Crab Arancini with Cheez-Its!

I have been cooking with Giada’s Italy cookbook and today I tried the Crab Arancini.

Giada uses risotto mixed with crab, cheese and bread crumbs to make these delicious nuggets.  As I go through Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita cooking I try to get creative and come up with my own version of each recipe.  I remember as a kid learning from my grandmother, aunts and mom certain recipes where they did not have exact ingredients written down; they were just in their head and measuring was a handful or a pinch and then sometimes added as they went along. I learned to be creative in tasting as you cook so you know if you need to add anything to make the perfect dish.  I originally thought I would try to make these somewhat healthy as it has been a long time since I have had any grains but then thought I will improvise as I go just as my family does.  I had a box of Trader Joe’s Mushroom and Herb Risotto in my pantry so thought I would use that. There are items in the recipe that I did not have so improvised on those as well.  Here is my take.

Ingredients:

Prepare boxed risotto, take off stovetop and cool completely. Add in lemon zest, cheese, cream cheese, crab meat and mix thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

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Prepare your breading station with beaten eggs, flour seasoned with salt and pepper and cheeze-its. Scoop out a tablespoon of risotto mixture and roll into a ball.  Dip in flour, then egg, then cheez-it mixture until you have used up all the mixture.  Cook in a frying pan with heated olive oil, turning to brown on all sides.

Homemade sauce:

(this was an experiment but proved to be pretty good.  You can increase the amounts to double this).  Mix all together and warm in microwave to serve over crab arancini.

Enjoy,

Love and Light

Jeanine on the Scene

Fresh and Easy Homemade Pasta

Have you ever had or made homemade pasta?  It is light and less filling than store bought and really not as hard as you think to make.  I do have a pasta roller which helps to thin to the right consistency but it is just as easy to use a rolling pin and cut by hand.  I have started cutting my tagliatelle by hand and the joy that I get (and you can too) from making your own pasta and then watching your family and friends enjoy the fruits of your labor, well nothing better than that!  I have been making homemade pasta since I was around 16 when I received my first pasta machine as a gift.   Fast forward to 2018 while traveling in Tuscany, I had a lesson at Agriturismo I1 Rigo in Siena, Italy.  If you are ever in the Tuscany Region look them up, it is a beautiful restaurant and farm to table venue.  The grounds are spectacular with rolling hills and views for miles.  Http://www.ilrigo.com.

20180607_234633.jpg Lorenza’s rule for cooks she says are not written on the recipe… “that is something we have to learn to read through awareness”.  To use your senses – eyes, nose and hands. In this case touching the dough, working it with your hands and feeling the textures you create.  I recently made a 5 course dinner for 14 friends and made this pasta as one of the courses.  They loved it!

Tagliatelle

  • 3 eggs
  • 300 gr. white flour “00” (or 200 white flour and 100 gr durum wheat flour)
  • salt

 

20180808_171118.jpgPlace the flour on a wooden surface, making a well and placing the eggs and salt in the center.

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Mix the eggs carefully with the salt. Work the flour with your hands moving it into the well to incorporate the flour with the eggs; working the flour in until it forms a ball.  Work the dough with your hands. To knead it start by pushing out with your right palm of your hand and folding back over with your left hand moving against you and back into you for around 10 minutes.  The dough will get smooth and elastic. Test it by pushing down on the middle of the dough, if it pops back up it is done.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 40 minutes in the refrigerator.

DSC_1167.JPGIf you are going to use it right away, the dough can stay out on the counter but no longer than 2 hours.  Take out ball and cut in quarters to roll out each piece. Press dough down on floured surface to flatten out. Using a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out dough to desired thinness.  I use the pasta machine working the dough through each thickness, turning the knob each time, starting at the highest opening (7) and working the dough down each number until down to 1 or 2 on the knob.

DSC_1174.JPGOnce you have a nice thin sheet, place on floured surface, flour both sides and roll each end of the rectangle towards the center.  Then cut the pasta down in 1/4 to 1/2″ thickness or to desired thickness.

