Minestrone Soup

Since the winter is long, we have time to cook.  This recipe takes a while, but the end result is worth it.  This is an old-fashioned recipe that your Italian grandmother (if you had one) would have made.  It has stood the test of time.

MinestroneSoup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 c. dried white Navy Beans
2 cans chicken Broth (10 + oz.)
1 small head of cabbage
4 carrots (1/2 lb.)
2 medium potatoes (3/4 lb.)
1 lb. canned Italian Style Tomatoes
salt
2 medium onions (½ lb.)
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 stalk celery
2 zucchini (½ lb.)
1 large tomato
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
¼ c. parsley, chopped

Directions:
Day 1 – In bowl, cover beans with cold water. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Day 2 – Drain. Pour chicken broth into a 1 quart measure, add water to make 1 quart. Pour into 8 quart pan with 2 more quarts water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt on beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, cover for 1 hour.  Wash cabbage and cut in quarters; remove core and slice each quarter thinly. Pare carrots; slice diagonally, ¼ inch thick.  Peel potatoes; cut into ½ inch cubes. Add to soup with canned tomatoes. Cover and cook ½ hour longer. Peel onions and slice thinly. Heat ¼ cup evoo in medium pan, sauté onion, stirring about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Slice celery diagonally, 1/8 inch thick. Wash zucchini; slice into rounds ¼ inch thick. Peel tomato; cut into ½ inch cubes.  Add celery, zucchini, tomato and garlic to onion with ½ teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook slowly, uncovered, stirring occasionally 20 minutes. Add to bean mixture with ¼ cup parsley. Cover and cook slowly for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with grated Pecorino-Romano cheese and serve.

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Almejas Botin (Clam Booty)

Almejas Botin translates to Clams Booty or Plunder. It sounds more appealing to use the Spanish name for this recipe. Almejas Botin is a recipe said to have originated in the Spainish restaurant Sobrino de Botin, located just outside of Madrid in the 18th century. The restaurant was founded by a French cook named Jean Botin who moved to Madrid together with his wife, a Spanish woman from Asturias.  The Guinness Book of World Records notes that it is quite possible that during the 19th century, the Spanish painter Francisco Goya worked as a dishwasher in Sobrino de Botin before he reached fame. Throughout its long and fabled history a myriad of celebrities have enjoyed its delicious food including Ernest Hemingway.

It is considered by the Guinness World Book of Records as the oldest restaurant still in operation today. Here is the recipe for Almedas Botin or Clams Booty originated at the Sobrino de Botin.  Enjoy or as the Spainish say “disfrutar”!

Almejas Botin (Clam Booty)

Ingredients:
2 lbs. littleneck clams
½ onion
1 bay leaf
½ hot pepper (optional)
2 cloves of garlic crushed with parsley
6 oz. dry white wine
salt
paprika
¼ c. flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Directions:
Brown a chopped onion along with some bay leaf and chili pepper (optional). Add tomato paste and let it cool for a few minutes. Place the littleneck clams, well washed and drained, into the mixture.  Add dry white wine and paprika.  Boil and add some flour. When the clams begin to open, add some garlic mashed with parsley. Once all the clams have opened, serve with a baguette.

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Beef Medallion with Three Pepper Sauce

Valentine’s Day is almost here and what is more romantic than cooking for your Valentine?  This lovely filet of beef is easy and oh, so delicious.  You can add any grilled vegetables or potatoes to round out the meal.  This recipe from Oceania Cruises serves 4 but you can cut the measurements in half to serve 2.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Beef Medallion with Three Pepper Sauce
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
4 Beef fillets (6 oz. each)
1 teaspoon butter
2 cups veal demi-glace*
2 tbls. each black, green and pink pepper corns
1 shot glass brandy
2 Shallots
Parsley for garnish

*Veal Demi-glace is available from Williams Sonoma but you can also take 1 quart of veal or chicken stock and simmer it gently until it is reduced to 1 cup (for 2 portions).

Directions:
Season the beef with olive oil and salt.  In a very hot pan, sear the beef for a few minutes and reserve.  In the same pan, toast the black, pink and green peppercorns; and add the chopped shallots.  Saute for 5 minutes.  De-glaze with the brandy and flambé.  Add the veal demi-glaze, and reduce for 5 minutes.  Add the chopped parsley 5 minutes before serving.

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Tagliatelle Bolognese

It is believed that pasta was brought to Italy in the 13th century by Marco Polo from his travels to China. It is widely believed that tagliatelle was invented by Zafirano a well- known chef from Bentivoglio, Italy for the wedding of Lucrezia Borgia and the Duke of Ferrara in 1487. Folklore has it that Chef Zaffriano created tagliatelle after seeing the blonde hair of Lucrezia Borgia.  Regardless of when, where or who invented tagliatelle, after making this recipe for Tagliatelle Bolognese, you will be glad they did.

