Tag: italian recipe

Amaretti Cookies (Macaroons)

Amaretti Cookies (Macaroons)

(Above: Italian Sugar Cookies. These almond cookies are brittle and crunchy and look great served in a Nora Fleming napkin holder/candy dish with a Nora Fleming hand-painted snowman charm.)

One of my favorite cookies are amaretti. I usually buy them once a year around the holidays. I never knew how easy they are to make — they only have three ingredients — until I stumbled upon the recipe in the Artusi.

 

Cookies on a floured board
These cookies only have three ingredients: almonds, egg whites and confectioners sugar. This recipe makes about 48 small cookies.

 

The Artusi is the classic Italian cookbook first published in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi, a prosperous Italian silk merchant who collected recipes from homemakers he met during his travels all over Italy. If you want a truly authentic cookbook with recipes from the north and south of Italy that Italians still use today, get this one (the hardcover is available on Amazon).

 

Almonds, sugar, egg whites
It’s hard to believe that these cookies only require three simple ingredients.

 

Although the book is very popular in Italy — it has gone through 111 printings and most homes there have it — it wasn’t translated into English until 1996. (Full disclosure: My father and I had talked about working together to publish an English version but never got around to it.)

 

Dough rolled into the shape of a snake
Once you roll the dough into the shape of a snake, cut small pieces to make each cookie. Don’t worry that they’re too small. This dough rises in the oven creating a larger cookie.

 

The recipes are authentic and have probably been passed down through generations for hundreds and hundreds of years. Most are pretty easy and simple to make too, making them perfect for Rootsliving. However, they often refer to old techniques that I figured out could be performed quicker and easier using modern methods and in some cases, modern machines.

 

Cookies before being put in the oven
Be careful when forming these cookies. Any irregularities will be exaggerated as the cookies expand while cooking them.

 

Such is the case with this recipe that called for crushing the almonds with a mortar and pestle. I tried that the first time I made them but it was very labor intensive so the next time I made them, I used a food processor and there was no difference.

 

Cookie dough in food processor
Using a food processor, rather than a mortar and pestle is much easier and faster.

 

While making these a few times following the recipe in the Artusi, I found it necessary to make some other adjustments too:

  1. I floured a pastry board so the dough wouldn’t stick to the pastry board when I rolled it into a snake shape.
  2. And I greased (with Crisco shortening) and floured a cookie sheet before putting the cookies on it for baking. In fact, I recommend putting a good layer of grease on the cookie sheet before you flour it. One of my cookie sheets wasn’t greased enough. The cookies stuck to it and broke when I tried to remove them.

 

Cookies on a baking sheet
Be sure to grease the baking sheet well because these suckers like to stick.

 

The end result are amaretti cookies that are a little different than the ones you can get in Italian speciality stories in the U.S. The main difference is the consistency. They are even more brittle than the crunchy store-bought variety.

I liked them better but still thought they might be improved by adding an ounce or two of Amaretto liquor.  So the next time I made them I tried that and determined that just a little bit of Amaretto, about one or two tablespoons, gave them a little better, stronger, flavor.  The difference was small and so this is completely optional.

 

Cookies on a plate
The recipe in the Artusi called for making 30 cookies but I made them a little smaller and got 48. I find that most people today find it hard to commit to a larger cookie and are more apt to pick up and eat a small one (or two, or three).

 

The main thing to remember is to use only a small amount of the dough (about one teaspoon) to form each cookie. Roll the dough between your hands to form a small ball and then press down on it slightly, but don’t flatten it out. And be sure to give each cookie enough space to expand on the cookie sheet.

One batch I made, I used too much dough for each cookie, flattened them too much, and put them too close to one another on the cookie sheet. The result looked like one big cookie. Everything was stuck together. It tasted great but the presentation was awful. I also whipped the egg whites in that batch until they were stiff although I’m not sure if that caused some of this problem. What I am sure of is that you don’t need to whip the egg whites.

This is a simple recipe and my recommendation is don’t try to make it more complicated.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.) 

