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Summer Sunday’s in Marion’s Backyard

Summer Sunday's in Marion's Backyard

Rustic Dining.. Antipasta and Pastas

Generations upon generation of Italians have loved outdoor dining. With beautiful weather and majestic sweeping views, there are few pleasures that compare with enjoying family, friends and fine food alfresco.

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A great way to spend a summer late afternoon is with a simple antipasti followed by two or three pastas selections. Always use the best products to create memorable dishes. If you haven’t been to an Italian specialty grocer in a while, it’s time to return. You’re sure to get inspiration, ideas and plenty of delectable items from a visit. Putting together a delicious antipasti is easy. Use a selection of meats, cheeses, mozzarella with fresh tomatoes in olive oil, rice balls, fried peppers, bruschetta, olives, artichokes, eggplant and stuffed mushrooms, all with crispy Italian bread and beautiful green colored first-press olive oil. As you prepare your variety of antipasti items, consider my recipe for Roman Artichokes Giudia.

So gather with friends, relax outside and enjoy the long summer days with some vino until the stars come out.

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 Cannolicchi al Padellaccio

These small pasta tubes with a tuna sauce are served on parchment paper.

(makes four servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 three-ounce can tuna
  • white wine
  • 2 ripe cachi (persimmons)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 7 oz. peeled canned tomatoes
  • 2 hot red peppers
  • 10 oz. cannolicchi
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • chopped Italian parsley

Preparation

Poach the tuna in dry white wine. Once tender, place it into a blender and reduce to a creamy consistency. Cut open the cachi, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Puree the flesh in a blender. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and chop coarsely. Fry the garlic in the olive oil and add the tomatoes and pureed cachi. Cook over a high heat until the ingredients have blended into a smooth sauce. Add the creamed tuna and hot red peppers. Cook the pasta, drain and place into a large pan with the fish stock. Blend in the sauce that has already been prepared. The pasta, garnished with chopped parsley, should be served in a frying pan lined with parchment paper.

For the pasta:

In a food processor, pulse together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, egg yolks, olive oil and salt. With the food processor running, gradually add the water in a steady stream until the mixture forms a ball, adding extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Cut the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Place the drained spinach in the middle of a clean kitchen towel. Fold the towel in half and squeeze out any excess moisture. Place the spinach in a medium bowl. Add the prosciutto, ricotta cheese, Parmigiano, egg yolk, olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix until combined. On a floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough into 2 (8-inch diameter) circles. Place the filling in the center of each circle and using a spatula, spread evenly over the dough leaving a ½ to ¾-inch border of uncovered dough. In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together until smooth. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the dough with the egg mixture. Roll the dough into logs, jellyroll style and pinch the edges together to seal. Roll each log in the prepared cheesecloth and secure the ends with kitchen twine. Oil a baking sheet. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Lower the logs into the water and cook for 15 minutes. Using 2 pairs of tongs to hold the twine, remove the logs, one at a time and place on the prepared baking sheet until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Preheat the broiler. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Remove the kitchen twine and cheesecloth. Using a sharp knife, cut each log into 12 (½-inch thick) slices. Fan the slices in 3 overlapping rows in the prepared baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Broil until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Roman-Jewish Fried Artichokes (Carciofi alla Giudia) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lemons, divided
  • 3 pounds artichokes (about 24 baby artichokes or 6 large artichokes)
  • 1 to 2 quarts of Extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil or vegetable oil, for frying

Preparation

Kosher salt

Fill a large bowl with water; halve and squeeze 2 lemons into it. Trim artichokes following Roman-Jewish artichoke guidelines shown here: Remove tough dark green outer leaves to expose more tender light-green leaves within, then, using a paring knife, cut off top half of each leaf and trim base and stem. Trimmed artichokes will look like a closed rosebud. Transfer the peeled artichokes to the bowl of lemon water as you work, covering them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them completely submerged.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 280°F. Add artichokes (they should produce a steady but non-violent stream of bubbles) and cook until tender (you should be able to pierce their hearts easily with a fork), adjusting heat to maintain a steady bubble, about 10 minutes for baby artichokes and 15 minutes for larger ones. Turn larger artichokes frequently for even cooking.

Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer artichokes to a paper towel-line plate. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Using your hands, gently pull open each artichoke "bud" so that it resembles an open flower. If using large artichokes, remove and discard the hair "choke" in the center of the artichoke. Increase oil temperature to 350°F.

Fry artichokes until browned and crisp, 2 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with salt. Transfer to plates and serve right away with wedges of remaining lemon.

Fresh Pasta “Pinwheels”

Yields 4-6 per roll
Making fresh pasta (or you can buy Pasta Sheets by Andrea).
This recipe is a little time consuming but it has a great reward).

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks + 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water

Filling

  • 12 oz. frozen spinach (drained well)
  • 3 oz. very thin prosciutto (chopped)
  • ½ cup whole milk ricotta, + 3 tablespoons
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (chopped) + 3 tablespoons, melted
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • 3 cups marinara sauce

*You will also need strong cheesecloth and kitchen string

Directions

For the pasta: In a food processor, pulse together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, egg yolks, olive oil, and
salt. With the food processor running, gradually add the water in a steady stream until the mixture forms a
ball, adding extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Place the dough on a floured work surface and
knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Cut the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and
refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling: Place the drained spinach in the middle of a clean kitchen towel. Fold the towel in half and
squeeze out any excess moisture. Place the spinach in a medium bowl. Add the prosciutto, ricotta cheese,
Parmesan, egg yolk, olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. Using a fork, mix until combined.
On a floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough into 2 (8-inch diameter) circles. Place the filling in the
center of each circle and, using a spatula, spread evenly over the dough leaving a 1/2 to 3/4-inch border of
uncovered dough. In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together until smooth. Using a pastry brush, lightly
brush the edges of the dough with the egg mixture. Roll the dough into logs, jellyroll style, and pinch the
edges together to seal. Roll each log in the prepared cheesecloth and secure the ends with kitchen twine.
Oil a baking sheet. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
Lower the logs into the water and cook for 15 minutes. Using 2 pairs of tongs to hold the twine, remove the
logs, one at a time, and place on the prepared baking sheet until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish.
Remove the kitchen twine and cheesecloth. Using a sharp knife, cut each log into 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices.
Fan the slices in 3 overlapping rows in the prepared baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the
slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with warm
marinara sauce.

My Favorite Necessities for Outdoor Dining

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