the top remaining inch which will stick out of each stack.
  • Step 5 Bake the stacks for about 5 minutes until cheese melts and vegetables are warmed throughout. Serve with a side dish of orzo or rice.