For this one I used clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster tails. Add what you like, crabs, scallops, octopus, fish filets, etc. It’s important to steam the clams and mussels separate from the sauce. One sandy clam or mussel can ruin a whole pot of sauce.
Lightly sauté the garlic in oil in a pot large enough to hold the sauce and shellfish. Add salt, red, and black pepper to taste and the oregano. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
The clams and mussels need to be steamed in a separate pot in case any are sandy. Heat one & a half cups of water and add the shellfish. (Clams and mussels take different amounts of time so it’s easier to do them separately.) Cover the pot and let it steam 8 to 12 minutes (until they open). Discard any shellfish that didn’t open. Add the shellfish to the tomatoes sauce and carefully pour the remaining broth into the sauce leaving any sand behind.
Start to cook the linguine and at the same time add the lobster and shrimp to the sauce. When the pasta is done the sauce will be too. Put the pasta, and shellfish sauce in a serving platter and serve. Please, it’s seafood so no cheese on this sauce.
The Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crècheat the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Typically, Italians have a big celebration on the Eve rather than Christmas day. It used to be a fast day, so no meat but lots of seafood and we still keep that tradition. We’d generally have dinner at our place (we have a big dining table) for 15 people. But this year because of COVID 19 and social distancing it will just be a few of us and Skype. We won’t cook as much food, but we’ll still have a variety of seafood and deserts to share with our neighbors.
It’s the pepper that really makes a Black Pepper and Beef Stir Fry. If your pepper mill can’t grind it coarse enough, put the pepper corns on a dish towel and whack them a few times with the bottom of a frying pan.
3 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. black pepper (very coarsely ground)
1 lb. sirloin steak, cut into ¼ in crosswise slices
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. peanut or canola oil
½ head green cabbage thinly sliced
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup sliced scallion (optional)
Combine the garlic, brown sugar, corn starch, and coarsely ground black pepper in a bowl. Add the sliced steak, mix, and let sit 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and cook the steak until it starts to brown (4 or 5 minutes). Add the soy sauce, toss with the steak, and remove it leaving the juices in the pan.
Add the cabbage to the pan and cook until it wills and begins to brown. Add the vinegar and return the steak to the pan. Add 3 tbsp. water, toss for a few minutes and remove to a serving dish and serve with rice.
Pasta with Broccolini, Sausage and Beans can also be made with broccoli or broccoli rape. There’s an informative article about their differences here.
1 ½ lb. broccolini, washed & stems removed
¼ cup olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage, hot or sweet, skins removed
2 gloves, minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine
1 – 15 oz. can white beans strained and rinsed
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup grated Parmigiana cheese
½ lemon – zest & juice
Start a pot of salted water for the broccolini and later the pasta.
Remove the rough stem tips and roughly chop the broccolini and boil on high for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove the broccolini and add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, in another pot add the olive oil and break up and cook the sausage meat. When it’s lightly browned, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the wine and deglaze the pot and stir for a few minutes.
Add the cooked broccolini and the beans. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and a cup of the pasta cooking water and toss.
Remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter, cheese, juice of ½ the lemon and zest. Mix until the butter is melted and serve with additional cheese.
Too late for Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas and Hanukkah. Cranberry Lemon Bars have a sweet-tart topping on a butter cookie base. I got this in the New York Times.
Cranberry and Lemon Topping –
12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 large lemons
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 large room temperature eggs
The Crust –
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
9 by 13 inch pan, lined with foil and coated with cooking spray
Combine the cranberries, ¾ cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water, and the zest of 2 lemons in a small pot. Bring it to a boil, stir and cook for about 10 minutes until the berries burst.
The Crust (heat oven to 350o)
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Mix until dough forms. Press the dough into the pan in an even layer. Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until brown around the edges.
While the crust is baking squeeze the zested lemons for ½ cup of juice. Squeeze another lemon if needed. Mix the ¼ cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and the beaten eggs until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and mix until smooth.
After the crust has cooled for a few minutes spread the cranberry topping over it. Then slowly pour the lemon topping on the cranberry.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is set. Let it cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use the foil to lift it out of the pan. Cut into bars and sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar.
This is a traditional Caesar Salad recipe. It contains raw eggs and anchovies. Caesar Salad was invented in Mexico by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who lived in San Diego but operated a restaurant in Tijuana where he could serve alcohol during Prohibition.
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup day old Italian bread, crust trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt & black pepper
1 clove garlic, halved
2 large eggs
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 minced anchovies (or more)
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan
Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan large enough to hold the bread in a single layer and turn heat to medium-high. When it’s hot, add the bread, salt and pepper. Toss and brown lightly. Remove and set aside.
Rub the inside of a salad bowl with the garlic clove and discard it.
Beat the eggs and pour into the salad bowl. Slowly add the lemon juice and 6 tablespoons oil, constantly beating. Stir in anchovies and Worcestershire.
Taste for seasoning. Keep in mind that the anchovies and cheese are salty but add lots of pepper. Toss to coat the lettuce. Add the Parmesan and croutons, toss again and serve.
Add the oil, garlic, red pepper and ½ the parsley to a pan over medium heat. Fry for a few minutes. Don’t brown the garlic. Reduce the heat to low and add a tablespoon of bottarga. Stir and simmer for few minutes.
Save a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta and another tablespoon of the bottarga to the pan with the sauce and some pasta water if needed.
Turn off the heat and add the toasted breadcrumbs and remaining parsley. Serve, topping individual plate with the remaining bottarga.
Anyone who served in the military might wonder why I’d post a chipped beef on toast recipe. It’s a standard Army breakfast which was not particularly liked my most soldiers. The Army served hearty breakfasts – eggs, toast, potatoes, grits, sausage/ham/bacon, hot and cold cereal, etc. and also chipped beef on toast. I’d never seen it until I began basic training. No one told me that I wasn’t supposed to like S.O.S. (a nickname that any ex-military understands) so not knowing any better, I actually liked it.
Me in basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia where I first had S.O.S.
It’s a pretty simple recipe (similar in style to biscuits and gravy) and you’ll either love it or hate it. I happen to love it. Chipped beef is beef that’s ground, formed and sliced something like salami or baloney but very salty. You can also eat it plain on a sandwich or fried with eggs.
Chipped Beef on Toast
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Paprika – optional
2 cups milk
7 – 8 oz. chipped (dried) beef
4 slices of toast
Melt the butter in a heavy pan over low heat. Add the flour and make a roux. Stir until slightly darkened. Add pepper and paprika, if using. Stir constantly until smooth. Add the milk, stirring to avoid lumps. Cook until the gravy is smooth.
Slice the meat into 1 ½ inch long strips. Rinse in running water to remove excess salt and drain. Mix it into the cream sauce and stir. Since the meat is so salty you probably won’t need to add any more. Serve it over toasted bread.
Hot chocolate season is coming up. There’s an article in L’Italo Americano that will make you want some Italian hot chocolate now.
ITALIAN CURIOSITIES: THE TRUE STORY OF ITALIAN HOT CHOCOLATE
“. . . The fall is the season of the queen of sweet delicacies, the creamiest of treats, the most decadent of the cold season’s offerings: la cioccolata calda. If you tried it, you know that Italian hot chocolate is on a different level: there is nothing else in the world that can compare to it, at least when it comes to hot cocoa drinks. You may find others that are nice, that taste delicious and that do hit the spot if you need a chocolate fix, but no Italian will in earnest say any of those are better than our beloved cioccolata calda. . .”