Tag Archives: Appetizers

Big Game Bites: Stuffed Artichokes

1 Feb

So the Super Bowl is this Sunday and while I’ve never been a big fan of football, I have always loved a party.  This appetizer is delicious and easy to pick at as you and your guests graze over the course of the game.  Stuffed artichokes may seem mystifying, like something you’d get in a restaurant, but I promise, the recipe is really simple once you get past the work of prepping the artichoke.  So easy, in fact, that I cooked it in class for a high school home economics project.  That’s right, in high school– where I was, amazingly, a football cheerleader (despite having almost no understanding of the game).  Go figure.

Since my grandfather was a baseball player with five daughters, I don’t really have any football-related photos to share this time, but here are a couple of pics of T and Popo enjoying food at parties over the years.

 

STUFFED ARTICHOKES (Serves 4)
4 large artichokes
1C Italian bread crumbs
3T olive oil

1C water
1T olive oil
3 lemon slices
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, split
1t salt
6 peppercorns

Wash artichokes; drain.  Cut off stem at base of each artichoke.  Using scissors, trim off tips of artichoke leaves and cut 1-inch slick off across the top.  Gently spread the leaves open and cut away the small prickly leaves in the center of the artichoke.  Scrape away the fuzzy “choke” beneath them, being careful not to cut away any of the heart (the best part!).

Sprinkle the olive oil over the bread crumbs and rub together to moisten.  Place crumbs between loosened leaves and cavity.  Stand artichokes upright in a heavy saucepan and pour the water into the pan from the side, being careful not to pour the water onto the artichokes.  Add the olive oil, lemon slices, bay leaf, garlic, salt and peppercorns to the water.  Cover the pan and simmer for about 45 minutes or until leaves can be pulled out easily.

While cooking, be sure to check water level.  If the water evaporates before the artichokes are cooked, add more water.  When artichokes are done, lift from the pan with slotted spoon.  Serve whole or cut in half.

If you prefer, cook artichokes without stuffing and serve chilled with your favorite dip or hollandaise sauce.  Mangia!

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Christmas Morning: Spinach Pie

31 Dec

Christmas Eve is usually the big Capasso meal.  Which means we like to scale it back on Christmas morning (sort of).  Spinach pie combines veggies and eggs in a handheld snack that’s easy to hold while you’re opening presents.  And it’s so easy, a 19-month old can help you prepare it!

SPINACH PIE
1 garlic clove, crushed
2T olive oil
2 10oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2lb mozzarella cheese, cubed (use the brick cheese, not a fresh ball)
1/4C Parmesan cheese, grated
8 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 unbaked 10-inch pie crust

Swish garlic in heated olive oil. Remove from skillet and add spinach, stirring to coat with oil. Combine eggs, cheeses, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add spinach and stir to blend. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Cool, slice and serve.

See? I told you a 19-month old could do it. Mangia!

By Popular Demand: Sausage Bread

25 Dec

Sausage bread has been, by far, the absolute most requested recipe I’ve heard about since I started this website project.  “When are you going to do sausage bread?” everyone asks.  My mother, cousins, brother– they all have weighed in.  I’ve been waiting until the Christmas holiday to post it, since this is a mandatory food item on our table this time of year.  Hot and cheesy with the kick of Italian sausage, it is great as a Christmas Eve appetizer, Christmas day breakfast addition, or leftover for lunch.  It’s also a super-delicious gift for friends.

Hot from the oven

Sliced and ready to eat

SAUSAGE BREAD (Serves a crowd)
3T olive oil
2T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package bread dough (we buy it from the deli counter)
1lb Italian sausage meat
1/2lb provolone or mozzarella cheese (or a mix of both!)
1/2C grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1-2T olive oil
Water

Heat oil and butter in skillet and saute onion and garlic until onion is transparent.  Add sausage meat and break up in pan, stirring and cooking until meat is no longer pink.  Drain off excess fat and set aside.

Knead bread dough on lightly-floured cloth for about five minutes.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Roll dough into a large oblong about 1/4 inch thick.  Brush with olive oil.  Cover with meat mixture and spread to edges of dough.  Sprinkle with cheeses and salt and pepper.  Starting at long end, roll up tightly, tucking in sides.  Seal with water.  Shape ito a half circle and place on to a lightly greased baking sheet (or use a silpat).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.  Let cool slightly before slicing.

Seriously, we love it.  As I type this Christmas afternoon, my brother is requesting it reheated for a snack this very moment.  Mangia!

Family Favorite: Fried Artichoke Hearts

6 Nov

For my first recipe post, it’s only fitting that I share a simple recipe that graced literally every table at every gathering at T’s house throughout my life.  It’s also the dish I’m now responsible for at Christmas.  My friends love them for parties, too.  Please enjoy, simple and utterly snackable Fried Artichoke Hearts.  Per nonna– felice mangiare!

FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS
1 can artichoke hearts, drained (or one bag frozen, thawed)
1C flour
1C Italian-style breadcrumbs
3 eggs
2T milk
Salt and Pepper to taste (used to season flour and eggs)
Olive oil for frying
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to garnish

Drain artichoke hearts, then slice each one in half, lengthwise
Set up a “breading station.”  Pour the flour on one plate, mixed with salt and pepper to taste.  Beat the eggs in a bowl, and season eggs with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the breadcrumbs on another plate
Dip the artichoke hearts into the flour, brushing off the excess
Dip the artichokes into the egg mixture, again letting the excess drip off
Dip the artichokes into the breadcrumbs
Place breaded artichokes onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, and let them sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (this makes them extra crunchy, and is a good time for you to get ready for your party!)
Heat a heavy, shallow pan over medium heat, then fill it about halfway up with olive oil.  When a breadcrumb dropped into the pan fries, pops (but doesn’t burn), the oil is hot enough.
Add the breaded artichokes in batches until they are golden and crispy, turning once.
Drain on paper towels, arrange on a platter and sprinkle with Parmigiano while they’re still hot.

These are best hot from the pan, but are also great at room temperature served with other antipasto.

This is what they look like, waiting to be fried (not the best photo, but it'll do for now)