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Italian Free-Form Apple Tart (Crostata Di Mele Alla Romana)


Italian Apple Crostata

I have been taking an Italian cooking series at the Institute of Culinary Education and it’s been an amazing opportunity to make fresh pastas, risottos, sauces and classic Italian dishes and desserts. I’ve decided I want to start baking more and was thrilled to learn how to make a lovely free-form apple tart called Crostata Di Mele Alla Romana. This delicious dessert is basically an Italian version of an apple pie but without a pie dish, made on a baking sheet. Super easy and super delicious, and perfect for the holidays.

The handmade dough is rolled out on to a sheet pan, with a delicious warm apple, rum, butter and cinnamon filling, then topped with a lattice crust and sealed together around the edges with rolled dough. The crusty is golden and flaky, with a buttery cake-like texture and is topped off with sprinkled confectioner’s sugar. You won’t be able to resist the smell of warm apples and cinnamon that permeate the kitchen making this the ultimate comfort food for your friends and family. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Pasta frolla:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
3 large eggs

Apple filling:

3 lbs. tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Egg wash:

1 egg well-beaten, with a pinch of salt

For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until finely mixed in. Add the eggs and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball. Shape into a disk, wrap the dough and chill it for at least 1/2 an hour.

For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples thinly. In a medium saute pan, combine the apples with the sugar, butter, rum and cinnamon and simmer uncovered, over low heat until the apples exude their juices, about 10 minutes. Continue to simmer until the filling is fairly dry, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and set a rack in the lower third of the oven. Cover a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment or foil.

making the crostata

Divide the dough in half, roll half into a 12 inch disk and transfer it to the pan. Using a plate or platter as a pattern, cut the dough into a perfect 11-inch circle. Spread the filling to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the dough.

Cut rolled pasta dough

Roll 2/3 of the remaining dough into an 8 by 12-inch rectangle and cut into sixteen 1/2-inch wide strips.

Making the lattice crust

Brush the strips with egg wash and arrange them on the filling in a diagonal lattice. Use the remaining dough and scraps to make a long cylinder.

Making the tart dough edge

Egg wash the edge of the tart and apply the cylinder. With the back of a knife, make diagonal impressions in the cylinder.

Bake the tart until the dough is nicely colored, about 30 minutes.

Italian Free Form Apple Tart

Top with powdered confectioner’s sugar, let cool slightly and slice. Serve with French vanilla ice cream.

*Note: You can also substitute 2 1/2 lbs pitted sour cherries or blueberries, (fresh or frozen) for the apples.

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Sweet & Simple: Black Cherry Clafoutis


Cherry Clafouti

Black Cherry Clafoutis

The other day I suddenly had a strong craving for dessert. Most likely this was result of my having eyed some gorgeous black cherries on the sidewalk at Todaro Brothers, my favorite local market down the street. I suddenly remembered a simple, delicious French dessert called Clafoutis that I learned how to make in cooking school, and decided this would be the perfect dish to satisfy my sweet tooth and take advantage of the delectable fresh cherries that were calling my name.

Cherries

Gorgeous Cherries

Clafoutis is a dessert originating in 19th century from the Limousin region of France. The name stems the verb clafir, which literally means “to fill” – (the fresh black cherries with a custard like batter). The dish calls for slivered almonds and butter along with a hint of almond and vanilla flavors, covered in a custard-like batter and baked. It is finished with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and served lukewarm. Clafoutis is also made with apples, plums, pears, blackberries or raspberries, and is even better with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or ice cream – the perfect remedy for a hot summer day.

Cherries

Cherries ready for pitting

The traditional way of making Clafoutis is to leave the pits in the cherries which give a more intense cherry flavor to the dish, but you can also choose to pit them before baking, giving it a milder cherry flavor and making it easier to dig in and enjoy this delicious creation. Either way it’s sweet and simple to make, so follow your heart’s desire. One bite, and you’ll be in love. Savourer!

