Carpione

Carpione is an Italian ancient way of preparing food to preserve it during the warm season without refrigeration. There are many regional variations of carpione: in the lake region of northern Italy it’s typically used to preserve fish, as it is in Venice where this recipe takes the name of “saor”. The ingredients may vary from place to place but this preparation gives the food – fish, vegetables, or chicken – a tangy flavor perfect for a summer dinner or as an appetizer in any other season.
Thanks to the vinegar, this recipe keeps for many days in the refrigerator.

Zucchini “in carpione”

Ingredients:

(for 4 people)  A  B  Gf

  • 6 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 8 leaves of sage
  • 2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper grains

Cut the onions in half and soak them in a quart of cold water for at lest half an hour.
Wash the zucchini, remove both ends and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut each half into three sections, and then cut each section lengthwise into thirds. You should obtain sticks approximately 1½ inch long.

Warm up the Evoo oil in a frying pan and sauté the zucchini for about 7 to 9 minutes, stirring often. Don’t overcook them.
Prepare the carpione marinade. Pat the onions dry and slice them thinly. Warm up the EVOO in a pan and sauté the onions with the sage, without letting them brown (about 5-7 minutes). When they are tender, add the wine and the vinegar, then bring to a boil and let half of the liquid evaporate. Add the pepper grains.
Transfer half of the zucchini into a deep glass container and pour half of the hot marinade over it. Make a second layer with the remaining zucchini and pour the rest of the marinade over it. Let the zucchini marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving them.

Thanks to the vinegar, the zucchini will keep for several days in the refrigerator, becoming tastier and tastier.

Chicken “in carpione”

Ingredients:

(for 4 people)  A  B  Gf

  • 1 lb. of organic chicken breast tenders
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. of brown rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp. of sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 8 leaves of sage
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. pink pepper grains

Cut the onions in half and soak them in a quart of cold water for at lest half an hour.
Mix the brown rice flour and the salt in a shallow dish. Toss the chicken tenders in the flour and coat evenly.Warm up the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Transfer the breast tenders into the pan and cook them evenly on all sides.

Prepare the carpione marinade. Pat the onions dry and slice them thinly. Warm up the EVOO in a pan and sauté the onions with the sage and rosemary, without letting them brown (about 5-7 minutes). When they are tender, add the wine and the vinegar, then bring to a boil and let half of the liquid evaporate. Add the pink pepper.
Transfer half of the chicken into a deep glass container and pour half of the hot marinade over it. Make a second layer with the remaining chicken and pour the rest of the marinade over it. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving it.

N.B. Please remember to wash your hands and every surface that has been in touch with the chicken with hot water and anti-bacterial soap, since poultry meat is very prone to contamination by the dangerous bacterium E. coli.

Fish “in carpione”

For this recipe you can use small fish fillets (like dover sole, tilapia, trout, etc.) or whole small fish like sardines. In the latter case, the vinegar will soften the fish bones and you want even feel them.
This dish can be served cold as an appetizer or warm on a bed of boiled Arborio rice, as they still do in the Como Lake region. The first time we took a couple of dear American friends to eat this dish in a hole in the wall in a tiny village near Bellagio, they asked us why we had ordered food for eight people. Fifteen minutes later, though, they were scraping the bottom of the serving dish, wondering how they would digest that huge amount of food. To their pleasant surprise, not only they didn’t have any problems digesting their lunch but by five o’clock they had room for an ice cream.
Ah, the wonders of genuine, organic regional Italian food!

Ingredients:

(for 4 people)  A  B  Gf

  • 1 lb. of fish fillets (dover sole, tilapia, trout, mullet etc.) or whole small fish like sardines
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. of brown rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp. of sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 8 leaves of sage
  • 2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper grains

Cut the onions in half and soak them in a quart of cold water for at lest half an hour.
Mix the brown rice flour and the salt in a shallow dish. Toss the fish fillets or the whole small fish in the flour and coat evenly.Warm up the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Transfer the fish into the pan and cook it evenly on all sides.