Here’s the (slightly altered) recipe from the Artusi:

Amaretti (Macaroons) (From the Artusi)

December 7, 2018
: 48 cookies
: 1 hr 30 min
: Easy, but you need to be careful

By:

Ingredients
  • Almonds (1 1/2 cups, plus 1/8 cup)
  • Egg whites (2)
  • Confectioners sugar (3 cups)
  • (Optional: Amaretto liquor, 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Flour (for dusting)
  • Shortening (to grease cookie sheets)
  • (Optional equipment: Food processor)
Directions
  • Step 1 Put almonds in a food processor with one of the egg whites and process until fine (about 10-20 seconds).
  • Step 2 Dump mixture into a large bowl (add the optional Amaretto if you’re using it) and mix in half of the sugar with your hand.
  • Step 3 Add half an egg white and stir with your hands. Add the rest of the sugar and stir with your hands. Add the remaining egg white and mix with your hands.
  • Step 4 Grease two cookie sheets and flour them by sprinkling flour on them and dumping the flour out so that both sheets are completely covered in flour. Be sure to put a good layer of shortening on the cookie sheets before sprinkling the flour because these cookies like to stick.
  • Step 5 Roll dough into the shape of a snake on a lightly floured board. Cut the snake into small pieces. Roll those pieces into a ball in your hands and then press down on them slightly before putting them on a greased cookie sheet. (Note: Take care to round the cookie edges because any irregularities will be enhanced when the cookies rise and expand while cooking.)
  • Step 6 Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven.
Sartu di Riso: One of the Best Dishes, Ever

Sartu di Riso: One of the Best Dishes, Ever

There are many recipes on RootsLiving but this one takes the cake. The giant rice cake, stuffed with sausages and meatballs covered in a velvety tomato sauce, has become a RootsLiving favorite.

I first ate it when my sister-in-law, Kathy, made it. It sounds like a heavy dish, but it’s surprisingly light: a giant arancini that has been baked, not fried. It’s an elegant, Italian dish, much like the chef herself, Giada De Laurentis — and of course, my sister-in-law, Kathy (who is Italian by marriage).

A rice ring with tomato sauce cut open
Cutting into this dish is like carving a great sculpture. There is excitement and much anticipation of the beauty that will come.

I’m glad I read the comments below Giada’s recipe. Several people recommended making twice the amount of tomato sauce and they were correct. This dish needs that much tomato sauce. I also doubled the amount of sausage and ground beef and ended up with too many meatballs (but can one really have too many meatballs?) So here’s the recipe, updated to reflect the double amounts needed to make the sauce and extra batch of meatballs.

(Note: The recipe says it takes about 2 hours, 30 minutes to make, but it took me about 3 hours. There are many steps, but it’s worth it!)

