Food & Drink

Simone’s Christmas Tortellini

SIMONE’S CHRISTMAS TORTELLINI
INGREDIENTS

for the dough:
10 eggs
2lb type 00 flour

For the sauce:
1 pound loose sausage cooked
1 cup ricotta
3/4 cup grated parmigiano

For the puree:
1 lb gold potatoes cubed
1 small onion chopped
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

 

     DIRECTIONS

Add the flour on a flat service and make a hole in the middle.  Add the eggs and mix well until you have a smooth dough.  Let the dough sit for 1 hour.

Saute sausage and mix with ricotta and parmigiano until smooth.

Using a rolling pin, stretch the pasta into a flat, thin sheet.  Cut into 2″ squares. Place a small ball of the stuffing in the square and fold into a triangle and then pinch the two edges together.

Drop in boiling salted water – when they float to the top they are finished.

In a large pot saute the onions in olive oil.  Add potatoes and water and simmer until soft.  Use an immersion blender to make a puree.

Toss the tortellini with butter, sage and parmesan.  Make a thin layer of the potato puree on a serving plate and top with the tortellini.  Add sage for garnish.

 

SIMONE'S CHRISTMAS TORTELLINI INGREDIENTS for the dough: 10 eggs 2lb type 00 flour For the sauce: 1 pound loose sausage cooked 1 cup ricotta 3/4 cup grated parmigiano For the ...

White Truffle Parmigiano Sformato

This recipe is a great way to start off a holiday meal and represents everything that is great in Italian regional cooking.  A simple preparation, with relatively few but pristine and highest quality ingredients and the perception of a difficult undertaking that none of your guests need to know about…

 

Yields 8 – 4oz. souffle cup portions

 

WHITE TRUFFLE PARMIGIANO SFORMATO
INGREDIENTS

1 quart Heavy cream
2.5 Cups Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 T white truffle paste (optional…but preferable!)
4 whole eggs
4 T all purp. Flour
Salt to taste

White truffles, fresh (avail. at Via Umbria) to garnish

     DIRECTIONS

Heat Cream in a saucepan, add the cheese and blend. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, crack eggs, whisk, add the flour and whisk some more until combined. Add the truffle paste to cream mixture and slowly pour cream into egg mixture. Add the nutmeg and adjust seasoning with salt.

 

Meanwhile, get souffle cups, and spray with non stick spray. Ladle in the mixture. On top of stove, pour approx. ¾ ” of water into a shallow stove top-ready baking dish. Place souffle cups in the water bath and cover the whole pan in plastic wrap. Cook on stovetop at medium high heat for about 30 minutes, steaming the flans. They are done when the mixture does not jiggle like jello. Serve warm. Unmold from dishes if desired.

 

Shave white truffles on top of the sformato and serve with crostini and aged Balsamico.

 

This recipe is a great way to start off a holiday meal and represents everything that is great in Italian regional cooking.  ...

SIMONE’S SAVORY THANKSGIVING TURKEY

 Thanksgiving isn’t an Italian holiday but Italians really romanticize it.  It fits perfectly with their love of family, food and tradition.  Our friend and practically adopted son, Chef Simone Proietti-Pesci from Umbria makes an annual pilgrimage (no pun intended) to Washington to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Menard family and to do some special guest chef appearances at Via Umbria and as a private chef in customers’ homes.
This is Simone’s delicious take on turkey that uses a few fresh ingredients to bring out the flavors in a turkey.  And this recipe is best enjoyed with a special bird.  Try it with one of our local, cage-free Fields of Athenry Farms turkeys.  You can order yours online and pick it up on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving!
SIMONE’S TURKEY RECIPE
INGREDIENTS

14-16 lb turkey
Pork lard
Rosemary, Sage, Bay Leaves, Juniper Berries, Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
Peeled Chestnuts

     DIRECTIONS

Mince together the herbs and garlic and mix into the pork fat.  Season the turkey with salt and pepper on the skin and inside.  Rub the turkey with the pork fat – on the skin and under the skin.
Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan surrounded with olive oil and peeled chestnuts.
Roast the turkey at 325* for 30 minutes per pound.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with the roasted chestnuts.

 

 Thanksgiving isn't an Italian holiday but Italians really romanticize it.  It fits perfectly with their love of family, food and tradition.  Our ...

