Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore AKA Hunter’s Chicken - easy chicken recipe

Chicken Cacciatore AKA Hunter’s Chicken
Chicken Cacciatore AKA Hunter’s Chicken

An Italian family favorite, chicken cacciatore consists of braised chicken in a tomato sauce , mushrooms, peppers and herbs.  It is also known as “hunter’s chicken”, because the word cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian.
This is my take on this famous Italian easy chicken recipe.  I remove the skin and bones, after the chicken is cooked, since I don’t like fussing with the bones.   At times, I have even substituted boneless Chicken thighs and breasts, although cooking the chicken with the bones and skin adds some flavor to the dish.  I recommend making Chicken Cacciatore in a slow cooker or crock pot.  Using the slow cooker, the chicken becomes so tender, it falls off the bone.   Although it takes a long time to cook, it is very much worth the wait.  

·         2 Chickens, quartered. ( Some people prefer all chicken thighs if you do, get 2 to 3 lbs )
·         ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         1 package sliced white mushrooms
·         1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
·         2 red bell peppers, diced
·         3 garlic cloves, minced
·         3 cups Tomato Sauce
·         2 teaspoons dried oregano
·         ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
·         2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices
·         ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
·         1 cup dry Italian Red Wine
·         Salt
1.       Brown the chicken in a fry pan with some of the Olive Oil using medium – high heat.   You don’t have to cook it all the way through, but brown it.
2.       Transfer the Chicken to your crock pot.  Put your crock pot on the high setting.
3.       In the same frying pan, sauté the mushrooms, onion, red pepper, and garlic in olive oil. The mushrooms will start to reduce in size a little.  Sauté until veggies begin to soften.   Transfer to crock pot to join the chicken.
4.       Add the wine, tomato sauce, oregano, and red pepper flakes (optional) to the crock pot.
5.       Cook in the crock pot for about 2 hours.  
6.       Add the zucchini.
7.        Continue for about another hour.
8.       By now, the chicken should be tender and pulling away from the bone.
9.       Remove the chicken from the crock pot.   De-bone and skin the chicken and return only the meat to the Crock Pot.
10.   Stir in the basil and cook for 10 minutes.
11.   Season with Salt to taste
12.   Serve over Pasta, Rice or Polenta

That's it!    Chicken Cacciatore is an amazing Italian dinner.   Loved by everyone, this authentic Italian recipe is one that is sure to be a hit with your family.  

Even though it takes a while to make, left overs reheat well, so you can enjoy this Italian dish for a few meals.   

As for a wine pairing, I am partial to Italian Red Wines...  Many like to white wine with chicken, but I still do reds.   So, I am recommending a glass of Chianti.  Many would say Pinot Grigio.   Choose your favorite.

Enjoy my take on this classic Italian recipe.

Italian Bread

There is nothing quite like freshly baked bread.  Hot from the oven, buttered or dipped in some olive oil, Italian bread that you baked yourself from this recipe will be sure to please.

It has been a long time Italian secret:   If you want to sell your house, bake bread.  The smell of the Italian bread baking, with its amazing aroma permeating your house.  It can attract home buyers, by creating an warm and cozy atmosphere.  It will make your house more attractive, by appealing to your buyer's powerful sense of smell.  You can sell your house in record time, thanks to the gift if Italian Bread!!!!!

The thing to remember when baking breads, is that bread takes time.   You can't rush the process and get exceptional results.   So, plan in that it will take a few hours.   Don't rush it.   In fact, the longer  it takes, the better your Italian bread will come out.    Get your children involved making it with you.   Enjoy the quality time and conversations you will have with them, making  bread together.  The memories you will create will be well worth it.

Homemade Italian Bread is very delicious.
Homemade Italian Bread

Italian Bread

·         1 pkg active dry yeast
·         1 1/2 cup warm water
·         ½  tablespoon salt
·         4 cups all−purpose flour
·         yellow cornmeal
·         1 slightly−beaten egg white
·         Olive Oil


I make this using either a Kitchen Aid mixer OR a Bread Machine ran on a dough cycle.   You can, if you desire, choose to hand knead.