Sartu di Riso, An Elegant Dish

September 6, 2017
: 3 hr
: Difficult

This truly is one of our favorite dishes. There are many steps but it's worth it. There is nothing like this.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 pound Arborio rice (2 1/3 cups)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces sweet Italian sausage or sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • One 2-inch piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
  • Two 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 9 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs (use more if needed, especially to line the Bundt pan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 16 ounces ground sirloin or ground dark turkey meat
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • One 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, diced
Directions
  • Step 1 In a large saucepan combine the rice, chicken broth, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt and the bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring once, until the rice is still slightly undercooked but the liquid is absorbed, 8 minutes. Pour the rice into a large bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the cheese and 3 of the eggs until well combined, and set aside.
  • Step 2 Meanwhile, heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing and break into small, bite-size pieces. Add the sausage to the hot oil and cook until browned, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, shallots and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and the shallots are soft, 1 minute. Add the basil, cheese rind and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Step 3 Remove the basil and cheese rind. Add 2 cups of the sauce to the reserved sausage and set aside.
  • Step 4 Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs, the milk and the remaining 2 eggs with a fork and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Stir in the oregano, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining cup of cheese. Using your hands, mix in the beef, until just combined. Heat 1/2-inch of olive oil in a medium straight-sided pan. Scoop 1-tablespoon mounds of the mixture into damp hands and roll into uniform balls. When the oil is hot, fry the balls in 2 batches, turning them as needed with a slotted spoon to brown the balls evenly, about 4 minutes. When golden brown and crispy all around, remove the balls using a slotted spoon to the bowl with the sausage and sauce. Continue with the remaining balls, and then toss to coat evenly in the sauce.
  • Step 5 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, grease the inside of a Bundt pan or a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven, making sure to coat it very well. Dust the inside of the pan with 3 tablespoons (or more) of the breadcrumbs. Make sure it is evenly coated and there are no bald spots. This is very important to prevent sticking.
  • Step 6 Add the peas and diced mozzarella to the meat and sauce, and toss gently to incorporate. Spoon two-thirds of the rice mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Using damp hands, press the rice evenly over the bottom of the pan and 2 1/2-inches up the sides and middle of the pan. Spoon the meat filling into the well of rice and press gently to make sure it is evenly packed. Spoon the remaining rice over the filling and, using damp hands, press the rice evenly over the filling, being sure to press the rice on top into the rice along the edges to seal. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter. Bake until lightly browned on top, 45 minutes.
  • Step 7 Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Step 8 Place a plate large enough to cover the top of the pan over the pan. Using heat-resistant pads or a towel, invert the sartu onto the plate. Carefully lift the pan off of the rice, shaking gently if needed. Warm the remaining sauce and fill the opening in the middle of the molded rice with the sauce to serve.

 

Pasta Carbonara (aka: Breakfast Pasta)

Pasta Carbonara (aka: Breakfast Pasta)

Get a free Rootsliving eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy
and Lose Weight.”  

This is one of the first dishes I made when I started getting serious about cooking. It’s a traditional and authentic recipe from Italy and it’s easy to make: all of which makes this a good dish to make for novice home cooks.

This is Italian comfort food. It’s as warm and fuzzy and comfortable as a glass of brandy on a cold day.

 

Ingredients for pasta carbonara
You can use American bacon to make this dish but traditionally it’s made with pancetta, which is available in most supermarkets in the deli section.

 

I call it “breakfast pasta,” because you use bacon and eggs to make it. The traditional recipe calls for pancetta, which is often referred to as Italian bacon, but to be honest, I always made it with good old American bacon and it’s wonderful (some might say even better). I now often make it with whatever pork product I have on hand.

This time I had some leftover pancetta (from the Ribollita soup I made last week) and some Italian sausage (left over from the tomato sauce I also made last week). So I decided to use both and the combination gave it more flavors to savor.

 

Pancetta and sausage cooking.
Whatever meat you use be sure to cook it thoroughly and it turns a little crispy.

 

If you make it using pancetta, you get wonderful, juicy pieces of pork and fat; crumbled Italian sausage adds depth and a smoky flavor; while American bacon gives it a crispy, salty, sweetness that is like heaven on your tongue.

 

A bowl of pasta carbonara.
Save a little grated cheese to sprinkle on top of the dish.

 

Yes, this dish is fatty and oily because you use the bacon/pancetta/sausage drippings to flavor the pasta, but you’re not eating it every day. Save it for a special weeknight meal when it’s cold and rainy, or snowing. And pair it with a good bottle of red table wine or even a bold, heavy white.

As the Italians say, “cin cin” (pronounced, “chin, chin”), which is a toast meaning “to your health!”

 

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

Pasta Carbonara

March 18, 2012
: 6-8
: 20 min
: Easy

This comes together quickly and would make a good, easy, weeknight supper.

