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Italian Recipes

If you are serving the entire menu for your dinner party, as is the European tradition, these recipes will serve eight. If you are choosing from this menu then they will serve four.

My great aunt always made this while we were waiting for dinner to be served. She would make on large Frico, but we found them to be the perfect accompaniment to the cocktail hour when made the size of a potato chip. Perfect for butler serving and easy to handle with a drink in the other hand.

½ pound Montasio cheese, coarsely shredded

Heat a nonstick skillet or seasoned cast iron skillet over medium low heat. You will know when the pan is hot enough when you place a piece of the cheese on the skillet and it begins to sizzle. Place a half-dollar size of grated cheese on the skillet and let it bubble around the edges. Free the cheese from the pan without turning it over and continue to cook until it turns golden brown. The cheese should be able to slide around in the pan while you continue to cook it until it is golden brown. Turn the crisp cheese over to brown the other side. Remove from the pan to a paper towel-lined dish, pat them dry and place in an oven proof dish to keep warm in the oven while you are making the rest of the fricos. Butler-serve in a beautiful serving platter to your guests.

My father's cousin Nino is the King of the wild mushroom. I remember driving up to his house one rainy evening, noticing a crowd gathered in the back yard and open umbrellas sticking up from the ground. Nino was waving around a flashlight and there was a lot of chatter going on in a huddle. I ran into the yard thinking something had happened to find everyone admiring the mushrooms that had been growing under the trees stumps Nino cut down for this purpose. Their faces lit up at the thought of how these treasures will be cooked. In the meantime, he had to protect them from the cold autumn rain that was falling or they would get bruised. Mushrooms are reason to celebrate not only in Nino's house but throughout Italy.

2 pounds wild mushrooms (porcini and a combination of any other wild mushrooms in season)
4 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, grated into a "dust"
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and freshly grounded pepper to taste
8 tablespoons breadcrumbs (we grate day old Italian bread)
½ cup heavy cream
4 cups home made beef stock
lemon zest

Clean mushrooms only when you are ready to use them, not ahead of time. Take a damp paper towel and rub them at last minute, run them under running water by hand and dry them quickly. Do not soak them in water. Slice them into bite sized pieces.

Ground dried porcini mushrooms and set aside. Grate the skin of one lemon, careful not to grate any white part and set aside.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the fresh mushrooms and the ground porcini "dust", season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes, stir frequently to prevent bottom from scorching.

Mix the breadcrumbs, cream, and broth in a saucepan and cook, covered, on low for 30 minutes or until the sauce is a smooth consistency.

Add the sauce and the zest to the sautéed mushrooms and continue to cook uncovered this time, for another 3 or 4 minutes to incorporate the flavors together.

Serve over a wedge of grilled polenta or toasted bread.

Brown Beef Stock:
4 pounds beef shanks
5 quarts of water
4 carrots
5 onions
4 stalks celery
3 leeks, green part only
5 garlic cloves
1 tomato
2 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns

Place the beef bones in a large well oiled roasting pan making sure they are not on top of each other and preferably not touching each other. Roast at a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour.

Transfer the bones to an 8 quart stockpot. Deglaze the roasting pan by adding 2 cups of water and scraping the pan to loosen the brown bits stuck to the pan. Add this to the stock pot along with the vegetables and seasoning. Add the remaining water to the pot and simmer for 4 hours. It is important that the pot simmers and does not BOIL otherwise your broth will become cloudy. Skim the surface if there is any foam coming to the top of the pot and add water when necessary.

Strain the stock through a find colander into a large bowl, pressing the vegetables to extract all the liquid Discard the bones and vegetables. Cool before refrigerating. Use within 2 days or freeze for one month.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 pound ground veal
¼ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups homemade chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream

For the Soufflé:
Unsalted butter for the pan and topping
2 to 3 tablespoons homemade dried breadcrumbs
¾ pound DeCecco angel hair pasta
3 eggs, separated plus one additional egg white
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese, drained on cheesecloth for at least two hours
3 thin slices procuitto, minced
¼ pound mozzarella, grated
½ pound smoked mozzarella, grated
freshly grated parmesan or grana padano cheese

Prepare the Sauce:
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onion until translucent. Add the ground veal and increase the heat to high. Stir until the veal is lightly browned and add the wine. Cook until the wine evaporates.