·         Dissolve the active dry yeast in warm water.
·         Stir in 1 C. of the flour, beat well.   Let this sit for about 15 minutes.
·         Add remaining flour and salt
·         Either:
1.   Start your bread machine on its dough cycle
2.   Run in Kitchen Aid with dough hook for about 20 minutes to ½ hour.
3.   Knead by hand for about a half hour

Dough in a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a Dough Hook
Dough in a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a Dough Hook

·         Coat the dough ball with Olive Oil and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet towel and let rise in warm place until it doubles (about 1 1/2 hours) in size.
·         Punch down the dough ball and let rise again until double (about 1 hour).
·         When you are ready to make the loaves, do so on lightly floured surface.   Place the dough ball on the floured surface and cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.
·         Sprinkle a baking sheet with some corn meal.
·         Shape the loaf of bread and place on baking sheets on top of the corn meal.   *See section on how to form a loaf of Italian Bread at bottom of page.
·         Cover with damp cloth, but don't let it touch the dough.  You can make a tent using a few tall glasses.
·         Add 1 T. water to egg white and gently brush over top and sides of loaves.
·         Slice the top of the dough  diagonally with a sharp serrated knife, about 2 ½ inches apart.
·         Optionally, you can sprinkle the loaf with toasted sesame seeds, or seeds of your liking.
·         Let rise in warm place until double (1 to 1 1/2 hours).
·         Position your oven racks so that you have two racks in the lower part of your oven.   You will bake the loaf of bread on the top one, but place a pan of water on the lower one.   The steam from the bottom pan of water will help create a crisp crust.
·         Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
·         Place your pan of water on the lower oven rack.
·         Bake for about 40 minutes or until browned and done.
·         Cool.

How to form a loaf of Italian Bread

·         For a large loaf of Italian Bread, roll dough in 12 x 16 inch rectangle, about ¼ inch thick.
·         Beginning at long side, roll the dough up tightly, like a Jelly Roll, sealing well as you roll.  Pinch and taper the ends.   Place each loaf of Italian bread seam side down on cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. With sharp knife, make diagonal cuts 2 ½ inches apart, about ¼ inch deep.

You can also make smaller rolls for subs!

I sure hope you have enjoyed this excellent Italian recipe.  Once you get the hang of making this Italian bread, you can expand on it.   Come back to this site for more bread recipes.   In the near future, I plan on posting some variations, like Italian Sausage bread.  Yum!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pains of Childhood

The Pains of Childhood - Grating Parmesan Cheese

An Italian Child's Nightmare a block of Parmesan Cheese
Block of Hard Parmesan Cheese
I will now share a painful childhood memory with you. Being the children of the family, my brother and I were given the job of grating an endless mountain on hard blocks of Parmesan Cheese, with a manual hand cheese grating machine, with a crank handle. Most of the time, I got the job.   And my arms were very sore from the process.

Crank Style Manual Cheese Grating Machine
The Manual Cheese Grating Machine

Now, I realize that many of you reading this are like, yeah, I heard the stories of walking to school, bare footed, uphill, etc.   But this is how Italian parents used to really torment their children in the old days…  Especially when your friends want to play and you can’t, because you parents just came home with another 30 lbs of cheese, in hard blocks, that you need to grate.  You know, I think I was grating cheese for all of my relatives, too.  

Something that took what seemed like hours! Usually, I would be given this task on a hot summer day.   I would crank and crank and crank the handle until it seemed like my arm would fall off.   I would actually have nightmares of my parents or grandparents bringing home more cheese!

They took the grated cheese and put it in plastic containers.  Then, they froze it. We had an extra full sized freezer in the basement that stored the cheese and meats.   We couldn't put the cheese in our regular freezer, because Ice Cubes would take on the flavor of the grated cheese!

After this, it took me years to actually like Parmesan Cheese again…   So, Parents of the word, please get an electric cheese grater….

Get This Type of Cheese Grater.  The Electric Cheese Grater
Get This Type of Cheese Grater.  The Electric Cheese Grater

I hope by sharing my childhood nightmare, that I may spare the arm of a small Sicilian child today.


In late July through September, when your tomatoes are ripening, you can enjoy Bruschetta is an excellent appetizer.   It captures the goodness of the summer season, right from your garden.

My Bruschetta is made with Basil.   As it turns out, Basil and Tomatoes grow well together, and kicks you garlic bread up about 10 notches..

Warning: This recipe is very addictive.   After eating this, I cannot be held responsible for your addiction to this simple to make and outrageously delicious appetizer.


·         4 Peeled and diced Tomatoes
·         1 Small Red Onion, chopped
·         4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
·         ½ cup Chopped Basil
·         1/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I use Colavita
·         ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar of Modena


1.   Peel the Tomatoes by slicing an X on the bottom of each one.  Then, put them in boiling water for about a minute.   Immediately plunge them into ice water…. The skins should easily peel off with a sharp knife.   Then dice the tomatoes.    You don’t want to do the boiling water for too long, as you don’t want to cook the tomatoes….   Just remove the skins.
2.   Mix the Oil and Vinegar in a Jar and Shake until mixed.
3.   Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, pouring the Vinegar and Oil mixture in and gently mixing.  Only pour what you desire, depending on the size of your tomatoes, the amount may vary.

That’s It!   Amazingly Simple!

Now, toast up your favorite bread slices and spoon some of your Bruschetta on top for a delicious treat.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chicken Cutlet Milanese AKA Italian Chicken Cutlets

Chicken Cutlet Milanese - Italian Breaded Chicken Cutlets
Chicken Cutlet Milanese

These Chicken Cutlets are great for multiple purposes.  You can use them for Chicken Cutlet Parmesan, by adding sauce and cheese.  But, you can also make amazing sandwiches, or even chicken fingers!  As a sandwich, you can make the standard Chicken Cutlet Parm sandwich, or you want a real treat, toast a ciabatta roll, place your Chicken Cutlet on it with a little mayonnaise, marinated roasted red pepper slices, tomato, lettuce and some fresh mozzarella cheese.    Or, you can always cut the cutlets into strips and  place them on a salad. 

·         1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
·         1 Cup Italian Breadcrumbs 
·         1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
·         ½ Teaspoon Salt
·         1 Cup of Flour
·         3  Eggs
·         1 Large Package of Thin Sliced Chicken Cutlets
·         Olive Oil for Frying
Heat the olive oil in a pan on Medium Heat
Beat the eggs and put them in a bowl
Combine the cheese, salt and both kinds of breadcrumbs and mix well.  Pour breadcrumb mixture in a pie plate, or something similar.
Pour the flour in another pie plate.
Take each chicken cutlet and coat with flour, both sides
Dip the floured chicken cutlet in the beaten egg and thoroughly coat.
Dip the egg covered chicken cutlet in bread crumb mixture.   Flip it over and thoroughly coat.
Fry the coated chicken in the olive oil.   Flip it and cook until golden brown.

I hope you enjoy this Chicken Cutlet recipe.   It is so easy to make this Italian recipe, that has been a staple of Italian families world wide.

Best Pizza Dough Recipe - NY Style

NY Pizza Dough Recipe

Pizza Dough for your Italian Recipes
This NY Pizza Dough is the start of an excellent Italian meal

Pizza is one of my all time favorite foods.  What can be better than homemade pizza!   This is the Best Pizza Dough Recipe I have come across! During all of my travels throughout the world, I have not enjoyed pizza anywhere else, as much as I have in New York.  This recipe comes from the Bronx, where I learned it from a friend, when I was a teenager.   He worked as a delivery boy for a pizzeria, and we always liked hanging out with him, because it usually meant free pizza!   This authentic Italian recipes is about as NY as it gets!

