sharing (Italian) food to enjoy life

Archive for the ‘Enjoy and share’ Category

Barbequing to beat the heat

Posted by Jim Carfrae on July 23, 2012

I had a few friends over for an afternoon of sun, swim and shade. Not wanting to heat up the house I went for the super simple: fire roasted tomato bruschetta (BBQ) on slices of a toasted baguette. To round it out I served some pâté, a bottle of crisp sauvignon blanc, and sliced up a Mastro Siciliano salami chub.

I can report there was only pâté left over. I think I used a bit too much onion in the bruschetta, and no one seemed to mind: http://www.sharemastro.com/recipe/fire-roasted-bruschetta/

Fire Roasted Bruschetta

Last week my wife perfected cooking a pizza on the BBQ: get it up to 450-500, turn off two burners where the pizza is places, leaving the other on high. If the temperature drops to 350, turn on the middle burner and rotate the pizza every 5 minutes to minimize direct heat, (you might need to adjust temperatures a bit, I would not rely on the BBQ thermometer). There were some enjoyable adventures along the way: trying to balance the pizza on the upper rack led to a huge droop and much of the contents falling to blackened end; and the burnt Frisbee of course.


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Posted by Jim Carfrae on July 23, 2012

I just read the editor’s letter in the latest bon appétit magazine, the only thing I can do is post it word for word, no comment required.

OUT TO LUNCH IN ITALY ONE OF THE MANY THINGS that Europeans do well is the month of August. Schedule permitting, they just go ahead and take the whole think off. And during those lazy, lollygagging 31 days, there is nothing they do better than lunch.
On the coasts of France and Italy, a midday meal isn’t some grab-and-go affair. It’s the centerpiece of your day – every day. If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach, you reserve a table at one of the simple restaurants that dot the shore. Bottles of rosé (or a good, cheap local white variety) are uncorked and plunged into a brimming ice bucket. Platters of crisp, golden fritto misto arrive; a whole roasted branzino is ordered, or maybe some linguine with fragrant pesto Genovese. More bottles find their way into the bucket. Slices of intensely ripe cantaloupe appear. An espresso or two. And then, of course, a nap on your beach chair, followed by a swim in the sea.
What’s so satisfying about this ritual, besides the obvious – you’re on, say, the Amalfi Coast, enjoying an hours-long lunch in the middle of what should be the work week-is the rhythm of it. No one has to get back to the office or rush home to relieve the sitter. No one has to worry about who’s driving.
Last summer, I finagled a trip to Tuscany with my wife and son to report this month’s story on Ruth Rogers, the chef and owner of London’s acclaimed River Cafe. The farmhouse that Rogers and her family rent each August isn’t anywhere near the coast, but it does have an incredibly inviting pool that my four-year old basically moved into as soon as we arrived. And Rogers, the consummate host, put out a wonderful lunch every day on the long wooden table set beneath a tree laden with figs. The food was never fancy or too filling, but it did give the gang of us staying at the house a delicious opportunity to gather at the table, drink some wine, chat, and stop for a moment to realize how good we had it.
There aren’t any trips abroad on my calendar this month, but I’ll still make lunch a highlight of my day-at least on weekends, or at the beach. I’ll buy some heirloom tomatoes at the farmers’ market, a few balls of fresh mozzarella, whatever looks good at the fishmonger, a bunch of salad greens, and, yeah, lots of rosé.
I don’t want to tell you what to eat, but I will say thin: Give lunch-a real lunch-a shot this summer. You’ve got the rest of the year to eat it at your desk.
(Editor’s letter bon appétit, August 2012, Adam Rapoport)

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A little Italian – the inside out mortadella sandwich

Posted by Jim Carfrae on January 16, 2012

Awhile ago we shared an appetizer, “prosciutto sushi”. It became the inspiration for mortadella rolls, where the mortadella is wrapped around the toasted bread. It is definitely not classically Italian, and still tastes great.

I’m guessing I need to get a sushi mat or something, because mine were falling apart. Everybody did like them – once they got it in their mouths.

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magazine browsing – December is Prosciutto Month

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 6, 2011

I was leafing through a great French cooking magazine, Je Cuisine, and came across this great photo in the December issue. It looks easy and tasty, so I contacted them for a translation. If you look at the crostini in the right corner, they have folded the prosciutto to look like a flower – I am going to try this, does anyone have any experience on how to do this fancy fold? Oh, an here is the instructions, I hesitate to say recipe, it is so simple.

