Bocconcini di pura capra are soft little pillows of bloom-rind goat’s milk cheese made in Piedmont, Italy, at the Caseificio Alta Langa. They are delicate, gooey, and creamy with a rich but not overly goaty flavor. They are perfect picnic cheeses as they are, but if I am near an open flame or broiler/grill when I have them, I cannot resist wrapping them in a piece of prosciutto, pancetta, or speck and giving them a quick blast of heat. The word bocconcini literally translates to “little mouthfuls,” and while the makers of the cheese were no doubt referring to the diminutive size of these little cheeses, this recipe always has me greedily trying to get the whole thing in my mouth at once. The perfect combination and simple preparation makes me smile every time.
Bocconcini di pura capra is becoming more and more widely available at cheese shops and better quality grocers, though Marcellin or even Andante Dairy’s Accapella are also good options.
Speck is a gently smoked ham from the Tyrol on the Italian-Austrian border. In addition to a delicate smoky flavor, traditional speck has the perfume of juniper berries, which are used in the speck-curing process.
Click here to see how to make the perfect cheese board at home.
Gluten-free bread is the great quest of those who cannot eat the protein. It can be done, but here’s the key: don’t expect gluten-free bread to be the familiar gluten bread. Without gluten, bread is always going to be a bit less pliable, a little drier, and more of an unexpected texture than you wish. But once you get past the stubborn notion that everything should be the way it always was, you can have bread again.There is gluten-free bread that you buy from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, just to make a quick piece of toast. It’s more like a soggy bagel texture, but it does the job fine. And then there’s bread that even someone who can eat gluten can enjoy. That’s this bread.Adapted from the "Gluten-free Girl and the Chef" by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern.
A Caprese salad is usually sliced tomatoes alternated with sliced mozzarella and basil leaves with olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. It is really more of an antipasto than a traditional salad. This version takes it back into the salad world and it becomes a great dish to serve at any summer event, from a barbecue to a formal dinner.The key to a great Caprese is great ingredients; since there are only a few, you need to make sure they really shine. Tomatoes have a wide range of quality going from tasteless to mind-blowing. Though recent advances in winter greenhouse tomatoes have dramatically increased the quality of off-season tomatoes, there is nothing like an in-season ripe local tomato.Heirloom tomatoes tend to bruise more easily than regular tomatoes, but they have better flavor. The best way to tell is with your nose. This is true for basil and most other fruits and vegetables as well: how it smells is how it will taste.Click here to see 15 Tastiest Heirloom Tomato Recipes.
A cataplana is a hammered copper, hinged pot of Portuguese origin that resembles a clam shell. It is used to steam shellfish and can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. Besides being fun to cook in and a bit unusual, it also looks great hanging on a kitchen wall. I bought my cataplana in Portugal in 1986 after eating numerous versions of cataplana clams.
Click here to see Getting Schooled in the Art of Mediterranean Cooking.
A great sandwich has a fine balance between salty and sweet. In this sandwich, by pickling the figs you're adding a bit of both sensations. The whole package is rounded out by a meat no one can argue with — proscuitto — and ricotta cheese for a subtle addition of texture and flavor. Picked figs can be kept for any rainy day, but they make an excellent addition to a sandwich like this.
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Click here to see 8 Fantastic Fig Recipes.
OK, maybe I actually used fancy oil-packed tuna for this recipe, but canned tuna works just as well. If you decide to buy tuna stored in water, then you'll probably want to add a tablespoon or two of oil to the recipe below.
This open-faced sandwich is light, crunchy, and gets a mild hint of spice from the chile flakes. Feel free to top it with another piece of bread if you wish, but then make sure that both slices are thin so it doesn't overpower the main ingredients inside.
Click here for 8 Sweet and Savory Sandwiches.
This hot, hearty Italian-inspired chili with high-impact flavor and beautiful color is a snap to make. Tell your nona you spent all day in the kitchen preparing it, so she won't think you're a slacker.
Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest vegetable dish. But, I swear to you, it tastes and smells a lot better than it looks. I guess the dried red kidney bean was sort of an unfortunate choice (color-wise), so feel free to substitute another kind of dried bean for this soup if purplish-brown doesn’t do it for you.
Click here to see Slow Cooker Challenge.