Greetings from Barga, Italy! For the past several weeks I have been serving at the Community’s outreach in Tuscany, and learning about Italian food in the process. During the holidays I made one of my most favorite Italian dishes: arancini. You would be hard pressed not to find comfort in these creamy risotto balls stuffed with cheese, aside from the fact they are also breaded and deep fried…mama mia.
As with most things I’ve encountered in Italy, this dish brings a centuries-long history to the table, dating back to 10th-century Sicily. While arancini has undergone some modern interpretation over the centuries, it remains a delicious treat. Buon appetito!
Fill a saucepan, crockpot or deep fryer with 4-5 inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees, regulating frequently with a thermometer if not using a crockpot or deep fryer appliance.
Form a ball of risotto no larger than a golf ball in your hand and press it flat on a piece of wax paper. Place a mozzarella cube in the center, and close the risotto around it. Reshape into a ball if needed and set aside and repeat with remaining risotto.
Once all the risotto has been formed, gently roll in flour, then egg and finally the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
Working in batches, gently drop risotto balls into the oil, frying until the outside becomes a light golden brown color. Remove from oil and place on a cooling rack to drain excess oil.
Serve warm or with a red or white sauce of your choosing.
The change of season is such a lovely time. The air is crisp, the trees are turning brilliant shades of reds and orange, leaves are piling on the ground, and pumpkins greet us on every doorstep. Walking through our community, and seeing these sights, I am inspired to pull these all into one big pot of wonderfulness. The magic that greets you when a delicious bowl of steaming soup appears in front of you is one of community and love.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Oil baking sheet. Place squash, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake until squash is very soft, about 50 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, remove peel from squash; discard peel.
While the squash is cooking, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Mix in onion, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick. Cover pot and cook until onion is tender, about 15 minutes, stir occasionally so that your onion does not burn but is slightly golden and caramelized.
Add the cooked squash and 4 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Take out the cinnamon stick but reserve.
Working in batches, purée soup in blender (or use an immersion blender.) Return soup to pot with the cinnamon stick. If desired, add heavy cream and/or half and half to thin it out to your desired consistency or add more chicken broth. Add the maple syrup to taste. If desired, include a bit of ground cinnamon to taste.
Season soup with salt and pepper. Bring to simmer and ladle into bowls and serve.
(Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate.)
I just love the summer evenings, not only the beautiful sunsets on Cape Cod but also the wonderful aromas being created by all of the grills cooking up wonderful dinners in our neighborhood. I often cook an entire dinner on a grill just to keep the heat down in our house and the dirty dishes out of the kitchen. The other evening, we celebrated one of our Sisters' 40th Birthday and she asked for swordfish since it was such a special celebration. This is one of my favorite swordfish recipes,
I think you’ll love it too.
Place swordfish steaks in glass baking dish in a single layer
Combine oil and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Pour marinade mixture over steaks; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours, turning occasionally.
Prepare Avocado Butter: Combine butter and avocado in a small mixing bowl; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add the lime juice, zest, parsley, garlic, and salt; stir well. Cover and chill until firm. If desired, shape butter into small bowls before serving.
Remove steaks from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Place marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat grill. Grill steaks over medium high heat for 9 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting frequently with the reserved marinade (do not over cook).
Serve fish off the grill with a ball of Avocado Butter on each steak. Garnish with parsley sprigs.
Since St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) is just around the corner on December 13th, we thought we’d share this special Swedish bread with you – fantastic for the Holidays. The celebration of the day comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden. “St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head, so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.” (see note below**)
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day. It is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head. Thus, the wreath of bread dotted with candied “berries.” If you’d like you can also add small candles to the cake as well for a more festive look.
Recently, I had the privilege and gift of studying for a week in the Essentials of Pastry Arts at the International Culinary Center in New York City. Once known as the French Culinary Center, ICC has some of the most renowned pastry chefs in the United States – such as Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres. Their alumni are some of the most noteworthy in the food and hospitality industry. It was a week of intense learning as well as exploring an area of personal inadequacy. Give me a savory dish over a fancy rolled fondant cake anytime! But, little did I know what a week of good, concentrated study could do to boost my confidence. Leaning into our insufficiency can sometimes prove “sweet” results.
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Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes
Tip - use a digital scale to weigh these ingredients and always be sure to "tare" your scale after putting your mixing bowl on it; that is, reset the scale to "0" before you start measuring ingredients
This year Good Friday and the start of Passover were on the same day—-a rare occurrence given the difference between the Gregorian calendar used by most Western countries and the lunar calendar observed by the Jewish faith. Indeed, the Seder plate used during the first night of Passover tells the dramatic story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt and includes reminders of their captivity: bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery, haroset which is a reminder of the mortar used between bricks, a shank bone to remember the Passover sacrifice and an egg which represents the new life promised to them after the Red Sea crossing.
Borrowing from our Jewish roots, our own Good Friday dinner was a cross-section of the Judeo-Christian traditions that mark this holy season of the year. Beginning with a candle lighting and blessing at 6:45—the official start of the eight-day Passover festival—and continuing with the meal which included some dishes found at a traditional Passover Seder table including Matzo ball soup, roasted chicken (with haroset stuffing), marinated green beans, Israeli couscous and tabouleh salad. Also gracing our table was one of our year-round favorites: fresh Challah bread baked that afternoon. While Challah—and dishes containing yeast—are not eaten during Passover, we couldn’t help ourselves! This braided bread is so delicious and beautiful to look at and made an honorary appearance on our Good Friday Passover table. Best when eaten fresh, this versatile bread is also wonderful toasted the next morning day. Try out the recipe below and see for yourself!
With wishes for a joyful conclusion for the Passover and Easter seasons, we look forward to the promise of new life this spring!