Baking · Italian · Mediterranean

Flatbread dough

This is a very versatile and easy dough for flatbreads, pizzas or strombolis. The beauty is there is no kneading required.

You will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2/3 cup warm water

Steps:

  • Coat a medium bowl with olive oil and set aside
  • . In a food processor or in another bowl with your hands, combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  • Add warm water and olive oil and combine until the dough forms.
  • Shape into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Roll around lightly until it is lightly covered.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and cover with a dish towel in a dark, warm place for 45-60 minutes until it has doubled in size.
Appetizer · Italian · Mediterranean · Spanish

Pan con tomates – garlicky bread & tomatoes

This is a very rustic, simple breakfast, yet it remains a family favorite. It seems ridiculous to write out this recipe or suggest this as a breakfast idea, but after seeing it on several tapas menus, I thought it might be worthwhile. This is ideal when you have some good, crusty bread laying around and a ripe Campari or Roma tomato.

You will need:

  • Slice of a baguette or ciabatta bread
  • Splash of olive oil (1 tbs)
  • 1-2 ripe Campari or Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Scrunch of fresh ground salt

Steps:

  • Heat a sauté pan or skillet to medium and add olive oil when hot
  • Heat bread in olive oil, making sure to allow the side that will have tomatoes to develop a nice crust
  • Add garlic and tomatoes. They should get blisteringly hot and soft. You can do this beside the bread if your pan is large enough.
  • Smear the crushed tomatoes across the top of the bread and add the tiniest scrunch of salt to bring out the tomato flavor.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Italian · Mediterranean

Pasta Arrabbiata with sun-gold tomatoes

Pasta arriabbiata refers to a tomato, red chili peppers, and garlic-based sauce. I found this recipe* using sun-gold tomatoes and butter and found it absolutely simple, yet delicious. You can use dry pasta, but we made homemade and the flavor made all the difference. You can also use traditional cherry tomatoes, but we absolutely loved the flavor of the sun-gold tomatoes, cooked down. Fresh parmesan, of course is preferred, but store-shredded is also fine. In the end, the sauce itself is very simple – both in ingredients and assembly. If you prefer to make this vegetarian, simply leave out the anchovy paste and add a bit more salt to taste.

If you are going to make homemade pasta, you will need to do so about 2 hours ahead: for assembly, and hour and 1/2 to rest and dry. If not, any shape will do. We made ours with orecchiette, but it is truly your preference. The recipe is here: Pasta – Orecchiette.

You will need:

  1. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 2 pints sun-gold cherry tomatoes, halved
  3. 4 tbs butter, unsalted
  4. 1 tsp anchovy sauce
  5. 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  6. 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, dried
  7. 1 cup shredded parmesan
  8. Handful of fresh basil, torn
  9. Kosher salt, as needed
  10. 1lb dried orecchiette or
  11. 3 cups semolina flour (fine) & salt for fresh orecchiette (for making fresh pasta)

To make the sauce

  1. Heat olive oil in heavy pot (like a dutch oven) over medium heat. Also heat separate pot with salted water for your pasta.
  2. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes)
  3. Mix 1 pint of the tomatoes, a pinch of salt and cook until tomatoes burst and become saucy (about 8 -10 minutes)
  4. Cook fresh pasta in salted water (2-4 minutes, depending on type).
  5. Using slotted spoon or tongs, transfer pasta to tomato pot. Be sure to save a little starchy pasta water as a reserve.
  6. Add butter, anchovy sauce, and remaining tomatoes to the pot and stir. Cook until glossy, adding pasta water as needed, until it is creamy. Season with salt and stir in parmesan. Top with fresh basil.

*Pasta recipe is my own. The recipe for the sauce is from Bon Appetit.

Italian · Mediterranean

Fra Diavolo – spicy shrimp & linguini

This fiery shrimp and tomato pasta is easy to make and very satisfying. The name Fra Diavolo translates to “brother devil.” The origins are southern Italy where there is abundant seafood, herbs and fiery peppers. If you know this blog, we also often make shrimp Diablo (a Latin American iteration with cilantro and avocado) when I have some good avocado. I love this dish when it is getting cold – the pasta comforts you and the chilis warm you up. They say not to put cheese on this because its seafood, but I often put a little fresh parmesan on top because it makes me happy.

This sounds means it’s about to smell amazing in your house 🏡

You will need:

  1. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  2. 1 lb linguini
  3. 1 sweet bell pepper (yellow or orange), sliced thinly
  4. 4 roma tomatoes, halved – then quartered
  5. one 28 oz can, whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), with juice
  6. juice of 2 limes
  7. 2-3 tbs olive oil
  8. 2 tbs salt
  9. 4 cloves garlic – crushed*
  10. 3 bay leaves
  11. 2 tsp dried oregano
  12. 1 tsp thyme
  13. 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  14. 2 tbs capers
  15. 2 tbs anchovy paste
  16. 2 tbs butter
  17. 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Steps:

  1. Marinate the shrimp in lime juice and a bit of salt for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Fill a large pasta pot with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Heat large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil when warm. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Add pepper slices and stir and cook for 3 minutes until they soften a little.
  4. Add oregano, bay leaves, thyme and saute for 2 minutes. Then, add crushed pepper and capers, saute for 5 minutes until fragrant. Add roma tomatoes, saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add canned tomatoes, you can crush them with your fingers beforehand or break them up with a wooden spoon, cook for 5-7 minutes. Add anchovy paste, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add butter halfway through to add richness and depth.
  6. By now, the pasta water should be boiling. Add remaining salt and pasta. Cook until al dente. Reserve a little pasta water before draining (about a cup).
  7. While the pasta is cooking, add shrimp and cook until it just turns pink (4-5 minutes). Add parsley to finish. Use reserve pasta water if needed when you add noodles to the sauce and work it in.
Marinating the shrimp
Liquid gold ❤️❤️ and secret sauce weapon

*Note – if you have difficulty peeling fresh garlic, soak them in a dish of hot water for a few minutes. Voila! Easy to peel!

Soaking for 4-5 minutes will help

Italian · Mediterranean

Sunday Sauce

Sunday sauce is a rich meaty traditional sauce to serve for a big family meal. It is best cooked low and slow for several hours. You can also add Italian sausage and or meatballs to the sauce, depending on the size of your meal. This makes a very double portion. I use it for a meal for 5-8 people, and freeze the rest for another meal in the future.

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 4 pork short ribs (around a 1lb)
  • 1/4 pound pancetta
  • several Italian sausage links, spicy or sweet depending on preference*
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion chopped 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes.
  • 2 pounds penne, ziti or pasta or your choice (one that can support a hearty meat sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste* if needed
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  1. In a large enameled cast-iron pot, heat 2 Tbs olive oil until shimmering. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add them to the casserole in a single layer along with the sausage links. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, around 10 minutes. With tongs, transfer the short ribs and sausages to a plate and set aside..
  2. Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add 2 more Tbs of olive oil. Add the onions & carrot, and a generous pinch of salt; cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, pancetta and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Deglaze the vegetables and pancetta with 1/3 cup red wine until the liquid is evaporated.
  3. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Be sure to rinse a little of each can with some extra water to get all the bits, swirl it around and add to the pot. Season with red pepper flakes and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  4. Return the short ribs, sausages and their juices to the pot, cover partially and simmer over low heat, turning the short ribs occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thick, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. 30 minutes before serving: Set a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta. For your Sunday sauce – add fresh basil leaves 30 minutes before serving. Add more oregano or salt as needed. If necessary, add tomato paste in the last half hour to thicken the sauce as needed. Finish off the sauce with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
  6. 20 minutes before serving: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. and set aside
  7. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Transfer the pasta and toss well with some of the sunday sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add some of the reserved pasta water and work it in. Top with additional cheese and pieces of meat from the sauce.

.

Italian · Mediterranean

Bolognese Sauce

You need a lot of time to make a proper Bolognese sauce, as it is best left to simmer for around 3-4 hours. As a result, this is a perfect Sunday sauce – leaving it to simmer all day and fill the house with good aroma:) What sets a Bolognese apart from other meat sauces is the sofritto (onion, celery and carrot) and the addition of milk or cream. You can use wine here two ways – deglaze the vegetables before you add the meat, or deglaze the meat before you add tomato. I have done it both ways, but this recipe will be incorporating the wine with the meat. This portion should make a double batch for a family of 5-6. We use half, and then freeze the other for a day we don’t feel like cooking. Always serve with a great loaf of bread and pasta.

You will need:

