Sicilian Style Eggplant

Also known as Pasta con le Melanzane

For the eggplant:
4 lbs eggplant
coarse salt
about 2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups peanut oil

For the sauce:
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into pieces
2 bay leaves, fresh if possible
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded, or the equivalent in canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste

For the pasta:
1 lb 4 oz packaged rigatoni
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 oz freshly grated Gruyere cheese
4 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Peel and cut the eggplant into slices 1/4 inch thick. Layer the eggplant slices in a colander, salting each layer. Place a heavy plate on top with a weight, and leave for 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry.

Put flour in a large bowl. Lightly dredge as many eggplant slices as will fit into the skillet.

Transfer the slices to a large sieve and toss about to remove excess flour. (Flour enough slices for one batch only, or the flour will become damp and the slices will not fry well).

Heat the oil to hot in a large skillet and lightly brown the eggplant on both sides. Line a colander with paper towels and drain the slices, one layer at a time, covering each layer with more paper towels. When all the slices have been fried, set aside, reserving the frying oil, and prepare the sauce.

Drain 1/4 cup of the oil in which the eggplant has been fried through paper towels into a clean skillet.

Saut the chopped onion in the oil until transparent but not browned. Add the meat, basil, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Saut until the meat is on longer pink, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes.

Bring 5 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons coarse salt to a boil in a large pasta pot and boil the rigatoni for 4 minutes only. Add 2 cups of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain; then mix with the butter, Gruyere and Parmesan.

Remove the bay leaves from the sauce and add the sauce to the pasta, mixing thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a deep ovenproof dish with eggplant slices (we use a 10-inch; 25-cm terra-cotta casserole). Add a layer of half the pasta, then a layer of eggplant slices and a layer of the remaining pasta, ending with eggplant slices.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Notes: Be sure the oil is hot enough or the eggplant will soak it up like a sponge. Test the oil by dropping in a
small piece of bread; it will color quickly when the oil is ready. The temperature easily drops during the cooking, so take care that it remains high for each new batch of eggplant.

Notes: If prepared in advance, remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before heating. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 40 minutes. This freezes well.

Please Note: Nutritional values listed may vary from final results depending on actual measurements and brands used to prepare the recipe.

Per serving: Calories 724 – Protein 21g – Total Fat 44g – Sodium 968mg – Cholesterol 45mg – Carbohydrates 65g – Fiber – 2g

Cooking with Basil

Cooking with Basil

Chicken Pesto Presto

4 tablespoons store-bought pesto, plus 1/4 cup additional
4 (10 ounces each) bone-in chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons sour cream

Spread 1 tablespoon store-bought pesto under skin of each 4 bone-in chicken breast halves (10 ounces each).

Broil bone side up on broiler pan 8 inches from heat 8 minutes, or until browned.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup store-bought pesto and 2 tablespoons sour cream.

Spread pesto cream over skin on chicken. Broiler, skin side up, 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serves 4

Granite Ware Roaster/Broiler Set, 2-Piece

Fig-Honey Gelato

1 lb. fresh figs, quartered
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1/3 cup mascarpone
1 1/2 cups milk
Pinch salt

In a saucepan, heat the figs over medium-high heat with the sugar, stirring roughly so they break apart. Cook, stirring, until the figs have mostly melted and begin to bubble, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the honey, orange liqueur, mascarpone, milk and salt.

Chill well, about 30 minutes in the refrigerator; then freeze according to ice cream maker’s instructions.

Makes 1 quart.

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

Osso Buco

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 veal shanks, tied to secure meat to bone
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 dried bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 fresh sage leaves
3 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 lemon zested (zest cut into long strips, pith removed)
10 whole black peppercorns
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 canned plum tomatoes, crushed
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups homemade beef stock

Heat oven to 275 degrees F. In a 7-quart flameproof casserole or Dutch oven over medium to medium-low heat, heat vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. In medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Coat each veal shank well with flour; tap off excess. Working in batches if necessary to keep veal shanks from touching at all, add shanks (they should sizzle the moment they hit the pan). Cook until well browned on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes; do not rush. Remove the veal shanks from the casserole, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat, add dried mushrooms, and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Strain mushrooms, reserving 1/2 cup soaking liquid.

Prepare bouquet garni: Tie bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, lemon zest, and peppercorns together in a piece of cheesecloth. Add carrots, celery, and onion to casserole; cook until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, stock, mushrooms with soaking liquid, and bouquet garni.

Return browned shanks to casserole; stir gently to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven; cook until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Check occasionally to ensure a gentle simmer; adjust heat or height of rack as needed.

Transfer shanks to a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Set casserole over medium heat; simmer until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Return shanks to casserole just to heat and coat with sauce.

Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Please Note: Nutritional values listed may vary from final results depending on actual measurements and brands used to prepare the recipe.
Per Serving

Calories: 707 kcal
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Dietary Fiber: 8 g
Fat: 24 g
Protein: 74 g
Sugars: 7 g

Crock Pot Artisan Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart Round Dutch Oven, Sapphire Blue

Italian Seasoned Chicken and Fettuccine

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 (about 1 1/4 pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 package (9 ounces) Buitoni Refrigerated Fettuccine

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine oil, garlic and Italian seasoning in large bowl. Add chicken; turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and place in prepared dish. Discard marinade.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Serve chicken over pasta.

Serving Size: 4

Pyrex 3-Cup Rectangle Food Storage (Pack of 4 Containers)

Italian Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

4-5 cups cauliflower (stem removed and broken into flowerets)
4-5 cups broccoli (stem removed and broken into flowerets)
1-2 ounce prosciutto, 1 cup diced (cooked till crisp)
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup diced
1/4 lb provolone cheese, diced small (sharp aged 7 months)

Green Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon mustard, coarse ground
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 garlic cloves
1 cup scallions (1 cup chopped)
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar

Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl.

Place all dressing ingredients in a blander and blend till smooth.

Pour over salad and toss till will coated.

Chill till ready to use.

Serves 14

Cooking with Basil

Cooking with Basil

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch hot red pepper flakes
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 tablespoon currants
Salt to taste
2 tightly-packed tablespoons fresh basil, torn
7 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Tomatoes and Mozzarella:
6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, sliced vertically about 1/2-inch thick
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, packed in liquid, sliced 1/2-inch thick
About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, the two peppers, onion, currants and salt to taste. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes.

Just before assembling the dish, stir in the basil, and all but 1/2 teaspoon or so of the pine nuts.

Alternate slices of tomato and cheese on a plate, lightly seasoning each tomato slice with a little salt. Sprinkle each mozzarella slice with a teaspoon or so of the onion mixture and sprinkle it with about 1/2 teaspoon pine nuts.

Sprinkle the entire dish with the olive oil, and any leftover pine nuts and onion mixture.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8 as antipasto; 4 as a main dish

Cooking with Basil

Cooking with Basil

Olive Oil Cake (2)

Also known as Pissota con l’Oio

1 tablespoon butter
3 cups plus 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 cup quality extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other sweet citrus-flavored liqueur
2 tablespoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease a 3″ deep round 9″ cake pan and the outside of a heavy 3″ deep 3″ ovenproof ramekin or bowl with butter, then dust with 2 tablespoons of the flour, tapping out excess. Put ramekin or bowl upside down in center of prepared pan. Alternatively, grease an 11-cup bundt pan with butter and dust with flour. Set prepared pan aside.

Beat eggs and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add remaining 3 cups flour, lemon zest, oil, milk, and liqueur and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add baking powder and stir until thoroughly combined.

Holding ramekin or bowl firmly in place, spoon batter into prepared pan around ramekin or bowl or spoon batter into bundt pan, if using, and smooth out top with the back of the spoon. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer cake to a wire rack to let cool completely, in its pan.

Makes 1 9″ Cake

Bellemain 4 oz. Porcelain Ramekins, Set of 6

Old-Fashioned Italian Meat Sauce with Pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops, 1-1/2 inches thick (6 ounces each)
1 pound Eckrich® Fresh Italian Sausage, casings removed
4 cans (14.5 ounce each) Hunt’s® Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic, undrained
1 can (12 ounces) Hunt’s® Tomato Paste
1 quart (4 cups) water
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
16 ounces dry pasta, uncooked

Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chops; cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until browned on both sides. Remove from pan; cover to keep warm. Brown sausage in same pan, stirring occasionally to crumble sausage; drain. Return to pan.

Add chops, diced tomatoes with their liquid, the tomato paste, water and basil; mix well.

Reduce heat to low; simmer 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until sauce is thickened and meat is falling off the bones, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bones.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Serve topped with the sauce.

Cooking with Basil

Cooking with Basil

Italian Cream Cake

1 (18 1/4 ounce) white cake mix
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups water
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, etc
2 cups flaked coconut

3 tablespoons butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoon cream
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixer bowl add the cake mix, vanilla pudding, water, eggs and oil. With electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Fold in the chopped nuts and coconut.

Pour the batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lightly greased and floured. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted off center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

In a medium sized mixer bowl, blend the butter and cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar and enough cream to make it a smooth spreading consistency.

Frost cake with frosting and sprinkle with coconut.

Cooking with Walnuts: 51 Recipes using Walnuts