Category: Side Dishes

Michele Carbone

Limoncello

(VERY EASY TO MAKE)

My favorite summertime after-dinner digestivo is the limoncello made from the lemon trees in my mother’s yard in Calabria. You can purchase limoncello in many locations in Italy and the US, but the pre-packaged bottles are never as good as the ones made from those homegrown, freshly-picked Calabrian lemons.

I’ve found that I can make a great limoncello using organic lemons from the supermarket. Of course, they aren’t quite as great as those collected in the warm sunlight of my mother’s garden, but they still make something delicious.

Even the process of making limoncello is a pleasure, because you breath in the aroma of the fresh lemon zest as you prepare it. The only problem with this recipe is that you have to steep the lemon zest in alcohol for a week – or up to three weeks (depends on the point of view). I say 1 week is all is that is needed before you finish the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 20 organic lemons, preferably less-mature lemons with a very thick skin
  • 750 ML rectified spirit, or ethyl alcohol, such as Everclear (I do not recommend the use of vodka as a substitute, that is a terrible idea)
  • ½ KG superfine sugar
  • Water (purified or bottled)

 

Additional Supplies

  • A serrated vegetable peeler – One of the most important things about this recipe is that you need to use the lemon peel, avoiding the pith as much as possible. The pith gives the drink a bitter taste. Peeling the lemons “just so” used to be quite difficult, but my good friends Teresa and Carlo found a serrated vegetable peeler by OXO (it’s called the OXO Good Grips Serrated peeler, available in many stores as well as online). It makes the job easy.
  • A large glass jar with a cover. The jar needs to be able to hold at least 1 liter of liquid (more if you choose to double or triple this recipe).
  • Another large glass jar that you use for the filtration process.
  • Aluminum foil to cover the jar as the limoncello steeps in the rectified spirit.
  • Glass bottles for the finished limoncello. You will need 2 1-liter bottles for this recipe.
  • A store-bought permanent coffee filter.
  • One or two #4 paper coffee filters.

 

How to make this recipe

  • Wash and dry the lemons.
  • Peel the lemons, making sure that you avoid including the pith.
  • Chop the lemon zest, just a little bit.
  • Pour the 750 ml of the rectified spirits into the clean glass jar, then add the lemon zest.
  • Place the lid on the jar, then wrap it with aluminum foil or a cloth. The reason you cover it with aluminum foil is that the process is photo-sensitive. Therefore, you want to avoid exposing it to light during the one- to three-week steeping process.
  • Shake the jar, then place it in a cool, dry, and dark place. Some people say that it’s best to shake the bottle each day; others say just leave it alone. My mother leaves the bottle alone with a towel around it for at least one week, so I suggest you do it her way (moms know best)!
  • After the one-to-three week steeping period, you’re ready for the next steps.  
  • In a very clean saucepan, heat 1 liter of purified water. Add, slowly, ½ kilogram of superfine sugar to the pan and stir it until the liquid is clear, meaning that the sugar has dissolved completely, creating a supersaturated sugar mixture.
  • Allow the sugar-water to cool in a glass container.
  • Strain the steeped limoncello mixture. Don’t squeeze or try to push the saturated lemon zest in order to extract a few extra ml of limoncello.  

  • Once the limoncello spirits have been filtered, mix 1:1 with the sugar-water.  
  • Decant the limoncello into your clean glass bottles, cap them, and put them in the freezer.
  • Enjoy after dinner in a shot glass. Remember that this is a highly alcoholic drink, so sip it.
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Funghi Trifolati and Fricassee of Mushroom

(For 4 people, or for 1 very hungry person)

I’m in the mountains alone with my Bullmastiff and my Boxer, and tonight I cooked the “mushrooms in fricassee,” a delicious recipe that you will never find in a restaurant.  

Now the “fricassee” is just one more step after you prepare the “Mushrooms trifolati”, so the first part of this recipe will give you an excellent dish, called mushrooms trifolati, then when you want to try a variation of it, you add the fricassee.

Ingredients

  • 14 to 16 ounces of mushrooms (preferably a medley of mushroom types) sliced about 1/3 cm tick
  • Juice from ½ or 1 fresh lemon (depending on how much juice it makes, and how you like it)
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to make this recipe

Part A: Mushrooms trifolati:

  1. In a large non-stick skillet, gently sauté the cloves of crushed garlic in about 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Remove the garlic cloves as soon as they take on color.
  2. Adjust the heat to medium-high or high (depending on the intensity of your burners – for a family stove, high, for a professional stove, medium-high).
  3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet together with the chopped parsley. Cook on high heat for about 4 minutes, mixing them often.  
  4. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. At this point, the funghi trifolati are ready to eat!

Part B.  “Fricassee”

    1. Remove the skillet from the flame, add egg yolks, mixing them well.  Immediately add the lemon juice and mix well.
    2. Serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

 

Suggested Wine Pairing.  A good Chianti or Barbera.

