Posts tagged ‘italian’

February 24, 2011

Jumps-into-your-mouth Chicken Saltimbocca!

So, I had a major prosciutto craving. I’m not even the slightest bit ashamed either because it’s been a while since the two of us have dined together, so it was only right that I rekindle the flame. Yes, I’m still talking about my love for prosciutto.

I had always liked prosciutto, but it wasn’t until I lived in Italy that I really fell in love with the meat. Over there, it’s never just an ingredient, it’s the star of the dish. You can always find a cured hunk of ham leg, bone and all, hanging from butcher shops or local grocery stores, being delicately sliced by request. My homestay mom, Flora, would bring home the best prosciutto crudo (cured ham) and prosciutto cotto (cooked ham), simply paired with mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella cheese) and a dash of balsamic and oilo nuovo (which is the very freshest olive oil, vibrant green in color).

One day, she asked me what I would like to eat for dinner: mind you, this was a rarity because she cooked what she felt like that day and never took orders ahead of time. So, as I was put on the spot, I tried so hard to think of a dish I really loved, that had not already been prepared before. Little Yellow Note: Flora was a culinary genius and always had a new recipe up her sleeve.

With a huge smile on my face and with such an air of confidence, I blurted out: “Chicken Saltimbocca.” Why you ask?? Well, I hate to admit it, but this prosciutto-topped chicken dish from Buca di Beppo was really delicious, and I wanted the authentic version, straight out of Italy. The only problem was that she had no idea what I was talking about. I forgot to mention that there was a huge language barrier at first, as I spoke no Italian, and they spoke no English. Oh an also, the word saltimbocca means “jumps in the mouth.” No wonder why I got a blank stare when I asked for “chicken that jumps in my mouth!” Apparently, they have a different name for the dish.

I think that night she ended up making prosciutto and cheese panini’s. Clearly not what I asked for, but it was delicious, regardless. I am fairly sure that Flora figured out what I was asking for later in my stay there, as she provided a feast of prosciutto-topped veal. It was close enough. My belly was happy.

Without further adieu, here is one of the most flavorful Italian dishes!

Chicken Saltimbocca:

Salt and pepper the chicken, then wrap each tender in a cozy blanket of prosciutto. Then top with whole sage leaves, although you may want to tuck them in just a tad, to ensure that they stay in place.

Make a plastic wrap envelope and place the chicken inside, spaced apart so that they have room to be tenderized. Don’t be alarmed, they will grow a bit.

Next, lightly dredge in flour and place in the pan with the melted butter and oil combo, sage-side down.

Afer 3-4 minutes, it’s time to flip the chicken cutlets!

Set cooked chicken aside, and prepare the wine shallot sauce. Then arrange the chicken-prosciutto wonderfullness with pretty little lemon slices, drizzle with sauce and EAT!

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken cutlets (we used 6 chicken tenders)
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto
  • 12 sage leaves, more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, a little extra won’t hurt 🙂
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Lemon slices

Directions:

1. Pat each tender dry and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around a chicken tender and tuck in two sage leaves, just enough to keep them in place while cooking. Repeat this step for each of the chicken tenders.
2. Place chicken tenders between a long piece of plastic wrap, and with a rolling pin, gently pound cutlets to an even 1/4-inch thickness. You want to pound the chicken after it is nicely wrapped up in prosciutto and sage, in order to help distribute the flavors and pound the ingredients into the chicken.

3.  Shovel the flour onto a plate and dip the pounded chicken in it, lightly coating each side. Heat a tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large pan. When the butter is melted and starts foaming, add the chicken cutlets to the pan, sage-side down. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, until lightly browned, a little crispy and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm, while making the sauce.

4. Add wine to the hot pan and stir with a wooden spoon to de-glaze the pan. Add in the shallots and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let the wine reduce by half, then add the chicken broth and reduce by half again. Turn off the heat and stir in remaining tablespoon of butter (we used a little less than a Tbsp). Pour over the plated cooked chicken cutlets and it’s ready to serve with lemon wedges.

