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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bean and Vegetable Soup from Tuscany

This is a hearty, healthy soup which you will love if you like beans. We are using white beans and brown beans here. You can use any kind of beans actually, and you do not have to drain the cans first. Add the beans and also their liquid. We are also adding onion, carrot, celery and zucchini to the soup, along with sundried tomatoes, garlic and kale. Aromatic flavor comes from the rosemary and bay leaves. This soup is wonderful served with parmesan as well as some toasted crusty bread on the side.

This is a very easy soup to make. Once you have sautéed some of the vegetables, you can go ahead and add the other ingredients, then simmer everything gently. We are using kale in the soup but you can use Swiss chard instead if you prefer. Also you might like to tweak the vegetables used. Instead of the zucchini, for example, you might want to double the amount of celery, or else swap the carrot for broccoli, or leave out the sundried tomatoes. Any tweaks you wish to make are fine. Perhaps you want to use up some of those veggies in your salad drawer.

We are basing this soup on chicken broth. You can use homemade broth or reduced-sodium broth, as you prefer. Maybe you have some homemade chicken broth you would like to use. Whatever you decide, ensure you are using a good quality broth because otherwise it will let the flavor of the soup down. If the broth is salty, bear that in mind when adding your salt to taste. Too much salt in a soup recipe is never a good thing, and you do not want to overpower those delicate herb and vegetable flavors, or overwhelm the beans. Continue reading

Chicken Parmigiana with Fettuccine

This classic dish, which is also known as chicken parmesan or simply chicken parm, is a tasty Italian recipe which is cheap to make and makes chicken breasts go a long way. Chicken breasts are first breaded and then topped with tomato sauce and cheese. We are using parmesan and perhaps some mozzarella too. Sometimes provolone is used as well. Some people like to add a slice of ham or bacon too, so you can tweak this recipe if you want, using any of these options.

You can use Ritz crackers or similar wheat crackers, leaving the salt out of the recipe if you are using salty crackers. This recipe is often served as an entrée in the United States, with pasta, spaghetti or mashed potatoes. The chicken can also be served between bread slices to make a sandwich. If you wish to try this, use less tomato sauce else your sandwich will be too soggy. Fries are a typical side dish for chicken parmigiana in Australia. We like to use fettuccine, and also add a simple garden salad on the side.

The chicken is coated in egg and then seasoned cracker crumbs. This crispy coating sticks perfectly to the chicken. Next you need to add garlic-tomato sauce and parmesan. You can add some mozzarella too if you want to. This recipe makes enough to serve six people but you can halve it if that is too much. The dish takes about 40 minutes to cook in total, so start the fettuccine in the final 10 minutes, so it is ready at the same time as the chicken. Serve some Italian red wine on the side if you like, or a lightly chilled Italian blush wine. Continue reading

Carbonade Valdostana

This typical Italian beef stew is hearty and delicious. If you have time, you can sprinkle salt, herbs and spices over the meat and then let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you begin with the recipe. Else just follow the recipe as it is written, adding your herbs and spices later. You can use any herbs or spices you want to use, and we have suggested a few nice ones in the recipe that you might want to consider. This recipe is sometimes known as ‘carbonnade’ or ‘carbonada’ or even ‘carbonata’.

You can use chuck beef or another kind of stewing beef if you prefer, and the cooking time depends on the cut of beef you are using. You can chop the meat into cubes or strips, as you prefer. Along with the beef and a little flour we are adding yellow onion, red wine and the herbs and spices. That is all you need to get this recipe perfect with a rich and hearty flavor. A lot of stew recipes have many ingredients but this one shows you can keep things quite simple and still end up with an excellent dish which is great over rice or polenta.

