Friday, April 24, 2015

Ham and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Ham and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
serves 2
                                                       total time: 10 minutes


1 ciabatta or rustic bread
3 tablespoons Basil Pesto, or to taste
6 slices ham
4 round slice provolone
3 large pieces roasted red peppers
1 tomato, sliced
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
shredded lettuce, to taste
aged balsamic vinegar, to taste


build the sandwich:

1.  Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally.  

2. Spread about 1 ½ tablespoons of the pesto on each of the ciabatta halves.  Place 3 slices of the ham on each half, top that with 2 slices of provolone and  follow that with the three roasted red peppers. Add the tomato slices on the bottom half of the ciabatta, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and black pepper, top with the shredded lettuce.  Finally drizzle the aged balsamic over the lettuce to your taste.

3.  Join the two halves of the ciabatta.


Slice the sandwich in half and serve one half to each person.

Rustic Bread

Rustic Bread
makes 2 10 by 6-inch loaves

                                                                               prep time:  2 hours 20 minutes
                                                                               bake time:    30 minutes
                                                                               total time:  2 hours 50 minutes


for the sponge:

1 teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup water, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour

for the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
¾ cup water, at room temperature
¼ cup whole or 2% milk, at room temperature


create a sponge: 

Combine the yeast, honey and water in a 1 cup measuring cup.  Place the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast/honey/water mixture and turn on the mixer on low, stir until a uniform mass forms. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

create the bread dough:

Add the dough ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, water and milk) into the bowl your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. 

Begin by mixing on low speed until the sponge and the dough ingredients are combined and a soft dough forms, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. 

Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough becomes a uniform mass that collects on the dough hooks and pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is  smooth and shiny (the dough will be very sticky), about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

first knead of the dough:

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by folding the dough over itself and folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn the dough 90° and repeat the fold. Turn the dough and repeat the folding/kneading 6 more times (for a total of 8 times).
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

second knead of the dough:

Repeat the kneading as in the first knead step.  Replace the plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

preheat your oven:

One hour before baking, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 450° F.

prepare the loaves:

Cut two 12 x 6-inch pieces of parchment paper and place them on a cookie sheet,  dust both liberally with flour. 

Carefully transfer the dough to a floured work surface, taking care to deflate it as little as possible. 

Liberally flour the top of the dough and divide it in half with a bench scraper. Turn one of the dough halves cut-side-up and dust it with flour. 

With well-floured hands, press this half into a rough 12 x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the shorter sides of the dough toward center, overlapping them like you would fold a piece of paper in thirds, to form a 7 x 4-inch rectangle. Repeat this process with the second piece of dough.

Gently transfer each loaf, seam-side-down, to the parchment sheets, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes (the surface of the loaves should develop small bubbles).

bake the ciabatta loaves:

Carefully slide the pieces of parchment with the loaves on them onto a pizza peel.
Using floured fingertips, form the loaves, by pressing them, into 10 x 6-inch rectangles; spray the loaves lightly with water. 

Slides the loaves still on the parchment onto the baking stone. 

Bake, spraying the loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time, until the crust is deep golden brown, about 22 to 27 minutes.

cool the loaves and serve:

Transfer the freshly baked loaves to a wire rack, discarding the parchment, and let cool to room temperature for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sausage and Peppers Marsala

Sausage and Peppers Marsala
serves 4 to 6
                                                                                 Prep time:  15 minutes
                                                                                 Cook time: 40 minutes


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 6 sweet or hot Italian sausage
2 green bell peppers, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
2 to 6 fresh Italian sandwich rolls

1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan


brown the sausage:

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.

sauté the vegetables:

In the same pan over medium heat, add the sliced peppers, sliced onions, salt and black pepper and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

create the sauce:

Add the tomato paste to the onions and peppers and stir.

Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes.  Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release and incorporate all the browned bits and bring the sauce to a simmer.

bring it all together:

Cut each of the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, each about 1-inch. Add the sausages and any liquid that may have accumulated back into the pan stirring to insure the sausages thoroughly combine with 
the sauce. 

Continue to cook at a simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.


Split the rolls in half lengthwise and hollow out the bread from the bottom side of each roll, being careful not to puncture the crust. Fill the bottom half of the roll with sausage mixture. Top with cheese and the roll top and serve sandwiches immediately.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bistecca Pizziola
serves 6
                                                                     prep time:                     5 minutes
                                                                     sauce cook time:        10 minutes
                                                                     scallopini cook time:    6 minutes
                                                                     bake time:                  20 minutes
                                                                     total time:                   41 minutes


4 tender, thin beef cutlets (boneless rib steak, or sirloin), about 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Spicy spaghetti sauce, recipe follows
1 1 pound  ball fresh mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala), sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
12 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce with Capers:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 16-ounce cans tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), hand crushed
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 cup red wine, Chianti or burgundy
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 large (or quantity to your taste) fresh basil leaves roughly torn


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

prepare the spicy spaghetti sauce:

1.  Coat a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and warm over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until soft.   Be careful not to burn the garlic, if it burns throw it out and start over.
2.  Add the crushed tomatoes, the capers, the red wine, red pepper flakes and sugar; season with salt and pepper to taste. 
3.  Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the roughly torn basil leaves and the remaining olive oil.  
4.  Correct seasoning with salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.  

prepare the beef cutlets:

Pound out the cutlets until they are 1/8 inch thick and give them a few whacks with the tenderizing side of the mallet. Season the cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. 

sauté the cutlets:

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the beef in batches and sear on both sides, 1 and 2 minutes per side. Remove the first batch from the pan and place in a high-sided cookie sheet or baking dish while you work on the next batch. 

bring it all together:

Once all the beef cutlets have been sautéed and arranged on the cookie sheet, ladle the Spicy Spaghetti Sauce with Capers over the meat to cover, and place 2 slices of mozzarella on each steak. Bake just until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.


Serve 1 beef scallopini to each diner and dress each serving with some of the chiffonade  basil leaves either chiffonade or hand-torn pieces on top of each cutlet and accompany by a side salad or pasta.

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