Cherries and Almonds in Buttered Dish

Cherries and Almonds in Buttered Dish

Cherry Clafouti

Pouring the Custard Batter over Cherries

Ingredients

1 c fresh black cherries, pitted (or unpitted if you prefer)
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting once baked)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a medium size oven proof casserole or skillet and toss in almonds and cherries.

Whisk together eggs, sugar and brown sugar, salt and flour; mix together. Slowly whisk in the milk, almond and vanilla flavoring until you have a smooth custard-like batter and pour over the cherries into the baking dish.

Bake for 45 mins to an hour until the Clafoutis is lightly browned (you can test the doneness with a toothpick in the center – it is done if it comes out clean). Let cool to room temperature, then dust with powdered sugar and slice into wedges (or rectangular slices if made in a square or rectangular baking dish). Serve with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4. If baking for a larger crowd, double the recipe and bake in a large 9×9 or 10×7 baking dish – this will serve 6-8 people.

Clafouti with Powdered Sugar

Sweet.

Simple.

Simple.

Cherry Clafouti

and Oh So French.

Other Clafoutis recipes you may enjoy:

Dave Lieberman’s Blueberry Clafouti

Michael Chiarello’s Apple Clafouti

Julia Child’s Plum Clafouti (via Gratinee)

Ina Garten’s Pear Clafouti

Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate Clafoutis with Caramelized Oranges

Crunchy and Luscious: Chicken Mushroom Croquettes



Chicken and Mushroom Croquettes

Chicken Mushroom Croquettes

Croquettes are delicious small fried food rolls – crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. They are usually filled with mashed potatoes or minced meat such as beef or veal, poultry, fish, vegetables or shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp and salmon are common). The ingredients are mixed together with fresh herbs and spices and oftentimes a creamy white sauce, then shaped into cylindrical patties, coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried (or you can bake these in the oven if you prefer).

Originating in France, the word croquette means “to crunch”. Perfect for a cocktail party appetizer or just a luscious small dish, served with a salad and a glass of crisp white wine. Serve with a remoulade dipping sauce and a splash of lemon.

Croquettes

1 1/3 c chicken, finely shredded (white meat)
2/3 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (cremini and/or white button)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
dash of cayenne
dash of nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c canola oil, for frying

Herb Cream Sauce

1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
1 c. chicken stock
1/3 c cream
1/2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp thyme, finely chopped

Remoulade Sauce

2 c mayonnaise
2 tbsp chopped capers
1 ½ tbsp chopped chives
1 ½ tbsp. chopped tarragon
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped chipotle pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

To prepare remoulade: In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, capers, chives, tarragon, parsley, chipotle pepper, and Dijon mustard. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice to taste. Cover and chill until ready to use.

To make the croquettes, first shred and chop the warm, cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken is a fast and easy way to do this or you can use shredded parboiled chicken). Finely chop the mushrooms and mix in salt, celery salt, cayenne and nutmeg, mixing all ingredients together.

Make the herb cream sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly adding flour, chicken stock, herbs and cream together, whisking thoroughly and often until the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Add the sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture, then add one beaten egg until it has a moist but firm texture; set aside to cool. Shape into cylindrical patties and coat with breadcrumbs. Place croquettes in a frying pan in heated oil over medium high and fry until the croquettes have a crispy, golden brown crust, about 5-6 minutes, and drain on paper towels.

Serve with a side salad of mixed greens with lemon juice and olive oil dressing, a crisp white wine and remoulade sauce for dipping.

Makes 4  servings.

 

Other Croquette recipes you may enjoy:

Paula Deen’s Potato Croquettes

Alton Brown’s Tuna Croquettes

Anthony Bourdain’s Dutch Croquettes

Japanese Beef and Potato Croquettes (Korokke)

Saveur’s Salmon Croquettes

Indochine Kitchen’s Croquettes

Grillin’ Up Summer BBQ: Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs


Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs

Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs

Summer is finally on it’s way and along with the warm weather and sunshine comes grilling season! For Memorial Day, my beau and I went to Brighton Beach and soaked up the sun, sand and waves on a gorgeous, relaxing day. We hit the fresh fish, fruit and vegetable markets to pick up some gorgeous iced shrimp and some fresh ground chicken, pineapples, onion, cilantro and broccoli slaw and headed home to Manhattan to stoke up the fires and make some awesome BBQ rooftop-style.

Rooftop BBQ

Rooftop BBQ

Aiming to keep it light, we decided to whip up my infamous Chicken Burgers with my secret recipe made with Dale’s Steak Seasoning (a delicious find I discovered when living in Atlanta and great on anything grilled!) made with soy sauce, garlic, paprika and ginger mixed with some other spices mixed into the ground chicken (garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and smoked paprika). We also made our signature Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs marinated in Tavern on the Green‘s tasty Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce with ingredients of soy sauce, lemon, red wine vinegar, ginger, honey, and spices with pineapple juice and let them marinade for up to an hour. For grilling, we smoked them up over some Mesquite flavored coals to give the Chicken and Shrimp a delicious charred, smoky flavor. To top it off, we enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and some Broccoli Slaw and enjoyed our rooftop dinner watching the stars on a lovely, breezy summer night overlooking the East side of Manhattan. Happy Summer on it’s way!

Chicken Burgers

Chicken Burgers

Tasty Chicken Burgers

1 lb ground Chicken (breast meat)
1 lb ground Chicken (thigh meat)
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder or 1 tbsp fresh chopped Garlic
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Dale’s Seasoning
1 tbsp Paula Deen House Seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 bunch Cilantro, fresh chopped or 1 tbsp dried
A dash of fresh ground Salt and Pepper
4 Cheese slices, Muenster or Monterey Jack

Mix all ingredients except the cheese together with the ground chicken and mix thoroughly with your fingers in a claw motion until mixed well. Place burgers in a baking dish and cover, let marinade in refrigerator for up to 1 hour. Preheat grill with Mesquite Charcoal. Form meat mixture into 10-12 patties and grill over med-high heat for 5-6 mins each side until no longer pink. Melt cheese slices over burgers last 5 mins of grilling, covering grill to melt cheese. Serve with broccoli slaw and garlic dill pickles.

Serves 4.

Shrimp

Fresh Shrimp from the Market

Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs

1.5 lb fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can pineapple chunks, or 1.5 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 large red onion, cut into large chunks
Tavern on the Green Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 cup Pineapple juice

In a large resealable plastic bag or plastic bowl, combine shrimp with Teriyaki Sesame Marinade and Pineapple juice; cover or seal and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

Drain and discard marinade. On 8 metal or soaked bamboo skewers, alternately thread shrimp, pineapple and onion. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink.

Serves 4.

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Recipe by Paula Deen, Food Network

2 bags (3-ounce) Ramen Noodle Soup in Oriental
3/4 stick butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 bags (12-ounce) bags broccoli cole slaw (in the bagged salad section of the grocery store)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Dressing Mix:

3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown or white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 ramen noodle seasoning packet

Directions

Put the ramen noodles in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin while melting butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat. Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and saute, stirring occasionally (keep temperature at low/medium heat). Meanwhile, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place the shredded broccoli into bowl and toss with the noodles, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Serves 4-6.

Ecco La Cucina: An Interview with Tuscan Chef Gina Stipo


Gina Stipo at Ecco la Cucina, Tuscany

Gina Stipo at Ecco la Cucina, Tuscany

I recently took a Tuscan cooking class with Chef Gina Stipo at ICE in New York, and immediately fell in love with her rustic Tuscan recipes, her passionate, hands-on teaching approach and cooking philosophy; centered around fresh, seasonal produce and local ingredients from Tuscany. We learned the basics of Tuscan cooking, local ingredients, cheeses and wines, and a little bit about Gina’s culinary training. She explained Italian culture and ways of cooking, and we made some really delicious food which we thoroughly enjoyed at the end of the evening.