*Little Yellow Note: we crisped up a little more sage to add to the tops of the chicken…we love the extra flavor!

Lemon Garlic Asparagus:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb asparagus
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus. This is easy to to by hand, by snapping off the bottom portion.

2. Heat the oil in a medium pan, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the asparagus and stir it up. Squeeze in the lemon and add a dash of salt and pepper, to taste, and you got yourself a simple side-dish!

Multigrain Garlic Crostini:

Ingredients:

  • multigrain loaf–we got ours from TJ’s
  • fresh parmeggiano reggiano cheese, shredded or shaved
  • rosemary, dried or fresh
  • garlic, for rubbing
  • olive oil

Directions:

1. Cut bread into 1 inch thick slices. Drizzle each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped rosemary.

2. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until they look golden and crispy… Keep an eye out for these puppies! They can burn quickly, so stay near the oven to constantly check on them.

3. Take slices of bread out and rub vigorously with garlic. Top with a few shreds of cheese and place back under the broiler for another minute or two, or until desired melted-ness is reached.

4. Serve with meal!

Look! It's quite the balanced meal! Buon appetito!

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

-Chrissy



February 17, 2011

Enoteca Adriano: the Burrata and the Pope’s Pillow

Pope's Pillow dessert

I know that we probably cannot rave about this place enough, but Enoteca Adriano, never ceases to amaze; which is why we swooped up the last 7 o’clock reservation on Valentine’s night at this adorably romantic Italian spot. It’s really too bad that the boys were preoccupied that night, but fear not, we just took each other out for the occasion!

Burrata Enoteca

Apparently, we were the only friends who faced this minor dilemma, because everyone else in the entire restaurant was happily coupled, romantically gazing at each other, comfortably positioned hand in hand. It might be an understatement to say that, yep, it was awkward and we sure felt out of place, but the food and service was nothing but the best.

Tonight, we decided to try the Burrata Enoteca as an appetizer, which is my new favorite thing. Basically, it is a big hunk of delicious creamy  fresh mozzarella. It’s more solid on the outside, but when you cut into the center, the consistency is soft and creamy. This hunk of glory was placed on top of a large slice of wonderfully cured prosciutto, accompanied by some roasted heirloom tomatoes and wilted garlic spinach, and tied together with a simple balsamic-olive oil drizzle.

We. nearly. died. It was THAT good.

Then we split the Spaghetti Polpette (translated: spaghetti and meatballs), which was just what we were looking for, after finishing such a rich and decadent appetizer.

Just as we were winding the evening down (and finishing the great bottle of wine we brought along…gotta love no-corkage Monday’s), Chef Franco came out to greet us! After expressing a mutual adoration for the Enoteca and the Little Yellow Kitchen, he came equipped with two glasses of the tastiest dessert wine, Lungarotti, and a much anticipated Pope’s Pillow. This dessert, presentation and flavor profile, is unparalleled. It is big enough to use as a pillow to catch a snooze on…and the mascarpone cream filling would sure be able to provide adequate neck support. YUM.

Needless to say, Enoteca Adriano is such a jewel in Pacific Beach (a place mostly known for its rowdy bars and influx of young college kids), quietly perched a few blocks away from the madness, on Cass Street. If you live in or ever visit San Diego, you must stop by. The amazing Chef Franco will surely greet you with open arms and will send you off with a happy tummy and a “Grazie Mille”. What more could you ask for.

This is the “neck support” I was talking about. That puff pastry square is jam-packed with mascarpone goodness.

This dessert wine brings me back to the time I  spent living in Siena.

Lungarotti, Vino Dolce from the Umbria Region, Italy

I think this is the point we had to stop eating, to prevent immediate food coma… we still had to ride our bikes a few blocks home.

Fresh berries, everywhere!

The End. We got home just in time to pass out to the Bachelor. Perfect.