Here is a video of how I make the NY Pizza Dough

When I speak to folks who make pizza in New York, they say that the secret is the water.   I am not sure if that is true.  If you feel that your water may contribute to problems making bread dough, you can opt to use bottled or filtered water.  
This recipe is the most important part of a pizza, the pizza dough.  This Pizza Dough Recipe can be used for making not only Sicilian style pizza, but also Napoli style, and other various types of Pizza, like Grandma Pizza pie.
  •  1 envelope active dry yeast
  •  1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (Not HOT!)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour (May be called Pasta Flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for coating dough
Dissolve the brown sugar in the warm water
After sugar is dissolved, and water is still warm, add the yeast to the water.   Wait about 15 minutes to see the yeast start to activate.
Note:  If you want to knead by hand, skip the Mixer/Bread Machine section and see the Hand kneading method.
Using a Mixer or Bread Machine
Put the water and yeast mixture into either your bread machine, or heavy duty mixer, such as Kitchen Aid, fitted with a dough hook.   Add the olive oil and remaining dry ingredients.
If you are not hand kneading, mix with your mixer starting slowly.  After the dry ingredients are wet, raise the speed and mix until a nice, smooth ball forms, about 15 -20 minutes with the Kitchen Aid mixer.   If you are using a bread machine, simply use the dough cycle.   If your bread machine's dough cycle has a rise portion of the cycle, end the cycle early, before the rise portion.
Now you should have a dough ball.   Go to the section called Dough Ball.
Hand Kneading Method
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture and pour into the well. Incorporate the wet and dry ingredients to form dough.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough using the heels of your palms, folding it over and over until it is smooth.  Add a little amounts flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape into a ball.
Dough Ball Section
Shape the dough into a ball.  Coat with Olive Oil and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.    Place in the refrigerator overnight, or age for a few days.  If you don’t want to wait, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Notice that we did not do the standard rise/punch down. Don't do that for Pizza dough.

Now, you can use this dough to make Pizza, Calzones, Pin-Wheels, Panini Rolls, or even stuffed rolls, such as: Chicken Rolls, Sausage and Pepper Rolls, Broccoli Rolls, Spinach Rolls….    Really anything you want.
I hope you enjoyed making this NY Pizza Dough Recipe!   You can use this pizza dough for a lot of authentic Italian Recipes.

Stuffed Mushrooms

I have always loved stuffed mushrooms. Use this culinary masterpiece as either a great side dish or appetizer.  

These Stuffed Mushrooms are an excellent Italian Recipe
Don't these look delicious!   They are....  Stuffed Mushrooms are the best!

·         10 large white or medium Portobello mushrooms
·         3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
·         ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese
·         ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice: Basil, Oregano,  Parsley
·         2 tablespoons butter
·         1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1.   Wash the mushrooms well and pull the stems off of the caps. Reserve the stems.
2.   Chop the stems into small pieces.
3.   In a frying pan, sauté the chopped stems and garlic in butter and oil. Don’t burn the garlic!
4.   Add the herbs and breadcrumbs.  Mix together and cook until breadcrumbs start to brown. Remove from heat and cool.
5.   Mix the parmesan cheese into the breadcrumb mixture.
6.   Coat pan with some olive oil and place mushroom caps in pan. Drizzle mushrooms with some olive oil and fill with breadcrumb mixture.
7.   Top each mushroom with a small amount of butter.
8.   Bake at 350˚ for about 10-15 minutes .
Enjoy hot!   As a variation to this awesome recipe, top cooked stuffed mushrooms with a spoonful of marinara sauce and add some shredded mozzarella. Place under broiler until cheese melts and serve.
I hope you enjoy these stuffed mushrooms!  They are so easy to make and a great addition to your Italian recipe collection...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butternut Squash Pie - Move Over Pumpkin!

A great alternative to Pumpkin Pie 
The Butternut Squash Pie is Delicious!
Butternut Squash makes an excellent pie for the holidays!

Fall Squash is abundant this time of year.  This is a delicious butternut squash pie is a great alternative to pumpkin pie!   In fact, you may not be able to tell the difference.   I think it tastes a little bit better and the texture is a little bit moister.  It is far easier to work with and grow, then pumpkin.  So, if you have a garden, be sure to try to grow butternut squash and enjoy this pie with fresh gown squash from your garden!