Crostini with mashed avocado and prosciutto

½ baguette cut in 12 slices
15ml (1 soup spoon) avocado oil
1 avocado
10ml (2 tea spoon) lime juice
10ml (2 tea spoon) pesto
Salt and Tabasco to taste
6 procuito slices cut in half lengthwise

1. Put the oven to grill mode
2. Drop the baguette slice on a hotplate and brush with oil on both sides. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool.
3. Crush the avocado in a bowl; mix the lime juice, pesto and seasoning.
4. Spread on the baguette slice with the avocado mixture and add a prosciutto slice on each slice.

Thank you to Je Cuisine for the image and translation.

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December is Prosciutto Month – Share a little Italian with Smoked Prosciutto

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 5, 2011

You might have heard of speck, it is a ham that is coated in 11 different spices, including juniper berries, coriander and pepper for two weeks. The ham is smoked with natural hickory for 2 days and then aged for six months. We also sell it as San Daniele Smoked Prosciutto, and you can see it is really much more than that.

My wife shared smoked prosciutto crostini at her hockey party last week to huge success. She made them at the start so people could watch during preparation; they were surprised at the ease for such an amazing taste.

While we usually do most of our preparation beforehand, I am starting to realize that people really enjoy watching simple food preparation and love to talk about the ingredients. Perhaps this is the impact of all those hours of The Food Network. Do you usually prepare in advance or on the fly?

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December is Prosciutto Month – Share a little Italian

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 1, 2011

More than any other deli meat, prosciutto is served for guests. Given its nickname, “the king of deli meats”, that probably isn’t surprising. As we enter the holiday season I have stocked up. Just yesterday my daughter set up draped prosciutto around the outside of the plate with cantaloupe balls in the middle.

Last holiday season I served Prosciutto Sliders, I still think it is the ultimate appetizer for a large group of people, say 20+. We were recently at the Gourmet Food and Wine Show where we served over 7,000 slices – proof of high volume ease. And yet, perfect for any weekend lunch.

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A little Italian – prosciutto any day

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 21, 2011

More than any other deli meat, prosciutto is served for guests. However, two out of every three times it is eaten within the home; that is, not with guests. So lately I have taken to asking people how they eat it; so here goes:

• Straight out of the pack – multiple mentions
• On bread with provolone cheese – a few mentions
• With buffalo mozzarella cheese, olive oil, fresh basil – multiple mentions
• With bread and grilled vegetables (out of a jar)
• Rolled around provolone cheese and stuffed inside a chicken (in place of stuffing) – two people
• Wrapped around a breadstick, the kids especially love this – multiple mentions
• On a baguette with spinach and tomato
• In bread, by itself, nothing in the way
• In a sandwich with bocconcini and grilled vegetables
• In a bun with provolone cheese, tomato and basil
• Wrapped around figs and walnut, gorgonzola cheese on the side
• On pizza (put on after the pizza comes out of the oven)

What we eat with our family is usually the best tasting or the simplest, how do you eat your prosciutto?

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A little Italian – the mortadella sandwich, do they know something?

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 16, 2011

We did some video earlier this year, and so I asked the obvious question, “What is your favourite deli meat?”  This video is just 50 seconds long, and yet beautifully captures the essence and passion Italians have for their food:

I had the wonderful opportunity to share Italian deli meats with the Canadian Living test kitchen a couple years back. These people know food, and were still a little nervous when we finished with a mortadella panino. Amazingly most of them had never tried it. I was so grateful to Editor Susan Antonacci who spoke right up, “I’ll have one of those”, everyone joined in to surprised delight.

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A little Italian

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 10, 2011

Many years ago I came across a book called How to be an Italian by Lou D’Angelo, published in 1968. Amazon rates it 4.5/5, okay so only 5 people did the rating, and yes I am one. (The only person not giving a 5 did so because of the condition of the book, the content is indisputable.)

Some people achieve greatness; others have it thrust upon them. Then there are those people who are born Italian.  If you are not an Italian, don’t be despondent. You can become an Italian. You can learn to look, dress, walk, gesticulate, think, and talk Italian by mastering a few simple rules….


Amazingly he missed the one thing that everyone returning from Italy raves about, the food! The easiest way to become Italian is to enjoy the food and share it with others.  Food plays an important role in the Italian culture, and that means sharing it and the conversation around the food is one of the staples.

I am rediscovering my Italian heritage and invite you to be a little Italian, if only once a week. Think about the food you are eating, share it with others – there are more than a few ideas here, and maybe try a hand gesture or two – carefully.

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Daughters know

Posted by Jim Carfrae on February 15, 2011

My daughter has invented the ultimate “gourmet” KD, disagree at your own peril.

Her secret ingredient is Mastro Salametti Hot:

The outcome:

If I ate KD, my secret ingredient would be pancetta.

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