BRAISED FLANK STEAK W/ MUSHROOMS, PEARL ONIONS & GREEN OLIVES OVER HERBED POLENTA

January 6th, 2014 § Comments Off § permalink

(RECIPE)

The cold, icy weather we’ve been having, has been predicting what I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen. On those rough wintery nights, hearty meals are in order. For me, braised meats are those meals. Even the smell of them slow cooking, makes me feel all cozy inside. They are the ultimate cold weather comfort food.

In the recipe I posted here, I braised flank steak until it was fall apart tender. I added earthy, woodsy mushrooms, sweet pearl onions and briny green olives. I pulled it all together by serving it on top of a mound of herbed polenta. At this moment, I couldn’t think of any other meal to warm my chilled bones.

Gustatela!
D I V A

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THANKSGIVING MEATBALL SLIDERS

November 27th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

(RECIPE)

These meatballs may not be Italian, but they’re loved by this Italian gal! I came up with this idea while thinking about ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers. I made them by putting cooked turkey meat into a food processor and pulsing it until it was finely ground. I then added some leftover stuffing, dried cranberries and fried them until they were nice and golden. They weren’t complete until I put them on soft slider buns, smeared them with cranberry sauce and poured lots of gravy. They are truly Thanksgiving dinner all rolled up in a ball.

They are a must try. I guarantee that these tasty balls (sorry) will become a staple in your home.

Happy Thanksgiving,
D I V A

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SAUSAGE-BEAN & BROCCOLI RABE SOUP W/ PESTO

November 15th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

(RECIPE)

The other day I woke up to the first snow fall of the season. Well…It wasn’t actually a snow fall, it was more like flurries. Still, it was enough to make me get into the winter mode of sitting by the fire with hot cocoa or some nice hot soup. Winter is my least favorite season, but I do like the feeling of coziness it evokes.

With the winter feeling running through me, I headed to the kitchen to make a huge pot of hearty soup. I started out with the idea that I would make minestrone, but I wanted it to be a full meal in a pot, so I quickly changed my mind and this soup was born. Besides onion, parsnip, broccoli rabe and zucchini, I added some sausage and cannellini beans to give the soup real substance. Just what’s needed on a cold winter’s day.

That night, I had a fire blazing. Martini, Austin and Anabel curled up in front of it to catch it’s warmth, (they’re my dogs in case you’re wondering) and John and I enjoyed our dinner by it’s glow. Scenes like this make me ALMOST like winter.

Enjoy!
D I V A

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CHICKEN CACCIATORE

November 7th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

(RECIPE)

Chicken cacciatore is a classic braised chicken dish originated by Italian hunters. As a matter of fact, cacciatore means hunter. This dish has also become known as “hunters stew.” It’s made by browning chicken pieces and cooking them with veggies and wine. I’m sure hunter didn’t made cacciatore the way most people make it today, but like everything else, it evolved. In my version, I add some ingredients to the stew that aren’t “traditional” to the recipe. My additions include, pancetta, cannellini beans and hot vinegar pepper rings. Trust me, it’s yummy!!!

When I was a kid, I would ask my mother to make chicken cacciatore for me, it was one of my favorite dishes. Although it was a favorite, I never ate the chicken, I loved the sauce and veggies. It’s not that the chicken was bad, I just preferred all the goodness that went along with it.

I would sit at the kitchen table and “go to town” on that sauce. All I needed was a loaf of crusty Italian bread to sop it all up and I was a happy camper. My mother never did, but I serve the chicken on top of pasta. The pasta is just another way to sop up that yummilious sauce!! When the pasta is all gone, I take a huge hunk of bread and wipe my plate clean. God forbid, if I leave a drop. That would be sinful!!
The hunters may not have made chicken cacciatore like mine, but I’m positive they ate it like me!
Gustatela!
D I V A
(RECIPE)“(ricetta)

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ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CHESTNUTS & SHALLOTS W/ PANCETTA

October 25th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink


You either love Brussel sprouts or you hate them. If you’re like me, a lover of sprouts, you’re going to love this simple side dish that’s seamless to make. In 25 minutes you have a fabulous fall dish, that’s delicious and satisfying.

I roasted Brussel sprouts, chestnuts, shallots and some pancetta with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Right before they’re served, I sprinkled some freshly grated parmesan cheese. If you want to kick it up further, use grated gruyere or fontina.

