A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Italian Cuisine’

Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

In Food on October 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

A couple of weeks ago we had a dinner party that included a couple of serious Barolo fans and so we worked backwards from there. There was the wine, and glasses big enough to hold a LOT of it.

The main course was Bistecca Fiorentina, which we served with balsamic marinated radicchio, basil and fresh ricotta, and a warm wild mushroom salad with toasted hazelnuts. To start, my friend Laurie brought over a couple of bottles of Casa Coste Piane Valdobbiadene Prosecco. It is totally gorgeous—a light, dry bubbly with pear and white peach flavors.


But back to the food. We needed some nibbles for the bubbly, and I wanted to riff on the baby peppers stuffed with tuna that are served at Pizzeria Mozza. However I did not want to poach ahi in olive oil and make my own aioli. So…here is my highly modified version (think canned tuna and good old Best Mayo, or Hellmann’s depending on your zip code). My advice is to make more than you will need for the peppers so that you have enough left over to spread generously on onion bagels the next day.

Roasted Baby Peppers Stuffed with Tuna

Adapted from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreño

For the peppers:

  • 48 baby peppers (preferably assorted colors), stems attached
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the tuna stuffing:

  • 2 250-gram tins of Ortiz El Velero Bonito Tuna, drained
  • 3/4 cup Garlic Mayonnaise (recipe follows)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 heaping tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For assembling the peppers:

  • Finishing-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Maldon sea salt or another flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the Garlic Mayonnaise:

  • 1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

To make Garlic Mayonnaise, combine champagne vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and mayonnaise in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use (can be made a couple days in advance).

To prepare the peppers, adjust the oven racks so one is in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the peppers on a baking sheet, rub them all over with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and spread them out in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 30 minutes, turning them occasionally, until their skins are wrinkled and slightly charred in places. Remove the peppers from the oven, leaving the oven on at the same temperature, and set aside to cool to room temperature.


Combine the Garlic Mayonnaise, parsley, capers, mustard, anchovy paste, vinegar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add tuna. Use a wire whisk as you would a potato masher to break up any large chunks but you do want the tuna to have texture. Fold the tuna and other ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.

To assemble, slice each pepper almost in half lengthwise, leaving them attached on one side. Carefully scrape out and discard the seeds, and spoon a scant tablespoon of stuffing into each pepper. Arrange the peppers on a platter. Drizzle with finishing-quality olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve.


Lemon-Rosemary White Bean Dip

In Food on April 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I keep a couple of cans of cannelini beans on hand at all times in case of impromptu cocktails with friends or neighbors. This simple no-cook recipe for Rosemary-Lemon White Bean Dip comes from Lidia Bastianich, and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. The secret is lemon zest.

Any leftover dip is fantastic the next day, thickly spread on good bread with roasted peppers or tuna.

Pizza with Beet Greens and Pancetta

In Food, Recipes on March 4, 2011 at 8:56 pm

We’ve been loving our CSA farm bag each week, and I’m loving the challenge of using everything in there right down to the greens. In fact, that’s the only part of the beet my husband will eat. And so I’m always on the search for new ways to deploy these flavorful greens.

Last week my sister and I were planning a tip of the cap to my mother’s Buffalo, NY, roots—an evening of pizza and Buffalo wings. Of course there’s no beating Bocce Club Pizza, but I didn’t have time to have one shipped cross-country (they deliver NATIONWIDE – best news ever). So, I thought parsimoniously, why not sauté up those beet greens with a little olive oil and garlic to throw on a pie?

My husband has mastered the art of pizza on the grill, so why I sautéed he grilled a round of Whole Foods pizza dough over medium high for two minutes on one side, then flipped and grilled for another 30 seconds or so. (There is also some technique involving the rotisserie burner that he’s being cagey about sharing—but do experiment, I promise it’s worth it!) Then he brings the dough inside and we put toppings on the less done side. For this version, I used spinach pesto for sauce topped with the sautéed beet greens, some grated leftover Appenzeller cheese from our Valentine’s Day fondue, and a few slices of pancetta. When Mr. Foodinista puts the pizza back on he uses indirect (or low) heat. Cook with the toppings until cheese is bubbling, another 5-10 minutes depending on heat of grill. My husband says it’s his favorite homemade pizza to date. So no, it’s no Bocce, but here’s what homemade pizza, blue cheese dressing and home-cooked wings can look like in LA.

