sharing (Italian) food to enjoy life

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.


Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A little Italian – the mortadella sandwich

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 11, 2011

Mortadella is the classic everyday food for Italians. Rarely is there more than thinly sliced mortadella on a fresh Panino. The premium cuts of meat and spices are slow cooked in clay ovens. The sweet, buttery taste comes with the most beautiful aroma. If you’ve never … you are invited to give it a try.

We provided mortadella Panini as part of a school fundraiser; some of the kids were good enough to talk about it. It was really fun to share something that was new for many of the students.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Actual Prosciutto and Blueberry Pizza Experience

Posted by Jim Carfrae on January 21, 2011


So I served the Prosciutto and Blueberry Pizza as an appetizer to guests last weekend. Overall it was very well received and I’ll serve again, with a few corrections.

My first advice is to read the recipe over, something I rarely do and usually at my peril. The recipe is at:


I failed to notice the recipe calls for blueberry jam, so I needed to put the pizza back in the oven to get the blueberries warm and soft. I think a simple adjustment of putting the blueberries at the start would be fine.

I absolutely support putting the prosciutto on after the pizza is cooked. This way the prosciutto is just slightly warmed, so you get the full prosciutto taste and texture.

The only other changes I made were: to use a thick balsamic glaze, versus the runnier balsamic vinegar; and I didn’t put the gorgonzola over the entire pizza to appease the true boss in by house.

As an aside, I spread gorgonzola on a baguette and ate with the balsamic glaze. This is a great starter, just need to remember to take the gorgonzola out so it is room temperature and the full flavour is realized.

(I had the opportunity of visiting the Igor gorgonzola factory in Italy last year. They are the largest producer of the cheese in the world, and their facility is off-the-scale first class. I buy the pre-packed wedge which I find at most grocery stores.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Italy meets Mexico, very successfully

Posted by Jim Carfrae on January 21, 2011

Huevos Rancheros my favourite breakfast. I am constantly trying new variations and found adding in a little Italy, i.e. pancetta, was the final ingredient to perfection.

Huevos Rancheros is the classic Mexican breakfast of eggs in a tortilla. The dish usually includes scrambled eggs, shredded cheese and salsa. It can also include refried beans, whole beans, onions, peppers, cilantro and I am sure other things. My version sautés: pancetta, chopped onions, chipotle peppers, (I buy a canned version, dice up one and add to the pan) and add black beans. Once the onions are translucent, the pancetta rendered and the black beans soft I remove this pile and put in a bowl. I then fry up an egg easy-over, put in warmed tortilla, add the sautéed pile, and lastly add some finely chopped fresh cilantro, (really should take the leaves off the stems before chopping). I usually make two tortillas worth, and don’t need to eat for a long time – very filling. I love the runny yolk soaking mixing and soaking with everything else, but you can go with scrambled eggs or omelet-style if you prefer

Posted in What is it? | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Spain and Italy didn’t get along as well as expected this time

Posted by Jim Carfrae on January 17, 2011

The thing about a tapas night, like every pot-luck I have ever attended, there is always way too much food. Two of my Christmas Eve tapas never even got served, (they were fully enjoyed later in the week).

At least my wife reigned me in before I made my planned fourth appetizer for the meal, yes I am a big part of the “too much” problem. Being lazy I dropped the experiment, baked brie with cranberry, pancetta and spiced pecans; next dinner party I guess.

The lack of love was not for the mini-Milano sandwiches which were their usual big hit. It was the Spanish Lustau Amontillado Sherry. While I acquired a taste for it, and it is a beautiful match for the prosciutto; it was simply too far from the accustomed taste buds of most.

If you try it, you must think of it as a tapas wine, it has no similarity to my mother’s sherry. The most remarkable thing is the total lack of linger/aftertaste. The taste happens in your mouth and is then gone, so works perfectly after a bite of prosciutto.

Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Italian “Tapas” and Sherry

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 21, 2010

The Spaniards have done a great thing with the word “tapas”. It communicates so much, and leaves many doors open. My wine expert friend Ramesh recently was in Spain for a course on Sherry – not your mother’s sweet pre-dinner aperitif either.

He tells me, for I know little of sherry, that there are many Sherries from ultra-sweet to bone dry. The dry Sherries work very well with the tapas we might call charcuterie – so this is my Christmas Eve plan given my mother has said we are doing only appetizers.

My plan goes as follows:

Cacciatore – sliced thick and on the diagonal

Mini-Milano grilled sandwiches – my daughter’s favourite and she will make them. (see https://jimmyprosciutto.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/cooking-with-my-kids/)

The proven pleasers, one-bite pancetta cups filled with Caesar salad, (see https://jimmyprosciutto.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/a-master-chef-from-the-canadian-institute-of-culinary-arts-science/)

And for something new will try this “christmasy” idea: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2009/11/25/holiday-appetizers-101-baked-brie-with-cranberry-pancetta-and-spiced-pecans/

And the sherry, per Ramesh’s recommendation is Lustau Amontillado, although I have had to search and source to find.

I promise a full report …

Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 20, 2010

Brussel Sprouts bitter no more

Amazingly brussel sprouts seem to still be standard fare for the holidays, even though many people find them bitter. I love them and am always looking for ways to share.

The latest LCBO magazine sautés them in butter and adds prosciutto crisps at the end – hard to argue, (it doesn’t seem to be posted on the lcbo website yet).

Two weeks ago, having no prosciutto, I cut up the brussel sprouts and sauted with a very small amount of salametti and olive oil to positive reviews. The brussel sprouts take on a nutty flavour that combines with the salami beautifully; any bitterness in the sprouts is a subtle enhancer in the background.

Last weekend I sautéed some diced pancetta in olive oil, then sauteed the chopped brussel sprouts for about 10 minutes, 3 sprouts per person. Huge hit, we ran out and am planning to do for our family Christmas gathering.

I was also thinking of adding just a bit of white wine in the pan or balsamic glaze just before serving, maybe next time. They are also great roasted in the oven with garlic.

Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Milano Sandwich

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 23, 2010

Prosciutto PaninoA few us had the opportuniy to work at the Gournet Food and Wine Expo last week end. Our company sold slices of a panino we have named “The Milano” for one ticket each. The response was overwhelming, we sold over 3,000 slices! The reaction to the panino was amazing, some people came back four times in under an hour. Others asked, “is this where I can get the amazing sandwich everyone it talking about?”

As I told many people, it is easy to make at home, my kids have been making for a couple years. If you don’t have a press, make it like a grilled cheese sandwich. Here is the link for the recipe:


The one change we made at the show was to pour some Mastro olive oil inside as well as brushing on the outside, this added a beautiful flavour that I will always do in the future.

 The other things we did: when we ran out of prosciutto we replaced it with Smoked Prosciutto; and when we ran out of boconcini cheese we replaced it with provelone. I rated these adjustments as different, versus better or worse, the compliments did not stop. When we ran out of bread, we went to a nearby store to buy more, two times until they were sold out too.

A thank you to the many who tried and enjoyed “The Milano”.

Posted in Enjoy and share | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »