Last indulgences of winter
The days are getting longer. The spring equinox comes at the end of March, but it is still plenty cold outside. Take the chill out of the late winter evenings with this warm and comforting dish of pasta, radicchio and rich Alpine Fontina. Nutmeg is typically used in dishes with cream and cheese. freshly grated is best. Use a Microplane grater. Try using white peppercorns if you happen to have some on the spice shelf.
Schiacciata is the Tuscan version of focaccia. Schiacciata means “pressed down”. You press down on the dough with your fingertips, to give it an uneven surface that makes it more fun to eat. Make one of the breads the traditional way with sea salt and rosemary. Be more extravagant with the second one and top it with halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, zucchini or mushrooms. You could even make a sweet version with grapes or figs and a sprinkle of sugar.
This salad seems to vary from town to town and evolve with the seasons along the Riviera dei Fiori. Some authors call it a tomato salad, and others barely include tomatoes. Some have potatoes, some do not, anchovies appear to be optional, as are capers and celery. Unlike Salade Niçoise, no one calls for artichokes.
It is peak citrus season. Brighten up a winter’s day with these sunny lemon bars made with a double dose of Villa Manodori Essenziale Lemon Infused Oil. We use it in the cookie dough and in the topping for extra lemony flavor. You can treat these as a blank slate. Dust them with powdered sugar, sprinkle with lemon zest, garnish each bar with a slice of dried lemon, a fresh berry or a dollop of whipped cream.
Fennel is in the markets right now. Its subtle anise flavor blends well with saffron and orange to delicately flavor the chicken. If you use a whole chicken, add the breast meat to the pan in the oven 15 minutes after everything else has gone in. This would be a nice dish for Passover Seder.
A Gibson is essentially the same recipe as a martini. The garnish is an earthy pickled onion with a hint of acidity, instead of a briny olive. In our version we play up the flavor of the pickled onion by adding a bit of shallot infused red wine vinegar from France. The vinegar gives the cocktail a slight blush.
Pane Carasatu is a crisp bread known as carta da musica, meaning sheet music, since they are so large and delicate. Thin discs of dough puff up after a minute in a wood fired oven. It is split into two paper-thin discs and baked again until dry and extremely crispy. Historically eaten by the island’s many shepherds because of its keeping quality.
This makes a wonderful first course for two or an individual serving for one diner. Chill your serving plate in advance of preparation. A long sharp knife makes the slicing easy. You can briefly freeze the tuna to facilitate slicing. You can pound the tuna between two sheets of plastic wrap to make it even thinner. Use peppery microgreens like radish, arugula or watercress.
Here is a slightly unconventional take on a raspberry bar cookie topped with a buttery, old fashioned streusel topping made with oats. Instead of raspberry jam, the filling is made with fresh or frozen raspberries cooked down with A L’ Olivier’s Raspberry Vinegar (made with raspberry puree). This is a nice recipe to make with the kids for Valentine’s Day. Good for gifting.
Here is an uncomplicated pasta dish loaded with bright fresh flavors. Use a plum tomato or two if you have them on hand. You might want to add a clove of finely minced garlic to the tomatoes. Stack the basil leaves, roll them, then slice them into thin strips.
This is the peak season for Myer lemons. This is inspired by a dish served in Taormina with no green garnish or grated cheese. It is unusual and extra special. lt takes only minutes to prepare. Pass grated Parmigiano if you will. It makes a great first course before simply grilled fish.
This one is for ginger lovers. The ginger snap base is made even more gingery with the addition of Villa Manodori Essenziale Ginger Infused Oil and powdered ginger. It is topped off with a tropical coconut- lime cream swirled with a mango topping made with A L’ Olivier Mango Vinegar. The night before you want to bake pop 3 cans of coconut milk into the refrigerator so that the richer coconut “cream’ firms up and is easier to separate from the milk. Garnish with lime zest and flakes of toasted coconut. Lay back and imagine turquoise seas.
Emilia -Romagna is renowned for its cattle, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and Tradizionale DOP. This recipe uses all three in a combination that is unbeatable. This is a great recipe to use for Father’s Day (if Dad is a carnivore). Dry-aged steaks will make this a memorable gastronomic event.
Summer grilling calls for grilling more than just meats and vegetables. Charring pineapple creates a lovely caramelized texture because of the high sugar content. We pair with vanilla gelato and a drizzle of Cavalli Condimento Balsamico for a sweet and savory dessert for those perfect picnic days.
If you have the inclination and some time on your hands you can make your own ravioli. A good brand of store-bought is fine. It is well worth patronizing an Italian specialty store in your area. Lifting the ravioli out of the boiling water with an Asian-style spider or slotted spoon rather than pouring them into a colander will keep them from tearing. The sauce is basically a mushroom sauté with Balsamico. Many grocery stores are now offering a mix of wild mushrooms in one container.