DIVA EATS ITALIA IS MERGING!

May 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

There have been a lot of changes in my life in the past year, which is making it difficult to manager my 2 blogs, Diva Eats Italia & Diva Eats World. To make it easier on myself, I’ve decided to merge the 2 under the name Diva Eats World. What does this mean? All the recipes here on these pages will remain live, but all new Italian recipes will be posted on Diva Eats World

If you haven’t been over to Diva Eats World, give it a go. There are some great recipes from my travels, friends and family that cover the globe!

SEE YOU OVER THERE!
Thanks,
D I V A

CHICKEN UNDER THE BRICK W/ SALSA VERDE (pollo al mattone)

May 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)

Pollo al mattone, is Italian for chicken under the brick. It refers to a method of grilling, where a brick is placed on top of a whole chicken while cooking. The weight of the brick makes the bird have complete contact with the heat. This allows it to cook evenly and get nice and golden brown. It’s said that this method originated in a little town outside Florence, where they’re known for terra cotta tiles.

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Barbuto, my favorite restaurant in Manhattan, is known for their brick oven chicken that they serve with salsa verde. This is my take on their popular dish. My salsa verde is simply a sauce made from, extra virgin olive oil, capers, lemon zest and some chopped herbs, such as tarragon, basil and parsley. It’s that simple! Now that grilling season is upon us, go get yourself some clean bricks and grill away. It’s a must.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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RICOTTA CHEESECAKE

April 12th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
For Italians, Easter is a huge baking holiday. Pies, cakes, breads and cookies, both savory and sweet, grace the Easter tables of all Italian families. I think Easter may have surpassed Christmas in terms of baking. Because of Lenten sacrifices and fasting, the baked goods became a little more involved than at Christmas. On Easter day when Lent is over, the flood gates of sweets and meats burst open.

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Every Italian Nonna across the globe, is making sweet braided breads studded with colored eggs, cookies with pastel sprinkles and pies and cakes that are a mile high. Some pies are made from wheat berries, some are loaded with different cheeses and dried meats and then there’s the more modest of the bunch….ricotta cheesecake. I love this silky, smooth, lemony cheesecake. It’s simply delicious.

The most important thing about making this cake, is the quality of ricotta cheese. Buy the best you can. The better cheeses don’t have as much liquid, making the cake a little more dense and rich. The second most important thing, is after cooling at room temperature, refrigerate the cake overnight to set completely.

If you don’t have your Nonna’s recipe for ricotta cheesecake, try this one. It’s grandmother approved.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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FONTINA STUFFED MEATBALLS ON POLENTA

March 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
What most Americans don’t know, is that spaghetti and meatballs don’t exist in Italy. Italy has spaghetti, of course and they have meatballs, but they’re not eaten together. Meatballs are usually part of antipasti, which are appetizers. They’re fried and slightly flattened. In southern Italy, especially in Naples, they’re bigger, put in tomato sauce and eaten as a main course.

Meatballs in sauce is more of what we’re use to. This is because, years ago when there was a lot of migration to the states, the majority of Italians were from the south of Italy, like Naples. It was only natural that they brought their recipes with them. Another thing most people don’t know, is that meatballs were and still are by some, made with leftover cooked meat. This is done to prevent waste.

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Here in the States, using cooked meat isn’t done. At least I don’t know anyone who does.
When I make meatballs, I use what I call the Holy Trinity of meats, equal parts of ground beef, pork and veal. I love the taste and texture they give the meatballs. I also use lots of grated parmesan cheese.

In the recipe I posted here, I stuffed the meatballs with a piece of fontina cheese to give it a surprise, gooey center. I put the meatballs in marinara sauce to absorb it’s goodness. When cooked through, I topped them with mozzarella and popped them in the oven to melt the cheese. I then placed them on a bed of cheesy polenta with lots of tomato sauce. Serve a crisp green salad on the side and you have a complete meal.

