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DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Eggplant Parmigiana

June 16, 2020

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Eggplant Parmigiana!
Since it’s eggplant season, we set out to create a homemade eggplant Parmesan recipe.
This Italian-style eggplant Parmesan recipe is lighter than most—it’s made with roasted eggplant slices (not fried) and no breading at all. It’s gluten free, too! Recipe yields one 9-inch square eggplant Parm, or about 8 servings.

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INGREDIENTS:
• 3 pounds eggplants (about 3 smallish or 2 medium)
• 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, preferably the fire-roasted variety* 
• 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil, plus additional basil for garnish
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
• 6 ounces freshly grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 cups, packed)
• 2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
INSTRUCTIONS
To roast the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two large rimmed, baking sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
Slice off both rounded ends on one eggplant, then stand it up on its widest flat side. Slice through the eggplant vertically to make long, even slabs ¼- to ½-inch-thick. Discard both of the sides that are covered in eggplant skin. Repeat with the other eggplant(s).
Brush both sides of the eggplant slabs lightly with olive oil (you’ll likely need about ¼ cup oil). Arrange them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the top sides with a few dashes of salt and pepper. Roast until golden and tender, about 22 to 27 minutes—halfway through baking, rotate the pans 180 degrees and swap their positions (move pan on lower rack to upper rack, and vice versa). The pan on the lower rack might need a few extra minutes in the oven to turn golden. Set aside.
Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender and translucent, about 4 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook, while stirring, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce has thickened nicely, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chopped basil, vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon).
When you’re ready to assemble, spread about ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9” square baker. Arrange about one-third of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly (cut them to fit, if necessary). Spoon another ¾ cup of the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
Arrange about half of the remaining eggplant slices evenly on top. Spread another ¾ cup sauce on top and sprinkle with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese. Layer the remaining eggplant slices on top and top with ¾ cup sauce (you might have a little left over) and the remaining mozzarella cheese. Evenly sprinkle the Parmesan on top.
Bake on the lower rack, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes to give it time to set, then chop and sprinkle additional basil on top. Slice with a sharp knife and serve.
Leftovers keep well, covered and refrigerated, for about 4 days. Reheat before serving.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Tiramisù

June 9, 2020

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Tiramisù!

Tiramisù is a timeless no-bake Italian dessert combining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and a creamy lightly sweetened mascarpone cream.
Even though tiramisù is actually a fairly recent invention, this dessert of coffee-soaked ladyfingers layered with mascarpone cream enjoys an iconic status among Italian desserts. Its name stems from the phrase tirami sù, an Italian expression which literally means pick me up, a reference to the uplifting effects of sugar, liquor, and coffee.
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INGREDIENTS:
• 6 large egg yolks (approx. 1/2 cup of yolks)
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese ( room temperature
• 1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
• 30 each Italian ladyfingers about 1 ½ of the 7 ounce packages (Savoiardi style)
• 1 cup cold espresso or strong coffee
• 1/2 cup flavored Liqueur optional (Marsala, Kalhua, Porto, or Cognac)
• 1 ounce unsweetened cocoa for dusting

HOW TO MAKE:
Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water using a whisk to mix. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. This is your sabayon, remove from the heat and continue to whip yolks until thick and lemon-colored.  Allow to cool briefly before mixing in mascarpone.
Add room temperature Mascarpone to whipped yolks, mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer whip cream to stiff peaks (hand mixer or stand mixer is fine).
Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon mixture and set aside. The mascarpone does not have to be at room temperature, but it will help it mix in easier if it is.  Take it out of the refrigerator as you gather ingredients to make the recipe.
Mix the cold espresso with the coffee liquor and dip the ladyfingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet, do not soak them!
Arrange the ladyfingers in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish (or container similarly sized)
Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the ladyfingers.
Repeat process with another layer of ladyfingers
Add another layer of tiramisu cream
Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Overnight is best.
Dust with cocoa before serving
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Bucatini with green beans!

