Pizza, Pizza, and more Pizza…even multi-grain

From: Italy Magazine

Everything Italy. Authentically Italian.

https://www.italymagazine.com/recipe/homemade-ancient-grain-pizza

go and get this great recipe from a great magazine!

I was in a quandary since we are headed for Naples, the birthplace of the “magic Italian Pie”. Where is the best one going to be located for us to try?  Italy Magazine synchronistically came up with an answer or two, along with a recipe you might want to try.

“Overall, Campania is still at the top with 19 award-winning pizzerie, and we shouldn’t be too surprised since the region is considered the birthplace of pizza (Napoli).

Pizza of the year is ‘Oceano’ by the Salvo brothers of Naples, made with fiordilatte, buffalo ricotta flavored with algae, smoked amberjack, pink pepper, lemon zest, Muraglia smoked oil.

“On restaurant menus you’ll often find thin crust pizzas or Neapolitan style pizzas (which are smaller and thicker) baked in wood fire brick ovens where the temperatures arrive up to 800°F. Home ovens don’t arrive at these high temperatures and will therefore be softer and fluffier unless using a pizza stone where you can easily obtain a thin and crispy pizza.

“Highly refined white flours and brewer’s yeast are traditionally used for pizzas, but currently there is a new trend in Italy towards pizzas made with ancient grains like Kamut© and spelt and lievito madre—sourdough starter.”

 

EATING, SOUTHERN ITALY STYLE

….uh-oh, a brand new blog may be necessary!

With the trip to Southern Italy dawning closer as a “first adventure”, I thought to consult Fred Plotkin’s “Italy for the Gourmet Traveler”, a voluminous knowledge base.   Mine resides more to the north.  Thankfully, my traveling companion likes to eat good food and wine and even asked me to be sure and get it together in that area.  So far, the research has yielded many deep fried recipes to look forward to, and pizza, neither one my first choice, and many strange and exotic fruits from the sea, not even a second choice.  The south of Italy apparently has an even sweeter tooth than my Tuscan relations, which will have to be on the reluctant choice menu (except for anything lemon, my fav). Red flag! This region is all about lemons everywhere and lemon everything delicious!

I heard about this book on a podcast interview Rick Steeves had with Plotkin and was impressed enough to buy the over 700-page encyclopedia. What a treasure of information on every major and un-major city and/or region, with notes on what it is famous for, where, why, and how…….dining, wines, ice cream, coffee, menu terms and definitions, even detailed walking guides through a town, recipes, folklore, calendar events, maps, personal notes and historical data for example …..”as you walk around Venezia, there are two  other things I would like you to bear in mind……..”  Instead of an index, all the cities and recipes mentioned are listed, and the 27-page Glossary of Food and Wine Terms is a literary piece of its own merit. The book is a treasure-trove of total entertainment to read.  I crossed myself in case  ancestors were watching and skipped to the Campagnia Region where we will be headed.

Although not the most populated city, Naples and the Campania region has the highest population density of any region in Italy. Plotkin’s descriptions are robust, colorful, inviting and, by nature,  contradictory. For example, Campania, like California, has been subjected to severe earthquakes and Mount Vesuvius and Mt. Etna loom over millions of people. Napoli may be wild and chaotic, the people understandably a bit jumpy, but Plotkin goes on to say “the volcanic soil is unusually fertile, so the fruits and vegetables that grow here are sublime…….once you dine at even the most humble trattoria here, it will be hard for you to swallow so-called Italian food back home.”

The Roman emperor Tiberius made Napoli and Capri his playgrounds. Since then,  there is a long tradition of elaborate cooking and baking for the royal families and nobles. Pizza, born in Naples, is the favorite nighttime meal that wraps around the local street life conviviality today.  The finest “mozzarella di bufala” cheese, Plotkin says, comes from Campania in the province of Salerno.

Pecorino Romano sheep’s milk cheese comes from Sardinia, home to millions of sheep. It holds no candle to American imitations and must be imported, Plotkin advises.   It dances on every table, especially those laden with festival foods created for every saint’s day and for whatever reason you might imagine.