FYI– Here is:  Enoteca Adriano’s Facebook fan page, and here is From The Little Yellow Kitchen’s Facebook fan page... we are friends you should be too!

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

-Chrissy

 

January 26, 2011

Crispy Eggplant Spinach Parm

Eggplant. I repeat, Eggplant. Do not be scared of it! It is so delicious when prepared the right way. I promise.

Here, have a look for yourself…

Since Lauren and I prepared some Mediterranean-style, grilled eggplant sandwiches for work yesterday, we still had a large portion of the eggplant hanging out in the fridge. On occasion, the remaining eggplant half might just end up pushed to the back only to be found during an intense cleaning session, thus resulting in a mass exodus of forgotten leftovers. We tried to steer clear of this from happening (again), so it was time for an eggplant parmesan creation.

Here are a few rules of thumb when preparing Eggplant:

1) Make sure you pick a fairly solid eggplant; if it is squishy in spots or feels hollow, steer clear.

2) Cut thick slices (about 1/2 in.); if slices are too thin, then they will turn out soggy and mushy and you will be so sad.

3) Soak up moisture. Use an old towel to press each side of the eggplant slices, before breading them, which will ensure a crispy and firm baked eggplant result.

Note: this is a messy task, try to only dirty one hand.

For the Eggplant:

Prepare a dredging station consisting of the following:

  • bowl with a 1/2 cup flour
  • bowl with 2 eggs, beaten
  • bowl with breadcrumb mixture (2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, additional dash of oregano, thyme, basil)

Don’t be shy, smother eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on foiled cooking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes on each side in a 400 degree oven.

 

Meanwhile, start preparation For the Sauce:

1/2 Jar of  tomato & basil marinara

1 Mexican squash (zucchini is fine too)

1 Medium onion

6-8 Small crimini mushrooms

1 Can drained diced tomatoes

Handful of fresh spinach

Garlic powder, salt, pepper (to taste)

Directions: Saute onions for a few minutes. Add in the diced squash and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and let simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Turn off the heat and stir in a handful or two of spinach.

Now, for the layering!


Start with a base of sauce. About a cup covered the bottom of our casserole dish.

Then put first round of eggplant slices atop the sauce. Follow with a few handfulls of spinach and cheese (we cut back on the mozzarella this time, and used a pre-shredded, 6- cheese Italian mix, along with some grated Parmesan & Romano.

Now, its time for the last layer of crispy eggplant slices. Lastly, top with a thin blanket of shredded cheese (mozzarella or the 6-cheese blend that we used) and grated Parmesan.

Put it in the oven and let cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is looking golden brown. Remove, and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into it, so that its not so messy when dishing it up.

Seeeeeee... Eggplant is good enough to eat! (or scarf down, in our case...)

 

 

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

–Chrissy

January 8, 2011

Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna

The 3-day forecast predicts a busy weekend: 100% chance of cooking, eating, and 90% chance of outdoor activities, (weather pending, of course) such as surfing and hiking. I hope our readers will continue to stick with us, because The Little Yellow Kitchen is sure to entertain.

I am going to keep this short and sweet, well, because as I’ve mentioned, there is much to be done.

First up: Butternut Squash Lasagna, adopted from a William’s Sonoma Skillet Lasagna recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

Bite Me

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & pepper, duh
1 lb. mild or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, more for garnish
1 Tbs. minced fresh sage
9 lasagna noodles, (we used “no boil/oven-ready” noodles from Trader Joe’s)
3 lb. butternut squash, neck portion only, peeled and
sliced into wide, thin sheets

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cooked onions and garlic, sitting on the sidelines

Heat oil in large fry pan, then add the onion and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.

Browned sausage, with a dash of red pepper flakes

In the same pan, cook the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Discard oil and let sausage cool on paper towel before adding them to the onion mixture, set aside.

In a sauce pan on medium-low heat, melt the butter and then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese, the 1/4 cup parsley, the sage, salt and pepper.

