sharing (Italian) food to enjoy life

Posts Tagged ‘appetizers’

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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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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December is still Prosciutto Month

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 20, 2011

I was at the deli on Saturday getting some prosciutto sliced, and casually mentioned “I guess you know December is prosciutto month”. Her response was “I know, almost every person is ordering some”, it really is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.


I was serving a group of friends, one of whom has Celiac disease, (no wheat products). I decided to try something new, prosciutto wrapped around polenta and basil. (Polenta is basically corn meal that is boiled in water until it becomes thick; I suppose it is the Italian version of south western grits. I could be wrong here, it was only my second time making the polenta, and the response was just as mediocre as last time.)


The texture of the polenta just didn’t work with the prosciutto. Even though I fried up the polenta afterward, is remains soft inside; I think crispy like a bread stick works well with prosciutto. To salvage the situation, I put covered the rest of the polenta in gorgonzola cheese – which worked great – and draped the prosciutto in a pile for people to eat straight up – which also worked great. My friend brought champagne, which was a perfect pairing.


Christmas Eve I have been assigned a wheat-free prosciutto appetizer, (different person). I plan to go with the prosciutto sushi – around asparagus, around cantaloupe and for something new I am going to do a version wrapped around figs if I can find them.

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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

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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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.

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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 …

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“Ladies Day Out” Event

Posted by Jim Carfrae on November 17, 2010

We had the grand prize event to our “Ladies Day Out” Contest this week. As hard as one prepares there are no guarantees the event will live up to expectation. This time it could not have been more enjoyable to be part of.

Each of 10 winners brought two friends to watch the filming of a Cityline show. They were then driven to Romagna Mia in a huge limousine, and wandered into the restaurant just before noon.

These women were so engaged and shared their personal experiences around the table and with the entire group, I could not have asked for a better group. And the food…

Chef Gabriele started us with a thin slice of pancetta wrapped around a shrimp and grilled. It was served with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

 Caesar salad added our feature ingredient, San Daniele Cube-etti prosciutto quickly sautéed and sprinkled over the top.

The grilled whole calamari was amazing.

The restaurants featured dish, risotto stirred into a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, with truffles and the feature ingredient mixed in. The prosciutto was not cooked, just warmed by the risotto.

Pasta with a Bolognese sauce and finally tiramisu in a small shot glass, which was all the room left.

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