You may think of pasta when Italian food is mentioned. Did you know it did not originate in Italy?  Arabs introduced noodles in the 8th century, Marco Polo brought them from China in 1295 and they were the food of aristocrats until the 1600’s when mechanical pasta began and Naples’ pasta shops blossomed in the 1700’s.  The first documented recipe, however, is said to have been born in 1839. The glorious growing conditions of southern Italy took the credit.

Despite dozens of versions of pasta with lemon in this region, there is much, much more:

Plotkin offers a Penne con Ricotta e Noci Sardinian recipe, that is, pasta with Ricotta and nuts.

I am anxious to try a local version of  Colatura dei Alici, or spaghetti with anchovy sauce.

Every province, every region has their own pasta, individually named, and their own recipe

for the best dish you ever ate. Of course, those from Campania are the ultimate best, you know.  uh-uh.

We will see.

 

 

 

 

”THE DURATION”

PLAN, PREP AND FREEZE MEALS FOR “The Duration”

We call the time I’ll be away on vacation, “the duration”, since my spoiled husband must fend for himself.

My solution is to prepare one-dish meals. I allocated the small freezer in the garage to him and shopped carefully to find a lot of healthy meals he can heat up. Soup is a savior. In addition to loading it up with vegetables, cooked meatballs can be added for protein, or pulled rotiserrie or canned chicken. Of course these helpful notes must also appear in type on the refrigerator. Label the meal containers and storage containers any way you like.  I put all the lunch ideas in the door, soup is on the bottom main shelf, the rest is all entrées. Breakfast containers reside in the kitchen freezer.

Freezer Door: Healthy, chemical free lunch selections

Containered Entreé selections
Soup below

Now for the recipes:

BREAKFAST   Find frittata recipes that make sense to you, prepare in large rectangular baking pan, and cut into squares as you would lasagna.  Freezer in your handy dandy square plastic clamshells. A dozen online  sites, just google it, or use glass storage in quart or larger sizes.

Frittata Breakfast

Frittata Breakfast

French toast breakfast sandwich

 

Glass containerized breakfast scramble

Hot cereal, dried and/or fresh fruit is not that complicated to prepare just have him watch/learn.

We don’t eat cold cereals, Danish, and skip the sugared breakfast pops. A one- package meal might consist of French toast, sandwiched between uncured Canadian bacon or nitrite free ham and cheese that just needs defrosting and heating.  Or, saute onion and/or mushrooms scramble in eggs and containerize/freeze.  Put “Egg Bites” (Cost Co) and two breakfast sausages in freezer bags in kitchen freezer drawer for variety.  Hard boiled eggs are at the ready along with cottage cheese and fresh or canned fruit.

Prepared homemade muffins fit in freezer containers to go with a blended protein drink.  Cottage cheese and fruit is always at the ready in the fridge. All of these ideas I use all year long so Bruce can fix his own breakfast and lunch and dinner if necessary.

LUNCH
Pick from the freezer door, the kitchen freezer containers, protein drinks, or make sandwiches from the nitrite and chemical free lunchmeat and cheese in the fridge.  Soup in the pantry is low sodium, and homemade is in the freezer.

DINNER
 The one-dish meals in the designated “Bruce freezer” were cooked, made and placed in containers: (Yes, of course these meals must be removed from any plastic container before heating.)

  • Roasted vegetables and roasted chicken pieces in containers.
  • Chili, made with beans, beef or chicken.
  • bean/chicken/greens meal;
  • salmon with baked potato and veggies;
  • pork tenderloin (cooked, sliced and placed in larger container with cooked baked potato and vegetables).
  • Same idea for pork or beef ribs or brisket.
  • For any entrée, Safeway simmer sauces are a godsend if more sauce is needed.
  • Soups: green pea is a fav, and loaded with protein.
  • Stews: made with beans, beef or chicken often with potatoes and vegetables.
  • Salads: greens washed, cut and in container at the ready. Fixings in the fridge drawer. Top with protein such as sardines, canned tuna/salmon/chicken, and you have a one dish meal.

DESSERTS

To prevent the entire quart of ice cream from vanishing, I put homemade gelato (sugar free with Xylitol) in the purported “serving size” of ½ cup containers (dollar store). Cookies are in the can or a smaller container, slightly out of reach. Otherwise, he’ll have to wait til I get home and have company for the Tiramisu´.