June 2, 2020

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Bucatini with green beans!
With the first sunny waram days, Italians immediately want to prepare little elaborate and tasty meals. Then there are particular vegetables, such as green beans, which are typical between the spring and summer seasons and are suitable for their versatility to make really tasty recipes, such as pasta with ricotta, green beans and fresh tomatoes. Bucatini with green beans have the taste of summer: a rich dish with an enveloping flavor that will make you taste this seasonal vegetable in a more appetizing way! Whether you are by the sea, on the mountains or more simply enjoying your daily life, you got to give yourself a lunch break, enjoying the pasta with green beans!
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INGREDIENTS
• 1 pound bucatini pasta
• 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 pound French green beans, trimmed and halved
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
• Splash of white wine
• Zest of 1 lemon

HOW TO MAKE:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Transfer the hot pasta to a large heat-proof bowl and add the ricotta. Toss to combine.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans, garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the splash of white wine and reserved pasta cooking liquid and continue cooking until the beans are tender, about 4 more minutes. Add the ricotta-coated pasta to the pan with the green beans and toss to combine. Add the tomatoes and toss gently. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the lemon zest.

Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Milanese Charlotte

May 26, 2020

Our #RecipeOfTheWeek is Donna Franca's Charlotte alla Milanese!
Wonderful dessert typical in Milano. You can impress everybody with a restaurant-like, flaming dessert!

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INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 pounds apples - peeled, cored and cut into eighths
• 3/4 cup white sugar, divided
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 1/2 cup raisins
• water to cover
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 12 thin slices white bread, crusts removed
• 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger rum

HOW TO MAKE:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place apples, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest and wine in a heavy saucepan. Pour in water to cover completely. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered 15 minutes.
Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with water. Let soak 10 minutes, then drain and reserve.
In a small bowl, cream together butter and remaining sugar until well combined. Coat the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish with this butter mixture.
Butter the top edge of each slice of bread. Starting from the bottom, roll each slice up into a log, using the buttered edge to seal. Cut 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices to form pinwheels. Repeat with remaining bread.
Line bottom and sides of the greased baking dish with bread rounds. Drain the apples and combine them with the drained raisins. Spoon the fruit mixture into the lined dish. Cover the top with the remaining bread rounds. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven 1 hour.
To serve, pour rum over the warm charlotte and light it with a long match or kitchen torch.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Limoncello Cookies

May 19, 2020

Our recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Limoncello Cookies!

These Limoncello Cookies are soft, with chewy centers and crisp edges. Full of lemon flavor and delicious! The icing on top makes them perfect!

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INGREDIENTS
• 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 1 large egg
• 2 tbsp lemon zest
• 1/4 cup limoncello liqueur
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• ICING
• 2 tbsp (28g) salted butter
• 1/3 cup (69g) sugar
• 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy whipping cream
• 1/4 cup (60ml) limoncello
• 2 tsp corn syrup (or honey)
• 1 cup (115g) powdered sugar, sifted

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, egg, lemon zest and limoncello and beat on medium speed until creamy and free of lumps.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.  Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls of dough onto the cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or golden brown around the edges with no uncooked centers.
Remove cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. To make the icing, combine all the icing ingredients except for the powdered sugar in a small sauce pan. Heat on low until sugar is melted, then turn heat to medium to bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat and immediately pour into a heat-proof glass bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar and allow to cool and thicken, roughly 10-15 minutes. If you find your icing to be a little thick, just add a touch more water to thin it back out. If it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. Spread the icing onto the cookies and then allow to cool. The icing will thicken as it cools.

Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Busiati

May 12, 2020

Our recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Busiati!

It is a first course to taste absolutely in Sicily. The "busiati" are typical maccheroncini similar to bucatini, accompanied by the delicious "pesto alla trapanese" based on garlic, almonds, basil and tomatoes. The Sicilians were inspired by Genoese pesto revisiting it and using fresh local raw ingredients: the result is delicious!

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INGREDIENTS (for 4 people):
• 20 oz of freshly made busiate (or bucatini)
• 1.1 lbs ripe sauce tomatoes
• 8 basil leaves
• 6 cloves of garlic
• 1 and 1/3 oz peeled almonds
• 3 and 1/3 oz grated pecorino
• extra-virgin olive oil
• salt and pepper

HOW TO MAKE:
Using mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, basil and almonds, drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil.
Pour into a glass bowl and mix, adding a bit of grated pecorino. Scald the tomatoes in hot water for a few minutes then peel them, remove the seeds, chop them and crush them in the mortar. Add the other ingredients, seasoning with salt, pepper and more extra-virgin olive oil.
Cook the pasta in abundant salted water until al dente, drain and pour into the bowl with the sauce. Mix well and serve.
Buon Appetito!

 

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Tuna Spaghetti

May 5, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Tuna Spaghetti!

