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Entries in book reviews (2)

Tuesday
Jun222010

"Donatella Cooks" recipes and book GIVEAWAY!

New Yorker Donatella Arpaia has released a cookbook that's much like the successful restaurateur herself.  Fashionable yet rooted in her Italian heritage, Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous (Rodale Books, 2010) makes comfort food sparkle with clever tips and tricks...who knew egg whites can transform plain mac-and-cheese into a chic delight?

Below are three delicious dishes from Donatella's book, plus you can win a copy!  How-to and rules below, after the recipes.  We'll start with dessert first... :)

Nutella Hot Chocolate
SERVES 4 TO 6

2 cups whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I recommend Valrhona)
1/2 cup Nutella
Gourmet marshmallows, toasted if desired

COMBINE THE MILK and half-and-half in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and Nutella. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Cover to keep hot. If using marshmallows (and you should!), toast them, one at a time over a gas flame, turning until all sides are golden brown. Pour the hot chocolate into small coffee mugs, top with the marshmallows, and serve hot.


Eggplant Napoleon
SERVES 6

YOU'LL NEED: cast-iron stovetop grill pan
2 Japanese eggplants, each cut into 4 diagonal slices
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 or 4 small balls buffalo mozzarella, 14 ounces total, cut into thick slices
12 basil leaves plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

SALT THE EGGPLANT and place in a colander to allow any excess liquid to drain off. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the eggplant and toss to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes.

BRUSH A CAST-IRON STOVETOP GRILL PAN with a thin layer of olive oil. Place over medium- high heat. Grill the eggplant until slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate to cool. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Put the red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in a steady stream.

TO BUILD THE NAPOLEON, begin with a slice of the eggplant, followed by a slice of mozzarella topped with a basil leaf. Repeat. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and garnish with the basil leaves. Scatter the pine nuts around each napoleon and serve.

Salmon in Cartoccio with Caponata
SERVES 4

YOU'LL NEED: parchment paper
12 ounces Italian-style caponata, from a jar or the refrigerated section, well drained
1/4 teaspoon dried Greek or wild oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, flat-leaf parsley, or basil
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
4 wild salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons white wine or vermouth

PREHEAT THE OVEN to 400°F.

IF THE CHUNKS of caponata are very large, cut them into 1/2" cubes. Combine with the oregano, fresh herbs, and vinegar. Season each fillet on both sides with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Cut 4 sheets of parchment paper about 12" long. Fold in half, then open up and place a salmon fillet on one side of the fold. Spoon the caponata evenly over the top of each fillet, then drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon white wine. Fold the parchment over the fish and, beginning at one of the corners, crimp, roll, and fold the edges of the parchment to make a well-sealed package. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then transfer the packages directly onto plates. Slash the top open just a little to expose the salmon inside. Provide a bowl for guests to dispose of the parchment.


Doesn't that all sound so delicious?  Would you like to see more?  Win a copy of Donatella Cooks by answering this question in the comments:

What's your favorite Italian dish?


Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you've won.  Giveaway ends on Thursday at 6pm CDT - good luck!

This contest is closed.  Here's the winner!

 

Rules
Winner will be chosen at random.
Open to US residents over the age of 18.

Contest closes at 6:00pm Central on Thursday, 6/24/10.  Winner will be announced on Friday, 6/25/10.

Text & photographs reprinted with permission

Thursday
Jun032010

Celebrate Summer with "Porch Parties"

As soon as the thermometer regularly hovers over 70 degrees, I start living outside! Of course that includes entertaining guests. Who doesn't love to sit on a breezy porch (or in my case, a breezy rooftop) on a hot day, cool drink at hand?

Denise Gee, author of Porch Parties (Chronicle Books, 2010) has compiled a charming book full of food, drinks, and decorating ideas for outdoor entertaining.  Featuring beautiful photographs, this 144 page volume is a colorful joy to read. 

Here are two recipes from Denise. Try them, then buy the book!

Watermelon Cooler

This is the dreamiest drink I’ve had in ages. So agree the friends I most recently shared it with. They, like me, love how it’s naturally sweetened with honey. It’s a lot of fun to serve in chilled jelly glasses.

4 cups 2-inch cubes watermelon
1 cup vodka, chilled
2 tablespoons honey (see note)
Garnish: Small watermelon wedges with rind (optional)

Freeze the watermelon chunks in a zip-top plastic bag until just frozen, about 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and add to a blender. Pour in the vodka and honey. Process until blended and pour into frosted cocktail or jelly glasses. Garnish, if desired.

Serves 4

Note: Use standard honey (say, clover) instead of a dark or other strongly flavored version; otherwise it’ll change the drink’s flavor in a disappointing way.
The young, soft white seeds in a “seedless” watermelon are perfectly fine to ingest. Actually, they make your drink look even more watermelon-y.

 

Shrimp and Tomato Salad

The marriage of sweet tomatoes and shrimp, with kiss of light and lemony cream sauce, makes for both a well-seasoned and well-dressed nibble. Serve it in small decorative bowls, avocado halves, or martini glasses.


1 1/2 pounds cooked, peeled, and deveined large (26- to 30-count) shrimp
1 1/2  pounds grape or small cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or dill
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream or mayonnaise (see note)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Garnish: Additional lemon zest, lemon wedge

Add shrimp and next 4 ingredients to a large bowl; set aside. Stir together lemon juice, sour cream, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Gently fold into shrimp-tomato mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate at least 6 to 8 hours before serving. Garnish if desired.

Note: Sour cream will lend a lighter texture, revealing more of lemon and herb flavor; mayonnaise will give a bit more depth and a creamier consistency.


Decorate your outdoor space with the same careful thought as you do the indoors. See Porch Parties for more decorating ideas.

Do you have a porch (or a veranda, or a rooftop, or....)? How do you "live outside"?

 

Text & photographs reprinted with permission

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