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Recipes | blog.artofcookery.com

Sweet Summer Strawberries

Posted by dynise | Posted in Recipes

For those of you that do not look forward to fresh strawberries every year, I pity you. One of the simplest joys in life is holding onto the leaves of strawberry and biting in and savoring the sweet, succulent juiciness that is a ripe strawberry, maybe even licking the dribbling juice that starts to flow down your chin. Tuscan food lovers are not different than Americans when it comes to these ruby colored little treats and will eat them in almost every incarnation possible.

But here is one of my favorites, combining the sweet juiciness of the ripe strawberries with the creamy decadence that is panna cotta, life does not get much better.

INGREDIENTS

For the compote (this is actually good over pancakes and other things as well so a double recipe of this would not go to waste)

3/4 lb strawberries

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tsp granulated sugar

For the panna cotta

1lb sliced strawberries

1 3/4 cup buttermilk, vigorously shaken

6 tbsp granulated sugar

2 1/2 tsp gelatin (plain)

1/2 cup half and half

DIRECTIONS

For panna cotta

Put your strawberries, buttermilk and sugar into the blender and blend until very smooth, at least three minutes. Strain thoroughly, you want no solids left or they won’t gel as well. Put half of your half and half in a bowl and add the gelatin and let it sit. Take the other half, warm slowly to a boil, stirring very regularly and add the gelatin after you have achieved a boil. When all the gelatin has dissolved pour your warm cream mixture into your strawberry mixture and stir until you have an even consistency. Pour into gelatin molds and set, overnight is the best option.

For compote

Warm the ingredients just enough for the sugar to dissolve and have the mixture coat the strawberries and then pour over the panna cotta.

Two variations I like on this are making extra compote and warming until the berries are softened to top pancakes the next day, and adding a little Cointreau when beginning the compote. Yum.

Perfect for Picnic Weather

Posted by dynise | Posted in Recipes

The perception may be that fried chicken is a uniquely American dish given it’s ubiquitous presence at picnics and kitchen tables from sea to shining sea.   But the Tuscans  love a good  “pollo frito” just as much as Americans, including the Colonel. In fact, it is on the menu of a lot of traditional style restaurants in Tuscany.  The side dishes vary a little from the American preferences as well, but not by much.

One amazing difference here is the freshness of the chicken, so if you are able to find locally grown chicken that is nice and fresh you will enjoy the dish even more.  Truly fresh chicken has an actual pinkish tint to it, even when fully cooked.   This pinkish tint is not the same as a raw center, a raw center is delineated by a change in texture while the fresh meat will have the same rosy hue from edge to edge.

INGREDIENTS

Chicken pieces (I prefer skin on) roughly two per person

Flour

Butter (enough to coat the bottom of the pan very lightly)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Take your chicken pieces and rinse them in tepid water and pat them dry.  Dredge through the flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Coat the pan with a thin layer of butter.  Turn your flame up and fry both sides of the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes.  Lower your flame and add a drizzle of olive oil and cover the pan and continue to cook for roughly 25 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces then add the remainder of the pan drippings over the chicken, being sure to scrap the pan to get any little chicken pieces that are trying to escape.

I like this with a baked potato slathered in olive oil a crispy green salad with a hint of lemon and a clean white wine, unoaked Chardonnay or Poilly Fume.

Daffy is Coming for Dinner!

Posted by dynise | Posted in Recipes

As a very honored guest, the main course! Throughout Tuscany and in Italy in general people are very open to eating almost all [good] foods. Growing up eating rabbit and tongue and giblets and all led me to be pretty adventurous in my palette and there are very few things I will not eat.  My mother used to say that there was no way you knew if you liked something or not until you tried it, and I have used that mantra to expand my “list of things to enjoy” my whole life.  I highly recommend it as an attitude towards food, your own palette may surprise you.  Duck is one of the game meats, along with rabbit, that people tend to shy away from.  Whether it is the Disney cuteness factor or a 20th century unfamiliarity with game meats I am not sure, but these were commonly consumed prior to WWII and are gaining in popularity again, as is offal.  If you like earthy foods like mushrooms and truffles you will probably enjoy duck.