By:

Ingredients
  • Butter (1 tbl.)
  • Linguini (1 lb.)
  • Bacon or Pancetta and/or Italian sausage (minced, 1 lb.)
  • Onion (1 small)
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese (grated, 2 tbl.)
  • Eggs (2, large)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • Parsley (a small bunch, minced)
Directions
  • Step 1 Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook linguini until “al dente.” While water heats up, do the following:
  • Step 2 Saute the onion in butter until soft, just turning color.
  • Step 3 Add minced bacon or pancetta and/or sausage and saute until soft, just a little crispy.
  • Step 4 Beat 2 eggs, add grated cheese and mix well.
  • Step 5 Add pepper and 1 tbl. of minced parsley to bacon and onion in the pan. Stir to cook.
  • Step 6 The rendered oils from the bacon or pancetta are a major flavor ingredient of this recipe so do not remove the oil from the pan.
  • Step 7 Quickly drain the linguini and place in a large bowl.
  • Step 8 Add egg-cheese mixture to saute pan (removed now from heat) and stir well.
  • Step 9 The heat of the ingredients and the pan will cook the egg somewhat, so keep the mixture moving.
  • Step 10 Taste, add salt or pepper if needed.
  • Step 11 Add mixture to linguini and serve immediately.

 

 

Prized Recipe: Chicken with Polenta

Prized Recipe: Chicken with Polenta

(Special thanks to professional food photographer Russell French for photographing this meal. His photos appear courtesy of Russell French Studio.)

This is one of my prized recipes. My grandmother, Bruna, used to make this and it was my favorite dish when I was a little boy.

I remember sitting at her kitchen table, with a glass of red wine mixed 50/50 with ginger ale (that’s what the kids got to drink). I’d pluck out the little black olives that were covered in a red sauce and stick them on all ten fingers, and then eat them one by one. My fingertips would be hot and then instantly cool as I ate each one.

Here’s the recipe from that memory:

Chicken with Polenta: The Chicken Recipe

July 27, 2009
: 6-8
: 30 min
: 45 min
: Medium

This is what you call peasant food, created in northern Italy where my grandmother learned to cook it.

By:

Ingredients
  • Chicken: I like to use a mixture of bone-in breasts and bone-in thighs. For this recipe, you could use four bone-in breasts
  • and four bone-in thighs to serve between 6 and eight people. You could also use a whole chicken, cut up, or even rabbit.
  • Two or three sweet Italian sausages
  • About 16 oz. of mushrooms
  • One can of pitted black olives
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cans of tomato paste (and about the same amount of water)
  • Two or three garlic cloves
  • A sprig of fresh sage or about a tablespoon of dried sage
  • A sprig of nepitella or about a tablespoon of dried nepitella. Can also substitute a combination of basil and mint. (Optional)
  • About four or five tablespoons of olive oil
  • About 1/3 to 1/2 cup of red table wine
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of nutmeg
Directions
  • Step 1 Clean fat from chicken and soak in salted water.
  • Step 2 Boil sausage for about three minutes.
  • Step 3 Fry sausage with chicken, one clove of garlic (crushed), sage, salt and nutmeg in about one tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Step 4 Fry mushrooms in about one or two tablespoons of olive oil, with garlic clove (crushed), and nepitella. And then add to chicken.
  • Step 5 Add red wine, pitted black olives, tomato paste and dissolve with water to make a sauce.
  • Step 6 Heat in oven. If heating in oven immediately after cooking, set at 350 and heat for only about 15 minutes or so. If you’re not going to serve it for a while, turn heat down to 250 or even 200 just to keep warm. (Don’t overcook chicken as it gets tough.)

Chicken and Polenta: The Polenta Recipe

July 27, 2009
: 6-8
: 15 min
: 15 min
: 30 min
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Three cups of corn meal
  • Seven cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  • Step 1 Bring seven cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Step 2 Gradually stir in three cups of corn meal in a slow and steady stream. Stir vigorously as you add the corn meal to avoid lumps. Continue to stir vigorously until polenta is a creamy, yet stiff, consistency. (Tip: Have boiling water on hand in case polenta gets too thick.)
  • Step 3 You can either spoon polenta onto plates in a small pile or you can dump the whole pot of polenta on a large wooden board and let it spread out and cool a bit before slicing into rectangles or squares.
  • Step 4 Spoon tomato sauce from chicken dish on top of polenta when serving.