Tagliatelle Bolognese
Serves 8

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb Italian sausages (remove casing)
6 garlic cloves
1 c. red wine
14 oz. canned chopped plum tomatoes
1 lb. red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 red chilies, chopped (optional)
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. chopped oregano
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 lb. tagliatelle
salt & freshly ground pepper
Pecorino Romano  Cheese, grated

Directions:
Heat large pan over medium heat and add half the evoo, beef and sausage. Using wooden spoon, break up meat and fry until brown, stirring occasionally. 20 minutes into cooking add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add red wine and tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer and continue stirring.

Using another pan heat the rest of the evoo, add the bell peppers, and fry, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until peppers begin to brown. Add chilies (optional) and vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and the oregano to the meat and season with salt and ground pepper. Loosely cover pan and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add more red wine to pan as needed.  Top with parsley prior to serving.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the tagliatelle, bring to a boil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tagliatelle is tender but still firm. Drain pan and add a little evoo.  Mix the meat sauce with the tagliatelle and serve adding grated Pecorino Roma cheese.

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Cape Cod Seafood Stew

Food historians found that in the late 19th century, French settlers immigrating to Canada, brought with them a recipe for Fish Stew.   As the years went on a variety of seafood were added to the original fish stew. Mussels, scallops, shrimp and an array of different fish were added.  These recipes found their way to the US and today Seafood Stew has been part of many restaurants on Cape Cod.

Quick and easy, a seafood stew is perfect for winter entertaining.  Serve with the rest of the bottle of white wine and lots of baguette, maybe a small green salad on the side.  This is a recipe for a perfect evening.

Cape Cod Seafood Stew
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 bulb fennel, halved, core removed and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (or seafood stock if available)
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 lb. littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 lb. mussels, scrubbed & debearded
1/2 lb. sea scallops (or 1/2 lb. medium shrimp)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Baguette for serving

Directions:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Saute shallots, fennel, and garlic with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add wine and reduce 1 minute.  Stir in chicken stock and tomatoes and return to a simmer.  Add clams, mussels and scallops and simmer until clams and mussels have opened., about 4-5 minutes.(Remove any clams or mussels that do not open.)  Sprinkle with parsley and serve with warm slices of baguette.

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Andalusian Garlic Soup with Eggs and Croutons

Spain is where you can trace the origins of garlic soup. Various regions of Spain added their influences on the original recipe for garlic soup.  The recipe for garlic soup with eggs and croutons we have is from the Andalusia region of Spain.  Many Chefs consider the Spanish recipes for garlic soup as a souped- up version of French onion soup (no pun intended).  The bold flavors are magnified and the soup is easier to prepare compared to French onion soup.

Another important factor which distinguishes this garlic soup from French onion soup is its medicinal properties.  According to reports from party goers in Spain, nothing works better after long night of partying then sopa de ajo or garlic soup with eggs and croutons.  We can’t attest to its hangover cure but we are sure you will enjoy this delicious Spainish soup.

Andalusian Garlic Soup with Eggs and Croutons
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 garlic bulb, unpeeled and broken into cloves
4 slices day old ciabatta or baguette, broken into pieces
5 c. chicken stock
Pinch of saffron
1 tbsp. white vinegar
4 eggs
Polenta (ready made in tube)
Salt and ground black pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped to garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put 1 tbsp. evoo in roasting pan , adding the garlic and bread, and roast for 20 minutes, until the garlic is soft and the bread is dry. Let stand until cool.

Squeeze out the polenta from the tube onto a chopping block and spread out to about ½ inch thick.  Cut into ½ inch squares.

Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins into a food processor or blender. Add the bread and 1 ¼ cups of chicken stock. Then process or blend until smooth. Pour into a pan. Pound the saffron in a mortar and stir in a little of the remaining chicken stock, then add to the soup with enough of the remaining chicken stock to thin the soup as needed.

Melt butter in a frying pan and cook the squares of polenta over high heat for about 1 – 2 minutes, stirring until beginning to brown.  Drain on paper towel. Season the soup and gradually reheat. Bring a large frying pan of water to a boil. Add the vinegar and reduce heat to simmer.  Open an egg in a saucer. Circulate the water with a spoon and drop the egg into the middle of the agitated water. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs and poach them for 2 – 3 minutes until they are set. Lift out the eggs using a draining spoon and place each one in one of four bowls.

Ladle the soup over the poached eggs, sprinkle the polenta croutons and parsley on top and serve.

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Coq au Vin

It’s January, the holidays are over and it’s time for some comfort food.  Food historians differ on the origins of Coq au Vin. Legend has it that a similar dish can be traced back to Julius Caesar’s reign in 44 BC when Gaul was under Roman Rule.  Another, cites  a cookbook published in the 19th century titled ,” Cookery for English Households” as the first known recipe for a form of Coq au vin called Poulet au Vin Blanc.  However, the Chef that popularized Coq au Vin in the United States in the 20th century was Julia Child.  Coq au Vin was one of the featured recipes in Julia Child’s famous 1961 cookbook, “Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

Here is a recipe for Coq au Vin that will delight your dinner guests.

Coq au Vin
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 chicken 5 lb. quartered
Salt &  ground pepper
Flour
Butter & oil
½ tsp. thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 ½ c. good burgundy
2 c. chicken stock or broth
parsley

Directions:
Salt and pepper chicken to taste; dredge chicken slightly in flour. Pan fry in equal parts butter and oil until golden brown on all sides. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken in casserole with remaining ingredients. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove chicken to platter; strain liquid in saucepan; reduce 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat. Thicken sauce with 2 tablespoons of roux, with equal proportion butter to flour; stir until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary to taste.