Prepare the carpione marinade. Pat the onions dry and slice them thinly. Warm up the EVOO in a pan and sauté the onions with the sage, without letting them brown (about 5-7 minutes). When they are tender, add the wine and the vinegar, then bring to a boil and let half of the liquid evaporate. Add the pink pepper.
Transfer half of the fish into a deep glass container and pour half of the hot marinade over it. Make a second layer with the remaining fish and pour the remaining marinade over it. Let the fish marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving it.

The fish will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator but remember to take it out a couple of hours before serving it.

 

 

Chicken salad

Chicken leftovers? No problem! Last night I roasted a whole chicken, definitely too much for the two of us, especially because I don’t like its flavor if I warm it up the following day. So I removed the bones while the leftovers were still warm and today I turned them into this appetizing recipe.

Ingredients:

(for 4 people)  A  B  Gf

  • the meat from half roasted chicken or 1 lb. of organic chicken breast
  • one carrot (optional)
  • one stalk of celery (optional)
  • half yellow onion (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. of EVOO
  • 2 tender stalks of celery
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
  • the juice of half lemon
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. of mayonnaise (see my recipe)

If you don’t have any chicken leftovers, boil the chicken breast until tender (approximately 40 minutes) in a quart of water, together with half yellow onion, one carrot and one stalk of celery.

In the meantime, make the mayonnaise (see my recipe). Then wash and peel the carrot, wash the celery and the bell pepper. Chop finely the celery and the carrot, cut the bell pepper into thin slices removing the seeds and white membrane inside, and then cut them into small pieces.

Mince the chicken, put it into a mixing bowl, squeeze the lemon on top of it, toss, add the chopped vegetables, the roasted pumpkin seeds, the mayonnaise, toss again and serve.

N.B. Please remember to wash your hands and every surface that has been in touch with the chicken with hot water and anti-bacterial soap since poultry meat is very prone to contamination by the dangerous bacterium E. coli.

 

 

 

Celery root salad

A variation of the traditional coleslaw, this simple recipe is a quick solution for an appetizer or a fresh side dish. Hard to believe that such an easy recipe can be so tasty.

Ingredients:

(serves 4 people) A V B Gf

  • 1celery root
  • 3 Tbsp. of mayonnaise (see recipe)
  • Pepper

Make the mayonnaise following my recipe.
Peel the celery root with a potato peeler and julienne very thinly.
Add the mayonnaise, taste for salt and add if necessary, then a little bit of freshly ground pepper to taste, toss and serve.

Veal Carpaccio with celery

This easy and tasty recipe doesn’t require any cooking since the raw meat is “cooked” by its marinade. Invented in the ’50s by Giuseppe Cipriani, the renowned founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, it’s named after the XVI century painter Vittorio Carpaccio, whose exhibition was happening in Venice when Cipriani created this dish for a Venetian countess.
Carpaccio can be made both with meat (beef sirloin or veal eye of round are ideal) or fish (tuna, halibut, swordfish) and its toppings vary from region to region: in Sicily it’s served with capers, in Piedmont with shaved white truffle, a real delicacy.
I like it with veal because it’s more delicate than beef, topped with Parmesan cheese and celery because these two tastes complement each other.

Carpaccio makes a very good appetizer or a light meal, if completed by a green salad and a warm starch, like potatoes or rice (see my Lemon Rice and Potato Salad recipes)

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Ingredients:

(serves 4)  A  B  Gf

  • 1 lb. of veal, sliced very thin
  • 2 celery hearts
  • 2 oz. of shaved Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Marinade:

  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ground Himalayan salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper (to taste, optional)

Ask your butcher to slice the meat almost paper-thin or, if you have a meat slicer, slice the meat yourself.
Arrange the slices on the serving dishes.
In a small bowl, mix the marinade ingredients and pour it over the meat. Let the meat marinade for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the outer stalks from the celery and use only the tender central part. Wash it, pat it dry and cut it thinly. Arrange the celery on the meat, and lastly shave some Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

Tuna and Artichoke salad

This simple salad is so versatile that you will not only love it but it will also become one of your favorite problem-solving recipes. In fact it makes a delicious appetizer, it’s ideal for lunch or for a picnic, it can be used in sandwiches, as a dip with raw vegetables or served on toasted whole-wheat bread for brunch.
Can you ask more from such an easy recipe?

