AROMATIC ORGANIC TARRAGON EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL – NEW

Aromatic Tarragon

Aromatic and herbaceous, this EVOO boasts the delicate flavor of tarragon. Known as the “King of Herbs”, Tarragon dominates French cuisine. Once you have tried it, this olive oil is destined to become a staple in your pantry. Enhance your fall and holiday cooking. It will delight your vinaigrette and add a touch of magic to your vegetables.


 

Tarragon Chicken Stew

2 TBLESP Roman Table Tarragon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 pound)

Kosher Salt to taste

 Fresh ground Pepper to taste

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup Roman Table Champagne Vinegar

2 fresh tarragon sprigs

2 cups chopped seeded peeled tomato

1 tablespoon whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Heat EVOO in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with  salt and  pepper to taste. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan. Add fennel; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown. Remove from pan. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add broth, vinegar, and 2 tarragon sprigs, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Add fennel; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes. Add chicken; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove chicken and fennel from pan, and keep warm. Add tomato, cream, and sugar to pan; season to taste and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Serve over chicken and fennel. Garnish with additional tarragon sprigs, if desired

 

VERMONT MAPLE BALSAMIC VINEGAR IS HERE!

Rich & Delicious!

Just in time for your fall cooking! This aged balsamic is melded with the natural sweetness  of Vermont Maple syrup. Exquisite as a glaze for pork, root vegetables, or poultry. Reduce and serve on your pancakes or french toast!


 Roasted Maple Sweet Potatoes

4 small sweet potatoes (or 2 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup Roman Table Vermont Maple Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Roman Table Abonsana Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Kosher Salt and fresh Pepper to taste            4 large  Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl add the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix to evenly coat the potatoes and arrange on a sheet tray. Roast until caramelized, golden brown and soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure to check them after 15 minutes and stir, if needed. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of  EVOO and the sliced shallots and sauté until they start to caramelize, about 5 minutes Add the remaining Balsamic Vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Lower heat and cook until golden brown and caramelized. If the pan becomes dry, add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Add the roasted sweet potato cubes to the caramelized shallots and transfer to a warm serving dish.                        Serves 4.

 

Enchanting Pasta Alla Norma

Simple to make, yet has a depth that is delightful as a first course for a dinner party. Pasta alla Norma was so popular in 19th century Sicily that it was named after Sicilian composer Bellini’s highly successful opera “Norma” to honor both the dish and the opera! Rumor has it that there was also a scandalous love affair involved! Well, I now have a love affair going with Pasta Norma … the concept is simple; pasta with sauteed eggplant in a tomato sauce, sprinkled with fresh basil and Ricotta Salata, a southern cousin of the traditional sweet soft ricotta. Ricotta Salata is a hard, salted cheese that gives the dish a rustic flavor. This cheese can be found at specialty stores, I purchased it at J. Pace & Sons in Boston’s North End. It is well worth the effort to locate this cheese. You can use the traditional Ricotta Cheese, but it changes the texture of the dish dramatically. For a Sicilian, this Ricotta Salata sets sets apart serious Pasta alla Norma from the mundane version.

Pasta alla Norma                                                                                                                          1 Large Eggplant, ¾ Cup Coarsely Chopped Fresh Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), 2 Leeks, 4 Cups Tomato Sauce*, 1 TBLSP Dried Oregano, 3 garlic cloves, ½ teasp dried Chili Flakes, Salt & Pepper to taste, ½ Cup shaved Ricotta Salata Cheese, 1 lb. tubular pasta.

*Let’s talk tomato sauce for a moment. For this dish I started with some fresh tomatoes I had in my fridge (about 3/4 of a pound). I cut them in half, placed them on a cookie sheet, and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I then poured about a 1/2 Cup of Aged Balsamic Vinegar on the tomatoes and roasted them in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the balsamic carmalizes on the tomatoes. The combination of roasting in the balsamic syrup gives the tomatoes a smokey flavor that is scrumptious as a sauce. I added this mixture to a can of Muir Glen whole tomatoes and blended together. 

Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes

 

Remove ends of eggplant, without peeling and cut no more than ½ inch think. Salt and drain in a colander for 1 to 2 hours. Pat eggplant dry and sauté in EVOO until golden, turning once. I use a medium robust Italian Olive Oil called, Leccino. Drain on paper towel. When cooled cut into strips and set aside.

 

Heat EVOO in a separate skillet and sauté the leeks (I use the package of trimmed leeks from Trader Joes) and garlic over medium heat. Do not burn. Add tomato sauce and ½ of the eggplant strips, salt pepper and most of the basil. Cook for about 15 minutes.  Add cooked pasta and toss. 

Sauteed Eggplant

 

 

Plate the pasta mixture on individual pasta dishes, garnish with additional eggplant, basil and shaved Ricotta Salata. Yum! You will surely begin your own love affair with this seriously understated pasta dish. Thank you Norma!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

 

Busiate al Pesto alla Trapanese

pasta

Creating the Busiate

Yesterday evening,  I was joined by three delightful young women, Jen, Nicole, and Kelly for a cooking class. Our mission, to create the Sicilian spiral pasta known as ‘Busiate”. These young women have known each other for many years and have shared many of lifes triumphs and tribulations. Now, each of them balance their careers with motherhood, leaving little time to renew and refresh their spirit.Therefore,  I was so pleased that they chose to treat themselves to a “girls night out” at The Roman Table! Tonight, as they delighted in sharing stories about their young daughters,  their senses were embraced by the angelic voice of Andreas Bocelli, the texture of the pasta dough in their hands, and the  flavors and aromas of fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. I explained the simplicity of this dish that hails from the Trapani province in northwest Sicily. It is said that the dish originated from pesto alla Genovese that was brought by merchants passing through port of Trapani. Sicilians have adapted the idea, using their local ingredients, almonds instead of pine nuts and tomatoes of course: making a dish full of fresh and nutty flavors that became a staple of Trapani area cuisine and today can be found in almost every restaurant. Busiate, the pasta used in this dish, is made from Durum Wheat Flour with water (no eggs) and twisted around its angle resembling a spiral. This joyful pasta is very specific to Trapani area. My guests found the spiral making process very ‘relaxing”. You can see how beautiful the sculptures spirals look adorning this platter. Rosetta, my Sicilian teacher, would be proud!

Recipe for Busiate

1 pound of Durham Wheat Semolina Flour, 8 ounces of hot water ( more as needed)

Form a “mountain” of flour with a hole on the top. Gradually pour hot water into the hole and work your fingers into the dough mixture folding the dough into the water. Continue to add water until all dough is incorporated. The dough should not be wet. Knead vigorously, form a ball and cover with a cloth. Let sit for 20 minutes. Tear a small piece ( the size of an egg) of dough from the ball. Couple between your hands and roll to form a thin cylinder of dough, not exceeding approximately 4 inches in length. Take a bamboo skewer and beginning at the middle of the skewer begin rolling the dough cylinder up the bamboo skewer, forming a spiral cylinder. You now have your first Busiate! Bella! Remove and continue making enough spirals for your dinner. When ready to cook, add to boiling salted water and cook for two minutes.

 

 

Pasta

Joyful Spirals of Pasta

Pesto alla Trapanese

5 Cups of Basil leaves, 4 Garlic cloves, 1/4 Cup peeled, raw Almonds, 2/3 Cup fresh tomatoes (I used the small grape tomatoes & cut them in half), 1/4 Cup of fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Roman Table Basil EVOO).

Using a food processor, start with the basil, garlic, & almonds. Turn on and gradually add the oil in a stream. Add the cheese and continue to stream oil. Finally add the halved tomatoes and process a short time, leaving the tomatoes a little chunky. Season with salt & pepper. This pesto is generally serves cold on hot pasta and is also good for Bruschetta as well.

