Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chef Chuck's Panini

Super Bowl Panini

This simple panini is the perfect snack for your Super Bowl Sunday crowd. There is one major key to making a consistent, flavorful well balanced panini. You must always evenly distribute the ingredients. This is important not only because it ensures that you never have an unbalanced bite, but also because it keeps the panini mess-free and easy to eat. Never underestimate the importance of a panini structural integrity...there is nothing worse than loosing half of the fillings to your lap! For this panini, I used filet mignon, goat cheese, white onion, roasted red peppers, arugula, and a creamy horseradish mascarpone sauce !
Consider this the classiest Superbowl sandwich you've ever had. We substitute steak with portabella mushrooms for Nick, our beloved resident vegetarian.

Filet Mignon

Bring steaks to room temperature salt and pepper both sides get your pan hot and cook steaks 4 minutes on each side. Let rest 10 minutes covered and slice thin. I used roasted red peppers, fresh arugula with that peppery taste and white onions sliced thin. Since I use the panini press I like to use a soft cheese like goat cheese so it melts into the other ingredients. I also made a dressing using 2 parts horseradish 1 part mascarpone to spread on the bread.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Parmigiano Potato Pie


Patate Pleasure!


These old spuds have been cultivated since 200 BC. A satisfying side dish, that everyone loves. This can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner or even snack time! The light yet creamy potatoes are delicious and the sage is so aromatic. A great combination of flavors so simple and so good.


Parmigiano Potato Pie

4 large potatoes thinly sliced
1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs

2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a buttered pie plate arrange one layer of potatoes and top with small pieces of butter, salt and pepper, sage, a sprinkle of bread crumbs, 1/3 cup of cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a drizzle of heavy cream. Repeat 2 more layers. Bake for 35 minutes then broil for 3 minutes or till golden brown.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chef Chuck's Swordfish Stew

Pesce Spada!


I can remember walking early in the morning on the streets of Sicily, and there was a long line coming out of a very small shop. I peeked in and saw the neighborhood fishmonger cutting slices off a huge 100 pound swordfish. He said this will be gone by noon. It does not get any fresher than that, so when purchasing your fish only get the freshest you can find. I have a passion for swordfish steaks and this particular recipe is my winter reserve. The fish with its meaty flavor pairs up well with the salty capers. All these wonderful flavors and smells really warms me up. If you can't purchase fresh swordfish, tuna can be substituted.


Chef Chuck's Swordfish Stew 
1 pound swordfish 1/2 inch thick
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion sliced
3 celery stalks chopped

2 carrots chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup black olives sliced in half
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup chickpeas
2 cups San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup water

2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf


In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil cook your soffritto, which is onions, celery and carrots for 5 minutes. Add garlic for another minute. Now add black pepper, olives, capers, chickpeas, tomatoes, water, broth and bay leaf. Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes with lid on stirring occasionally. Add fish whole or cut in half put lid back on and simmer 5 minutes. Ladle soup in bowl and drizzle olive oil on top.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chef Chuck's Farfalle with Mushroom Gravy



Funghi Friendly!


Farfalle means butterfly, in Italian, due to this pasta shape. Some people refer to this pasta as bow ties. Tonight I just wanted a quick pasta dish that was easy to prepare. I had these lovely baby bella mushrooms waiting to be sauted. So I combined vegetable broth a small amount of heavy cream and parmigiano cheese to make a creamy light gravy. To add color and texture I added sweet green peas and fresh picked parsley. The combination of all these flavors had a mellow fresh taste yet quite satisfying.

Chef Chucks Farfalle with Mushroom Gravy

1/2 pound farfalle pasta

1/2 pound bella mushrooms sliced
3 tablespoons parmigiano cheese grated

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup heavy cream

2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup peas

2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon parsley chopped

salt and pepper


In a large fry pan on medium high, heat butter and olive oil add mushrooms cook for 3 minutes each side. Remove mushrooms and set aside de glaze pan with vegetable broth then add heavy cream and garlic reduce to a 1/3. Add 2 tablespoons parmigiano, peas, salt and pepper. In a separate pot cook pasta till al dente and add to sauce mix all ingredients and top with parsley and 1 tablespoon parmigiano cheese.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Escarole and Bean Soup


Escarole is a broad leaf endive. A slightly bitter tasting vegetable high in folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K, escarole can be eaten raw or gently cooked. This was always a real comfort food in the winter nights and we still enjoy it today.



Escarole and Bean Soup!

1/2 bag dry white beans or
2 cans cannellini beans
6 cups water
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 ounces San Marzano tomato sauce
1/4 cup parmigiano cheese grated
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 ham hock
1 1/4 inch slice pancetta chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste
1 head escarole
optional: 1 teaspoon red hot pepper flakes


Wash and drain beans set aside. In a large pot heat olive oil brown tomato paste add pancetta and cook for about 3 minutes. Add garlic cook another 30 seconds pour in tomato sauce, olive oil, water, ham hock, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 25 minutes. Add beans and simmer 5 more minutes. Wash escarole and chop leaves, in a separate pot cook escarole in boiling salted water till tender about 5 minutes. Add escarole to soup and mix, add cheese and serve with crusty bread.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chef Chuck's Olive ripiene all'Ascolana


The Noble Fruit!


Stuffed olives began in the town of Ascoli Piceno, Italy. The olives grown in this region are plump and juicy, perfect for stuffing. Olives are stuffed with a minced meat and then fried. I prefer to stuff with cheese and wrap with proscuitto, now it becomes a bitter and salty treat. Or you could make these vegetarian by omitting the proscuitto. A great appetizer to make with your friends and family. The larger the olive the easier to stuff and purchase pitted olives. Often served with lemon slices and usually made on holidays or special occasions.

Chef Chuck's Stuffed Olives



2 dozen large green olives
12 small cubes of mozzarella
1 heaping tablespoon parmigiano cheese
12 slices thin proscuitto
2 eggs beaten
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour

black cracked pepper
1/2 cup olive oil for frying
1 cup canola oil for frying


Stuff each olive with a small amount of mozzarella cheese then wrap with half a slice of thin proscuitto. Make 3 bowls one with beaten egg, parmigiano cheese and pepper. One bowl with flour and one with breadcrumbs. Dip olive in flour, egg and then bread crumbs. Deep fry in 350 degree oil about 1 1/2 minutes or till golden brown. Drain on paper towels or kitchen towels and sprinkle with pepper while still warm. Serve hot

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cannoli alla Siciliana

Holy Cannoli :) !!
Sicilian cannoli, are a pastry dessert. The singular word cannolo, means little tubes. Cannoli originated from Sicily around the 9th century. The shells are deep fried so they are crispy and crunchy. The Marsala wine adds a sweetness to the shells. In Sicily, the cream is from sheep's milk ricotta, which makes them so special. I use the best ricotta I can find. Some cannoli add chopped chocolate chips, pistachio's, candied fruits or even rose water in the cream filling. Always purchase the finest and freshest ingredients to obtain optimum flavor.
As a child I remember when Uncle Vinnie would bring cannoli over all the time!!

Cannoli alla Siciliana

1 cup flour
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
pinch of salt

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine
canola oil for frying

4 steel tubes
filling
2 3/4 cups ricotta cheese drained
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream whipped stiff peaks

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate diced
pinch of cinnamon


In a mixer or food processor combine flour, cocoa, salt and sugar. Add butter in small pieces, egg and Marsala wine and mix. Transfer dough to a well floured board, knead a little, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for one hour. With a rolling pin or pasta machine roll out to a thin sheet and cut in 4 inch squares. Add flour when needed it is a sticky dough. Carefully roll each square around the tube and seal with a dab of water. Heat oil to 375 degrees and fry 1 or 2 at a time. Fry till golden brown about 1 minute. Drain carefully on paper towels, when cooled turn and slide tube out gently. Makes about 10-12 shells.
Filling In a mixer add the ricotta and the sugar till smooth then add chips and cinnamon. Fold in whipped cream and refrigerate. Fill shells when ready to serve to prevent soggy shells. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Optional dip ends in chocolate chips or pistachio nuts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Meatball Sandwich

La Polpetta!!


Meatball Sandwich
This meatball sandwich is always a good lunch to enjoy. As you see I like my meatballs a little bigger then most. Many families have different ingredients in their meatballs and usually fry them. My mother taught me a method that will be in my family for generations. I feel we get a lighter yet more flavorful meatball by putting them raw into boiling sauce, instead of browning in a frying pan. This also produces a sauce with great possibilities. Some also mix different meats together like beef, sausage or veal, I just use organic ground beef. I would hope you will try!!


Meatballs


1 pound organic ground beef
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated

2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped or
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black cracked pepper

Mix all ingredients together but don't over mix. Shape into meatballs of desired size, and carefully drop in boiling sauce. Lower heat to a simmer and cook 1 hour. Makes about 10 large meatballs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beef Cous Cous



Beef Cous Cous is a very small granule pasta made from semolina. Originally from North Africa couscous dates back to the 10th century. Back in 2007 in San Vito, Sicily, a lazy fishing village, on the cape, we celebrated the cous cous fest. I was influenced by the many cultures of food there. Cous cous can be made many different ways depending on what part of the Island you are at! The annual cous cous fest is a food competition with some of the Mediterranean country's, finest chefs participating. It is a culinary feast with great foods, wines, music, and beautiful warm people from all around the world coming together. Beef, seafood, or lamb and a variety of vegetables can be used even fruit. Be sure to take time to make the cous cous by coating first with olive oil then splashing water on to the cous cous slowly and mixing well. This is a traditional process that makes softer and lighter couscous and more absorbent to the flavors you used. Being part of this culinary joy was a wonderful experience, I will return! While I am cooking this exotic dish, the aroma of cinnamon fills the air! Yumm.


Beef Cous Cous 
1/2 to 1 pound tenderloin or sirloin tips or top sirloin cut in 1 inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped

2 celery stalks cut into 1" pieces
2 carrots cut into 1" pieces
2 potatoes cut into chunks
4 roma tomatoes chopped or
1 small can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
3 1/2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups warm water



Heat oil over medium heat add beef simmer for about 8 minutes. Add onion, carrots and celery cook 5 minutes. Add potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin and cinnamon cook 5 minutes. Add water, broth and chickpeas cover and bring to a boil then simmer 20 minutes with cous cous in steamer above stew. I like to use a couscousiere, which is a pot with a steamer on top, it works best for this dish.


Couscous
2 cups cous cous

2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt


In a large bowl using a wooden spoon add couscous, olive oil and salt mix. Slowly add water by splashing onto the couscous alittle at a time and mix throughly, then steam couscous over stew. Fluff up rice with a fork. Serves 6.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sicilian Focaccia

Over the weekend and I was in the mood to bake bread, are you surprised? I wanted to make something a little different and I was remembering all the focaccia I saw while visiting, Sicily. With the many cultures blended together from over the centuries ,on the island of Sicily, the food has many influences from many places. This bread has the sharpness of the provoleone which is mellowed by the saltiness of the prosciutto and lets not forget the bite of that Sicilian oregano!

Sicilian Focaccia
2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
Makes 4 loaves

Filling for 1 loaf
1 egg white
8-10 thin slices prosciutto
8-10 thin slices provoleone cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
extra virgin olive oil for drizzle



Add 1 tablespoon of yeast to warm water and sugar, stir. Let sit for 7 minutes (until foamy). Pour into mixer bowl, set to a medium speed, olive oil. Mix in one cup of flour at a time with salt until it forms into ball of dough. Dust a cutting board with flour and knead dough for 3 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil, transfer dough and cover with plastic wrap and layer small towel on top. Let rise in a warm area for 1 hour 30 minutes - 2 hours. When dough becomes 2-3 times it's original size, take out and divide in four. Spread one piece onto flour dusted cutting board and form into a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick. Layer prosciutto and provoleone on top drizzle olive oil and oregano and fold in half. Seal edges with a fork and brush egg whites on dough. Place in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chocolate Biscotti


So Chocolatey!!


Biscotti {"bee scot tea"} a cookie or biscuit, meaning twice baked. There are countless varieties of these cookies. Back in the Roman times biscotti was almond flavored, the romans could travel long distance with this good tasting durable cookie. I prefer them not as hard. Quite enjoyable with coffee or tea or even sweet Vin Santo!
I am so happy and the luckiest man alive, that my wife does some baking too!! She makes a Biscotti that is up there with the best! I have tried many, she also makes a almond Biscotti to die for. These cookies are dunking delicious for all to enjoy!


Chocolate Biscotti
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar

2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons melted chocolate

optional 1/3 cup coconut shredded
Icing 4 ounces melted chocolate


Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder set aside. Cream together in mixer butter and sugar on high for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and mix on high 2 more minutes. Set mixer on low and add flour mixture till combined. Stir in nuts, chocolate chips and melted chocolate. On a baking pan lined with parchment paper, divide dough in half and spread to about 12 inches by 5 inches. Bake for 30 minutes remove from oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to cutting board then cut into cookies and return to oven for 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack then ice. These biscotti are more on the soft side if you want them harder leave in oven 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chef Chuck's Stuffed Artichoke

Tasty Thistles!!

Artichokes are from the thistle plant originally from Sicily so they say.You can often find these jewels in the streets of Italy! There are vendors who are masters at carving the artichoke just right for cooking. I like to find artichokes in Rome, there they fry the artichoke, at that point it takes on a whole different meaning! All my life we made stuffed artichokes as an appetizer. Scraping each leaf, is so tasty and seems to get softer as I reach the heart. The heart has a concentrated flavor of all the leaves in one.
Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichokes 2 large artichokes
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese
2 or more garlic cloves minced

salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil


Cut about 1/2 inch off tops of artichokes and then cut the stem so it will sit. With scissors cut each point off of each leave. Open leaves up and add bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Place artichokes in pot with 1 inch of water drizzle olive oil on top and place lid on and steam for 45 minutes up to 1 hour. Check on your water level, add some when needed. When leave pulls off easily, the artichoke is ready to enjoy.
Ricette by Chef Chuck's Cucina
How to eat an Artichoke


Pull off a leave and pull through teeth to remove stuffing and artichoke pulp then discard. Continue till all petals are removed. With a knife or spoon scrape out and discard fuzzy part, called the choke. The heart or flower remains, cut in pieces add salt and enjoy the best part.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chef Chuck's Linguine and Prawns


Tonight, its fresh shrimp from the gulf and pasta. A light and easy dish thats so good. I was inspired by an Italian recipe with prawn and pasta. Then I took it from there and created my own new dish! I cooked the prawns in their shell to enhance their seafood flavor. Garlic garlic garlic! I can't get enough garlic in my life thats why I grow it year round in my greenhouse. After taking some photos, I had to sample this new dish. Well foodies it was fantastic!! I would hope you feel the same. The blend of flavors from all the ingredients were easily picked out!!


Linguine and Prawns

6-8 large shrimp
1/2 pound linguine pasta
1/2 red bell pepper diced

6 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon butter

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons parsley chopped

salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable broth



In a large pot bring water to boil and add salt, cook pasta al dente. Meanwhile in a fry pan over med- high heat add butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil, saute peppers for 2 minutes then add garlic for another minute. Add lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper and shrimp with shell on for about 3 minutes each side with lid on. Add vegetable broth and olives for one more minute. Then add cooked pasta to shrimp and sprinkle with lemon zest, and grate parmigiano cheese. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chef Chuck's Italian Meatloaf

The Eggs are nesting comfortably : )


Chef Chuck's Italian Meat Loaf
This dish brings back memories of my mom in the kitchen making the best she can out of what she had. The smell and flavors are also a reminder of those days at the kitchen table every evening. It smells like GRANDMOTHERS kitchen !!
I guess I am still in the comfort food mode this winter and wanted some good organic beef. The mix of potatoes and peas topped with tomatoes brings that good old home cooking back!!



Chef Chuck's Meat Loaf
1 pound organic ground beef
1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/2 cup parmigiano cheese grated
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
1 tablespoon flour

2 hard boiled eggs peeled
salt and pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 potatoes peeled and small cubes
1 cup peas
1 cup marinara sauce



Combine all ingredients and form into 2 pieces place hard boiled eggs between the 2 pieces and seal with hands. Form into your desired shape. Sprinkle flour on all sides of meat loaf. Heat fry pan add butter and olive oil and brown meat loaf on all sides add potatoes, peas and sauce. Cover and bake 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Internal temperature should be around 160.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sweet Walnut Ring


It's about time for some a nutty sweetness! The dough is so soft it will melt in your mouth, and the filling is addicting. While baking this dessert the aromas reminded me of my favorite bakery. It's hard to wait for the ring to cool to add the creamy sweet icing. I like to eat this dessert when it's still warm it really brings out the cinnamon and walnut flavors. Lovely with a cup of tea or coffee. This recipe takes some time but it is well worth it. It's a weekend treat for my family, I start it in the morning and then we enjoy it all day.

Light and Delicate!!

Sweet Walnut Ring

Dough
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour
zest of 1 lemon
Filling
1/4 cup butter softened

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups walnuts chopped
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla



Heat milk until 105 degrees, in an electric mixer dissolve yeast in the warm milk until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups flour, butter, salt, sugar,egg, lemon zest and mix using the dough hook until the dough comes together. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if dough is too soft. Turn it out on a floured board and knead until smooth , about 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl and coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubles in size about 1 hour. Turn out dough onto a floured surface roll out to 12x18 inches. Spread the butter all over. In a small bowl mix the cinnamon, sugar and walnuts. Spread mixture over butter roll dough into a long roll and press the seam together. With the seam turned downward seal the two ends together to make a ring. Place on a parchment lined baking pan or round bundt pan. Using a sharp knife make cuts every inch cutting only three quarters of the way through. Cover the roll with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool on rack, when cooled drizzle icing all over the ring.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Fantastic Funghi!


Here is a great appetizer that seems to please everyone that samples one. These mushrooms are a palate teaser. So many flavors in one little package, to make vegetarian leave out the sausage and use vegetable broth instead. This recipe is dedicated to Toni, in celebration of her life, she was a great cook, who shared this recipe with me.


Italian Stuffed Mushrooms
3 dozen medium mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds ground sausage hot or sweet
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley or
2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

4 tablespoons butter
2 cups beef broth
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3/4 cup of hot water
1 egg

1 onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon

Saute onion and celery in pan with 2 tablespoon soil. Add sausage in small chunks until brown. Mix bread crumbs, egg and water together and add to sausage. Then in a separate pan saute butter and garlic for 1 minute add beef broth, parsley and lemon, stir together. Pour sauce over mushrooms when ready to bake.

Assembling:
Hollow out mushrooms with a small spoon add sausage mixture and mound it up. Put in baking pan and pour over broth. Bake 350 for 25 minutes.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Margherita Pizza


Pizza Margherita

The Queen of Pizza!

A classic pizza straight out of Naples, Italy. Named after Queen Margherita, queen of Italy in the late 1800's. The colors green white and red represent the Italian flag. I use a pizza stone and heat it up in the oven to get really hot. This will give you a crispier crust. Put your basil leaves under the cheese so it will not burn. It's another simple recipe with great results. Make your own pizza dough with a marinara sauce, wet mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.