This recipe is perfect when raspberries are in season, or you can substitute frozen raspberries.  Duck takes on fruit flavors extremely well and can be served either with or without the skin if you are being careful of fat intake,  I prefer with, duck skin nice and crisped is truly wonderful and the richness of the flavor along with the juiciness the fat imparts make you feel like you are sinning.

INGREDIENTS

Two duck breasts about 1/3 pound each

3/4 pound raspberries

olive oil (surprise)

1/2 cup Marsala

4 sage leaves

DIRECTIONS

This is a really easy recipe. Take a little over half of the raspberries and puree.  Sprinkle the breasts with a little salt and pepper and lightly fry on both sides in a sauce pan with the olive oil on a high flame to seal in the juices.  Add the Marsala and reduce for about 10 minutes.  Add the raspberry puree and the sage leaves and cook for an additional 10 minutes over a low flame.  Depending on the thickness of the duck breasts they should not need more cooking, anything above medium is not necessary. Garnish with the rest of the raspberries and if you are feeling artistic add a fried sage leaf to each breast.

I like this with some roasted potatoes drizzled with olive oil and some sauteed mushrooms and a
Grignilo d’Asti, which may be difficult to find outside of Italy, a Pinot Noir or Syrah blend would also be good choices.

A Squab by any Other Name….

Posted by dynise | Posted in Recipes

So yea, I like pigeons. Not the little rats with wings that are the blight of every urban environment from San Francisco to St. Marks Square, but the farm-raised squab that make for a tasty entree.  These are not your french fry consuming pigeons that ruin that freshly washed finish on your car.  These can convert a person from chicken to game in only one meal. I have sneakily arranged this in the past, so trust me.  And Italians like pigeons.  For dinner, not as urban blight.  So if you can lay your hands on one without breaking out a BB gun here is a great recipe.

INGREDIENTS

Pigeon (roughly 1/2 per person)

Chianti

Olive oil

1 sprig rosemary per pigeon

1 sprig thyme per pigeon

1 lemon slice or a few shakes of lemon juice per pigeon.

salt and pepper.

DIRECTIONS

Take the pigeon and slice down the center so you are able to flatten it.  Season both sides with salt and pepper and put in a frying pan with a thin layer of oil.  Brown both side of the pigeon and then sprinkle with rosemary, thyme and lemon juice.  Cover the pan and cook for roughly 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the pigeon. When the bird is finished, remove and then deglaze with some of the Chianti.  I like this best with potatoes and fresh young asparagus, and of course, the rest of the Chianti.

Easter Dinner

Posted by dynise | Posted in Recipes

Easter is just around the corner and in Italy is celebrated as heartily as just about any place in the world.  The celebrations generally incorporate elements of both Christian and pre-Christian culture but virtually all people celebrate with lamb for dinner.  The Easter ham that is a tradition in the US is essentially unheard of here, but of course the same sort of effort goes into the dinner. Young roasted lamb is the dish of choice and having a few bottles of Chianti Classico around will set the lamb off nicely.

INGREDIENTS

1 Lamb Roast (1/3 - 1/2 pound per person)

Olive Oil

1 sprig rosemary

Salt and Pepper

1 potato per person, quartered

RUB

1 garlic clove

2 sprigs rosemary

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  To make the rub mince together all ingredients with a minimum of 1 tsp of salt and pepper ( I like a little more) this should be the consistency of paste so if you substitute dried herbs you will need to slightly increase the amount of olive oil.

Take the roast and cut slits evenly around the roast and coat the roast with the rub, stuffing the slits so the flavors can bake through the meat. Place in a roasting pan with a layer of olive oil completely covering the bottom of the pan. Coat the roast with olive oil and put the cut potatoes around the roast.  Sprinkle the roast and potatoes with the remaining herbs.

Bake for 40 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the roast (about 8 minutes per pound) basting every 10-15 minutes.  If you’re in Italy drink as much Chianti as possible, Monday is a holiday, if you’re in the US, you have to be a good kid and go to work the next day.

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