From here you can put the pasta in well salted boiling water.  It only takes a few minutes for the fresh pasta to rise to the top and then it is done, al dente.  Please do not over cook your pasta, it will get mushy.  This recipe can be used for any pasta; ravioli, tortellini etc.  I cut up vegetables and grilled them prior to making the pasta.  Once out of the water I added extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, (and a little of the pasta water if needed), the vegetables and some fresh Parmesano Reggiano on top.  A great summer time light meal.

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Enjoy!

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Adventures in the Pugliese Kitchen

Day 15:

Last full day of this absolutely incredible vacation. Today we venture even further south, to Gallipoli. Gallipoli is a coastal town in Apulia, southern Italy. The historic center, on an island off the mainland, shelters churches like St. Agatha’s Cathedral, with its ornate facade. Nearby, the Church of St. Mary of Purity has a maiolica tiled floor. Gallipoli Castle includes the Rivellino tower, standing apart from the main building. Across the bridge, on the mainland, is the Greek Fountain, dating from the Renaissance.

We meet for a day of cooking with Anna Maria.

We go to the market to select the ingredients for our class and then proceed straight to the kitchen for a hands-on cooking lesson. I’m in heaven. Here our new friend shares the secrets for preparing some of Puglia’s most beloved dishes.

We prepare a dessert with custard which is a traditional salento cake. This has to sit and chill before going into the oven.

We cut up zucchini and cherry tomatoes for our antipasto. The zucchini sautes in a pan of garlic and olive oil.

Natalie loves fresh zucchini.

The calamari and tomatoes for our appetizer.

We mix semolina flour and water together and roll our dough into a ball where it will rest

Once rested we roll and cut into orecchiette.

Dessert out of the oven.

Now that the meal is prepared it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and olive oil.

We sit together to enjoy our beautiful meal and some outstanding local wines to accompany our lunch. Buon Appetito!!!

Love and light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Sea Caves of Polignano a Mare

Day 9

This morning we are headed to the striking cliff top town of Polignano a Mare which hosts the annual Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship. This event will be LIVE on September 23 at 12:30 PM CEST (10:30 AM GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com. The birthplace of Domenico Modugno, writer and interpreter of the world famous song “Volare” (flying), is part of the province of Bari, Puglia, and inhabits just a little more than 16,000.

A modern skiff (boat) takes us into the spellbinding sea caves where many a smugglers traveled. The beauty of mother nature of water and wind that have created these caves. We experience the colors and light that play off the water.

The smell of the ocean water and breeze that blows into these caves settles into my mind and heart and great gratitude of being able to see this magical spot. I thank God for allowing me to see this and many other special places I have visited on this trip.

We are able to stop and dive into the beautiful Adriatic sea and cool off before boarding the boat for a glass of Prosecco and some snacks.

We return to explore this quaint town and eat more pizza and pasta. Wow its all so good.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene

Puglia’s Green Gold

Day 7:

We begin today’s journey riding bikes along the beautiful Adriatic coast through some of the worlds most ancient and monumental olive groves.

Our first stop is a visit to a local producer of olive oils where we sample “Puglia’s Green Gold“. So called thanks to its golden color and its value ensured sustenance generation after generation. This property has been in the same family since the 9th century, the most antique agricultural arboreal existent landscape. We explore a cave that they uncovered once used in ancient Roman times to extract the oils.

Puglia supplies around 40% of olive oil production in Italy (it is the first region for quantity and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced per year).The Italian heel also provides around 12% of the olive oil production in the whole world.

After our tasting we hop on our bikes winding through country lanes; and I am in awe of the beauty that I see; getting a different perspective on a bike to view the landscape and smell the fragrances of wildflowers. We stop to taste ripe figs and discover a caper bush. The path we ride on was an ancient Roman passageway and we contine on this path before returning to the coast. After a 20 mile bike ride we are on our own for the rest of the day and enjoy a fresh fish lunch in the fishing village, a gelato of course and meander through Savelletri which is a Province of Brindisi.

Love and Light,

Jeanine on the Scene