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INGREDIENTS:
Ingredients for 4 people:
• 14 oz spaghetti
• 14 oz fresh tuna
• 17 oz cherry tomatoes
• 1 cup of black olives
• three cloves of garlic
• salt
• pepper
• parsley
• extra virgin olive oil.

HOW TO MAKE:
Fry the garlic in a pan, add the diced fresh tuna. Cook for a few minutes. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes, salt, olives and chopped parsley. Let it cook. In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente, drain and add it to the tuna sauce. Sauté everything on high heat for a minute, add more chopped parsley, serve hot.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Cuculli

April 28, 2020

Our Recipe of the week is Donna Franca's Cuculli!
Super easy and quick, but very tasty vegan frittelle.

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INGREDIENTS:
• 4 cups Chickpea flour
• 1 nut of yeast
• salt and olive oil.

Dissolve the chickpea flour well in water to obtain a sufficient liquid dough. Once this dough is obtained, add the yeast and then leave it get up for a day.
After rising, add a pinch of salt, mix well and fry spoonful of dough in hot oil. Once the frittelle are golden, use a slotted spoon to take them out and use a paper towel to eliminate the extra oil. Serve hot.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Truffle Risotto

April 21, 2020

Our Recipe Of The Week  is Donna Franca's Truffle Risotto!

White Alba truffle risotto: The luxury of simplicity. The truffle risotto is a typical and traditional recipe of Italian cuisine, not only in Piedmont but all the Italian territories in which collects truffles. From Tuscany to Molise.

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INGREDIENTS
• 320 grams of rice (I used Carnaroli, Vialone Nano but also a fine )
• 40 grams of white truffle of Alba
• 60 grams of butter
• medium scallions
• 60 grams of shredded PDO Parmigiano Reggiano
• 1,2 litres of vegetable stock or veal or chicken Fund Fund
• 80 milliliters of dry white wine and non-aromatic
• salt and pepper, to taste

HOW TO MAKE:
For the risotto with white truffle, Finely chop the shallots. Put into a pan 20 grams of butter, melt, gradually add broth and scallions and sauté over low heat for 15 minutes, so the shallot becomes translucent but not browned.
In another pan, preferably copper, dry toasted rice, then add the shallots withered and mix well. Deglaze with white wine over a very low heat, evaporate the alcohol and start adding the hot broth, little by little. Season with salt.
Bring cooking risotto with white truffle, so it's the wave (and so creamy) and al dente, Adjust if necessary with salt and pepper, then stir in the remaining butter and parmigiano Reggiano.
Serve the risotto with white truffles from Alba in individual dishes, completing each portion with white truffle cut into thin slices with the appropriate mandolina. Serve immediately.
Buon Appetito!

DONNA FRANCA'S HOMEMADE RECIPES: Scialatielli

April 7, 2020

Our Recipe Of The Week  is Donna Franca's Scialatielli di Amalfi!
Scialatelli is a recent innovation, compared to many other pasta shapes from Italy. The Italian chef Enrico Cosentino first devised it in the late 1960s in his native Amalfi, while working in a local restaurant, and it gained him recognition for it in 1978, when he won the Entremetier prize in an international culinary contest
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Ingredients:
For the pasta:
• 300 g flour
• 120 ml milk
• 20 g Pecorino Romano
• 3 basil leaves
• 1 egg
• 15 g salt

For the Sauce:
• 2 cloved garlic
• 2 birds-eye chillies (finely chopped)
• handful chopped parsley
• 250 g cherry tomatoes
• 200 g Springbay mussels
• 200 g clams
• 8 Crystal Bay prawns
• 150 ml fish stock

HOW TO MAKE:
Pasta: combine all ingredients together, knead for 3 minutes. Allow to rest for a minimum of 2 hours. Roll out onto a board or floured surface at 1 cm thickness. At this stage you may need to add a little flour as you go, then cut into thin strips.
While you are rolling out the pasta, bring a pot of salted water to boil.
In a large saucepan, add chopped garlic, chilli, cherry tomatoes and sauté on medium heat until tomatoes are cooked. Add seafood and fish stock and turn down heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, add pasta to the boiling water and cook on high heat for 4 minutes.
Drain pasta and add to the sauce. Add chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil, and season to your liking. Gently mix the pasta and sauce together, allowing the gluten from the pasta to make the pasta creamy.
Buon Appetito!

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