In a bowl, combine the tomato paste and broth. Add the veal and reduce the heat to medium until thick, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream. Cool to room temperature. Prepare the Soufflé
Preheat the oven to 375. Butter a 2 quart soufflé dish or a 10 inch spring form pan and sprinkle with the bread crumbs.

Cook the pasta until it can bend into a circle without breaking, but is still al dente. (usually 2 minutes less than the pasta's cooking directions) Drain very well so no water remains.

In a large bowl combine the egg yolks, ricotta and proscuitto. Add the pasta and toss well. Add a fourth of the meat sauce and stir to blend.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the pasta mixture.

Layer one third of the pasta over the bottom of the buttered pan. Sprinkle one third of the mozzarella cheeses and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the grated cheese. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of sauce and continue layering until finished with the pasta. Top with the remaining sauce and grated parmesan cheese. Dot with butter and bake for 30 -40 minutes, or until the top is browned. Cool 10 minutes before serving. If you are using a spring form pan, do not turn it upside down as the soufflé will drop.

4 - ¼ pound filets of sea-bass
1¾ cups softened butter
2 cups breadcrumbs from yesterday's bread
2/3 pound mushrooms, chopped
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
Rum to taste
Salt and white pepper to taste
½ cup fish broth
1 sweet onion
1 1/3 cups cream, whipped
½ cup raisins softened in brandy
8 slices Golden apple
1 teaspoon sugar

This almond stuffing must be made a few hours ahead of time and store in the refrigerator:
Prepare the almond stuffing by creaming the butter and working in the breadcrumbs. Add the mushrooms and almonds. Mix the eggs and extra egg yolk with a fork until blended and add to the mixture along with a few drops of rum, salt and pepper. Blend until a smooth paste is obtained. Refrigerate for a few hours.

When the filling is firm, spread it on the fillets and put them in a sauté pan with an oven proof handle. Pour the wine and fish stock over the filets and add the chopped sweet onion and salt and the pepper.

Cover the pan with buttered parchment paper (DO NOT use aluminum foil) and place in a 350 oven for 10 minutes, then place the pan under a broiler for another 10 minutes to glaze the fillets. Remove from the pan to a warmed platter in a low oven to keep them warm.

While the sea bass are in the oven, melt 2 or 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a sauté pan with the sugar and cook on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Sauté the golden apple slices until glazed but still crisp. Hold them in a warm oven in the sauté pan.

After you have removed the sea bass and they are warming in the oven, deglaze the pan with a few drops of vermouth and the cream. Stir this over medium heat and reduce the sauce slightly. Pour the sauce over the fillets, garnish with the raisins and the glazed apples.

Fish Stock for Sea Bass Recipe
3 pounds bones and trimmings from any white fish (ask for this from your seafood merchant)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 celery cut into 1 inch pieces
2 quarts cold water
1 cup Dry white wine
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon salt

bouquet garni tied in cheesecloth:
1 HEAD (not clove) of garlic, unpeeled but punctured with the tip of a knife in three areas
3 sprigs Italian parsley
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns

Combine all the ingredients and bring mixture to a boil. Skim off the foam that rises to the top for the next 40 minutes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, partially covered for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl.

Let the stock cool before refrigerating. Remove the fat from the chilled stock prior to using. Use within 2 days or freeze for 1 month.

One 750 ml bottle Fracia Corta Brut sparkling white wine from Abruzzo or any dry champagne or sparkling white wine
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan in the freezer for at least two hours, preferably overnight. (pan must be must be metal)

In a small sauce pan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a medium bowl and set in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Stir until cooled. When completely chilled, stir in the champagne, orange and lemon juice.

Pour into the metal baking pan and freeze until ice crystals form around the edges of the pan. This usually takes about an hour. Using a fork, scrape the ice crystals off of the sides of the pan and stir into the center of the pan. Freeze again until crystals form, about another hour. Repeat the same procedures, freeze again until the gremolata is a solid mass of crystals, freeze another 2 hours or more. Break with a fork and serve in a champagne glass. Note: This also makes an elegant and light dessert. All you need to do is add some fresh strawberries.