Pizza Dough
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon salt



Add 1 tablespoon of yeast to warm water and sugar, stir. Let sit for 7 minutes (until foamy). Pour into mixer bowl, set to a medium speed, add olive oil. Mix in one cup of flour at a time with salt until it forms into ball of dough. Dust a cutting board with flour and knead dough for 3 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil, transfer dough and cover with plastic wrap and layer small towel on top. Let rise in a warm area for 1 hour 30 minutes - 2 hours. When dough becomes 2-3 times it's original size, spread onto floured board knead a little and cut into 4 sections. Form into round disks, use a rolling pin and roll out to 8-10 inches add marinara sauce, basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 450 degree oven till the top is crispy and the mozzarella cheese is bubbly. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over finished pizza.


Sauce
1 large can San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon basil
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil add garlic for 1-2 minutes add crushed tomatoes and all the herbs stir and let simmer 20 minutes.

Toppings
wet mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sweet Honey Salmon



Sweet Sockeye!
In the mood for something lighter tonight, seafood came to mind. When it comes to buying fish the best way is to select the freshest! The salmon just came in today so that will be our selection. I seem to think wild fish has more flavor then farm raised. This fish dish is easy to make with few ingredients. After tasting the dish the salmon took on a sweet lemon mellow flavor. The garlic added a nutty taste, as we know fish is always a healthy choice! If there happens to be any leftovers, great, good for tomorrows salad. 


Sweet Honey Salmon
1 pound wild salmon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup honey
juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
salt and pepper 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and pat dry salmon, place skin side down in a baking dish lined with tin foil, salt and pepper. In a frying pan saute garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat add honey and lemon juice, heat 1 minute. Pour honey mixture over salmon and bake 20-25 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle any remaining honey over salmon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chef Chuck's Fried Cauliflower

Crunchy Goodness !!

I can smell the florets from here!!
I was thinking of a vegetable this time and the florets came to mind.
This fried cauliflower has been in my family a long time. Cauliflower makes a great appetizer or side dish. It is high in fiber and vitamin c. If you are a fan of this vegetable, I am sure this will make your taste buds dance! The only changes that I made was my new creation, Parmigiano Dip!!
This dip will indubitably stand out with flavors that pop. The softness of the mayo and sour cream, pairs up great with the mellowness of the shallots. Let's not forget the sharpness of Parmigiano Reggiano, plus the zing of the lemon, topped with flat leaf parsley. Please enjoy!




Chef Chuck's Fried Cauliflower

1/2 pound cauliflower
2 eggs
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 parmigiano cheese
salt and pepper
canola oil for frying



Dip

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon shallots
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped
salt and pepper


Egg Mix

2 eggs

1 tablespoon parmigiano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Wash and remove core cut cauliflower into small florets. Whisk eggs, parmigiano cheese, salt and pepper together dip florets in egg mixture. Roll in bread crumbs coat on all sides. Fry in 350 degree oil till golden brown. This will take approximately 1 1/2 minutes . Place on paper towels or kitchen towels and salt while hot. This appetizer is good for two.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chocolate Cream Pie


Let's take a hike in the peaks and valleys, I see CHOCOLATE ahead!!

Chocolate Cream Pie
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
10-12 tablespoons cold water
4 or 6 ounce box of chocolate pudding
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 ounce chocolate


Combine dry ingredients in a processor and pulse a few times. Add butter in small pieces (1/2 tablespoon) at a time then add cold water, pulsate for no more then 1 minute. Knead on floured board a few minutes cut in half and wrap in plastic wrap, makes two crusts. Let rest in refrigerator for 1 hour remove and let sit on board for 15 minutes. Sprinkle flour on board and roll out to fit pie dish, poke fork holes into bottom and sides of crust to eliminate air bubbles. Bake 375 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, till golden brown. Cool pie on rack.


Filling: Make pudding according to directions. Fill cooled pie shell and let rest for 15 minutes then put in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I like the pudding you cook on the stove. Or you could make your own pudding!