Of course, if you want to stick to the American way of spaghetti and meatballs, go right ahead. These meatballs are delicious no matter how they’re served.
Enjoy!
D I V A

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SPRING RISOTTO

March 20th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
It’s officially spring. Although it may not feel like spring, it is according to the calendar. It’s funny how once spring arrives, we think that the weather will miraculously become sunny and warm. I know it eventually will, just as I know summer will be here in 3 months and 1 day from today. ;)

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Even though the weather may not be too warm, sunny and bright, you can eat food that is. Today I’m sharing my recipe for SPRING RISOTTO. Please, don’t let the word risotto intimidate you. I know many people who run scared when risotto is involved, because they think it’s difficult to make. If you can stir, you can make risotto. Trust me! This recipe is really easy.

SPRING RISOTTO has sweet, tender peas; asparagus tips; zesty lemon; mint and peppery arugula. So, pour yourself a glass of wine, pick up a wooden spoon and stir the risotto into springtime.

Enjoy
D I V A
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LEMON-TARRAGON CHICKEN

March 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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(RECIPE)
This winter has been a bear. It’s been cold and snowy where I live. It’s been a winter of hibernation and warming comfort food. The only thing I could think of, was to stay warm and dry. Today spring seems to be peeking out from behind winter’s back. You can hear it in the birds’ chirps and feel it in the warmth of the sun. Maybe, it’s finally winter’s turn to hibernate.

To get rid of those winter blues, I took advantage of the spring like day and took a long walk to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and to breathe in the fresh air. For dinner I wanted to make something that would evoke the same feel of spring comfort. For this, I turned to one of my mother’s recipes..LEMON-TARRAGON CHICKEN.

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The fresh brightness of the lemons, peas and tarragon make this spring on a dish. Not only is this recipe delicious, but it’s easy to make. I browned the chicken in an oven proof pan, added onions, potatoes, peas and croutons to the pan and popped it in the oven. 30 minutes later dinner was ready. This allowed me more time to enjoy the new warmer weather.

Enjoy,
D I V A
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BUCATINI STUFFED ROASTED PEPPERS

March 6th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

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(RECIPE)
Stuffing peppers is a common thing in Italy.  You’ll find them stuffed with rice, meat, veggies and even rice and meat.  When I was a kid, my grandmother would  stuff red bell peppers with little tube pasta that was tossed with left over tomato sauce from dinner the night before.  She would put loads of grated parmesan and sometimes little bits of meatballs.  She would then cover the top with buttered breadcrumbs and bake them until soft.  So good!

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The recipe I posted here, is my version of my grandmother’s classic dish.  I made it a little more grown up.  I used pancetta, olives, capers and pine nuts in the sauce.  I also added red seed pepper flakes and anchovy to the breadcrumb topping.  To switch it up even more, I did away with the small pasta and used bucatini instead. I think my grandmother would be proud.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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WHITE CHOCOLATE ALMOND ROSE BARK

February 7th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

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(RECIPE)
More than 58 million pounds or 340 million dollars worth of chocolate is purchased the week leading up to Valentine’s Day! Those number’s only represent the chocolate sold here in America. I wonder how many of those chocolate candies will have a finger poked through the bottom of them?! On Valentine’s Day, when I was a kid, my father would bring a huge box of chocolates for my mother and a small one for me. I would tear off the top of that heart shaped box and dive right in. I liked anything with caramel and or nuts. I would turn the piece of candy over and poke my finger into the bottom to see if it had a fruit filling. (I didn’t eat those) Sometimes, I would take the pieces I liked from my mother’s box and replace them with all the ones I didn’t like.