(if you would like to use this gremolata for dessert, continue with preparing the strawberries)
1½ pints hulled strawberries, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons Gran Marnier
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chiffonade of mint leaves
2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate to chill for about an hour. Place gremalata in a tall champagne glass or other tall decorative glass, layer with strawberries, more gremolata and top with strawberries and mint leaves. Please note that the strawberry mixture cannot be made more than one hour before serving, as the sugar "burns" the strawberries.

2½ cups homemade Beef broth
1 cup of yellow squash or pumpkin balls ( peel the yellow squash, or cut a small pumpkin and use a melon ball scoop to make the 'pearls')
5 tablespoons butter
¼ cup olive oil
2 - 8 ounce veal loins cut into 8 pieces. (this would be the equivilant of the beef loin that is used cut into Filet Mignon or otherwise known as chateaubriand)
1 ounce of black truffle
16 green asparagus tips for 4 servings, 32 asparagus tips for 8 servings
salt and pepper to taste

Reduce 2 cups of the broth to one cup.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the squash balls. Set the pan aside to cool. Melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in another pan and brown the veal pieces, for about 5 minutes on each side. Set aside and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Degrease the pan on medium heat with the ½ cup of broth and add the broth and squash balls mixture to the pan.

Lower the heat to moderate. Cut the truffle in julienne slices and add them along with 1 tablespoons of butter to the broth, which should be quite dense. Shake the pan to blend in the butter. Keep hot. The truffles should be put in at the last minute of cooking.

Sauté the asparagus tips with 2 ½ tablespoons of butter. Salt and pepper to taste. You can tell they are ready when they turn bright green and are still firm.

Line four asparagus tips on a heated plate and put the pieces of veal atop the asparagus. Top with the sauce mixture.

Tira Mi Su
Once you try this recipe, I think you will throw out all the others you may have. Our customers were so enthusiastic for this Tira Mi Su that we needed a call list to let them know when we were serving it. The wait staff's eyes would roll when they walked in on those nights, knowing they would have to work double hard trying to keep track of what was left to sell and protect the ones that were already claimed by their clients. The secret is the chocolate. You MUST use the finest imported chocolate you can find. We recommend Valrhona, a French chocolate that you can find in specialty stores. If you can't find Valrhona, the only other chocolate I recommend is the Belgium Callebaut. You may even find these chocolates in fine wine stores. Although you may wonder how you could ever cut into this large brick of chocolate, you will find it easy to chop with a Chef's Knife.

We made our own ladyfingers, but if you want to buy them, be sure to get a high quality Lady Finger called Savoiardi that you can find at Italian Specialty stores. They are firmer than what you may be used to. I can't emphasis the quality of the ingredients; and although I don't expect you to have your own egg-producing chickens, like we did, if you use the best possible ingredients you can buy, I guarantee this will become your favorite Tira Mi Su recipe.

1 cup brewed espresso, cooled
2 tablespoons brandy
18 Savoiardi (Lady Fingers)
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons super fine sugar
½ pound of imported mascarpone cheese
½ cup of Valhrona chocolate, coarsly chopped. This is not hard to do, just take your chef's knife along the side of the chocolate and "shave" it off. If the pieces that fall are too big just chop a little to get a course texture.
raspberries and fresh mint to garnish

In a large bowl, combine the cooled espresso and the brandy. Immerse the ladyfingers one at a time and for just less than a minute. (Note: The ladyfingers must be hard throughout and the espresso must be completely cool or they will fall apart) Arrange 9 of the ladyfingers on the bottom of a shallow 3 quart serving dish. There should be enough room that the lady fingers are not touching each other and the mascarpone can fill in between the ladyfingers.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold in the mascarpone cheese.

It is best to add a little mascarpone at a time and blend into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber spatula against the side of the bowl. Otherwise you may get some lumps.

Carefully blend this egg white/mascarpone mixture into the egg yolk mixture by stirring it with a rubber spatula.

Cover the ladyfingers with half of the mascarpone mixture and then sprinkle half of the Valhrona chocolate over it. Top the remaining dipped ladyfingers and add another layer of the mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate and cover with aluminum foil. Refrigerate at least one hour but best overnight.

Remove the tiramisu with a large serving spoon that will create 2 ovals per serving. And place on a plate. Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

This can also be assembled in individual old fashioned champagne glasses or other decorative glassware.



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