Funghi Trifolati e in Fricassea

Italiano:

Sono in montagna, da solo con il mio Bullmastiff e la mia Boxer, e stasera mi sono cucinato i “Funghi in fricassea”, ricetta buonissima che si mangia molto raramente. Per cominciare,la Fricassea non e` altro che una modifica della ricotta di base dei Funghi Trifolati,percio` di seguito entrambe le ricette:

Procedere come segue: Per circa 4 persone 400 grammi di funghi freschi. Meglio misti: naturalmente migliori sono i funghi migliore e` la riuscita.

1 soffriggere 3 spicchi d’ aglio schiacciati in olio (2/3 di tazzine di caffe`, circa 1/4 of a cup), in una padella antiaderente da circa 20 cm di diametro. Appena dorato togliere aglio.

Funghi trifolati:

  1. Aggiungere i funghi tagliati a fettine e mischiate con circa 1/3 cup di prezzemolo tritato. Cuocere a fuoco forte circa 4 minuti girando spesso.
  2. A questo punto aggiungere sale e pepe nero e I funghi trifolati sono pronti.

Oppure: “Fricassea”:

  1. Togliere la padella dal fuoco, aggiungere 3 rossi (tuorli) d’uovo mischiare bene e aggiungere subito 1/2 limone (se e` sugoso o 1 limone se e` secco/rachitico). Mischiare bene.
  2. Aggiungere sale e pepe e buon appetito.
Photo from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/skillet-bruschetta-with-beans-and-greens

Skillet Bruschetta with Beans and Greens

Recipe from bonappetit.com

Ingredients

  • 8 ¾-inch thick slices crusty bread
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 15oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch kale or mustard greens, ribs removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Brush the pieces of bread on both sides with 4 tablespoons of oil total, and place in a large preheated skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the bread, pressing occasionally to enhance the crispiness until golden brown, which should take about 3 minutes per side. Season the toasted pieces of bread with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Now, increase the heat to medium-high and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet. Add the thinly sliced garlic and red pepper flakes, and stir until fragrant. Then, add the cannellini beans, stirring occasionally, until they begin to blister, which should take about 3 minutes. Using a spoon, lightly mash half of the beans, and add kale and broth, tossing frequently until the kale has been wilted. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the now finished beans and greens mixture over the toasted bread.

Photo from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/skillet-bruschetta-with-beans-and-greens

Michele Carbone fried potatoes 2

The Best Fried Potatoes in the World

This recipe, like most of my recipes, is based on having a good extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh ingredients.  Another thing many of my recipes have in common is that they don’t feature too many ingredients.  This one, for example, just has the following ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – You will need enough for about an inch of oil in the pan you use
  • Yukon potatoes, scrubbed and with the skin on: about 1 – 2 potatoes per person
  • A sprig or two of fresh rosemary
  • Sea salt

We grow our rosemary in pots so that we can clip off springs whenever we need them.  But, if you need to buy the herb packets from your supermarket, keep in mind that you can freeze whatever you don’t use.  The color may get a little dark if the sprig has been in the freezer for a while, but it retains its fresh flavor when you use it later.

You need a pan that can handle a lot of heat, and depth which allows the potato slices to stay under the oil in a single layer when cooking.  We love using the old-fashioned cast-iron skillets for this, but you can also use any pan designed for high heat which distributes heat evenly.

This recipe is fun to cook when your guests are keeping you company in the kitchen.  Because I’m Italian, I like serving this dish as an appetizer because it’s best when the potatoes have come right out of the skillet.  But, you can also serve it at the same time you dish up an entree, such as lamb chops or steak.

Preparation:

  1. Slice the potatoes into thick strips, each one about 1 to 1 and 1/4 inches thick
  2. Pour enough olive oil into your skillet/pan to to cover the potatoes.  This means you may use close to a bottle of olive oil, but don’t worry — you can save the oil to re-use for this recipe another time.  
  3. Heat the oil moderately high, but not enough to bubble or fry.
  4. When the oil has gotten moderately hot, carefully place the potato slices and rosemary sprigs into the skillet, arranging them in a single layer.  There should be enough oil to cover the slices.
  5. Cook the potatoes at moderate heat for 15 minutes, moving them gently in the skillet.
  6. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the skillet and place them on a layer of paper towels.
  7. While the potatoes drain on the paper towels for 2-3 minutes, bring the heat up in the skillet to high heat.
  8. Carefully add the potatoes to the very hot oil.  Allow them to cook for another 10 minutes, moving them gently to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom.
  9. After 10 minutes, the potatoes should be a golden color.  Take one out and let it cool enough to taste it.  If you judge that it’s ready, remove the rest of the potatoes with your slotted spoon (or tong) and put them on a serving plate that has been lined with paper towels.  
  10. Sprinkle the potatoes with sea salt to taste.  We’ve been using Hawaiian black sea salt to finish dishes, and we love the color and flavor, but any salt will do.  
  11. Serve immediately.

Image credit: http://www.cbc.ca/inthekitchen/2013/01/thick-cut-fries.html

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