Cut the beefsteak tomatoes in half cross wise. Grate them on the large holes of a box grater over a large bowl. Discard the skin.
Now add ingredients 2 to 8 into the bowl. Thoroughly mix and then add the cherry tomatoes. Let it sit for a half hour and add the lentils. Gently mix and serve on the toast being careful not to add too much of the liquid or the toast will get soggy. Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.
Here’s a basic and simple focaccia recipe using just 4 ingredients. The total time spent on it is about half an hour – not counting rising.
1. 3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2. ½ tsp. dry yeast
3. ½ tbs. kosher salt
4. 4 tbs. olive oil divided + more for greasing
1. Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the water (about 1 ¾ cups) and stir with a spatula until you have a sticky dough. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in another bowl. Add the dough and roll it around to coat it with the oil. Cover it tightly with Saran and refrigerate for at least 1 and no more than 2 days.
2. Brush ¼ baking sheet (9”x13”) with oil. Put the dough in the pan and spread it with your fingers. Add more oil if it starts to stick. If it doesn’t get to the edges of the pan it will when after it rises. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm place for 30 minutes to 1 hour until it doubles its size. Pat down the dough down to about 1 inch thickness and dimple the entire surface with your fingertips. Sprinkle or brush it with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. While you’re waiting for it to rise pre-heat the over to 450 degrees.
That’s basic focaccia but the toppings are up to you and now is the time to add them. Sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and herbs, chopped tomatoes, chives or scallions, sliced pitted olives, sesame seeds and/or onions. (Be creative.If you’re feeling artistic you can make a focaccia garden.)Lightly press the toppings into the dimpled dough before you add the olive oil. I often make it plain because I like it for breakfast with butter and preserves.
3. Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes rotating the pan once, front to back. Let it cool and then remove it from the pan. It’s good while it’s still warm and will last another couple of days unrefrigerated if wrapped in Saran. It’s thick enough to slice and use for sandwiches.
This recipe is for a 12 inch pan. Smaller pan = less dough. I buy my dough ready made for a nearby pizzeria. Here’s a link to a recipe if you want to do it yourself. I don’t buy jarred marinara sauce. It’s too easy to make. There’s a recipe at the bottom of this page.
1 lb. pizza dough
Salt and black pepper
3 oz. marinara sauce
Start by heating the oven to 500 degrees. Flatten and shape the dough to fit the round pan. Pre-heat the pan so it’s hot but not smoking. Spray or brush the pan with olive oil. Place the dough in the pan and stretch it across the bottom and up the sides. Touch the dough, not the pan – it’s hot.
Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the pan on a burner at medium heat. Just when it starts to bubble pour on and spread the sauce. Place a few thinly cut slices of mozzarella on top, leaving some spaces so the red sauce shows. A Margarita should be red (tomato), white (mozzarella), and green (basil) like an Italian flag.
Put the pan in the 500 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove from the over and scatter torn basil leaves over it while it’s still hot. Let it cool and slice.
Marinara Sauce for Pizza
3 tbsps. olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
Salt, black and red pepper to taste
1 28 oz. can of pureed San Marzano tomatoes
Put the oil in a pan on low heat and lightly saute the garlic. Add the salt and pepper. Don’t let the garlic brown. Pour in the tomatoes, stir and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
That’s marinara sauce – easy, right? You can also make this with crushed tomatoes but puree is better for pizza. After you use 3 ounces for the pizza you’ll have enough left for to serve with a pound of pasta.
I went to a great restaurant in Harlem last week called Hop House (full menu here). You can tell from the name that they have a great selection of beer and the food was very good too. We tried a few appetizers before the main course and SHISHITO PEPPERS – blistered with sea salt, recommended by Erin the proprietor really stood out. They weren’t exactly hot but they did have a spark to them. We liked them enough to make them at home.
It’s very simple – put the washed and dried peppers in a hot dry heavy frying pan (no oil). Flatten them a bit with a spatula so they make contact with the pan. After a couple of minutes turn them. When done give them a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. That’s it.
If you like peppers with a little more heat, use serranoes.
And if you don’t like “HOT” you can use the same process with green bell peppers. No heat at all and still very tasty. But since you can’t blister them whole you have to cut them into strips first.
Whatever type of pepper that you use, they’re perfect for eating plain but I scrambled some with eggs and made an excellent sandwich.
There used to be a grocery store where I grew up on Mott Street called May’s. I’d go there for lunch because May made great sandwiches, especially fried baloney sandwiches. I know a lot of people have never heard of fried baloney but it really tastes great and is very simple to make.
For some reason, we call it baloney when it’s spelled Bologna, the city in Italy where it was first made. I guess that’s an Americanization, like saying “gabagool” for “capicola.”
All you need is bread, baloney and a little oil to fry it in. The better the bread, the better the sandwich. I like mine the way May used to do it, with mustard, relish, and lettuce.