Pecorino Flan, Kristen making Gnocchi, Artichokes and Lemon

Pecorino Flan, Kristen making Gnocchi, Artichokes and Lemon

For starters, we made a savory Pecorino Flan, served with roasted pears and arugula and paired with a crisp, white Tuscan wine to complement the tangy cheese. We made fresh homemade potato gnocchi from scratch, along with two savory, simple cream sauces – one with fresh crumbled gorgonzola, onion and sage, another with walnuts, butter and parmesan.

For the Roasted Chicken dish, Gina demonstrated the ‘Tuscan’ way of cutting up a whole chicken (with a large pair of kitchen shears), then she threw it gently into a roasting pan along with our fresh trimmed artichokes, lemons, garlic, rosemary and sage and put it in the oven for awhile until it was crispy and browned. For dessert, we savored a light and fruity Strawberry Semifreddo drizzled with melted dark chocolate – straight from the heavens above!

Gina's Cooking Class, Ecco la Cucina Cookbook

Ginas Cooking Class, Ecco la Cucina Cookbook

In my interview with Gina, she discusses her culinary training and background and cookbook Ecco La Cucina, (“Here’s the Kitchen”). Having lived and trained in Italy, Gina specializes in Italian cuisine primarily from the Tuscany region. She also does personalized food and wine tours in Tuscany and around Italy, and offers hands-on cooking classes held on the rural estate of Spannocchia, south of Siena, focusing on Tuscan cuisine and wines. Gina is truly passionate about her work and has found her place in the culinary world. She’s truly an inspiration, and a talented Chef and cooking instructor… Read my personal interview with Gina below to find out more about her culinary training and career, cooking philosophy, her cookbook and a few of the recipes from our class.

Can you tell me a little bit about your culinary and professional career background?

I feel as if my life has always been food focused, I have so many early memories of different foods I loved.  Growing up in an Italian family, meals were very important.  We celebrated with food, we made special trips to buy the right ingredients, and we ate together as a family.  When I was six years old we moved to Italy for four years and the beauty of the country, the food that is such an integral part of their lives, made an indelible mark on me that formed a basis for the way I relate to both the beauty of my surroundings and food. I have been studying food all my life but made a career change when I was in my late 30’s to focus on food professionally.  I came into a little money and I used it all to go travel in Italy and study their cuisine.

When did you realize you wanted to be a professional chef and cooking instructor? Who inspired you most as a young cook? What did you learn from them?

For a long time as a young adult my dream was to live in New York City and go to culinary school but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.  I lived that dream when I was in my late 30’s and then worked in restaurants for several years to gain experience, but I still hadn’t found my niche.  In 2000, some friends who own an estate in Tuscany asked me if I would come and do some classes for their guests.  I set up cooking classes and found that I’m really good at it, that my innate curiosity and constant study of the subject before I went to culinary school had given me a lot of information that people are interested in.

My mother inspired me as a young cook, she has a curious nature and was always buying strange things in the market and figuring out how to cook them or eat them.  The Italian food of my father’s family inspired me.  From my mother I learned curiosity and openness, from my grandmother and aunts I learned the importance of freshness and respecting your ingredients.

Can you tell us about your training at the Institute of Culinary Education as well as abroad in Italy? How were you trained and what was that like? What was your first job as a professional cook and what was that like?

I loved going to ICE, spending every day surrounded by food and talking about it; I got extra bonus points on tests, joyously studied and constantly felt thrilled to be learning and surrounded by people interested in food.  I learned that I love the technique and precision of beautiful desserts and enjoy making them perfectly.

I also trained in Italy, at a school in Bologna as well as by talking to little old people and home cooks about their food and cooking with them in the kitchen.  It’s important to have an open mind and realize that, no matter what you’ve studied or for how long, you don’t know it all, there’s always something new to learn.

How did you get started doing food and wine tours in Italy and can you tell us a little bit more about that?

After I started doing classes for the estate in Tuscany I hit upon the idea of doing a tour for their guests and taking them around the area to great restaurants and wineries, sharing with them the intricacies of the regional foods.  That grew a little every year.  Meanwhile I did single day classes for people who come to Tuscany.  In 2005 my sister came to work with me and is my partner in the States, coordinating the weeklong tours and coming to Italy when we have a group.

