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Monthly Archives: December 2011
Have you ever had a dish that just makes you smile? This dish does that for me. Gran Fran made this for me and Joe a few weeks back and it reminded me of weeknight meals from my childhood.
My parents were (and still are ) the King and Queen of the multi-task. Both Gran Fran and Joe worked at the same office. They took shifts getting the younger kids (mostly me) to school. Gran Fran would head into the City early (around 7am, I think) and Joe would go in after he dropped me at school (around 8:30am). The afternoon shift would mostly fall to my older brother and sisters, and we did live in a town where we could just go out and play, ride bikes or walk down to the store without too much trouble.
Gran Fran would arrive home around 5pm, in time to get dinner on the table. She did, however, instruct us post-school over the phone on how to prep the dinner and get anything in the oven that we could handle before she got there. This was before cell phones and e-mail, so Gran Fran called us at about 3:30 to get us started.
The only issue was that she was convinced everyone around her could hear everything she said. She spoke at barely above a whisper, which sometimes led us to some odd conclusions on ingredient measurements and cooking temperatures. The best part about her behavior was that for a good number of years, she was in an office with her door closed whilst having these illicit conversations with her children.
Gran Fran and Joe managed to raise another generation of multi-tasking adults in my brother, myself and my sisters. It is both a blessing and a curse. A Claro can get done in half a day what it takes a normal person a full day and half to do. I often get comments when I arrive at work (around 8am) after I’ve recounted the amount I’ve accomplished between the hours of 5:45 and 8am. It seems normal to me to finish two loads of laundry, put away the dishes, make breakfast and lunch for myself and my daughter, get the dinner ingredients organized, shower and get out the door. I guess it’s a bit much.
The chicken picatta featured above makes for a nice easy weeknight meal. Not much fuss, lots of flavor and not too many dishes after cooking. It’s the perfect end to an otherwise crazy day.
- 1 1/2 lbs. thinly sliced chicken breast
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I use Rice Flour)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper tp taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic quartered
- 1 1/2 cups marsala
- 3 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
1. Salt and pepper chicken cutlets; dredge in flour.
2. Pour oil into heated skillet
3. Saute cutlets on both sides until golden and just about cooked through.
3. Saute cutlets on both sides until golden and just about cooked through.
4. Remove cutlets from pan; add mushrooms and saute until golden.
5. Add garlic and marsala; reduce slightly over high heat.
6. Return chicken to pan,stir; cover simmer until the marsala forms a nice gravy.
7. Serve sprinkled with parsley
What a nice way to end the year. They are deliver great fresh fruit to our office sometimes and it’s always a pleasure when the delivery comes in.
Look into fresh fruit and veggie box deliveries in your area, it’s totally worth it. You never know what you’ll get in the box. The mystery contents can lead to some great off-the-cuff meals.
Hope you are enjoying this 363rd day of the year.
I don’t usually talk about one ingredient like this. But, Joe (my dad) made me some really good broccoli and I needed to share this with you.
I’ve always simply steamed broccoli in a steamer basket. Joe boils his with some salt in the water. There are some people who like their broccoli crisp, even when cooked. I prefer mine a little soft, still green and not mushy.
Here’s what you need to do:
Cut your broccoli up into florets, discarding the tough bottom stems.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add broccoli and cook for about 8 minutes, or until your fork goes through the stems.
I know, you’ve probably all eaten your body weight in treats, ham and gooey goodness by now, but I had to share a-not-so-light recipe with you. It’s traditional, I guess, to start off the post-Christmas season with light, healthy foods, but it’s so darn cold, I still think we need these stick-to-your-bones dishes to get us through.
Remember how I mentioned that my sister and I made a book for Gran Fran with her recipes and my photos? Well, here is another
recipe from that project, Lasagna Geonvese. I’ve not made many lasagna’s in my time, but figured I should give this one a go since it’s different than any others I’ve had.
I, of course, don’t eat gluten or dairy, so I only had a small taste of this. It was superb. You could adjust this easily with gluten-free noodles, but I’m not a fan of non-dairy cheese, so can’t recommend anything on that front.
OK, back to the recipe. It was really fun to make. Lots of steps, as I’ve mentioned before, but the potatoes and pesto really made this dish stand out from your traditional lasagna. I love the colors, too, since it’s a little unexpected to see a green lasagna. I do have to say, though, I don’t recall when Gran Fran may have made this for us.
I do remember her excellent Pesto, and know that when we were in Italy in 1989 we did have a lasagna with pesto and potatoes in it. Yes, that’s right, I (and probably Gran Fran, too) can probably recall every dish we ate that month in Italy. The fried bread (savory and salty) is one thing I have yet to be able to recreate in my own kitchen.
Enjoy a piece of this right out of the oven.
original recipe courtesy of Fran Claro of The Italian Pantry
- 3 cups basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, roughly grated
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Dried red pepper flakes to taste
- In blender or food processor, pulse all ingredients, until sauce is thick and creamy.
- Add more oil if necessary.
- Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- 1 pound curly edge lasagna noodles
- 10 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed, salted, thinly sliced, steamed until tender
- 1 pound green beans, sliced on the bias, salted, steamed 5 minutes
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, coarsely grated
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced
- 2 cups whole milk ricotta, drained
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Boil noodles in salted water, according to package directions, drain well.
- Blend mozzarella, ricotta, and eggs with parsley; salt and pepper to taste.
- Layer pesto, noodles, green beans, pesto, grated cheese, potatoes, blended cheeses, pesto.
- Continue stacking ingredients in the same order, ending with noodles, pesto, and a sprinkling of Parmigiano.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil; bake 35 minutes; remove foil; bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Let rest 15 to 20 minutes before serving.