Elf Help: La Dolce Vita Edition

In Food on November 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Yup, the Christmas lights are up at our house and I can’t believe that Hannukah starts on Wednesday! Herman Miller asked me to share a holiday gift guide on its LIFEWORK blog, which you can check out by clicking HERE. But that’s just scratching the surface, so in the coming weeks I hope to share some of my favorite ideas for giving—and receiving! Starting with this:

Oh yes, a gift box from Olio & Olive! Talk about la dolce vita. My friend Gaia brought over this gorgeous handmade wooden basket of Italian indulgence and I nearly died. Though Olio & Olive offers gift baskets in all price points, this particular splurgy basket retails for $189.90, so that special someone on your list had better have been exceptionally nice this year. I don’t even know where to start—it’s loaded with classics like aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, red sauce, penne, parm, olives, polenta, salami—all of it the stuff the pros use. And I loved experimenting with the jar of Tartuflanghe Parmigiano Reggiano and Truffle Cream ($24.90) tucked in there, which by itself would make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Gaia added that it’s best to save some of the starchy pasta water to mix with the sauce and pasta, which we tried. She was right. It totally helps the sauce coat the pasta better.

We enjoyed the sauce both with a bowl of bucatini and some farro pizzichi from Rustichella d’Abruzzo (you want a fairly toothy pasta to stand up to the richness of the sauce):

But what I loved best about the rich and aromatic sauce—and in fact this basket—is that it has the true hallmark of a perfect gift. That is, something that makes someone’s day just that much better while reminding them that friendship is the most nourishing gift of all.

Happy Halloween!

In Baby Love, Food on October 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Happy Halloween! Tiny G is getting his “friends” ready—the creatively named Doggie, Pumpkin and Baby Witch—to take to a friend’s birthday party later this afternoon. He’s excited that there could be cupcakes on offer. I’m excited because this friend’s father makes the best damn chili around. Post-party we’ll dress up Tiny G in his skeleton costume to embark on his first real trick-or-treating adventure, and then I’ll put on a pot of my dad’s pasta e fagioli to enjoy while passing out candy and hoping that Mr Foodinista won’t notice that a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups has gone missing…

Update 11/1/10: Greg’s chili, below. See what I’m talking about?

Cookie Fortune

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on October 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Most wine geeks hear “Teldeschi” and they think gorgeous, spicy Zinfandel sourced from 97-year-old vines in Dry Creek Valley. But from here to eternity, yours truly will be thinking “cookie.” This past week I was working up in Sonoma, exploring some of the most historic vineyards in the country. The highlight of the trip was taking a helicopter ride over Sonoma and Napa Valleys and up through Alexander Valley to the Teldeschi family home, where Caterina, aka “Mama,” hand made exquisite Italian cookies. But first, check out our ride:

The commute from Sonoma to Dry Creek was pretty spectacular and literally gave me a new perspective on where I grew up:

But that view has nothing on Mama’s cookies. She uses grappa and anise seed in her secret recipe, and presses in the most beautiful designs that make these confections look like edible doilies. As the cookies started to make their way around the table, Johnny Teldeschi jumps up and says “I got whipped cream, six cans!” His sister leans over to me and says you’ve gotta try one with whipped cream and hands me a can. She is right. I could have eaten the entire plate and polished off that aerosol can o’ sweetened ultra-pasteurized cream.

Thank you to the Teldeschis for such gracious hospitality. And thank you, Ravenswood, for making such seductive wines from these old vines. Now pardon me while I click my heels to return to the Teldeschi home, where even the recycling bin is the height of good taste.