Real Sicilian pizza isn’t covered with gooey melted mozzarella. It has a simple sauce flavored with a little onion, some grated pecorino, and breadcrumbs – with or without anchovies, it’s up to you.
(if you want to make your own dough click here – I get mine in a pizzeria)
Sauté the onion in oil with black and red pepper until it’s translucent. Add ½ cup of water and raise heat until it almost evaporates. Add the tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Allow the sauce to cool. When cool add the bread crumbs, cheese, and anchovies. Taste for seasoning. The cheese and anchovies can be salty so you may not need any additional salt.
Pre-heat the oven to 400o. Spread the dough in an oiled 9 by 13 baking sheet. Spread the sauce mixture over the dough in an even layer leaving about ½ inch of the dough exposed around the edges.
Drizzle it with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes. When it’s done sprinkle with oregano.
They take some time to prepare but once you get the knack it isn’t too bad. They’re tasty, easy to eat and worth the trouble.
The hard part –
Remove and discard the wing tips. Separate the remaining pieces at the joint.
Starting with the lager piece with the single bone – with a sharp pointed knife separate the skin and tendons from the bone at the narrow end and begin to slide the meat downward scraping with the knife as you go until you end up with a ball of meat at the end of a smooth bone.
For the smaller piece with two bones – separate the two bones at the pointed end. Continue as before but this time with two bones. When you’re halfway down begin to twist and wiggle the thinner bone until it breaks off and you can remove it. Slide the rest of the meat down scraping the bone as you go.
The easy part –
Mix the salt. pepper, paprika and garlic salt and season the lollipops with it.
Make a marinade of the vinegar, sriracha and brown sugar. Put the lollipops in the marinade and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Remove the wings from the marinade, dripping off the excess. Coat them in the flour, let them rest 20 minutes and fry them until dark golden and the coating begins to caramelize.
This is something that I’ve always wanted to try but never got around to – a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich. It’s a combination that most people would never have thought of but Elvis was a very creative guy. It may be a little heavy on the cholesterol but that’s not something the King worried about and neither do I. You can vary the recipe. I’ve heard that some people add a little honey.
While the bacon is frying start to prepare the sandwiches. Butter one side of each slice of bread and spread peanut butter on the other side. This is a little sloppy but worth it. Remove the bacon from the pan. Slice the bananas length wise and then in half. Give them a quick fry in the bacon fat, put them on the peanut butter and then add the bacon. Squeeze the sandwiches closed and grill them in the hot bacon fat. Flatten them a bit with a spatula and cook for a few minutes on each side, the way you would with a grilled cheese sandwich. Let them cool, cut them in half and serve.
This is a versatile recipe. You can use whatever cheese you like or a combination like I’m doing. For a nice Italian twist try it with provolone and prosciutto. You can also add parsley, peppers, etc.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350o. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with softened butter, then coat plate evenly with Parmesan.
Combine cheese, ham and onions in a bowl and distribute it evenly in bottom of the prepared pie dish. Mix flour, baking powder, pepper, and salt (keep in mind that ham and cheese can be salty) in a bowl. Whisk in half and half, eggs, melted butter and mustard until smooth. Slowly pour batter over cheese and ham mixture in pie dish.
Bake until pie is light golden brown and the filling is set, about 30, then 3 – 5 minutes under the broiler to brown top. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
My friend Joe gave me two recipes, one for sausage and peppers and the other for gnocchi, that he found in the Wall Street Journal of all places. When I hear Wall Street Journal I think of finance, markets and banking, not Italian recipes. I tried them and they were both very good.
Sausage and Peppers
You can make sausage and peppers by simply frying some sausage and peppers. But a little extra effort can make it something special. In this version by Chef Mashama Bailey of the Grey, in Savannah, the key ingredient is the vinegar. It really brightens up the flavor. I adjusted her recipe down a bit from four lbs. of sausage to one.
Cook sausages until browned on all sides. Remove them and set aside. In the same pot, add peppers, onions and garlic. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 15 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and vinegar. Return sausages to pot and stir gently to coat. Simmer until tomatoes reduce, adding splashes of water if pot looks dry.
Until I saw this recipe from Gail Monaghan, gnocchi were round, made with potatoes and boiled. Here they’re square, made with semolina and baked in the Roman style. The finished product reminded me of polenta. You can serve these with different kinds of sauce. We used a simple marinara.
Bring milk and nutmeg to a simmer. Off heat, whisk in semolina. Cook over low heat, stirring, until mass pulls away from pan, 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in 8 tablespoons butter, 1 cup cheese and yolks. Season with salt and pepper. Pour hot semolina mixture onto a foil-lined, buttered sheet pan. Use an offset spatula to spread mixture into an even rectangle ½ -inch to 1-inch thick. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack in the highest position. Use a sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut semolina into 2-inch squares.
Set gnocchi ½-inch apart on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Dot with remaining butter and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden, 15 minutes. (a minute or two under the broiler at the finish isn’t a bad idea)