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One year, my father being wise to my antics, brought home a box of candy that was half filled with almond bark and the other with chocolate covered brazil nuts. I was in pure nut heaven!! It was the happiest Valentine’s Day ever. I think this is where my love of bark stems from. When I buy candy, I go to a chocolate shop in NYC, called Lilac, which sells the best damn almond bark I’ve ever tasted! It’s the kind of candy that you think one piece will satisfy you, but one if never, ever, ever enough!. If I can’t get to Lilac, I make my own. Of course Lilac has a special blend of choloate made just for them, but there is something to be said about making things at home. When you give a gift that you make, it’s special because you put the time and effort that comes from the heart.

Chocolate, hearts and flowers all say Valentine’s Day. Show someone that you care, by making them a batch of homemade chocolate. This recipe for WHITE CHOCOLATE ALMOND ROSE BARK is Valentine’s Day in one bite. It’s a simple almond bark recipe that I took to the next level by adding a drop of rose water for a subtle floral taste. One of the good things about bark is that there will be no finger poking in the candy. What you see is what you get…deliciousness!

Happy Valentine’s Day!
D I V A
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PIZZELLE

January 27th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

(RECIPE)

Pizzelle are wafer like cookies that look like thin crisp waffles. They originated in the Italian region of Abruzzo, which is located in south-central Italy. Pizzelle were used as a treat during an annual celebration in the town of their origin. Over time, the cookie became part of Christmas and Easter traditions all over Italy. Pizzelle are made by putting batter in a special iron much like a waffle iron. The batter is pressed until cooked and removed to cool and harden. The press is embossed with a snowflake or a floral design. At one time, the embossment was a crest that had some hint of the village where they were made.

Growing up, pizzelle were always a part of our Christmas cookie repertoire. I remember as a kid, my grandmother making pizzelle using a one handle, cast iron pizzelle maker. She would hold the iron over a flame from her gas range and cook them one at a time. I don’t know how she got every single one so perfect. They were all cooked evenly and perfectly round. She knew exactly how high to hold the heavy iron over the flame and for how long.

My grandmother would make different flavors but, at Christmas they were always made with anise seeds. I have an old cast aluminum pizzelle maker that’s imported from Italy but, it’s electric!!! It can cook two at a time and only takes about a minute. Thank goodness this is so, because when I make them I have to make extra for family and friends. The old way would take me forever.
Gustatela!
D I V A

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SICILIAN POT PIE

January 16th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

(RECIPE)

On New Year’s Eve, we had a pot luck dinner with our closest friends. One of my friends brought individual shepherds and chicken pot pies. She said, they were staples in her home growing up in Dublin, Ireland. This got me “a” thinking. Are pot pies an Irish thing? Do Italians have something similar? I didn’t research the answer like I normally do, I just grabbed one of my handy dandy notebooks and start jotting down ideas on what an Italian pot pie would be.

When I thought of making an Italian inspired pot pie, I right away thought of eggplant, which made me think of Sicily. Sicily is an AMAZING place. Out of all the places I’ve traveled within Italy, Sicily and her food was my favorite. I started to list some ingredients that are prevalent in Sicilian cooking like, eggplant, capers, tomatoes, peppers and olives. In the end I modified my *CAPONATA recipe, added sausage and topped the pies with pizza dough sprinkled with red pepper flakes.

On the night I made the pot pies, I invited my in-laws over for dinner. My mother-in-law is a hard nut to crack. True compliments don’t come easy or often with her. Sometimes she’ll say things like, “This is delicious BUT, did you think it was a little salty?” Comments like this make me want to scream!!! BUT, I’m happy to say, after she ate a pot pie she said, “You did a great job with these. I love it.” (there was an emphasis on the word love) I sat there the rest of the night waiting for the “BUT” but, it never came. It’s 4 days later and I’m still waiting for the BUT.

I never did find out about the origin of pot pies or if they are a staple in Irish cooking BUT, I do know that my SICILIAN POT PIES are awesome. Just ask my Mother-In-Law.

Gustatela!
D I V A
*DIVA NOTE…Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant salad of cooked veggies in a sweet & sour sauce.

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