Completed cream sauce with a generous dash of peppeh'

 

To prepare butternut squash slices, we found it easiest to use a peeler to take off the outer skin, then cut the neck from the body…of the squash (you will only be using the neck portion for your 3

inch strips.) Make sure the bottom and top of the squash neck have flat ends so that the blade doesn’t accidentally find your fingers. Just make thin even slices and you’re ready to layer.

No, those are not slices of cheddar cheese...

THE LAYERING: 

The Noodle layer

Here’s where it gets messy… so maybe put down that glass of wine, and take a second to study the lasagna

layering process…its no easy task.

Just remember this:

  • Beginning layers go like this: 1/3 sauce > 3 noodles >  1/3 sauce > 1/3  sausage mixture:
  • The next set of layers go like this: squash > 1/3 sauce > 1/3 sausage mixture
  • Then alternate these steps until all ingredients are used up.

**Little Yellow Note: or you can switch off using the Noodle layer, every 2 Squash layers, to pack in more veggies!

  • End with the layer of sauce (so make sure you save some up for the top!) and then sprinkle remaining 1/4-1/2 cup cheese.

We made this teensy weensy lasagna too...why ditch the extra layering ingredients?

Put the dish in the oven and bake until the top is brown and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the 1 Tbs. parsley to make it look extra pretty. It’s recommended to let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before slicing… and who ever came up with that little side-note probably had the best intentions, BUT, after taking one whiff of that beauty, it only “stood” for 5 minutes, which was just enough time to let the lava-hot inside cool down a few degrees.

 

Before

After!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

–Chrissy

January 6, 2011

Dutch-Oven Chicken Cacciatore

As you know from the last post, Lauren put up a great picture of our Christmas gift pile, which consisted entirely of  new kitchen and cooking items! Well, one of them happened to be the prettiest dark burgundy enameled Dutch oven that I have ever laid eyes on. It was a steal from Costco. Who needs to spend $250 bucks on a brand name Dutch oven, when Costco’s low-cost and quality Kirkland Signature does the trick. (Yep I grew up in a big family, so shopping at Costco Wholesale on Sunday after church, is a favorite pastime).

A great dish that will definitly impress the italian lover's palate!

After deciding on a hearty Chicken Cacciatore dish, Lauren and I embarked on our first ever Dutch oven adventure in the Little Yellow Kitchen! It was the perfect time to set out on this mission, because we also had to cook to impress our fabulous new neighbor, Pearl, so that she would want to come back for dinner.

She contributed a delicious Caprese salad, topped with basil pesto and some balsamic dressing. She used a tube of basil pesto because apparently, the winter “storms” in SoCal killed all the fresh basil crop! It was the perfect insalata italiana to compliment the Chicken Cacciatore.

Pearl, you're invited back any day.

Here is how our tasty dinner went down. Drum roll please….

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Fry the chicken until golden brown and a little crispy, about 7 minutes per side. Set the browned chicken aside on a plate and drain the oil. (Try not to dump any crunchy bits!)

Return the Dutch oven to the heat and add 2 more Tbsp of olive oil. Saute the bacon until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. (You don’t have to work too hard, the veggies will soak up the browned goodness off the bottom eventually). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the garlic, marjoram and oregano and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the wine and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the wine reduces to half the amount. Add the bacon back in along with the can of tomatoes; don’t forget the salt and peppah’! Bring the sauce to a slow simmer and partially cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes (we were a bit behind schedule and let it simmer for more like 20 and it still turned out great).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and transfer the pan to the oven, and cook the chicken until tender, about 35 minutes.

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and skim any fat off the surface of the sauce. Stir in the parsley, maybe add a little more salt and pepper, and serve!

**Little Yellow Note: this dish can be served over your favorite pasta, to make it go a little further. We ate it without pasta the first night, but for lunch the next day the left-overs were great with a little added penne!

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

–Chrissy