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What’s Cooking This Christmas
Dec 25th, 2011 by
Homemade macaroni with bolognese sauce was served on Christmas Eve.

Homemade macaroni with bolognese sauce was served on Christmas Eve.

So here’s what I cooked up this holiday season.

  • I started by making a couple of hundred Befana cookies, a traditional Italian Christmas cookie with flavors of sugar, orange, lemon, almonds and anisette.
  • I then moved on to try something new: chocolate bark with orange peel and walnuts; and white chocolate bark with cranberries and pistachio nuts.
  • On Friday night I had my brother-in-law and his wife over for dinner. They flew in from Florence, Italy (their Fall home) by way of Florida (their permanent residence). And so I made them something very Florentine, Ribollita soup, followed by a main course of roasted vegetable napoleons with a side dish of parmesan cups filled with porcini flavored orzo. I’ll post the recipe for the latter sometime this week.
  • Then, last night on Christmas Eve, I had my brother’s family over along with my friend Danny and his daughter (my God daughter) Dani Siobhan. For that dinner I made fried calamari, roasted pepper shrimp saute, and homemade macaroni with meatballs. For the homemade macaroni guests had their choice of a bolognese sauce or an all vegetable red sauce made with carrots, celery and tomatoes. Recipes for this dinner will also be posted later in the week.

And now, today on Christmas Day, I can rest. But there’s no rest for Tricia who is obligated to make her Asian shrimp salad to bring over my brother’s house. It’s a great recipe that she found in a cookbook that a previous tenant left in an apartment she lived in years ago. It’s a crowd pleaser and now has become a Christmas Day tradition.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good meal!

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Ribollita Soup
Dec 6th, 2009 by
Ribollita means to "re-boil" in Italian.

Ribollita means to "re-boil" in Italian.

Also known as “Tuscan Bean Soup,” this is a real crowd pleaser. I’ve tripled this recipe and fed nearly 50 people with it at our annual Christmas open house party.

I got this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, but incorporated a few short cuts so you can make this in about 1 1/2 hours. Using a food processor to chop all of the vegetables also helps make the work go faster.

The taste is sweet and a little sour with a punch of heat from the crushed red pepper flakes. It’s a great, hearty soup on a cold winter night.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can of cannellini beans (about 19 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 pound diced pancetta
  • 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I always use Kosher as it’s the most flavorful.)
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably the imported Parmesan Reggiano), for serving

What I did:

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot.

Add the pancetta and onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. (Stir occasionally)

Add the carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (Stir occasionally)

Add the tomatoes with the puree, the kale, and basil. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. (Stir occasionally)

Rinse the cannellini beans under cold water. Puree half of them in a food processor with about 1/2 cup of water.

Add pureed beans to the soup. And then add the remaining half of the whole beans. And stir.

Add the eight cups of chicken stock.

Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the bread cubes to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes.

Serve hot in large bowls. Sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan cheese on top. And then drizzle a little olive oil over it.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

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