Classic Trattoria Tiramisu

 


I was super lucky to get the opportunity to take my children to Italy in 2017 for my son’s senior year. My son ordered Tiramisu at many of the restaurants we ate at and he discovered all sorts of different versions. Picture above is my children in the Caffe Rivoire in Florence (opened in 1872) and enjoying their famous la cioccolata caldo (hot chocolate). 

This dessert is one of the main reasons I picked the online cooking class I attended yesterday. I tried to make Tiramisu last month and it was an epic fail. Yesterday I discovered that the reason the Tiramisu did not taste right to me the last time I made it is because I did not let it set for an appropriate time. A Tiramisu needs to set in the fridge for 4-12 hours before serving (preferably 12 hours).

One of the participants in the class yesterday asked why there is no alcohol in this version of the recipe and the chef said that alcohol is not traditionally used in a true Italian Tiramisu.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 TBS white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 package ladyfinger cookies (24)
  • 1-2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of coffee, cooled and preferably espresso (if the coffee is not cool the cookie will fall apart)

Directions:

Separate the yolks and whites of all eggs and place them in two separate bowls. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy.

Then, add the sugar and vanilla to the egg yolks and beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and creamy. Mix in the mascarpone cheese with the egg yolks and beat until smooth.

Fold the fluffy egg white mixture into the egg yolks gently.

Using a 8X8 or 9X9 cake pan, completely submerge each ladyfinger into the cooled coffee for 5 seconds and let the extra drip off then layer the coffee soaked cookies in the pan. If you have to break them to create a single layer on the bottom of the pan that is perfectly acceptable.

Spread half of your egg and mascarpone mixture over the single layer of cookies. Repeat another coffee soaked layer of cookies and spread the rest of the creamy mixture over the second layer.

Dust the cocoa powder on top, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to set.

 

 

Panzanella Salad

 

I had my first online cooking class experience yesterday. It was a lot of fun. I went through the cooking school named Cozymeal. They have cooking schools throughout North America and, due to the pandemic, the classes have moved online. I have been wanting to try one for awhile.

I choose an Italian cooking class. The chef, Chris, was very informative and taught the group many great techniques as well as the history of the food.  He even had an Italian opera singer Zoom in from his home whereas he sang a wonderful song.

This is the first of the three recipes we cooked. It is very simple and delicious. It comes from Tuscany.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of Italian crusty bread
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced and quartered
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (10-15 leaves) rough chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. Chop slices of bread into large crouton shape. Toss with olive oil (enough to lightly coat). Lay out the croutons on baking sheet in single layer with appropriate spacing between each piece to vent. Place in oven and toast until they appear toasted on all sides (10-15 minutes).

Place tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS red wine vinegar in a bowl, mix and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Once croutons have cooled, mix with marinade.

Other two recipes to follow (Tiramisu and fresh pasta dough with lemon cream sauce.

Buon appetito.

Squash & Gorgonzola Risotto

 

I posted this recipe last week, but while trying to make some modifications on this site yesterday I erased part of the post. Thus, I will post it again because this recipe is that good.

My boyfriend found this gem of a website named:

http://www.pastagrammar.com

Also, check out their You Tube channel, they have many entertaining videos that will teach you a lot of Italian cooking tips:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1tKrA3PQlDzKzmhgq7wPPQ

I reap the benefits from his find and his new found love of cooking Italian. Often, I come home to freshly cooked pasta and other delicious Italian intricacies.

This is one of my favorite dishes from the site so far, it is a northern Italian risotto. It calls for an easy to make homemade vegetable broth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato, quartered
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 carrot, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tomato
  • Sprig of fresh parsley
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, cubed
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for grating
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making the vegetable broth. Place potato, celery, carrot, tomato, parsley, half of the onion, a splash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt into a saucepan with water and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Dice the other half of the onion. Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil into a sauté pan and sauté diced onion until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the cubed squash, stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a ladle of the vegetable broth and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add more broth if necessary to prevent burning.

Toast the rice by melting 1 TBS of butter into a saucepan and stir frequently for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook the alcohol off for a couple minutes.

Add the toasted rice into the squash pan and combine. Begin adding simmering vegetable broth in increments to maintain the ability to cook the rice and to achieve a certain consistency. Desired consistency is soft and not crunchy but not overcooked. This will take at least 15-18 minutes and will require your attention.