Cookies just out of reach from the TV tray.

serving size Gelato

 

My favorite “Farm Fresh to You” Recipe

FARM FRESH TO YOU is my go-to Organic CSA (Community Sustainable Agriculture) supplier of fine organic fruits and vegetable to my door. Take a look at their website for easy to customize deliveries of local goods of all kinds, including farm fresh organic eggs, jams, honey, baby food, cereals, etc. etc. etc.–remarkable variety and quality.
Collard Greens with Polenta
This is a great take on greens and grits. The creamy egg on top is a delicious addition. If you want a vegetarian version, try our Easy Braised Collard Greens
EASY BRAISED COLLARD GREENS
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
1 onion, julienned
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
4 cups water
1 cup polenta
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
Instructions:
Wash the collard greens, then cut out the tough stems. Cut the leaves into thin strips. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add the bacon. Cook until the fat renders out and the bacon is browned. Remove the bacon and set aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook them slowly in the bacon fat, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add the collard greens and bacon back to the pan, stirring until wilted. Pour in the wine, vegetable broth, red pepper flakes and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a low simmer, cover, and cook until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile, bring the water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Pour the polenta slowly into the boiling water, whisking constantly until there are no lumps.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until the polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes. If the polenta becomes too thick to whisk, add a little water or broth.
Turn off the heat and gently stir the butter and Parmesan into the polenta. Cover and let stand 5 minutes to thicken. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Transfer the polenta to a serving plate and spoon the collard greens over the top.
Using a nonstick pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over low heat. Crack the eggs into the pan and cook until the yolk and white part are set, about 2 minutes. Gently turn the egg over and cook about 30 seconds. Place the fried egg on top of the collard greens. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese if desired.

Seasonal Eats

The summer bounty of fruit has done its number on me. Peach, raspberry, strawberry and peach marmalade are waiting for their labels. Figs are coming on the big and small trees we have, but I’m sure to frequent the farmers markets to get in on the best crops.

 

What to do with all that bounty? Jams and jellies make terrific gifts, as folks usually like the fact you made it yourself and thought of gifting your craft. Crostatas, tarts, pies, turnovers, and the “walking pie” are more ideas to use up not only fruit, but those prolific zucchini.

The freezer is my saving grace. It houses breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert selections all year long. A new take on the frittata is the zucchini omelet cake recipe I adapted from Lorenza De’Medici’s cookbook “Tuscany”.

 

 

 

If you don’t have a ring mold, a bundt pan would probably work.

TORTINO DI ZUCCHINE
Made in a special pan, this omelet cake is a showstopper for that special luncheon group or perhaps cut, packaged, and stowed in the freezer for easy grab and go breakfast and lunch. Its layers reveal a promise of flavor more than eggs alone, its fragrance suggests herbal notes of fennel, basil and tarragon.

Ingredients

1/4 lb. uncurred bacon or pancetta, finely chopped

2 lb. small zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
6 tiny round washed potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced
1 med.onion, finely chopped
1/2 pkg. Baby Bella mushrooms, finely chopped; 2 tsp. fennel seed
6 eggs, whisked with 1/2 c milk, pinch of s/p, nutmeg
1/4 c plain flour
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
small handful fresh herbs (tarragon, basil, parsley, thyme)
2/3 c dry bread crumbs, such as Panko

In large saute´pan, render bacon til crisp.  Add olive oil as needed. Add olive oil to  coat and sauté onions, potato and zucchini slices, about 10 minutes until softened but not cooked through. Combine chopped mushrooms into the pan and sprinkle in chopped fresh herbs and fennel seed. Preheat oven to 350º.

In separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue to briskly whisk in flour through a sieve to prevent lumps.

Spray baking pan and coat with bread crumbs.

Evenly spoon Zucchini mixture into coated pan and smooth evenly. Slowly pour egg mixture around to fill pan and bake 50 minutes until browned. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Use thin knife to help loosen the frittata around the edge and invert onto serving dish. Use serrated knife to slice into serving pieces.

buon appetito!

