Dinner

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.  ...

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 ...

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, ...

Quick Summer Salads

ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD
INGREDIENTS

10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off

3 stalks rhubarb – slightly shaved

2 cups pea shoots

¼ cup lemon juice

¼  cup extra virgin olive oil

1T honey

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender.  Slice into 1” pieces. Slice the rhubarb into matchsticks. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey.  Toss asparagus and rhubarb with dressing in a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with pea shoots and lemon zest.

STRAWBERRY AND ASPARAGUS SALAD
INGREDIENTS

1 pint strawberries sliced

4 cups baby arugula

10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off

Goat Lady Chevre

Marcona Almonds

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender.  Slice into 1” pieces. Put arugula in a serving bowl and add strawberries.  Whisk together vinegar and olive oil – season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss the arugula and strawberries. Top with dollops of goat cheese and almonds.

FAVA BEANS AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
INGREDIENTS

1 pound fava beans shelled

3 Portobello Mushrooms cleaned

¼ pound aged pecorino shaved

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

⅓ cup white wine vinegar

1 T dijon mustard

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Steam fava beans for 1-2 minutes (should still be bright green) remove from heat and put on ice to quick chill.  Slice portobellos. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss together mushrooms and cooled favas.  Top with pecorino and serve.

ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD INGREDIENTS 10 stalks asparagus - ends broken off 3 stalks rhubarb - slightly shaved 2 cups pea shoots ¼ cup lemon juice ¼  cup ...

Whole-Baked Fish with Olives Recipe

This recipe for whole-baked fish with olives comes to us from Elizabeth Minchilli, who enlisted a team of Italian mammas and nonnas to perfect it. After tinkering with her method and recipe for 25 years, she says she’s finally nailed it. The result is a tender roasted fish, flavored with briny green olives and bright, bursting cherry tomatoes. Spoiler alert: this  might be our favorite recipe from her new book.

WHOLE-BAKED FISH WITH OLIVES
INGREDIENTS

2 whole fish with the head on, cleaned and scaled (you can ask the fishmonger to do this for you)

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 cup briny green olives, unpitted

Olive oil (about ¼ cup)

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Oil one fish generously, seasoning the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff parsley and a few olives into the cavity and scatter half of the olives and tomatoes around the fish. Place fish on parchment or aluminum foil and repeat with the other fish.

Wrap each fish, creating a seal so steam won’t escape. Bake for about 25 minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes

To serve, place on platter, open the packet, and debone the fish. Pour the juices from the parchment paper along with the olives and tomatoes on top of the fish.

 

This recipe for whole-baked fish with olives comes to us from Elizabeth Minchilli, who enlisted a team of Italian mammas and nonnas to perfect it. ...

Asparagus Spears with Guanciale Recipe

In this deceptively simple side, tender asparagus stalks are wrapped in thin, crispy slices of guanciale, a bacon-like cut of cured pork cheek. The clean flavor of roasted young asparagus contrasts beautifully with the salty-savory flavor of our traditional Umbrian guanciale. A note on the ingredients: it can be tricky to find guanciale here in the states, but many specialty grocery stores offer it in their butchery sections—stop by Via Umbria and we’ll be glad to get you squared away.

Asparagus Spears with Guanciale
INGREDIENTS

Asparagus

Guanciale, thinly sliced

     DIRECTIONS

-Clean and peel asparagus

-Parboil for 2-4 minutes until just softened

-Wrap spears with a thin slice of guanciale

-Roast a 425 degrees for 10 minutes, until pork is slightly crisp

In this deceptively simple side, tender asparagus stalks are wrapped in thin, crispy slices of guanciale, a bacon-like cut of cured pork ...

Pasta all’Arrabiata Recipe

Be warned: arrabiata means “angry” in Italian, hinting at this sauce’s surprisingly fiery kick. While it may look like your classic pomodoro, pasta all’arrabiata is made by infusing peperoncini into a garlicky olive oil, imbuing a subtle heat that punctuates each bite.  Served over your favorite pasta, it’s a welcome change that’s quick to make and faster to eat.

ARRABIATA SAUCE
INGREDIENTS

1 small yellow onion (small diced)

2 t peperoncini or crushed red pepper flakes

2 cloves of garlic

2 quarts of Tomato puree (San Marzano tomatoes, whole, pureed)

2 bunches of basil

2 T chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

EVOO

Salt

Pepper

     DIRECTIONS

-In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add olive oil, add the diced onion and slowly saute till clear and soft on Med-High heat

-Add the garlic, gently sauté, add the peperoncini, and 1 T of parsley and sauté quickly

-Meanwhile cook your pasta of choice

 -Add pasta water from the pasta cooking liquid to the arrabiata sauce

-Drain pasta, and toss into the arrabiata sauce, add basil, and the remaining parsley

-If necessary add a cup of pasta water and adjust seasoning

-Serve with Pecorino Romano, Fiore Sardo or Ricotta salata

Be warned: arrabiata means "angry" in Italian, hinting at this sauce's surprisingly fiery kick. While it may look like your classic pomodoro, pasta all'arrabiata is ...