Ingredients:

(serves 4)   A  Gf

  • 10 oz. of oil-packed canned white tuna
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 Tbsp. of mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper Continue reading

Farinata

Typical of the Northwestern part of Italy (Piedmont, Liguria and northern Tuscany), the name Farinata used to designate all recipes made with different flours and liquids, boiled until cooked and condensed, such as Polenta. Today, though, it refers to a very specific recipe made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Ideally,
Farinata should be cooked in a wood-burning oven, and that’s why it’s served in many Pizzerias. However, if you warm up your regular oven well in advance, the result is almost as good.
Farinata makes a very tasty, original appetizer or a nutritious snack. It can also be served as a side dish in a rustic meal.
Not only it’s delicious but also gluten-free!

Ingredients:

(serves 6)   F  W  Sp  V  B  Gf

  •  3 cups of chickpea flour
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 tsp. of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Put the flour in a big bowl, make a hole in its center and start adding the water a little at a time, stirring well to avoid any lumps.
Mix slowly and with care so that the result is a very homogeneous mixture. Add the salt and let the farinata rest all night in the bowl. The following morning remove any foam that has formed on its surface. Continue reading

Veal with tuna sauce

Today I’m introducing this nice summer entrée or appetizer for the carnivores among you.
The combination of surf and turf might sound odd but it’s actually very agreeable.
If you prefer white meat, the veal can be replaced with turkey breast.

Ingredients:

(serves 6)    Sp  Sr Gf

  • 1 ½ lb. of veal (round loin or round eye) or turkey breast
  • 5 oz. of canned tuna, oil packed
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • 1 oz. of pickled capers (plus a few for decoration)
  • 1 small piece of lemon peel
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clover
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Wash, dry and tie the meat with a string to keep it together while it’s cooking.
Put the white wine and enough water to cover the meat completely in a saucepan. Continue reading

Guacamole*

How could I forget that today it’s Cinco de Mayo? Actually I did, but a friend reminded me a few minutes ago. It must be because in the area where I live there aren’t as many Mexicans as in San Jose, where I lived before. There it was impossible to miss Cinco de Mayo because days before the party stores began to display all the paraphernalia for the celebrations and cars drove around flying huge Mexican flags and honking to the refrain of “La Cucaracha”. In fact, in areas with large Mexican-American populations like California – and the Southwest in general – Cinco de Mayo is the occasion to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage, with all the drinking, eating and partying that goes with any Mexican Fiesta. Continue reading

Vegetable Strudel

Delightful as a warm appetizer or as a light vegetarian entrée, this strudel is easy and simple to make and yet it makes a great impression. It can be made with different kinds of vegetables but the combination I recommend in this recipe is particularly delicate and appropriate for spring.

Ingredients:

(serves 4)   Sp 

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (about 1 lb.)
  • 5 organic carrots
  • 1/8 lb. green beans
  • 1 cup of shelled green peas
  • ¼ of a small yellow onion
  • ½ Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Evoo
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. parsley, chopped
  • Salt
    Continue reading

Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Eggs Appetizer

 This week I’m going to suggest an entire menu, starting with a cold appetizer, followed by a warm one (that can double as a light entree), to continue with a classic salad, then a fresh rice dish, a seafood recipe, and closing with one of my favorite desserts .
I hope that my recipes will inspire you to follow my culinary wanderings, step by step, day by day.

Ingredients:

(serves 4)  Sp  Sr  V  B  Gf

  • 2 big ripe organic tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. organic mayonnaise (for the homemade one, see my recipe)
  • 2 hard boiled organic eggs
  • 2 balls of fresh Bufala mozzarella (or cow milk mozzarella)
  • 3 Tbsp. Evoo
  • 1 Tbsp. capers (optional, for decorating)
  • Salt

Put the eggs in a small saucepan filled with cold water and cook them for five minutes, counting from when the water starts to boil. Continue reading