Garnish:
Ingredients:
2 oz. lean fresh bacon, cubed
½ c. pearl onions
½ c. whole mushrooms

Directions:
Saute bacon and onions 5 to 10 minutes, add mushrooms and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Strain and add garnish to sauce. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

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Mussels in Spaghetti Sauce with Linguini

In Christopher Setterlund’s book “Historic Restaurants of Cape Cod” he describes the landmark restaurants that over the years that became synonymous with the Cape.  He provides the reader with a history of 39 restaurants which introduced locals and tourists alike to outstanding food.  In the era of the 1960s when great Italian food was not easily found on the Cape, Danny-Kay’s Italian Restaurant in East Falmouth was the place to go. The Bartolomei family operated the restaurant for over 28 years.  You might have found an old Italian recipe for Mussels with Linguini in Spaghetti Sauce at Danny-Kay’s.

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Mussels in Spaghetti Sauce with Linguini
serves 6-8

Ingredients:
4 lbs. mussels, scrubbed & debearded
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, diced thin
2 lemons, sliced thin
2 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 c. red wine
1 1/2 tbsp. oregano
1 1/2 tbsp. basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 lbs. linguini fini
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
parsley

Directions:
Scrub mussels well in cold water, changing water several times to remove all sand – the little tuft of hair is easily removed by pulling it out and discarding it (this is called “debearding” the mussels).

Steam mussels until shells open then set aside. Saute onion and garlic in oil in 6-quart pot.  When onions are golden and soft, add lemon slices, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, oregano, basil, peppers and salt.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.  Then simmer uncovered until sauce thickens.

Add cooled mussels to sauce.  Cover and cook over medium to high heat just long enough to heat mussels.  While mussels are being heated, cook linguini according to directions and toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking. Cover linguini with mussels and spaghetti sauce. sprinkle parsley. Serve while hot.

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Chicken Vesuvio

The first restaurant in the U.S. to serve Chicken Vesuvio was The Vesuvio restaurant in Chicago. The Vesuvio restaurant was a well-known Chicago restaurant in the 1930’s.  Chicken Vesuvio’s popularity grew and it appeared on menus in Italian restaurants throughout Chicago. In fact, legend has it that Chicken Vesuvio was one of Al Capone’s favorite meals.  Capone used to frequently have dinner at Colosimo’s restaurant and he would order Chicken Vesuvio.  The owner of Colosimo’s “Big Jim” Colosimo and Capone evidently had a falling out, maybe on how the Chicken Vesuvio was cooked, but whatever the reason “Big Jim” was killed on orders from Capone.

Today Chicken Vesuvio is still served in Chicago restaurants.  Here is a recipe for Chicken Vesuvio from one of Chicago’s most famous restaurants.

Harry Caray’s Restaurant Chicken Vesuvio (bone-in)
serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen peas
2 four-pound whole roasting chickens, cleaned and cut into eighths
4 large Idaho russet potatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, oregano, granulated garlic
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1-1/2 cups white wine
1-1/2 cups chicken stock

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil the peas for one minute; then rinse with cold water. Peel and quarter the potatoes length wise.  Heat the olive oil in a large roasting pan over medium heat.  Add the potatoes and garlic cloves; sauté the potatoes until golden brown (about eight minutes).  Discard the garlic cloves.  Remove the potatoes and set aside.  Add the chicken to the pan and sauté lightly on both sides to golden brown.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by half.  Return the potatoes to the pan. Season the potatoes and chicken with the salt, pepper, oregano, garlic granules, and parsley.

Add the chicken stock and roast uncovered for 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees.

Arrange potatoes around the chicken on a serving platter.  Pour the sauce from the pan over the chicken, sprinkle the peas on top, and serve.

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Crab Imperial

Food historians believe that this recipe originated in Colonial Chesapeake Bay.  During the 18th century, Colonialist faced flour shortages resulting in extraordinary prices for flour.  Colonialists who served recipes which included flour in the sauce were considered to be part of the rich upper class.  Thus recipes, sauces requiring the expensive flour, were dubbed “Imperial”.  One such recipe was Crab Imperial.

However, you don’t have to be royalty or from the rich upper class to enjoy this 21st. century recipe for Crab Imperial.

Crab Imperial
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
5 Tbls. flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
white pepper to taste
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco
2 pimentos, diced
1 lb. crabmeat
2 tbls. chopped green pepper
2 Tbls. minced parsley

Directions:
Over medium heat, melt butter, add flour and stir until smooth.  Add milk slowly and mix.  Wisk in egg yolks, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco, stirring constantly until thickened.  Add chopped green pepper and pimento.  Fold in crabmeat and parsley.

Bake in individual casseroles for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.  Serve with toast points.

For an hors d’oeuvre, you can heat the mixture on top of the stove until heated through.  Spoon mixture into individual pastry shells that have been warmed according to package directions.

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