This dish comes from the Aosta Valley in the Northwest of Italy – the smallest, least populous part of the whole country. The cuisine of this region is simple and revolves around potatoes, meat, cheese, polenta and other robust ingredients. A lot of the local dishes include Fontina, a cheese made locally in the valley. In the Aosta Valley this stew is usually served over polenta, but rice, mashed potatoes, pasta or even bread would pair well with it. We like to sprinkle some minced parsley over the top just before serving. Continue reading

Authentic Italian Wedding Soup

This Italian-American soup is made with chicken meatballs and vegetables, along with fregola sarda, a small round pasta which comes from Sardinia and is similar to Israeli couscous. The meatballs are made with ground chicken, breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, garlic and onion, and the soup itself is made with celery, carrot, baby spinach and chicken demi-glace (usually made with equal parts of veal stock and espagnole sauce, but you can buy it readymade since you only need a little for this recipe).

This soup actually got its name from a misunderstanding. In Italian it is called ‘minestra maritata’ which translates to mean ‘married soup’ not ‘wedding soup’ because it refers to the fact the meat and vegetables ‘marry together’ nicely and the flavors are good together, but switch the word marry for the word wed and, while the words might mean similar things to us, they do change the meaning of the soup name! The original recipe is prepared during the Christmas season in Italy and also in Spain, because it is hearty and warming.

Once you have prepared the meatballs, you can sauté some of the aromatic vegetables and then it is time to add the pasta demi-glace and water. The meatballs are cooked in the soup so they can soak up the lovely flavors. If you want to cut one meatball in half to check when they are done, that is a good idea. The spinach and parsley go into the soup right at the end because they simply need to wilt a little rather than cook, and then you can serve this with some extra parmesan on top if you like. Continue reading

Prosciutto Ciabatta Sandwiches with Asiago Cheese

Sometimes it is nice to throw lunch together without having to put the stove on, and this is a really tasty sandwich. If you do not mind having the stove on, you might like to caramelize some onions to go into this sandwich, or at least sauté them for a few minutes until they are tender and fragrant. We are using prosciutto to make these sandwiches, which is a cured ham. Try and get nice, wafer-thin slices, and be generous with how much you add to the sandwiches. Also, use a good quality prosciutto for the very best results.

We also like to use Asiago cheese, although provolone would work, or another type of Italian cheese. Then we have tomato slices or you could use roasted red bell pepper strips if you like. This is for a splash of color and also for adding a nice sweet flavor to the sandwich. Focaccia bread would work too but ciabatta is really good because it is crusty on the outside and really soft and fluffy inside. You can use thick slices of ciabatta loaf or, easier still, a couple of large ciabatta buns. We are using 2 buns so this recipe serves 2 people.

The first thing to go into the ciabatta is black olive tapenade and that offers a nice salty taste which contrasts with the cheese and tomato and pairs well with the prosciutto. If you prefer to use mayonnaise or another kind of spread or dressing, go for it, because anything goes with this. Consider a creamy Italian dressing if you prefer. If you are using something quite thin, consider putting the arugula on the bread before the dressing so the dressing does not soak straight into it. Continue reading

Traditional Style Sicilian Cannoli

Cannoli is one of the best known Italian desserts, but next time you are in the mood for this sweet Italian treat, rather than heading to the bakery why not try making your own? We are using Limoncello, orange, chocolate chips and more here, and you will find these flavors go together very nicely. Feel free to swap the Limoncello for a different lemon liqueur if you like, or even orange liqueur if you prefer. If you do not want to use alcohol, then substitute for some orange juice.

If you compare Americanized cannoli with the authentic Italian kind, you will find the American ones are often too big and too stuffed with filling. The Italian ones are smaller and dainty. They can be eaten in 2 bites. You can use sheep’s milk ricotta for the most traditional result, or cow’s milk ricotta if you prefer, but it is vital to drain it for an hour before using, else the filling will be too watery. It is best to fill the shells just before serving the cannoli, for optimal freshness and so they do not go soggy.

You can use a one-gallon freezer bag instead of a piping bag if you like. Just snip off the end. You will also need some cannoli tubes to shape the shells. You can order those online or buy them in a baking store. You will need a 4-inch cookie cutter too. Once you have all your ingredients and equipment you can get started making these wonderful authentic cannoli. Enjoy them with a cup of coffee or another kind of drink. One makes a delicious snack but perhaps you will not be able to resist the second! Continue reading

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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