Summer Zucchini Pizza

THAT UBIQUITOUS ZUCCHINI

It’s the season, they are everywhere and can be used in sautés, cakes, muffins, ragouts, stews, soups and now……..PIZZA!

INGREDIENTS

Round pizza pan
1 large globe zucchini
sm. disk of Brie or other melting cheese, thinly sliced
2T  fresh chopped herbs (thyme, basil, lemon balm, etc.)
3T tomato paste
I sheet puff pastry rolled out
Pepper and lemon zest to sprinkle

Slice zucchini into thin rounds and place on paper towels to absorb moisture. Sprinkle liberally with salt and place weighted paper towel on top. Allow to sit 30 mins. Press out moisture with another towel if necessary.

Place dry zucchini rounds on sprayed/greased pizza pan, overlapping if necessary. Place small dollops of tomato paste all around, then slices of cheese, a sprinkle of pepper and lemon zest, and fresh herbs (salt is already in the cheese and zucchini). Lay puff pastry sheet over all to cover. Bake in 400º oven 30 mins. until pastry and zucchini begin to brown.  Allow to cool slightly. Loosen with spatula (though it will flip easily). Place another round pizza pan or serving dish over the pizza and flip in one quick motion. Additional grated cheese or seasoning can be added before serving. Buon gusto!

 

Organic Braised Greens

Organic BRAISED GREENS
with Organic Beans, Whole Grains and Uncured Sausage, Serves 4-6

There’s nothing like an unexpected blustery evening with this warming mix of healthy foods. Braising greens brought home from the farmers market cook right up into a hearty taste treat for dinner! Read more….below.

Ingredients
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, small (or shallot/red onion), chopped fine
2-4 strips of cooked uncured bacon, chopped
a colander full of snipped or cut braising greens (baby cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, chard, radish leaves, etc.)
2-4 T EACH extra virgin olive oil and BRAGG’S LIQUID AMINOS*
Uncured, organic, fully cooked sausage (optional), cut into coins (Teton Waters Beef Thuringer is 100% grass-fed Beef)
Whole Grain organic packet (Seeds of Change makes one to simply heat)
Organic 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 oz Lindcove Ranch Candied Blood Orange Peel, or similar homemade variety, chopped, then minced.

In large skillet, drizzle olive oil and sauté garlic quickly, about one minute.

 Add onion, bacon and sauté two minutes.

Add your mountain of chopped greens, one handful at a time, stirring continually.
Add more olive oil, a drizzle of lemon juice and liquid aminos about half way through.

 When greens have wilted completely, push to side of pan and add sausage. Let brown.
Add packet of whole grains, then the beans, cover to let steam, 2 minutes.

 Mix greens together with other ingredients in the pan.
Stir in finely minced candied orange peel and…

.you’re ready to serve!

 Seem too involved? This recipe incorporates many of the organic foods we have adopted. It’s amazing, once you start thinking All Organic, how you find products with
no hormones, no antibiotics, no feedlot, made without chemical additives, additives and
really toxic preservatives like nitrites and nitrates. Farmers Markets are a good bet, but
supermarkets are picking up on the increase in consumer demand for Healthy Please, too. The candied blood orange peel I found at a farmers market was a boon! All the ones I’ve seen in supermarkets are not chemical free. Adding whole grains not only reduces the sugar spike in traditional carbohydrates, they provide healthy digestion, vitamins, minerals and immunity factors your body will enjoy.

Take this a step further, and make it a soup by adding homemade bone-broth or other stock.

*Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is an all-purpose seasoning from Soy Protein, a natural soy sauce alternative with less sodium, no preservatives, Non-GMO.

Whole Grains Means Brown Rice Pasta, Too!

Whole grains mean brown rice pasta, too!

If you want a lighter version than a grain pilaf for example, try these recipes using rice pasta. It comes in all styles: fettucine, spaghetti, spirals, elbows, fusilli, shells, and penne! This pasta adds 4g protein per 2 oz serving and 3g fiber. Continue reading

Brown Rice Pasta and Shrimp Entree

Made quick and healthy with whole grain rice, and fresh veggies cooked all together. Make it tasty with a toss of basil/garlic pesto, lemon and evoo. Add a few options of your own, like cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, olives or homemade croutons. A bit extra makes lunch next day! Continue reading