Saturday, January 30, 2010

Little Fish, Big Meal

One of my favorite seasonal dishes of the early winter months is “gianchetti” in Ligurian dialect, known Italy-wide as “bianchetti” and in english, known as “white bait”. Bianchetti are newly born “pesce azzuro” (anchovies and sardines). They are fished only in the months of January and February, as not to endanger the fish population.

The idea of tiny transparent fish may not look or sound appealing, but inside they are packed with flavor and goodness.

Another dish for 2-4 people (depending on how much pasta you like!):

2-3 small artichokes (cut in quarters with fuzzy middle and hard outside leaves removed)

2 lemons

1/3 cup of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

200 grams of bianchetti

1/2 cup white wine

A small fistful of Italian parsley

peperoncino for a spicy taste

400 grams of pasta (preferably spaghetti)

Boil water in pasta pan (don’t forget a little salt!).

When cutting the artichokes, place them as you go in a bowl of cold water with a few squeezed lemon quarters. Keep them there until you are ready to cook them.

Mince the garlic and Italian parsley together.

In a saute pan, add the olive oil and the garlic/parsley mixture let sizzle over medium heat (about 2 minutes). Add the artichokes and let cook for about 3 minutes uncovered. Add the white wine, lower the heat and cover for about 3 more minutes.

This is a good point to add your pasta to the boiling water and cook for the time indicated on your pasta of choice.

Add the bianchetti. Mix constantly in the pan for about 2 minutes, then let sit for a minute, then stir again for a minute. If pasta is not quite ready, remove form the flame and cover.

Once the pasta is ready, add it and the bianchetti mixture to a large bowl. Add a little more olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon. Mix it all together and serve immediately.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Gratitude Friday: A Repeat of Last Friday

Still safe & sound here in Italy.

Let’s help make Haiti safe & sound:

Red Cross



Doctors without Borders

Donate for Haiti

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pesce Semplice (Simple Fish)

One of my new favorite dishes. Light, healthy, simple and tasty. I like to use Merluzzo (cod fish) because of its wonderful taste and because it is so good for you. Recipe for two:

400 grams of Merluzzo (or your favorite white fish)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

1 lemon

handful of capers (preferably from the island of Salina)

salt to taste


Pepper flakes for a spicy dish

Italian parsley for a little green!

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. I like a pan that keeps the fish and juices snug and cozy next to each other. When hot, add the fish and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the wine and leave uncovered, sizzling away for another 3 minutes. Add the capers and salt (and the other option ingredients), lower the flame a tad and cover. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with your favorite bottle of white wine (my choice: a smooth Catarratto rom Sicilia!).

My husband is on a big basmati rice kick, so I’ve been serving that as an accompaniment. The plate looks a bit “bland” but the flavor is far from it! Wild rice and some tomatoes on the side would make it colorful and oh so more Italian.

Buon appetito! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gratitude Friday: Safe & Sound...

Two words used often and maybe we don’t pay enough attention to just how important they are. Today I am. In the midst of the tragedy in Haiti, a country that seems to be constantly hit in the gut by God’s mysterious ways, the words “safe & sound” do not exist.

Whether it be sick of the dreary weather here in Italy or working too many hours or not being able to see my family and friends back in the states enough, at the end of the day, I go to bed safe & sound. And I am so grateful for that...

Donate Today: Red Cross for Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Craving Calamari...

I’m a big fan of calamari and not necessarily the fried kind. In fact, calamari are very adaptable to many methods of cooking beyond the typical “bar fare”: boiled for a salad, grilled like a steak or baked to perfection (my personal favorite!).

Calamari al forno


* 3 medium-size calamari cleaned and chopped into 2-3 inch pieces (while I actually like the process of cleaning calamari, I imagine most people would not. Your local fish shop should be able to clean them for you and take away any “yuck” factor.)

* 1/2 cup of olive oil

* 1/2 cup of white wine

* red pepper flakes to taste

* 2 cloves of minced garlic

* 1 lemon

* prezzemolo (Italian parsley) - if you like

* bread crumbs

In a bowl or zip lock bag, combine the calamari pieces, olive oil, wine, pepper flakes, garlic, lemon and parsley. Let sit in refrigerator for a few hours. Heat oven at 375 degree (180 celsius). Place calamari mixture on a covered cookie sheet. Try to lay them flat, not on top of each other if possible. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Put in oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the calamari has turned an opaque white and roles up on the ends. Serve hot.

This is such an easy dish and absolutely delicious. Introduce yourself and your friends to a new way to do calamari. You can’t go wrong here.