Making Pane e Panelle with Alessio at Bella Cucina Italian Deli

Alessio’s Pane e Panelle

I recently visited Bella Cucina Gourmet Italian Deli in Lake Hiawatha, NJ.  The proprietors are great friends of mine, Alessio & Lauren Troia.  Alessio is a native Palermitano, meaning he’s from Palermo, Sicily.  One of his specialties are a Sicilian street food called pane e panelle, which are deep-fried chickpea fritters served on a sesame seed roll with salt and lemon.  I decided to record Alessio as he prepared the pane e panelle.  Enjoy!

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Sliders, Italian Style

Slider alla Caprese (Lombatello (Hanger Steak) Slider with Fried Salumi Milanese, Burrata, Housemade Tomato Jam & Housemade Pesto)

I was in a slider (mini-hamburger) kind of mood last weekend.  My wife just wanted a plain slider with griddled onions, but me I wanted to elevate the slider to a higher gastronomic level.  Being it was Sunday, I was in the mood for Italian, but didn’t want to spend the whole afternoon making sauce.  So what I did was make my sliders Italian style.  My inspiration for these sliders was Insalata Caprese, which is a salad of fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil, sea salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.  I put a twist on these ingredients and used them as topping for the sliders. 

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Super Bowl Sunday’s Super Easy Roast Beef!

Arrosto Fiorentino aka Roast Beef

On Super Bowl Sunday, most people are eating the usual suspects: chicken wings, chips and dip, maybe a sub/hero or a couple of American style pizza pies.  I, on the other hand, went against this big game fare in favor of something a little more Italian or should I say Florentine.  Attending Dario Cecchini’s (the world’s greatest butcher) recent butchery demonstration in NYC, I’ve had a hankering for meat, and in particular beef and to be even more specific roast beef aka arrosto fiorentino. (To read about Dario’s demonstration click here.)  I’m talking about just that: beef that is roasted in a hot oven.  This was a no frills recipe that was super easy and tasted better than anything you could buy pre-made.

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Jambalaya…My Way

Creole Jambalaya, My Way

I would like to share with my version of a creole or red jambalaya.  I must admit that I have never been to Louisiana (although on plan to go one of these days), so my version is how a Yankee would make a jambalaya. 

I came to thinking about jambalaya, when I recently sampled one that was underwhelming.  The rice was gummy.  The chicken wasn’t seasoned with salt and pepper.  And there was absolutely no flavor to hold the dish together.  I didn’t get any heat from a chili powder, such as cayenne, or a smoky hint from paprika or cumin. This is a big no-no, in general, but a real sin when it comes to cooking in the Cajun or Creole style.

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Pronto Pesto!

I made a quick and easy pesto this evening with trofie, a short, skinny pasta from Liguria. The first thing I did was put a big pot of water over high heat. It’s important to always use a lot of water whenever you are cooking pasta. You want the pasta to roll around the big pot. For the pesto sauce, I started out by toasting pine nuts (pignoli) for about 5 minutes over medium heat. I used about 2 oz. of pine nuts.

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My Recipe for Pasta e Fagioli

Today definitely did not feel like August 24, especially with a high of 71°F. It definitely felt more like October. My wife was in the mood for a bowl of soup. And you know what, so was I. One of my favorite soups has to be pasta e fagioli. That’s right it’s pasta e fagioli, not pasta fazool. Pasta e fagioli translates to “pasta and beans”. There are many different versions of this Italian/Italian-American standby.

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