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Bresaola with Shaved Artichoke

Bresaola is one of those Italian specialty meats that’s difficult to find on a regular basis so when I saw it at Eataly I grabbed a package – strike will the iron is hot.  In the past I’ve come across recipes calling for bresaola but never had the chance to make and now that I had the opportunity I wasn’t sure how I was going to use it…funny that!  I spotted an artichoke and decided to prepare the dish as if making carpaccio.  Bresaola is a salt-cured, air-dried beef, is very lean and originated from northern Italy.  This recipe is super easy to make.

bresaola slices
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
Parmesan cheese, shaved
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh lemon juice
extra-virgin olive oil
1 artichoke – cleaned and thinly sliced (use a mandoline or potato peeler)

Arrange bresaola slices on a platter.  Top with shaved artichoke slices, garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, parsley, Parmesan cheese and seasoned with pepper.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  The beef slices can be slightly chilled or at room temperature.  A simple yet elegant antipasto best served with fresh bread.  Enjoy with a glass of red wine!

Roasted Asparagus with Anchovy Panko-Garlic Topping

I was in the city yesterday meeting Mr. S. for a cappuccino and then off for a bit of retail therapy.   I mustn’t have been in the mood as nothing I saw grabbed me except for when it came to a bit of food shopping at Eataly.  It’s my favorite specialty shop in Manhattan showcasing all things Italian.  If you have never been, you’re missing out on quite an experience.  They offer hard-to-find Italian food items that other grocers don’t seem to have or carry on a regular basis and their market has housemade bread, pasta, mozzarella, gelato, and pastries.  Even if you don’t want to buy groceries here, it’s a great place to eat at one of their 9 restaurants.  Want to learn more about food?  Take a cooking class or dine at their monthly chef’s table and learn more about the regional cuisine as the chef prepares your meal.  It’s worth a visit even if only to walk around Eataly and take in all the sights and sounds.

Serves 6
adapted from Food & Wine

2 pounds asparagus
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
7 anchovy fillets in oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons lemon zest
juice of one lemon, for drizzling  

Preheat the oven to 425°. On a baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once, until golden and tender. 


Meanwhile, in a small pan, simmer the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil with the anchovies over moderate heat, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the panko brad crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and lemon zest. Transfer the roasted asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with lemon juice, top with the panko and serve.  

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Unbelievable flavors coming from this dish!  If it’s just the two of you, like it was for us, take only the amount of asparagus you’d eat and adjust the panko crumb mixture accordingly.  Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Crostini with Truffle Sea Salt

If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating a truffle the next best thing, in my humble opinion, is truffle oil.  That was until I sampled white truffle sea salt!  John and I were food shopping and we never pass the cheese section of Whole Foods without buying…well almost never.  We asked what was new which can be a difficult task as we’ve tried a lot over the past year.  Jason told us about the Gouda infused with black truffles and immediately my eyes lit up.  John isn’t a huge fan of truffles but like a dutiful husband said he’d try a sample.  He liked it!  Yay!  We bought a wedge and then were asked if we had tried truffle sea salt.  Jason said his favorite way is to sprinkle it on roasted tomatoes and bread.  That sounded so good we bought the 1-ounce bottle.

Truffle is an edible fungus and grows underground.  The white truffle is found in northern Italy while the black truffle grows in the south of France.  When eaten raw like mushrooms they don’t taste like their aroma because their gasses aren’t emitted until the acid in our stomach breaks it down and the flavor – get ready for this – is released in a burp!  However, if a truffle is thinly shaved and added to a hot dish it is the heat that releases some of the gas allowing one to savor the truffle taste.


rustic farm bread
8 cloves of garlic (more if you like), skin on
campari tomatoes, sliced thick
fresh mozzarella, sliced
olive oil
white truffle sea salt

Preheat oven to 350f (180c).   Place tomato slices on a baking sheet along with garlic cloves.  Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and garlic.  Roast 15 to 18 minutes or until garlic is soft and tomato slices have begun to shrivel.  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.  The skin on each clove of garlic should be easy to remove.  Place garlic in a bowl and mash.  Brush a bit of olive oil on both sides of the bread and grill.  If you don’t have a grill or bbq, use a toaster and brush a bit of olive oil on after toasting the bread.  Add mashed garlic to the bread and top with mozzarella followed by tomato slices.  Finish with a pinch of truffle sea salt and drizzle with olive oil.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This was out of this world and I made it twice over the weekend it was that good!  The second time I mixed goat cheese with the roasted garlic cloves…it was very difficult to choose which one was better.  The truffle salt elevated this already delicious appetizer to a new taste sensation!  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Salsa di Parmigiano

When I think of salsa, two things immediately come to mind:  salsa the dance – olé! – and salsa used in Spanish sauces.   It usually refers to a tomato-based sauce but if you dig further, you’ll find that salsa (Spanish for sauce) is not restricted to Latin American countries and can include France, Italy and Spain.  These sauces can be green (like salsa verde or chimichurri), brown (as in mole sauce) or made with fruit such as mango.  This is a definite crowd pleaser and one you will enjoy serving time after time.

Makes 3 cups
inspired from Michael Chiarella

1/2 pound Parmesan
1/2 pound Asiago cheese
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Place cheese in a food processor along with garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and pulse until reduced to the size of fine pea gravel. Stir in the green onion, olive oil and black pepper and pulse again.

Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This sauce was super easy to make and wait until you taste it!  Slather it on warm toasted bread, mixed in with pasta, on a pizza or in a panini.  Whatever you choose, it’s going to knock your socks off!  Enjoy!

Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Tomatoes

I finally got the chance to make my first batch of fresh mozzarella!  Beecher’s in the Flatiron District sell kits from Urban Cheesecraft and it was in the summer that I picked one up but never got around to trying it until now.  Their deluxe DIY Cheese Kit allows you to make mozzarella, chèvre, paneer, ricotta, and queso blanco.  Everything is neatly labeled and the instructions are easy to use.

my batch of fresh mozzarella

If you would like to delve into the cheese making world, I suggest trying ricotta first as it seems to be fool-proof!  Click here for my homemade ricotta…you’re gonna love it!

Serves 4
fresh mozzarella ball
Campari tomatoes, thickly sliced
Italian bread or French baguette
basil, torn
garlic clove, minced
zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180c (350f).  Place tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and starting to shrivel.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.  Slice mozzarella and place on a platter.  Add tomatoes in between cheese slices and scatter minced garlic.  Drizzle olive oil (I add a lot as I like to mop up the juices with the bread) over top of cheese and tomatoes.  Zest a lemon over the top followed by basil and season with salt and pepper. 

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This is a super easy antipasto to whip up and all the flavors tastes so fresh.  The Campari tomatoes are sweet-tasting and roasting enhances this.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers (Fiori di Zucca Ripieni)

Ciao, pronto, prego, il conto, mi scusi, buon giorno, arrivederci, grazie – some useful words we used when we visited Italy earlier this month – it seems a distant memory now!  Don’t ask me to string a sentence together but I can get by with simple words and hand gesticulations.  John, on the other hand, can speak the language the way a 4-year old would so between us we managed to navigate the ports and eat our way to Italian gastronomic heaven!  After visiting Venice, Ravenna, Catania, Amalfi and Pompei I am amazed at my vocabulary.   Sometimes I would throw in some Spanish or French words because I couldn’t think of it in Italian and most people understood the jest of what I was trying to say.  A simple gesture of ‘trying’ no matter how poorly the pronunciation was that seemed to please the locals which led to a smile and perhaps an extra glass of vino compliments of the proprietors.   The places we visited were ports and as such we wanted to consume as much fresh fish and seafood, pasta too (of course!), as we could.  Stuffed zucchini flowers were never on the menu (pout) so I decided that when I returned home I would make my own…for the very first time.

All summer squash varieties originated in the New World and the people of Central and South America have been eating squash for several thousand years, but the zucchini we know today is a variety of summer squash developed in Italy.  Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa.  Near the end of the 19th century the summer squash appeared in an area near Milan where it was given the name zucchini (small squash) and in France it is known as a courgette.  The flower is used in salads and in side dishes.  In Greece and Italy it is commonly stuffed.

I purchased the zucchini flowers from Lieb’s Nursery.  It’s a local nursery about 12 or so minutes from where we live.  They recently decided to grow herbs and vegetables in soil that had been dormant for nearly 100 years.  I was there 3 weeks prior to our trip abroad and the garden was just starting to blossom with some varieties of lettuce available. However, in 3 weeks their garden patch is flourishing.  The zucchini blossoms were so fresh that bees were still inside!  I gently shook the bag to help them on their merry way back to nature and not in my car!

Serves 4 as an antipasto
inspired by Food & Style

1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 large egg

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons finely chopped garden herbs (Italian parsley, basil, oregano, thyme and sage)

1 large egg
pinch nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

16 large or 20 small fresh zucchini flowers

1/2 cup olive oil for pan-frying (or enough oil to cover the pan generously)

For the batter – 
Mix flour, salt and water in a large bowl. Set aside and let stand for 1 hour.  Just before dipping the flowers into the batter whisk in the egg.

For the stuffing – 
Mix the egg, ricotta, herbs, salt and pepper until well blended and set aside.

To stuff the flowers – 
Make a slit lengthwise in each flower and remove the stamen (this is bitter to eat). Using a teaspoon, place a small amount of the stuffing at the base of each flower and twist the petals so that the stuffing is held safely inside the flower.  You might want to gently squeeze the filling slightly upward so that the flowers stayed twisted at the top.  Make sure the stuffing isn’t visible otherwise it will melt and ooze out into the oil and you’ll be left with an empty case.  Place on a board or plate until ready to use.

stuffed and ready to go!

Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet to high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, dip each flower in the batter and add to the pan. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Turn the flowers and continue to sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until golden. Repeat until all flowers have been used, reducing the heat to medium-high when the pan is very hot so the oil doesn’t burn.  Drain on paper towels, season with a bit of sea salt.  Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  You can use any soft cheese that tickles your fancy.  I used Greek feta cheese and mashed it with a fork and a bit of olive oil to soften it up (omitted the egg).  Freshly chopped mint and basil were the herbs I used and everyone loved the flavor so use whatever herb(s) you like.  You can prepare the flowers 15 minutes before cooking…any longer and they begin to weep.  Don’t worry if you tear the flower as you can use the stuffing as a way to bind the petals together.  If you are lucky as I was to get farm-fresh blossoms, keep a bit of the stem to help when dipping the flowers into the batter.  The stems taste delicious so don’t worry about whether or not you should eat them.  Enjoy!