Whip Cream: Beat heavy cream in an electric mixer on high speed add confectioners sugar a little at a time whip till soft peaks form. Using a pastry bag decorate your pie with the whip cream or scoop on with spoon. Shave your favorite chocolate on top. Serves 8


OK, I admit, I am a chocoholic! You will see that in the future, no doubt! Chocolate cream pie is so creamy, smooth and refreshing it is truly a comfort food anytime of the year. This pie is always a crowd pleaser at my house, and our biggest fan is Michael, our sons, favorite. I love dessert but they don't hang around to long in our home! Chocolate cream pie is an American dessert but if you add Galliano (a sweet herbal liquor) and minus the whip cream you will have an Italian cream pie.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sicilian Sausage and Potatoes



Salsiccia e patate alla Siciliana
I fell into this dish on the magical island of, Sicily. Guess where, a gas station! I have found some original recipes in the most wild places. The helpful man behind the counter offered me a taste, well that was it, I had fulfilled my every need! I talked to him about this simple recipe, and I found it was very close to my sausage and pepper dish. The difference was adding potatoes. The spicy Italian sausage has a way with the sweet onions and bell peppers. Well, of course a piece of focaccia bread goes great with this dish. This plate is a recorded richness in my heart!


Sicilian Sausage and Potatoes
6 Italian sweet or hot sausage links cut in 1 inch
3 large potatoes cubed
1 red bell pepper 1/2 inch slice
1 green bell pepper 1/2 inch slice
1 large red onion chopped
3 cloves garlic diced
3 cups tomato sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water


In a large frying pan on medium heat add olive oil and butter brown sausage for 3 minutes. Add potatoes onions and peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauce, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and water simmer with lid on for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Scallops "Tastes of the Sea"


These unique shelled beauties moves quickly as a snap along the oceans bottom floor. Their tender soft texture finds me committed for more. Remarkable yet distinctive taste uniquely complementary to the palate! With fork tender pleasure we all come to enjoy. They are easy and swift to prepare.This dish has the sweetness of tomato coupled with garlic and onions , that receive a kick of lime to give zing, followed by the mellowing effect of extra virgin olive oil. O ' yes finished with a sprinkle of Italian flat leaf parsley. I hope one day you will like and have fun making Scallops.


Seared Scallops with Lime Salsa
1 dozen scallops
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Lime Salsa

1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Salt and pepper scallops on both sides. Heat large skillet over medium high heat add olive oil, then scallops cook for 3 minutes. Turn scallops and add salsa and cook another 3 minutes until done. Serves 4
Buon Appetito

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chef Chuck's Rib Eye Steak


Happy New Year to my foodie friends!!


Why not start the new year with a big hardy steak. This time I was in the mood for a Rib Eye Steak. This huge 2 pound rib eye was plenty for me and my wife, we even had some left over for my sons steak panini. We are light meat eaters. The flavors that came out of the reduction gravy were sensational. The rich body of the Chianti, compliments the delicate sage, the sharpness of the gorgonzola and the sweetness of the shallots! This elegant tasting rib eye, made us feel like we were at the best restaurant in town, but were in the kitchen of the family chef, Chef Chuck. It's that good.


Rib Eye Steak
1 1 inch boneless rib eye steak 2-3 lbs.
1/2 cup chianti wine
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces baby bella mushrooms about 6-8
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons shallots chopped
1-2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese
3 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and cracked black pepper


Allow steak to achieve room temperature. Rub meat with extra virgin olive oil then salt and pepper both sides. In a heavy saute pan or cast iron on high heat sear
steak. Do not move or lift steak, for 5 minutes. Flip to other side for another 5
minutes. Remove steak and place on cutting board cover with tin foil and let rest
for 10-15 minutes. This will achieve a medium rare steak.
Gravy
Meanwhile start gravy add wine to pan and deglaze, (yum thats the flavor). Bring to a boil add broth, cream, sage, garlic, shallots, cheese, salt and pepper. Reduce to medium heat till its 1/2 its volume, stirring occasionally. Add any additional juice from your board to gravy then strain. In a separate small pan add butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil, saute mushrooms. Place mushrooms on steak and pour gravy over top with cracked black pepper.
Serves 2.