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August 2011 - Dinner in Venice

Archives for August 2011

Caponata


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CAPONATA

Caponata

Ingredients

  • (serves 4)
  • 2 Italian or Japanese eggplants
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 onions celery sticks
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 2 tbsps capers
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins or currants, plumped in warm water
  • 3 tbsps white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Dice the eggplants, salt them and drain them for 30 minutes in a colander to eliminate their bitter juice.

Rinse and pat dry.

Sprinkle with flour and deep-fry in olive oil in a skillet until golden on both sides.

Drain and set aside.

Discard most of the olive oil from the pan, leaving only about 4 tablespoons, add the diced onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables (all diced), the fried eggplant, salt and pepper to taste, the olives, capers and pine nuts, the vinegar and sugar, and cook until soft (20 to 30 minutes).

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature as an appetizer or side.

https://dinnerinvenice.com/2011/08/30/caponata/

Finocchi Gratinati (Baked Fennel)


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Finocchi Gratinati (Baked Fennel)

Finocchi Gratinati (Baked Fennel)

Fennel (Anise) is one of those vegetables which until the late 1800s were avoided by non-Jews in Italy and considered lowly and vulgar. By the time this delicious vegetable was accepted into general Italian cuisine,  Jews had already discovered countless ways to prepare it, raw or cooked, as an appetizer or side. Fennel is said to be a digestive and detoxifier.

Besides eating the bulb, we use the seeds to flavor meats and sausages, and the fronds/leaves for tea and soups. Fennel tea is even said to increase milk production in nursing mothers!

Finocchi Gratinati (Baked Fennel)

Ingredients

  • (serves 6)
  • 4 large bulbs of fennel
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed but whole
  • 6 tablespoons of parmigiano cheese (for a DAIRY dish), OR plain bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a touch of nutmeg

Directions

Boil the fennel in salted water till tender but not mushy (10 to 20 minutes).

Drain, dry, slice, and arrange in one layer in a greased baking pan.

Dress with the oil, salt, pepper, cheese or breadcrumbs (or a mix of both, but cut the amounts in half), and nutmeg..

(For a decadent, creamy dairy version, you can also add bechamel sauce).

Place the cloves of garlic somewhere around the pan. If making a dairy version you can add a few flakes of butter.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F.

Discard the garlic and enjoy!

https://dinnerinvenice.com/2011/08/28/finocchi-gratinati-baked-fennel/

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts


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Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

The combination of spinach and pine nuts appears in a variety of  festive Jewish Venetian dishes of Iberian and Turkish origins, from marinated fish to braised carrots, to meat stuffings for vegetables. 
You can use the leftovers to make an unusual frittata.

Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds baby spinach
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots, or 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 1 whole clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins or currants, plumped in hot water and drained
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 oil-packed anchovies, minced (optional)
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • (optional) a sprinkle of Parmigiano, if serving in a dairy meal.

Directions

Wash the spinach well, discarding the stems (Italian Jews used to save them for a different preparation that required longer cooking).

Cook in a covered pot over medium heat with a little salt and a couple of tablespoons of water, for about 5 minutes.

Drain well.

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the shallots or onions (and anchovies, if using).

When they are translucent, add the pine nuts, raisins, spinach, salt, pepper, spices, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until ready.

https://dinnerinvenice.com/2011/08/15/sauteed-spinach-with-raisins-and-pine-nuts/

Kosher Gourmet Alessandra Rovati Launches www.DinnerInVenice.com


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Jewish Voice ArticleSelf-taught kosher Italian cook, Alessandra Rovati has launched a new website, www.DinnerInVenice.com to celebrate colorful, healthy and kosher foods that talented and passionate Italians Jews have brought to their tables over the centuries. Best known for her healthy and delicious Italian recipes, Rovati highlights classic light dishes for summer on her site, such as steamed or grilled fish fillet served with a traditional “Salsa Verde” (green sauce), a tricolored green salad, oven-baked turkey loaf with vegetables, minestrone soup, light vegetable pasta sauces, and Macedonia, an Italian fruit salad. She also posts recipes on her Facebook page, “Kosher Italian Kitchen” which currently boasts over 1,000 fans. “People think that eating Italian cuisine is fattening because they associate Italian food with pasta dishes made with creamy sauces,” said Rovati. “But that’s just not true! Most Italians, especially women, eat a small dish of pasta with a fresh vegetable sauce, followed by fresh greens and fruit and a small portion of protein food; while a typical American will eat a giant plate of pasta smothered in a jar of tomato sauce filled with preservatives and sugar as well as artificially flavored cheese.”