This simple dish is easy enough to make for a week night dinner and delicious enough to be a part of a Holiday meal.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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EGGPLANT-ZUCCHINI ROLITNI W/ 3 CHEESES

October 16th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink


Growing up as an Italian-American, the food we ate was different than that found in Italy. When Italians came to America, they had to use the ingredients that were at hand, so their recipes changed. This was the birth of Italian-American food.
There are some Italian-American classic dishes that we all know and love, such as chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and one of my personal favorites, eggplant rolitini.

There’s something to be said about these homey, comforting recipes. For me it brings me back to when I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia. On a Sunday morning walking home from church you could smell meatballs frying from almost every house. The smell of tomato sauce cooking, to this day, reminds me of Sunday dinner with the ENTIRE family.
I love this, and I love those classic dishes. The recipe I posted here is a twist on a great Italian-American Classic, eggplant rolitini. It’s traditionally made by rolling sliced eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese. In my recipe, instead of just eggplant, I rolled zucchini and roasted red peppers as well. For the filling I used ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese for a creamy, gooey, salty filling.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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RIGATONI W/ BUTTERNUT, CHESTNUTS & SAUSAGE

October 1st, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink


Autumn is my favorite season, hands down. I love the warm days and cool nights it brings. To me there’s nothing like the colors of fall. The browns, oranges and amber colors both in the changing of the leaves and also in food. This pasta dish is my way of saying hello to the new fall season.

This is the perfect time to take advantage of all the beautifully tasty squash that’s in season. Fo this dish, I paired rigatoni with butternut squash, chestnuts and spicy Italian sausage. It’s hearty flavors and beautiful colors will make you glad it’s Autumn.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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ITALIAN ROAST PORK SANDWICH W/ PROVOLONE, BROCCOLI RABE & HOT PEPPERS

September 26th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink


When it comes to Philadelphia street food, the cheesesteak is King and the roast pork sandwich is Queen. I was born and raised in Philly and have eaten my fair share of both of these belly busting sandwiches, some at 3am after being out dancing all night!
There have been many debates about the best place to get one of these sandwiches. As far as I’m concerned, the best roast pork is from, DiNic’s.

DiNic’s is a concession stand in The Reading Terminal, which is an indoor market in the center of Philadelphia. There are stalls that sell fresh vegetables and meats, mostly from the Pennsylvania Amish farmers. There are however, concession stands that sell some great food, like DiNic’s. Tommy DiNic’s has been in the Terminal since 1980, but has a long history in the food business. He specializes in classic Italian sandwiches, his roast pork being the most popular. This sandwich was even called “The best in America.”

I recently came upon Tommy DiNic’s Roast Pork recipe on Saveur.com. There was no way in hell that I was going to let this go. Two days later, I had a pork shoulder roasting in the oven. I knew of course, it wouldn’t taste exact, but we were not disappointed..at all!!! It was full of flavor, both the roast and it’s sauce. It’s first rubbed with garlic, fennel seeds, red seed pepper, thyme and parsley then roasted for about 40 minutes. I then put red wine, beef broth, onions and crushed tomatoes in the pan and roasted it for about 2 hours more. The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce was flavorful and addicting.

The way DiNic’s serves the sandwich, is by putting sliced pork on a long soft roll, topped with broccoli rabe and hot peppers, then ladled with the pan juices. It’s a spicy, garlicy, dripping mess of pure deliciousness. I’m getting hungry just writing this post!!

I think the Queen of sandwiches is about to over throw the King. At least in my eyes or shall I say, my tummy!
Gustatela,
D I V A
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PAN SEARED GNOCCHI W/ CORN, CHERRY TOMATOES & ZUCCHINI IN TARRAGON-BUTTER

September 17th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink


Barbuto, one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan, changes it’s menu seasonally. There are items that you’ll always find, but the chef will change the way it’s prepared. He’ll use ingredients that are suitable for the season. Gnocchi are those things that are always there; thank goodness because they’re my favorite. When ever I go to Barbuto, I ALWAYS order the gnocchi, even if it’s to share with everyone else at the table.

I look forward to the change of seasons to see what the chef has in store for these beautiful fluffy pillows of dough. During our resent visit, the gnocchi was paired with fresh corn, tomatoes and zucchini in a butter sauce. I was having a few friends over for dinner one night and I remembered that one of my friends mentioned that this was one of her favorite dishes at Barbuto. I put myself out on a limb and took a HUGE risk and decided to make them for my friends.

I’m happy or shall I say ecstatic, that everyone loved my version of this great dish. When I’m asked if the recipe will be posted on my blog, I know I scored.

Gustatela!
D I V A
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August 27th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink

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