  • 3-4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • Salt, 3-4 tsp (divided)
  • Black pepper, 1 tsp
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh basil (7-8 leaves)
  • 1 pounds ground beef (85 or 90% lean)
  • 1 lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 quart or large can (28 oz) peeled tomatoes (I prefer Cento San Marzano)
  • 1 quart or large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 pound wide pasta – Pappardelle or Tagliatelle
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Steps:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Add celery and carrot, sprinkle 1 tsp of salt and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add meat and break up with a wooden spoon, stir and mix the sofritto (onion, celery, carrots) until browned. Season with another tsp of salt. Add red wine and cooked until it is reduced and the liquid is mostly evaporated (around 7 -8 minutes).
  3. Add tomatoes, breaking them up and incorporating them into the mixture. Add remaining salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Fill one of the tomato cans with water (getting all of the tomato juice mixed in) and add to the pot. Fill the other tomato can with water and set aside, in case you need to add more liquid to the pot later on.
  4. Reduce and simmer the sauce for 3 and 1/2 hours. The goal is that the water should be almost evaporated and the sauce should be thick* (use extra water if needed as it simmers) or if it is too liquid, add some tomato paste to thicken it up. After 3 and 1/2 hours, add the fresh basil on top and stir into the sauce.
  5. In another pot, heat salted water and cook your pasta until al dente. Before you strain it, reserve one cup of pasta water and set aside.
  6. After four hours, your sauce should be thick enough that when you move the wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot, you should see it the bottom. Taste the sauce and add more salt, if needed.
  7. To finish, add 1/2 cup of milk or cream, and cook for several more minutes.
  8. Using a clean large sauce pan, heat it over medium-high heat. Add half of the portion of Bolognese sauce and cooked pasta and incorporate. Add 1/2 cup pasta reserve water and work it through – add more if needed. Incorporate the Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.
Baking · Dessert · Mediterranean

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

This recipe is recipe based off one from Martha Stewart, although I strongly doubt she was intrinsically versed in Middle-Eastern baking. Pistachio is ever-present in Southern Italian baking, and rosewater to a certain degree, but most likely those are due to the influence of the Moors and Middle-Eastern traders.

The more I learn and read about baking and cooking, the more I believe it is important to be aware of ingredients and their origins and give credit where it is due. i.e. I can’t pretend I just “discovered” cardamom or these flavor combinations. Rather, I am already a pistachio lover and come by it honestly, but have really been enjoying baking new recipes and exploring cardamom in my desserts.

You will need:

  • 1 cup unsalted pistachios
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • Topping
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp rose water

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan. In a food processor, grind pistachios until finely ground.
  • Prepare dry ingredients: Whisk pistachos, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom in a bowl and set aside.
  • Prepare wet ingredients: Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour in two batches, alternating with buttermilk. Pour batter into pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.
  • Cool cake pan on a a wire rack set over parchment paper. After 30 minutes, turn cake out onto rack and cool completely. While the cake is cooling, whisk confectioner’s sugar,milk and and rose water until smooth. Use milk to adjust desired consistency. Pour over the top of the cake.

Dessert · Mediterranean · Spanish

Almond Cake (Tarta de Santiago)

This is a flourless almond cake that we love with coffee or tea, or in the evening after a rich meal. The appeal is how very easy it is to make, and how it is so simple and yet so decadent at the same time. The recipe was given to us by a dear friend of the family, and we have been enjoying it ever since.

Tarta de Santiago has origins in the middle ages in Spain, where it was often topped with a cross in powdered sugar for St. James.

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 eggs, separated.
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 small orange
  • For the topping:
  • dusting of confectioners sugar
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, slivered or sliced.

You will need:

  1. Roast slivered almonds for 4-6 minutes at 200 degrees in a pan, and then set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. You can use either a greased springform pan or a greased 9 inch cake pan. Dust with flour.
  3. Whisk vigorously or use a mixer to blend sugar and eggs yolks until creamy. Beat in zest and extracts. Add almond flour and salt and mix well. With a clean whisk or mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold egg white mixture into the almond flour mixture until well-combined. Pour batter into the pan and bake.
  4. Bake until deeply brown (40-45 minutes). Let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes on a rack. After, turn the cake out and let it cool completely on the plate before serving. Top with confectioner’s sugar and roasted almonds.

Italian · Mediterranean

Chicken stuffed with Feta & Sundried Tomatoes

I have been seeing various versions of this pop on my feed and thought it looked rather comforting and easy to make. I tried it out (putting my own spin on it) and was delighted with how easy it was to make and how delicious it was. If you are a feta or sundried tomato lover like myself you will love this. Also, it is a very healthy dish if you are conscientious about diet.

Level: easy. Time: 45 minutes total (15 prep)

You will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 6-8 Sundried tomatoes, drained
  • Feta, 4-6 oz.
  • Fresh spinach, 1-2 cups
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil
  • toothpicks

Step one:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop spinach and sundried tomatoes loosely into bite size pieces. Blend spinach, sundried tomatoes, and feta in a small bowl and set aside.

Step two:

Clean and pat dry chicken breasts. Slice a small pocket in each breast, to hold stuffing. Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. Stuff each chicken breast with the feta mix and hold together with 1-2 toothpicks.

Step three:

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and when ready add the chicken. Brown on each side for 6-7 minutes. Finish the chicken off in the oven for 15 minutes until fully cooked. Serve.

Mediterranean · Side dish

Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash

A classic for the grill.

  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 4 medium summer squash, sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup good quality basalmic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

Heat grill to medium. Toss zucchini, squahs, oil, vinegar and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Grill covered, until tender around 6-8 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade to drizzle over the vegetables.