Saturday, March 3, 2012

How Many Cookbooks DO You Have?
            
     I was struggling on how to present my next group of recipes and photos.  As I was standing in my kitchen the light bulb went on and my thoughts were of cookbooks.  Yes, cookbooks!   I went to my shelves and began to count - I have in my possession 175 cookbooks and that doesn't include my recipe card  file, magazine tear outs, and booklets from the check-out line.  I honestly cannot say that I have prepared recipes from every one, but I am 53 years old, it's possible. : )  The truth, for me,  is that a cookbook is a great read: there are wonderful photos, which more times than not help me to choose the recipe.  It is suppose to look delicious and draw you in; then, reading the ingredients is what brings it altogether.  The other great things are the stories of different regions or a country or the life of the featured Chef.  

     Oh, I have two more reasons why I seem to be able to justify this massive collection of  cookbooks:

1. I don't like to make the  same meal over and over again each week.  I like to shake it up, A lot!

AND

2. I like to have a menu plan each week, make my list, and then do my shopping.  It eliminates the 'it's 5:00 - what do I fix for dinner' dilemma.

(So, this is how it works; I pick out one or two cookbooks and choose my recipes for the week.  Then I make my grocery list.)

O.k., without further adieu I would like to present my next few blogs using some of my favorite cookbooks and their recipes. Just don't be surprised to find that some of these wonderful recipes are extremely simple.  Here we go - Let's begin with 

Appetizers

The book I will be using is:

William-Sonoma
Savoring Italy
Recipes & Text by: Michele Scicolone
(This book has great photographs and stories about Italy; and the recipes are great too!)



Bruschetta di Pomodori
(fresh tomato toasts)

(Here is an excerpt from the book)

Tuscana
"Bruchetta can be made with different toppings, the simplest being a rub of garlic and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.  This version, which demands summertime's finest vine-ripened tomatoes is one of the best.  A bit of balsamic vinegar brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes. . . ."  
      Michele Scicolone









Ingredients:
2 tomatoes, chopped 
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
coarse salt to taste
8 slices coarse country bread, each about 1/2 inch thick
2 large loves garlic 

*Preheat a broiler (griller), or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
*In a bowl, combine the tomatoes basil, olive oil, vinegar, and salt.  Toss well.
*Place the bread on a baking sheet or grill rack and broil or grill, turning once, until lightly toasted on both sides, about 2 minutes total.  Remove from the broiler or grill and immediately rub one side of each slice with the garlic cloves. 
*Arrange the grilled bread, garlic side up, on a serving platter and spoon on the tomatoes, dividing evenly.  Serve at once.      


(what did I tell you Simple, right?  And I am sure everyone has made this recipe in some form.  But, like I said, it is a favorite and it is simple.)

 

 Campania
Vongole Ripiene
(stuffed clams)
Ingredients:
36 hard-shell clams, well scrubbed
1/3 cup fine dried bread crumbs 
(I use Italian bread crumbs)
3 Tbls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino romano cheese
3 Tbls chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
 1 clove garlic, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
lemon wedges

* Preheat broiler

*In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, 3 tablespoons of the live oil, salt, and pepper.
 Set aside.

*Place washed clams in a pot of water with a tablespoon of salt.  Bring water to a boil and watch for clams to open.  As soon as shell opens remove from water.   
(*Note: if the shell is open slightly before placing in water discard the clam.  ** If after being in the boiling water for a reasonable amount of time and the clam does not open - this means it was dead before you placed it in the water.  Discard.)

*Tear away the top shell (discard the empty shell) and loosen the clam in the other. 

*Arrange the clams in the shell in a shallow baking pan. 
Take the bread crumb mixture and spoon onto the clams.  Do not pack the crumbs down or they will become soggy.  Drizzle evenly with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil.

*Broil until the crumbs are lightly browned; watch carefully, this happens quickly.  Remove from the broiler and immediately arrange on a warmed individual plates.
Serve with the lemon wedges.

Thanks for joining me and if you try these super simple recipes I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.












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