According to Rovati, Mediterraneans tend to eat lots of healthy fat such as extra virgin olive oil and fish, so they tend to be leaner. Rovati’s secret when it comes to cooking is using high-quality Italian olive oils, small amounts of high-end cheeses, and lots of fresh vegetables. Born and raised in Venice, Alessandra has always loved food and taught herself how to cook. Her mother, a scientist, taught her about the importance of being exact and the understanding of cooking techniques.When she moved to the U.S. in 1995, Alessandra missed the food from back home and started perfecting her techniques and spending hours on the phone with her mother and friends living in Italy to learn their tricks and secrets from the Old World. She then created a collection of homemade recipes—some passed down from generation to generation, the others more modern, light and quick to make, yet still very authentic in flavor.

She teaches her recipes in a monthly cooking series through the Jewish International Connection of New York (www.jicny.com). She also cooks for her family almost every night. It was only this past April, when preparing for the holiday of Passover, that Alessandra launched DinnerInVenice.com, and her Facebook page Italian Kosher Food, as a result of receiving dozens of inquiries from friends about how to prepare specific Italian dishes for the Jewish holiday. Alessandra slightly modified and lightened these Old World recipes to create a more modern and tasty Italian style cuisine suitable for everyday. “Cooking has kept me connected to my community of origin,” she said. “Dinner in Venice is my way of passing on my community’s oldest traditions and also new trends in Italian cooking to anyone who loves fresh, tasty and nutritious food.”

To learn more about Alessandra Rovati and Italian Kosher recipes go to www.DinnerInVenice.com or www.Facebook.com/KosherItalianKitchen

Halibut in Grape and Red Currant Sauce


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Halibut in Grape and Red Currant Sauce

 

Sweet and Sour is not an everyday combination in general Italian cuisine, but it’s definitely a recurrent theme in Jewish Italian households. Besides the fact that it tastes quite interesting, there is a symbolic value to combining sweet with sour, bitter or salty: while rejoicing for our freedom we should also remember our exile. After all, even at our weddings we break a glass to symbolize how joy is always mixed with sadness!
Several of our traditional dishes incorporate the “Agro” (sour) flavor, through the use of vinegar or lemon juice. This fish recipe blends the sweetness of the grapes with the mild sourness of the lemon and red currants, and the marked saltiness of the capers.  I like halibut because it’s a sustainable fish, but other types of mild, flaky white fish will also work.

Halibut in Grape and Red Currant Sauce

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 fillets of halibut (or other types of flounder)
  • 1 leek
  • 1 cup fresh red currants
  • 1 small cluster grapes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices of bread, crust removed

Directions

Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry. Clean the leek, eliminate the green and hard parts, and slice it thinly. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the leek and capers, and cook until translucent. Add the fish and cook briefly on both sides (time depends on the thickness), paying particular attention not to break them. Drizzle with the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Remove the cooked fish from the pan and set it aside, keeping it warm. Add the grapes and red currants to the skillet, and cook them in the leek sauce until the sauce thickens. The fruit should cook a little, but not so much that it starts falling apart. After a few minutes return the fish fillets to the skillet, and allow to cook with the sauce for 3 or 4 more minutes. Toast the bread slices in the oven, and place one in each individual plate. Arrange the fish fillet on each slice, and pour the grape and cranberry sauce on top. Serve immediately.

https://dinnerinvenice.com/2011/08/07/halibut-in-grape-and-red-currant-sauce/

How to make the Perfect Pasta


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How to make the Perfect Pasta

How to make the Perfect Pasta

My friends at CookKosher just posted my special tips on How to Cook the Perfect Pasta, including when you need to reheat it for Shabbat!

Are you ready to start eating like a Real Italian? Click here!