Butternut  squash is much easier to peel and cut.   Use a standard carrot peeler, like Echo or OXO... The seeds, to are much easier to deal with, being easily scooped out with a table spoon.

Butternut Squash Halved.  Seed can be scooped out easily.
Butternut Squash - Seeds can easily be scooped out with a Tablespoon.


• 2 frozen 9-inch pie crusts - these are usually sold in two packs.
• 2 large butternut squash
• 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
• 6 large eggs
• 1 ½  cups half-and-half
• 4 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 4 tablespoons flour
• 2 teaspoon vanilla


1.    Peel the squash with a carrot peeler.   Cut in half.   Scoop out the seeds.  Cube the Squash.
2.    Put the squash in a baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.
3.    Take out squash and allow to cool.   Then, puree the squash.
4.    In a mixing bowl, add the brown sugar to the squash and beat.  Add eggs, half-and -half, pumpkin pie spice, salt, flour, and vanilla. Beat until toughly blended.
5.     Pour the filling into the pie crusts and bake on the center oven rack for about 55 minutes, or until set. (You may want to check after  35 minutes  to place foil  over the browned crust so it won't get too dark.)
6.    When cooking is complete, transfer the pies to a rack to cool.
7.    Refrigerate the pies a few hours to cool.

Enjoy the wonderful butternut squash pie with a dollop of whipped cream.  A nice cup of strong Italian coffee goes nice with this pie.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan - Another Italian Masterpiece

This Egglpant is looking very delicious!
Eggplant Parmesan is a scrumptious dish

If you loved the Chicken Parm recipe, you will love this, too! The process of making it is almost the same. It's also so easy to make... Anyone can do this.  Even so, many are intimidated.   

The secret it to slice the Eggplant lengthwise, and make the slices about an 1/8th inch thick.  Also, you will need to press the sliced Eggplant for a few hours before preparing it.

This recipe uses both Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and Panko breadcrumbs...  

Although the Panko breadcrumbs are not Italian, they add something wonderful in texture to this classic dish.   If you don't have access to Panko breadcrumbs, you can just use the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and you will also be delighted.

Note: use plain Panko breadcrumbs, not Italian Seasoned. 

The YouTube video is here:

Eggplant Parmigiana


  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Cup Italian Breadcrumbs 
  • 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt + extra salt to press Eggplant
  • 3  Eggs
  • 2-3 Eggplants
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Olive Oil for Frying
  • Pasta of your choice

  1. Slice the Eggplant lengthwise about 1/8 inch slices.
  2. On a large cookie sheet, place a layer of paper towels.
  3. On the paper towels, make a singe layer of sliced eggplant.
  4. Lightly salt the Eggplant. 
  5. Cover the Eggplant with more paper towels.
  6. Make another layer ( Go back to step 3. ) and keep doing this until all your Eggplant is used up.
  7. Place another cookie sheet on top of the layered Eggplant.   Put something heavy on top of the top cookie sheet, and press the Eggplant for several hours.   This will remove some of the acid.
  8.  When ready to cook remove the Eggplant and bring to your stove.
  9. Heat the olive oil in a pan on Medium Heat
  10. Beat the eggs and put them in a bowl
  11. Combine the cheese, salt and both kinds of breadcrumbs and mix well.  Pour breadcrumb mixture in a pie plate, or something similar.
  12. Pour the flour in another pie plate.
  13. Dip the Eggplant in the beaten egg and thoroughly coat.
  14. Dip the egg covered Eggplant slice in bread crumb mixture.   Flip it over and thoroughly coat.
  15. Fry the coated slice of Eggplant in the olive oil.   Flip it and cook until golden brown.
  16. After all of your Eggplant is fried, coat the bottom of a tray with sauce.  Layer the Eggplant and sauce.   Top with the Mozzarella and cover with foil, so that the foil is not touching the cheese.
  17. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling.
  18. While the Eggplant is heating, boil the pasta of your choice and heat up the remainder of your sauce…
  19. All should be ready at the same time.
  20. Pair with a glass of Chianti, or Borolo.