Fennel & Orange Salad

1 Fennel Bulb, 2 Naval Oranges, 1/4 Cup of Dried Sweet Cranberries, 1/4 Cup of Roman Table Blood Orange EVOO, 1/4 Cup of Red Wine Vinegar, handful of copped Pistachio Nuts.

Using a Mandolin, shave the Fennel Bulb into a bowl, cut the orange in segments and then in half. I do this portion a couple of hours in advance allowing the juices from the Orange to meld into the Fennel. Whisk together the EVOO and Vinegar and pour on the Fennel/ Orange mixture. Toss the Pistachio on top before serving.

Busiate all Trapanese

A Taste of Sicily

Cooking with Rosemary in Cefalu

Preparing our lunch

The squares, street, and churches of the seaside town of Cefalu are so postcard pretty that it is no wonder why director Giuseppe Tornatore chose to film much of his much loved film ‘Cinema Paradiso” here! The little port is lined with narrow fishing boats and populated with local fisherman. There is adramatic backdrop of “La Rocca” (the rock) and much of the residental section of the town is located high above the historic city. Today, we were welcomed in to the home of a local chef, Rosemary, whose home is perched high above the town. We prepared our meal on her patio in a rustic outdoor kitchen and were entertained by the bubbly conversation and company of her husband and two teenage sons. We all felt right at home and very humbled by the opportunity to share a meal with “La Familia”!

 

Exploring Taormina

The Porta Messina Arch welcomes visitors to Taormina

Spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is an achingly beautiful spot with gorgeous medieval churches, a stunning Greek Theatre, and sweeping views of the Gulf Naxos and Mt. Etna. It was an absolute joy to spend an entire day in this magical place wandering the many winding cobblestone streets and taking in the spectacular views from the Piazza IX Aprile. Our stop in Taormina coincided with Palm Sunday which provided us with an opportunity to participate in a religous procession in the Piazza del Duomo, a pretty square set around an ornate baroque fountain and home to the Duomo, a beautifully understated 13 century church. It was a very special day for everyone.

 

A Picnic in Kolymbetra Park

Lemon Trees in Kolymbetra Park

Kolymbetra is an earthly paradise in Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples. It is an archaeological and agricultural jewel that houses an ancient aquaduct that dates from the 5th century B.C.. After a long  walk through this meditative ecosystem, we enjoyed a lovely lunch prepared by our host, Franchesca. We dined amoungst the century old olive and almond trees. Citrus and banana trees were abundent in our presence. The sights and sounds of this shangrala provided the perfect back drop for yet another culinary extravaganza!

Too Many Glasses, So Little Time

Chef Angelo creating his masterpiece!

The La Foresteria Winery is part of the Planeta Wine Estate located in the province of Agrigenta just a few kilometers from the crystalline sea at Menfi. This is a region rich in extraordinary archaelogical sites and natural resources. Our day was an extraveganza of the flavours and traditions of the ancient sun kissed Sicily!

 

Erice Crowns the Legendary Mountain of Eryx

Exploring the backroads of Sicily
Sicily’s Medieval Gem

Erice is a mesmerising walled medieval town, situated some 750 meters above sea level. On the hilltop stands the ruins of the Norman Castello di Venere (castle of Venus), built in the 12th and 13th century. The terrace around the castle offers panoramic views of the countryside and sea coast. Walking along the cobblestone streets is an aphrodisiasic! It is surely one of the most romantic places on earth.

Cooking at Baglio Fontanasalsa

Cooking amoungst the olive groves

The Olive groves at the baglio

Today we had our first cooking class with Senora Rossata at a beautiful olive grove called Baglio Fontanaslsa. The term “Baglio” refers to the courtyard of a country farm.  Baglio Fontanasisa offers a spectacular view of the farm’s olive grove, the sea, the Egadi Islands, and Mount Eurice. With total respect for the environment, life at the  “Baglio” follows the rhythum of nature. Exceptional Olive Oil is produced, there is an abundance of herbs and honey, and culinary specialties of the region prepared. Being in the kitchen with Chef Rosetta reminded me of preparing meals on Sunday with my Nona Gallo!