Here Comes the Sun: Shrimp Rosemary Spiedini

In Food, Recipes on July 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Whoa. What a week—and it’s only Wednesday. So, this whole taking-my-baby-to-preschool situation has really taken it out of me. Anxiety. Gloomy weather. In July. In LA. Earthquake. I’m sorry, but I’ve been kind of down. Tiny G, on the other hand, is up up up. He ate his first sandwich today in preschool. It was pretty damned cute. To that end, I’d like to turn my frown upside down and share a sunny dinner we enjoyed a couple of weeks ago with our dear friend Darris. (For days after said dinner, Tiny G was asking “Where Dis? Where Dis?”) I wish I could deliver Darris and his conversation to your dinner table should your day need brightening, but in lieu, here is the next best thing.

Mario Batali’s Shrimp Rosemary Spiedini Alla Romagnola ©

The rosemary skewers, which are easy to make, impart an herbal fragrance to the shrimp, and they look both rustic and elegant at the same time. Alla romagnola means that these spiedini are a specialty of Romagna, the eastern part of the region Emilia-Romagna.—Mario Batali, Italian Grill


1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only (about 2 cups loosely packed)

1 bunch basil, leaves only (about 2 cups packed)

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

1 teaspoon kosher salt [need to check this amount again]

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds large shrimp (21–30 per pound), peeled and deveined

2 lemons, cut into wedges

12 large rosemary sprigs, prepared as skewers (see BELOW NOTE) and soaked in water for at least 2 hours, or overnight

Toss the parsley and basil leaves into a food processor, add the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup of the olive oil, and zap until the herbs are chopped and the bread crumbs look green.

Transfer to a pie plate or wide shallow bowl, add the shrimp, and toss to coat well. [FOODINISTA NOTE: I TOSSED IN A PYREX BAKING DISH]

Skewer 4 or 5 shrimp on each rosemary sprig (the easiest way to do this is line up 4 or 5 shrimp—“spoon fashion”—at a time on a work surface and run a skewer through them; then separate them slightly so they will cook evenly). Dredge on both sides in the bread crumb mixure, place on a platter, and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. [HERE IS MR FOODINISTA SHOWING US HOW IT’S DONE:]

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Put a piastra (FOODINISTA NOTE: OR GRIDDLE) on the grill to preheat.

Spritz or brush the piastra with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place the skewers on the piastra and cook, turning once, just until the shrimp are opaque throughout and some of the crumbs are browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the lemon wedges.

Rosemary Skewers It’s easy to make skewers from rosemary sprigs. Choose large sturdy sprigs that are about 8 inches long. Pull off most of the leaves from each sprig, leaving a nice tuft of leaves at the top (use the remaining leaves in the dish you are making, or reserve for another use). Using a sharp knife, cut off the bottom of the sprig on a diagonal to give you a sharp point. The skewer will slide easily through the shrimp when you skewer them.

Grilled Red Onions with Balsamic and Lemon Thyme

In Food, Recipes on June 15, 2010 at 10:03 am

Did you know that red onions are a rich source of flavonoids and phenolics, which means they are great antioxidants? We like to throw red onions in the mix whenever possible, and Mario Batali’s Thick-Sliced Onions with Lemon Time is one of our favorite summer grilling recipes. They are great alongside a grilled buffalo New York steak.

Thick-Sliced Onions with Lemon Thyme

Adapted from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh lemon thyme

2 pounds large red onions

About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a gas grill for direct cooking over high heat.

Combine vinegar, garlic and thyme in small saucepan and heat until fragrant and just beginning to steam; don’t let it boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut onions into 1/2-inch-thick slices and lay out on baking sheet. Brush on both sides with 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place onions on hottest part of grill and cook, unmoved, for 4 to 5 minutes, until just charred on first side. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until softened and lightly charred on the second side. Transfer to baking sheet or platter.

Whisk remaining 1/4 cup olive oil into vinegar mixture and drizzle over onions. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Brick Work

In Food, Recipes on May 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm

All day long my husband and I were fantasizing about this dish, a riff on a Mario Batali recipe from Italian Grill. And oh my god, was it worth the wait. We got squid and olive tapenade at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market first thing yesterday morning. Then, about midday I zested a lemon from our tree. If I had to, if I had to, pick a favorite fruit—aesthetically speaking, it would be the lemon.