Suzy’s Chicken & Farro Soup

There’s nothing like a hearty soup to keep your belly full and spirits high as the weather gets chillier. With Via Umbria’s grab-and-go stock of pantry essentials and dinnertime lifesavers (we’re looking at you, oven-roasted chicken!) it couldn’t be easier to get dinner on the table. This week, tuck into a humble but delicious chicken & farro soup bolstered by flavorful parmigiano and garlic.

SUZY’S CHICKEN & FARRO SOUP
INGREDIENTS

1 c farro
3 c water
1 small onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 celery stalk diced
1 garlic clove
1 c cooked chicken diced
2 T tomato sauce
EVOO
Parmigiano

     DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan add farro, water, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until farro is soft.

Add more water if necessary. Add chicken, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a shaving of Parmesan

 

There's nothing like a hearty soup to keep your belly full and spirits high as the weather gets chillier. With Via Umbria's grab-and-go stock ...

Lemon-Ricotta Ravioli

These ravioli stuffed with a zesty lemon-ricotta mixture are going to be your new favorite meal. All you need is patience and a bit of confidence—your reward will be a plate full of citrus-y, creamy deliciousness.

PASTA DOUGH 
INGREDIENTS

200 g semolina flour

200 g type 00 flour

4 eggs

     DIRECTIONS

On a large wooden cutting board, make a well with the flour. Crack eggs into the well. Using a fork, slowly beat the eggs and mix in the flour, being careful not to break the walls of the well.

After most of the egg and flour is incorporated, begin to knead the dough. Knead for at least 10 minutes, until very smooth.

Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for 15-30 minutes
before rolling.

LEMON-RICOTTA RAVIOLI
INGREDIENTS

2 c ricotta

Zest of 1 lemon

1 c ground pecorino or parmigiano

1 egg yolk

Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta dough (above)

     DIRECTIONS

Combine ricotta, lemon zest, pecorino/parmigiano and egg yolk. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Roll out pasta dough until paper thin. Dollop the ricotta mixture onto your pasta sheets. Cover the mixture with another sheet of pasta, sealing around each dollop to encase the ricotta tightly.
Cook in boiling water 2-3 minutes until ravioli rises
to the top of the pot.

 

These ravioli stuffed with a zesty lemon-ricotta mixture are going to be your new favorite meal. All you need is patience and ...

Suzy’s Staples

It was Friday night at Via Umbria—the cafe was full of patrons enjoying dinner, guests in the wine room were engaged in our Weekly Somm tasting and a Birthday celebration was due to start upstairs shortly.  Bill and I looked around and realized that we had a great staff on hand and that if we left now we could sit outside on this perfect September night and enjoy dinner and a relaxing evening at home- so run away we did.  A few minutes later as we inched along Wisconsin Avenue, we realized that we had no groceries at home. Not just ‘nothing we wanted to eat’, but after weeks of late nights and travel – not a single thing that qualified as edible.  As we got closer to the Safeway and started discussing strategies for running in quickly and what we could make – a last minute U-turn was made and we and headed straight back to Via Umbria to pick up our staples.

While there are definitely some benefits to the enormity of a store like Safeway, the idea of being able to avoid the chaos and dash into Via Umbria to grab a few excellent products from farms we know and love seemed like the obvious choice.

We often describe Via Umbria as an “Italian Village under one roof” but in many ways it would be simpler and just as accurate to describe our store as a one-stop market in Georgetown for high-quality pantry staples and top-notch food.

With the idea of ‘who knows what tomorrow brings,’ here is my express list of groceries and pantry staples we grabbed and how I plan to use them:

  • Oven Roasted Chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Lemon
  • Onion
  • Farro
  • Lentils
  • Pasta
  • Jarred Tomatoes
  • Parmigiano
  • Cheese
  • Baguette
  • Wine
  • Franciacorta – delicious sparkling wine
  • Caviar
  • Salmon

For the record—lentils and farro are my go to last-minute dinner staples.  Why?

  • They don’t need to be soaked
  • They can cook unattended
  • They cook in under 30 minutes
  • They are super versatile
  • They are delicious and nutritious

Now, faced with a bevy of incredible ingredients, dinner was simple. We cut the chicken in half and put it in the oven to warm up, set a pot of lentils, carrots, and onions to simmer on the stove, and made a bright and fresh salad of lettuce with olive oil, lemon juice and a hint of shaved parmigiano.  

In less than the time it would take to have a delicious, greasy pizza delivered we were sitting outside on a perfect fall night enjoying a glass of wine and a favorite cheese from the Pennsylvania-based Farm at Doe Run while our dinner was happily cooking.

That’s just half of my express shopping list.  What else is on my menu for this week?

  • Pasta with tomato sauce,  parmigiano and a green salad
  • Farro soup with onions, carrots and chicken
  • Baked Meatballs with lentils and roasted carrots

And for the night I really don’t want to cook at all?  I’m opening a bottle of Franciacorta, cracking open a tin of caviar and enjoying some locally cured Smoked Salmon from DC Smokehouse.  If I had really been thinking ahead I would have grabbed some yogurt, a dozen eggs and a pack of bacon—then I wouldn’t have to wake up on Saturday morning wondering what’s for breakfast!

 

It was Friday night at Via Umbria—the cafe was full of patrons enjoying dinner, guests in the wine room were engaged in ...

Braised Green Figs and Fennel

Figs are in season here in Italy and we’ve eaten them every day with no signs of slowing down. We used green honey figs straight from the garden for this simple side dish.

BRAISED GREEN FIGS AND FENNEL
INGREDIENTS

Figs, about 3 per person

1 medium fennel bulb

Generous knob of butter

Thin slice of lemon, peel on

One dried Italian hot pepper, whole

Dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Pecorino, shaved large for garnish

     DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400.

Slice the fennel into 4-6 segments.

Place the butter, whole lemon slice, and hot pepper in an oven safe pan and sauté until fragrant. Sear the fennel wedges on both sides, don’t be shy about giving it good color. Add the figs whole and leave on high for a minute or two, before adding a generous pour of wine and transferring to the oven.

Cook until the fennel is just tender, but not falling apart.

Top with fresh ground pepper and good pecorino.

Enjoy!

 

Figs are in season here in Italy and we’ve eaten them every day with no signs of slowing down. We used green ...

Teddy’s Cannellini Semplice and Radicchio Brasato

Here’s a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience and a new recipe that is applied from the techniques and approach I’ve come to learn in my time cooking in Umbria.

 
FAGIOLI CANNELLINI SEMPLICE
INGREDIENTS

1 can/jar cannellini beans
1 yellow onion
1-2 carrots
1-2 stalks of celery
Parmigiano reggiano
Salt
Pepper
Fresh herbs/seasoning
Optional:
white wine, chicken/vegetable stock &
lemon zest
     DIRECTIONS

Start by preparing a classic soffrito: dice your onion, carrot, and celery, and let them sweat on low heat with a bit of oil, butter, or both. Cook until translucent.

Once the onions and carrots are soft, you can add a pinch of salt and the rest of your aromatics (typically I’ll go for some crushed red pepper to give the dish some heat, or you can add herbs like rosemary and thyme).

Once the pan is smelling fragrant, add your rinsed beans. Cook until you’re satisfied—if you want the dish to be dry, cook until the beans are warm and you’re done! If you want a stew-like quality, keep the temperature low and add some white wine, chicken/vegetable stock, or even just some water. Option to toss in more butter to get a rich, velvety texture.

Once you have the consistency you’d like, pull the beans from the heat and top with some parmigiano and, if you’d like, some lemon zest. This is the dish I always cook for myself on the elusive rainy day in Los Angeles.

radicchio

In Umbria, radicchio is typically roasted over a fire then finished with salt and oil, maybe some lemon juice, and it is a delight. I hadn’t been using the oven recently, however, and wanted to put it to use:


RADICCHIO BRASATO 
INGREDIENTS

1 whole head of radicchio
1 yellow onion
Red wine
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
     DIRECTIONS

Preheat to 450-500—you just want it to be hot.

Quarter your radicchio lengthwise. Put a pan on medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil and a small pat of butter. Place the radicchio into the pan to sear its outside—it should brown and even start to blacken before you flip it, about 2-3 minutes a side.

Once the radicchio is seared, transfer the quarters into a baking dish. Slice the onion and add into the baking dish.

Take your bottle of red wine and pour into the dish until the radicchio is about 1/4 submerged, then add just a bit of water to bring the liquid level to just under 1/2 of the radicchio.

Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once it’s out of the oven, feel free to drizzle with some good olive oil!

Here's a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience ...

Bill’s Whole Snapper with Garlic and Ginger

This Asian recipe may seem out of place in an Italian recipe blog, but it shares a lot with Italian preparations.  First, the fish should be fresh, which in our case was beyond doubt, having purchased it from Robert, our local fishmonger at the daily harbor fish market in Georgetown, Grand Cayman.  Robert cleans and filets all manner of fresh catch with an uber sharp machete right in front of your eyes.  Second, the accompanying flavors are understated and elevate rather than overwhelm the fresh fish.

This is a favorite of Suzy and mine when we, like we are now, spend time at our vacation home in the Caymans (no money laundering jokes, please).  After a grueling day under the sun, there’s nothing quite like this flavorful fish dish and a little (or a lot of) white wine to wash it down.

[recipe courtesy of taste.com.au] 

Whole Snapper with Garlic and Ginger
INGREDIENTS

1 whole snapper, gutted and scaled

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Ginger, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp rice wine

2 tsp sesame oil

2 scallions, sliced

2 or 3 dried chili peppers crushed

 1 bunch coriander

     DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 deg.

Rinse and pat dry 1 whole red snapper.  Line baking dish with aluminum foil (you may have lay 2 sheets side by side) and place wax or parchment paper on top.  Lay snapper on paper and liberally salt and pepper.  Sprinkle garlic and ginger over entire surface.

In a small bowl, mix well soy, fish sauce, rice wine and sesame oil.  Pour over snapper allowing it to penetrate the skin.  Baste several times.

Close aluminum/parchment paper to form an airtight pouch with snapper inside.  Place in oven (in baking dish) and bake for 30-45 minutes.  The snapper is cooked when the flesh flakes and displays no opacity.

Unwrap fish and transfer to a serving plate or bowl being sure to pour the liquid over the fish.  Garnish with a liberal amount of sliced scallions and some sprigs of coriander.

Serve with lots of white wine, preferrably a crisp, acidic wine such as Falanghina, Greco di Tufo or anything from Campania.

Buon appetito!

red snapper 1

This Asian recipe may seem out of place in an Italian recipe blog, but it shares a lot with Italian preparations.  First, ...

Tommaso Collins Recipe

We’re celebrating Suzy’s birthday with one of her favorite drinks to sip on—the Tom Collins. In the Italian spirit, we’ve renamed ours Tommaso and used our favorite Italian sparkling water. Here’s why we love it: it’s a simple (and quick!) blend of gin, lemon juice, seltzer and simple syrup which, when combined, is a citrus-y sour cocktail thats deliciously refreshing. Perfect for the sweltering heat of late August!

TOMMASO COLLINS
INGREDIENTS

Ice

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ oz. simple syrup

Seltzer

Lemon wedge, for garnish.

     DIRECTIONS

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.

Top with seltzer water. Taste and adjust as needed.

Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

We're celebrating Suzy's birthday with one of her favorite drinks to sip on—the Tom Collins. In the Italian spirit, we've renamed ours ...

Fig Crostata Recipe

This is our favorite way to handle an overabundance of produce—depending on the season you can make a filling with mixed berries, apples and cinnamon or ricotta and marmalade. Here Liam uses a mix of ripe figs, honey and a dash of vincotto. The wine (vincotto translates to “cooked wine”) deepens the flavor and rounds out the sweetness of the figs, leaving you with a balanced and elegant dessert. Enjoy!

FIG CROSTATA RECIPE
INGREDIENTS

For the crust:

300g flour + more for dusting

140g butter, room temperature

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 ½ Tbs baking powder (or 1 packet of Italian bkg powder w vanilla)

pinch salt

For the filling:

6 cups of fresh ripe and plump figs

¾ cup honey

1 T a.p. Flour

3 T butter, cubed into small pieces

1 T vin cotto

 

     DIRECTIONS

Roll the dough to about ½” thickness.  Place in a 10” pie pan.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the filling and put in the pie pan. Fold the outer edges of the dough around the perimeter of the fig filling. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Put in refrigerator for 1 hour before baking at 375 for 30-45 minutes.  

Serve warm.  

This is our favorite way to handle an overabundance of produce—depending on the season you can make a filling with mixed berries, ...