Pizza Pizza

For our family, food has always been at the heart of our celebrations. From creating the perfect menu, to shopping for the right ingredients, to cooking the meal everyone joins in, and everyone has inspiration for what we should be preparing. Oddly enough, most of our big ideas and inspirations seem to revolve around fire. Whether we’re roasting a whole lamb over the pit in the backyard, a suckling pig in the magic pig box, or flames shooting out of the grill creating the perfect charr for our steaks, we just can’t seem to get enough of cooking over an open flame.

IMG_1219And pizza is no exception. When we renovated our house twenty years ago, we thought long and hard about what to do about the fireplace in the room that we were converting into our dream kitchen. After many rejected thoughts and ideas, a light hearted suggestion from our architect turned into his nightmare as we all quickly agreed that converting the fireplace into a wood burning pizza oven was the perfect solution.

And thus, a whole new flavor of family activities was born. Without any practice at being a pizzaolo, Bill quickly learned the trade and lead the family to pizza perfection. The perfect blend of feast and fun, pizza night at the Menard house soon became a regular event for friends and family alike. The world is your pizza- with an array of choices in front of you- trays of cured meats, fresh vegetables, caramelized onions,  sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, and of course olive oil, fresh pesto and tomato sauce as a base – everyone rolls up their sleeves and tosses a pie or two.

Our American tradition of Pizza night has become a fan favorite at la Fattoria del Gelso where fire also reigns supreme. In Umbria – Marco is the pizzaolo.  He has perfected the dough recipe and is a master of the perfect bake- creating light IMG_1212and airy pizzas that cook up nice and crisp on the bottom. The tomato sauce is rich without being overwhelming.  And of course here we have an amazing selection of toppings –prosciutto, guanciale, salami picante, capocollo,  porchetta – and that’s just the meats!

A quick word to the wise- the perfect pizza requires a balance of tastes and textures.  Too much sauce makes it impossible to cook and too many toppings often leads to an accidental calzone.

This past Sunday after a beautiful morning hunting successfully for truffles and wild asparagus – it was a great treat to sit back and enjoy a bite of dozens of Marco’s creations.  Pizza with sea salt and rosemary, with roasteIMG_1221d vegetables, with crispy guanciale, with Cannara onions and sausage,  and of course pizzas with wild asparagus and with fresh truffles. The grand finale?  Nutella pizza.

But why should we have all the fun? Take a pizza our family traditions and start your own! Come enjoy a slice with us at Via Umbria, bring your friends and family for a make your own pizza party, or visit us in Umbria and let Marco take care of you. No matter which way you slice it, you can’t go wrong when you’re eating good food with good friends.

From Truffles to Nutella Read more

For our family, food has always been at the heart of our celebrations. From creating the perfect menu, to shopping for the ...

Frenching Meats

Not too long ago, I had my first experience with frenching a rack of lamb. For those of you who don’t know what that means- frenching is a technique in which you “beautify” the meat by exposing the rib bones, thereby making the chops more attractive. Nearly every rack of lamb in the grocery store, as well as beef ribeye, and pork loin goes through this process.  While it does indeed make the chops more attractive for plating, and removes quite a bit of fat from the dish, as I was removing the “extraneous” meat from the lamb bones, I felt a pang of sadness. How much goodness we were wasting! Succulent layers of meat and flavorful soft fat was all going to end up in the trash can just for the sake of appearance.

lambchetta_cookedFlash forward a few months and I found myself eating in a small restaurant (the where and when of this meal isn’t important) and noticed a framed article from the Washington Post Food section on the wall. The article was an interview with the restaurant’s chef and included a recipe for a lamb roast, the photo of which looked more like a porchetta than any lamb roast I’ve ever seen. But something seemed familiar about it and I couldn’t shake that feeling. When I got home I opened up a few of my meatiest cookbooks and butchery books and found that same recipe in a pop up in few different places- one of which went so far as to call it a lambchetta. This particular roast was a rack of lamb, but rather than remove the meat from the bones and waste pieces of perfectly good lamb, this roast was based on the premise that only the inedible part of the lamb should be discarded: basically, cut out the bones rather than the meat. What this leaves you with is a “flap” of meat, which is essentially the lamb’s belly, which you then season and roll around the lean loin (the part you are used to seeing as the lamb chop). The first time I made it for myself I kept the seasoning simple, using only salt, pepper, red wine, garlic, and rosemary, but you can really go wild with flavors here. The simple seasoning created flavors that were out of this world, but next time I have visions of testing out a yogurt and feta marinade on the inside.

Lambchetta love story aside, this isn’t the end of frenching meats for my case but I am intrigued by and committed to trying out new ways to avoid waste. With this track record, I think that I may be able to stumble into some pretty incredible flavors this way. So why not join me? Stop by the counter and let me know what unique recipes and preparations you’ve tried and love, let’s brainstorm new ways to create amazing dishes, or just give me a call and I’ll make you a lambchetta that will change the way you eat lamb forever. Either way, I have a feeling that the next few months are going to be pretty tasty.

Scott Weiss
Scott Weiss

Making chops more attractive Read more

Not too long ago, I had my first experience with frenching a rack of lamb. For those of you who don’t know ...