While Mr. Foodinista cut up the calamari, I mixed together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mint, red pepper flakes and black pepper. We tossed the calamari in the mixture and let it marinate in the fridge.

The recipe follows, but a word first about the grilling method. The calamari is cooked on a piastra—which is Italian for cooking on a flat griddle over an open flame. We used our trusty Lodge Pro Cast Iron Griddle. To achieve a flavorful char, Mr Foodinista wrapped a couple bricks in tin foil (two layers). Oh, and he heated the HELL out of the grill, leaving the griddle and foil-wrapped bricks in there to heat up at a temp somewhere close to 500 degrees.

Somehow I didn’t take a picture of the chickpea salad prior to mixing it with the grilled calamari. Maybe because I was too busy EATING the chickepas. Holy scheisse—mix up the chickpea salad alone and have at it. With a spoon.

I’ve made a few very minor tweaks on this recipe because my experience w/ this cookbook has largely been: great idea, but did someone actually test the recipe as written? Batali’s flavor combinations are inspired – but having tried at least a dozen recipes, there’s either too much liquid or not enough protein, and the cooking times are almost always off. Here’s what worked for us:

Marinated Calamari with Chickpeas and Olive Pesto

Adapted from Italian Grill, by Mario Batali

Note: The original recipe calls for orange segments (from three oranges) to be tossed with final salad. There is more than enough happening with all the citrus in the marinade, so unless you are freaked out about scurvy, I’d skip it. I don’t include below (and nor does the photo in the cookbook).

Serves 4-6


3 lbs cleaned calamari (tubes and tentacles)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper


Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 scallions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 cup mustard seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Olive Pesto

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup black olive paste or tapenade

3 red jalapeños, deveined, seeded and finely chopped

12 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

CUT THE CALAMARI BODIES into rings. Combine olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mint, red pepper flakes and black pepper in a large bowl. Toss in calamari and stir well to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until ready to use.

Put chickpeas in a medium bowl, and add oil, vinegar, scallions, garlic and mustard seeds and stir to mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.

FOR THE OLIVE PESTO, combine oil, orange zest and juice, olive tapenade, jalapeños, and basil in a small bowl, mixing well. Set aside.

Preheat a gas grill for high heat. Place a piastra—or griddle—on grill to preheat. Wrap two clean bricks in two layers each of heavy-duty foil and set it on top of piastra to heat for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour calamari into a colander and drain for 10 minutes.

Using oven mitts, remove bricks from piastra. Put a couple handful of calamari pieces on the piastra, place bricks on top of them, and cook for 2 minutes (any longer will turn them rubbery). Lift off bricks and, using spatula, carefully transfer calamari to a clean bowl. Repeat with remaining calamari in batches.

Pour olive pesto over calamari and stir well. Put chickpeas in a shallow serving bowl and top with calamari. Sprinkle with fresh mint and serve.

LIVE with Paul Bartolotta!

In Food, Media, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on January 20, 2010 at 9:35 am

Last Friday night, my husband, our friend Amy and I went behind the scenes at Jimmy Kimmel LIVE to cheer on our friend, Chef Paul Bartolotta, who did this awesome cooking demo w/ Jimmy and actor Dax Shepard. Not only is Paul a friend, but one of the most talented cooks in the US (he has a couple James Beards Awards to prove it), and Mr Foodinista and I make at least one pilgrimage a year to Sin City specifically to eat at Ristorante Bartolotta at the Wynn Las Vegas!! On the heels of the Jimmy Kimmel/Jay Leno tango last Thursday, we were super excited to go to the show on Friday. We hung out in the Green Room for most of the taping, but were ushered backstage to watch Paul’s segment! So much fun and seriously funny stuff. Dax Shepard was hilarious as sous-chef, and helped prep one of my favorite recipes of Paul’s that we make a lot here at home, Gamberi e Fagioli Cannellini (warm shrimp with cannellini beans). I’m making it tonight for my book club. It’s really easy and is a great way to feed a crowd!

And here are a couple nerdy backstage shots with my second-generation iPhone: