Friday, May 20, 2005

Bracioli and Meatballs

This recipe is simply fantastico!!! If you have the time and the hunger for an exquisite Italian meal, try this. Your guests and family will keep coming back for more. Served with sauteed zuchini squash, garlic, onions, and mushrooms, and REAL garlic bread, linguini or rigitoni and chianti? Oh MY!!

For the braciole:

1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cubed (1/2 inch) day-old Italian bread
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
2 pounds beef bottom round, cut into 12 slices, each 1/2-inch thick
12 slices (about 6 ounces) imported Italian prosciutto
1/4 pound imported provolone cheese, cut into 1/4- by 1/4- by 2-inch sticks
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions (about 8 ounces), chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 (35-ounce) cans crushed Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 bay leaves
Water, as needed
Salt, to taste
Crushed hot red pepper, to taste
2 pounds sweet or hot Italian sausage


1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds rigatoni
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the braciole:

Pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the bread cubes, and let soak until the bread is very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the bread, squeeze out the excess milk from the cubes with your hands, and return it to the bowl. Stir in the chopped eggs, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, raisins, pine nuts and garlic to create a stuffing. Mix well and set aside.

With the toothed side of a heavy meat mallet, pound each slice of beef into a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Arrange one of the pounded meat slices in front of you with one of the short sides closest to you. Top with a slice of prosciutto, and tap the prosciutto with the back side of a knife so it adheres to the beef. Spread 2 tablespoons of the stuffing along the edge of the meat closest to you, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place a stick of provolone over the stuffing. Fold the border over the provolone, then fold the side borders in to overlap the edges of the stuffing. Roll into a compact roll about 4 inches long. Secure the end flap with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining beef and stuffing, then season the rolls with salt and pepper.

To brown the braciole, heat olive oil in a large heavy casserole over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until the onion is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add as many of the braciole as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning as necessary, until golden on all sides, about 7 minutes. If necessary, repeat with any remaining braciole. Adjust the heat under the pan as necessary to prevent the beef from scorching.

For the sauce: Empty the tomatoes into a bowl and squeeze with your hands until coarsely crushed, removing the cores as you do. If necessary, return all the braciole to the casserole. Pour the wine into the casserole, bring to a boil and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste and bay leaves and stir until the paste is dissolved. Season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper, adjust the heat to simmering, and cook, adding water as necessary to keep the braciole completely submerged until the beef is tender, about 3 hours.

After the braciole have been simmering in the sauce for about 1-1/2 hours, add 2 pounds hot or sweet Italian sausages, poked all over with a fork and browned.

For the meatballs:

Crumble pork and beef into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, 1/3 cup grated cheese, parsley and garlic over the meat. Beat the egg with salt and pepper in a small bowl until blended. Pour over the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with clean hands just until evenly blended. Don't overmix. Shape the meat mixture into 1-1/2-inch balls. Dredge the meatballs in the flour until lightly but evenly coated. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Slip as many meatballs into the skillet as will fit without overcrowding. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat as the meatballs cook to prevent them from overbrowning, and add them to the pot after the braciole have been simmering for 2 hours.

When the meats are cooked, transfer them to platters, spoon a little sauce over them, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Cook rigatoni according to package directions, drain well and return to the cooking pot. Add enough of the sauce to coat the rigatoni lightly, season with Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, and transfer the sauced pasta to a large platter. Pass any remaining sauce and some grated cheese separately. Remove the toothpicks before serving. The braciole can be prepared up to two days in advance, then reheated over low heat until warmed through.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Hoagie Rolls

These rolls or bread make a total and complete sandwich for a barbeque. This is an adaptation and variation of the Bread Baker's Apprentice... written by Peter Rinehart... recipe for Italian bread. It’s a combination of the Italian bread recipe, which includes Paté Fermentée in lieu of the biga(*). It yields a delightful hoagie roll with a soft, golden topped crust. These rolls go very well with just about anything you want to put on them like roast beef, turkey, char-broiled Italian sausage, BLT, BBQ beef or pork, or ham and cheese.

Dough Ingredients by Volume:

2 ½ cups Unbleached, high gluten bread flour
1 2/3 tsp non-iodized salt
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp diastatic barley malt powder
1 TBS olive oil
7-8 Ounces milk
1 Egg yolk
8 Oz Pate fermentee
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Stick butter


Paté Fermentée should be at room temperature.

With a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and barley malt powder in your largest mixer bowl. Add the olive oil, egg yolk, and milk. Mix until it forms a ball, adding flour and/or water according to need. Mix on medium speed with dough hooks until you get a dough that passes the ‘windowpane’ test, is slightly tacky and soft, but not too stiff. The dough should clear the sides and bottom of the bowl

Knead for 10-minutes on floured counter, or 6-minutes in mixer bowl with dough hooks. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Roll the dough in the bowl several times so it is coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it ferment/rise until double in size. Because of the small amount of yeast used, the rising will take about 3-4 hours. DO NOT increase the amount of yeast.

Once doubled in size, add the 8-Oz of Paté Fermentée. Knead the Paté Fermentée into the raised dough, adding flour as necessary to get a silky, yet fairly stiff, flexible dough. Lightly dust with flour and return to bowl and let rise to double once again. This rising should take no more than 45-minutes.

Divide into either four or six equal pieces, depending on how large you want the rolls. Let the pieces rest for 10 minutes. Roll and shape into hoagie shaped rolls - about 8” long by 4” wide by 3 inches thick (for 4-roll.) The roll ends should be blunted, not pointed so you have a rectangular shaped creation.

Place the shaped rolls on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment paper, lightly oiled, and dusted with semolina flour (preferred) or cornmeal. Spray tops of rolls lightly with olive oil. Cover loosely with dry waxed paper and let rise to one and one half the original size.

Turn on oven and set to 500F. making sure there is an empty steam pan in the oven. Score the rolls with two horizontal slashes. Pour several cups of water in the steam pan, and spray the walls of the oven with water. Place the rolls in the oven. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls again and quickly close the oven door. Repeat spraying again after another 30 seconds. After the final spray, lower the oven temperature to 400, and rotate the pan 180 degrees. It should take about 15 - 20 minutes for rolls to complete baking.

When rolls are golden and cooked through, remove them from the oven to a cooling rack and rub the tops of the rolls with a stick of butter for a soft, golden crust.

Paté Fermentée(*)

Paté Fermentée translates into fermented bread. It is NOT a sourdough, but rather a process that many bakeries use for either French bread, or Italian bread. The Italian version is called biga, and another French version is called poolish. Each version is different in consistency and has different uses depending on what kind of bread you are making. Each one is a key in breadmaking; a little bit from each batch is held over to the next day to make another batch, etc. the following day. I might add, that a frozen then thawed batch of the Paté Fermentée seems to have better bread rising qualities than the original.

This recipe yields approximately 16 ounces. Use only 8 Ounces for the roll recipe, and freeze the remaining 8 ounces in an air-tight freezer bag. It will last about 3-months. Lightly oil the inside of the freezer bag before you put in the Paté Fermentée.

Paté Fermentée Ingredients

1 1/8 Cups of unbleached high gluten bread flour
1 1/8 Cups of All Purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp instant yeast
6-7 ounces of bottled water at room temperature

With a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast in your largest mixer bowl. Add the water. Mix until it forms a course ball, adding flour and/or water according to need. Mix on medium speed with dough hooks until you get a dough that is neither too sticky nor too stiff.

Knead for 4 to 6 minutes by hand, or 4 minutes in the mixer with the dough hooks. Dough should be soft and pliable and tacky, but not sticky.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Roll the dough in the bowl several times so it is coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it ferment/rise until 1 ½ times the original size.

Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it lightly to de-gas, and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator over night. You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze in an airtight plastic bag for up to three months.

A P.S. here - always use bottled or spring water at room temperature. Chlorinated water and the yeasties don't always get along, and it can change the taste and texture of the bread.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Calamari with Lemon Myrtle

Ok, OKAY - I agree, this is a bizarre salad recipe, but I can assure you, once you try it, you WILL be back for more!! :-)

Lemon Myrtle is an Australian native tree indigenous to the coastal, sub-tropical rainforests of Queensland. The Lemon Myrtle leaf has a unique, refreshing flavour and aroma of a blend of lemongrass, lime and lemon.


3 cups calamari (squid) tubes
5 fresh lemon myrtle leaves (very finely sliced) or 1/2 tsp powdered lemon myrtle
4 shallots finely chopped
1 large red chili pepper (optional) Jalapenos here are great
1 TBS chopped ginger root
1/4 cup roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 TBS sesame oil
1 lime
1/2 cup sliced or shaved fresh coconut


Cut calamari in 1/4" rings. Squeeze lime and retain juice and skin separately. Boil 2 quarts of water in saucepan - add lime skin and tablespoon of salt.Plunge calamari into boiling water until water comes back to boil but no more than two minutes.Remove calamari and drain. Allow to cool rapidly. Do not rinse or refrigerate.

Wash and slice shallots, chilli, coconut and ginger. Combine with remaining ingredients and calamari. Allow to marinate for one hour. Serve as an appetizer or entree on a bed of crisp lettuce with a dry white wine, or a white burgundy.