Once desired consistency has been reached take the pan off the heat and add 1 TBS butter, gorgonzola cheese, a generous grating of Parmigiano and combine. 

Allow to sit for 3 minutes then serve with another grating of Parmigiano to top the master piece off.

Godere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patti’s Spaghetti Sauce

 

 

My mom’s wonderful neighbor and friend, Patti, shared this delicious recipe for spaghetti sauce with sausage and pesto. The kind of chorizo sausage used in this one is not the same kind you can find in the grocery stores in the Bay Area of California. It is not the tubes of  chorizo but actually sausage that stays bonded when cooked. At home, I used bratwurst or any kind of yummy sausage. In Canada, you can find the chorizo sausage in the original recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar Mezzetta Napa Valley Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onions
  • 5 Garlic cloves minced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms sliced
  • 2 chorizo sausages sliced and cooked
  • Pesto

Directions:

Sauté garlic, onion and mushrooms until tender. Cook sausages. Add all to sauce and simmer approx. 30 minutes. Add pesto to flavor. Serve over noodles of your choice.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Parmesan

 

 

IMG_3459

I made this the other night and my son devoured it like he was a paramedic, it was funny. Our favorite restaurant in Brentwood, Cap’s, serves an outstanding chicken parm and I have tweaked the sauce to resemble there’s. This means I add a bit more sugar while trying to get the delicate salty and sweet balance a chicken parm should have. Recipe is Tyler Florence’s.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed ( I uses pureed tomatoes to make this step easier)
  • Pinch sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

Coat a saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the olives and some hand-torn basil. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes), cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes; season with sugar, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/2-inch thick. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

Ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Bake the Chicken Parmesan for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti.

Scottie’s Fatty Cheese Lasagna

This is my boyfriends’s lasagna recipe and it is super cheesy and delicious. He changes it up each time but this is the basic recipe. The difference from many lasagna recipes is that you slice, not shred, the cheese. Also, you add Monterey jack into the mix and there is lots of cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 jars of your fav spaghetti sauce or make it homemade
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 pound Monterey jack cheese, sliced
  • 1 pound part-skim ricotta
  • 1 small can black, pitted, olives, sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 pnd lasagna noodles

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil and sauté onion until tender in large sauté pan. Add ground beef with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook until browned. Dispose of grease and add spaghetti sauce. Meanwhile, boil noodles as directed on package. Mix ricotta cheese with olives and season to taste. Layer the lasagna by starting with sauce, noodles, a layer or ricotta mixture, noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese slices, noodles, sauce, Monterey jack cheese slices, noodles, sauce…..until lasagna is complete. 

Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for another 25 minutes.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

A good old-fashioned spaghetti and meatball recipe. I have ruined other meatballs for my children and myself with this meatball recipe. The recipe is originally from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen cookbook but I have changed it and made it my own to make it simpler. It is the best meatball recipe I have found and I have become an expert at making them. It really isn’t as difficult as it looks, give it a try.

Picture above from our trip to Venice, Italy in 2018 and my daughter enjoying her spaghetti when she was 5 years old (2008)….both great memories.

Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 35-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp crushed hot red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + 2/3 cups for cooked pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions:

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and bay leaves, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the pork and beef into a mixing bowl. Add the bread crumbs, 1/3 cup grated cheese, the parsley, and garlic over the meat. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Pour over the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with clean hands just until evenly blended. Don’t over mix. Shape the meat mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls.

Dredge the meatballs in the flour until lightly but evenly coated. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Slip as many meatballs into the skillet as will fit without crowding. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat as the meatballs cook to prevent them from over browning. Remove the meatballs, and repeat if necessary with the remaining meatballs.

Add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains at the center of the meatballs, about 30 minutes.

Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 8 minutes.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Spoon in about 2 cups of the tomato sauce, tossing well until the pasta is coated with sauce. Remove from the heat and toss in 2/3 cup grated cheese. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the pasta in warm bowls or piled high on a large warm platter. Spoon a little more of the sauce over the pasta, and pass the remaining sauce separately. Pass the meatballs family-style in a bowl, or top the bowls or platter of spaghetti with them.

Enjoy! I know you will love it.

 

 

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