Can you tell us a little bit about your cooking style and what makes your cookbook and cooking classes unique?

I would say what sets my cooking apart is knowledge and respect for the ingredients, for the way the dishes developed and evolved.  My cooking style is simple, I don’t believe in making it complicated or scaring people away from food; I want them to have the same acceptance and understanding of the importance of it as an integral part of their lives.  While I enjoy entertaining with stories, my focus is on education, not on reinventing the wheel or making a dish so complicated it takes the joy out of cooking.

Tell us about your cookbook Ecco La Cucina, and what inspired you to write this?

My cookbook is a simple compilation of the recipes we use in my area of Tuscany and was put together by the requests of many of my students.  I put a spiral binder on the first several printings because i want people to be able to use it in the kitchen, not fight with it to get it to stay on the page.  It’s all about making it friendly and comfortable, like Italian cooking should be.

In your opinion, what are the most important elements when creating a recipe from scratch?

There are two questions there:  a recipe from scratch or a dish from scratch.  I do both.

When I went to Italy I worked with an Italian woman who was the cook on the estate.  The owners wanted someone to write down her recipes in English because they had so many requests from their guests.  It hadn’t been done before because she didn’t use recipes, she just cooked.  I worked with her for two months and watched her and learned a lot and wrote the recipes down into a saleable cookbook for the estate.  That exercise helped tremendously when I moved to Italy and traveled around learning about the cuisine and how the dishes were made and allowed me to write my own cookbook years later.

When making a dish from scratch it’s most important to understand the science of cooking; the why and how to make a dish taste good.  There are certain basics in cooking and if you understand those you can create authentic dishes.   But those basics can be different depending on the cuisine.  Indian food is put together differently than Chinese, which is different than French.  The fun thing is learning all of that and making great authentic food!

What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?

There is my grandmother’s special baked lobster that’s a family favorite and has become my signature dish among friends.  You have to have the courage to kill the lobster and it’s stuffed with bread crumbs, herbs, garlic and drizzled with olive oil, baked and then served on top of thin spaghetti.  It’s fabulous!

What is your favorite spice to cook with and why?

I just did a series of classes on spices used in Italian cooking .  I am crazy about salt and talk a lot about the importance of using unprocessed sea salt, but I don’t think I have one particular spice I like to cook with.  I’m against the constant use of black pepper in absolutely everything without thinking of whether it adds anything good to the dish or whether you even like it.  I love making Indian food for all the wonderful spices there are and adore the smell of cloves, but really in Tuscan cooking we use more herbs than anything because they were free for the peasants, whereas spices cost a lot of money.

What is the most underrated ingredient in your opinion?

Freshness and the seasonality of food.  When you get a vegetable or fruit that is grown in season and is allowed to ripen before picking, there really isn’t much else you have to do to it but eat it.  And by using seasonal ingredients that are local and fresh your dish is elevated before you even begin.

As a professional chef, what was your funniest kitchen incident?

My first job as a professional was in a very hot, very small kitchen at an excellent French bistro in Atlanta.  I was garde manger until I got promoted to the grill.  The first day I was there it was 95 degrees outside and too hot in the kitchen for chef coats so we all wore our favorite t-shirts and ball caps.  After 10 minutes sweat was already trickling down my back and stomach so when the owner asked me if I thought they should turn on the air conditioning in the kitchen, I answered YES!  Everyone laughed because it was a joke they always played on new crew: there wasn’t any air conditioning in the kitchen and, to make it worse, if you kept the kitchen doors open it pulled the air conditioning from the dining room and the guests would be too hot.  I loved how tough you had to be to make it through your shift and the camaraderie you have with the other cooks, like surviving under fire.

When cooking at home, what do you like to prepare for yourself?

Sometimes I like to make complicated braised dishes that take all day, but when I’m hungry I’ll make myself a big fresh chopped salad with walnuts, dried cranberries, blue cheese and grapes.  Or cook up a batch of fried chicken or rabbit.  But I’ve been known to make dinner a bottle of red wine and a bowl of buttered popcorn!

What is your favorite cooking gadget or kitchen item you can’t live without and why?

I really love a decent rubber spatula and a microplane, but I tend to travel with my own special paring knives.

What 5 cookbooks would you recommend every home cook own?

That’s hard because I’m not a big fan of cookbooks, I prefer to read food history or food science.  But the Joy of Cooking is a go-to book in my kitchen for all those traditional recipes that no one knows by heart, plus the original Betty Crocker book from my childhood is great for straightforward American desserts and a bit of nostalgia.   The Greens cookbook from The Greens Restaurant in San Francisco is my all-time favorite book, it’s all vegetarian cooking and every recipe in there is amazing, yet simple.  The Essentials of Italian Cuisine by Marcella Hazan is also an excellent reference book.  My new favorite is by an Italian, Giorgio Locatelli who owns a restaurant in London; his book “Made in Italy” is a wonderful read and a great learning tool

Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs and home cooks?

For aspiring chefs:  respect your ingredients and spend time learning in depth a cuisine rather than trying to reinvent something you don’t understand.

For home cooks:  Don’t be afraid and don’t let them confuse you with complications.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

I’ve really enjoyed living in Italy, studying the foods of the regions and getting to know the people who make the food and preserve the roots of their cuisine.  I love being able to share that with visitors and help them to better understand Italy, to build memories and enjoy their vacation.

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

2 lbs red skinned potatoes
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
Salt

Preparation

Bring potatoes to a boil in salted water until cooked through, being careful not to cook too much or they become water logged. A fork should enter easily with no hard center. Peel and then put through a ricer onto your work surface. Make a well and add the egg and half of the flour and work until incorporated and evenly mixed, adding the rest of the flour as you go. Knead the dough until its just pulled together and you don’t see tiny potato pieces. Try not to overwork the dough. Form into logs, cut off half-inch sized pieces and roll them on a gnocchi board or fork.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Gorgonzola Sauce

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6-8 fresh sage leaves
8 oz gorgonzola cheese
½ cup cream
Fresh ground pepper
Salt to taste

Preparation

Saute the onion in butter until soft, add sage leaves and continue to cook gently without browning. Add gorgonzola and cook over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Add cream and heat through, being careful not to boil. Season with ground pepper and check for salt; some cheese is saltier than others. Serve over homemade potato gnocchi and top with some fresh ground Parmigiana cheese as garnish.

Walnut Cream Sauce

Walnut Cream Sauce

Sugo di Noci (Walnut Cream Sauce)

1 cup walnuts, chopped fine
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
White pepper, ground
Salt

Preparation

Put the cream, walnuts, Parmigiano, and butter in a saucepan and heat. Salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer and then turn off heat. Allow to remain hot until pasta is cooked, then toss and serve with a sprinkling of more Parmigiano and finely chopped parsley. Because gnocchi or pasta continues to absorb liquid, you will need to save some of the pasta water to add when you toss the pasta, as it may seem dry. Serve over homemade potato gnocchi and top with some fresh grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese as garnish.

Strawberry Semifreddo

Strawberry Semifreddo

Strawberry Semifreddo

1 cup sugar
3 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 egg whites
½ cup sugar
1 pint whipping cream
Dark chocolate, melted
Strawberries for garnish, whole

Preparation

Combine the first cup of sugar together with chopped strawberries and lemon juice and bring to a boil, allowing to cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Take it off the heat and cool completely.

Whip the egg whites with ½ cup sugar until stiff, then whip the cream. Fold together with the cooled syrup.

Spread the semifreddo in a pan, or into individual cups, and freeze until set. To serve, allow it to sit at room temperature 10 minutes then either slice or invert onto plates. Serve with fresh strawberries and chocolate drizzled on top.

To find out more about Gina, her cookbook and Italian culinary tours, visit www.EccoLaCucina.com

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