Kitchen Liberation Organization's
2001 Valentine's Dinner

Tuscany


Formaggio Con Le Pere (Pears & Cheese)

Wash and peel the pears. Cut into cubes and place in a salad bowl, taking care not to loose any of the juice. Dice the pecorino and add to the chopped fruit. Mix together and leave to stand for ten minutes before serving. If desired, finely grind some black pepper over the top. Remember though, that pears and cheese as a starter will stimulate both appetite and taste buds, so this is best for those who are not watching their weight. Even if you are worried about the waistline though, don't deny yourself this delicious combination, you can still enjoy it but as a main course.


Roasted Peppers with Fresh Mozzarella

Roasted red peppers, usually preserved in olive oil, can be found at most supermarkets and delicatessens, often on the same shelves as pickles. Cut each pepper in half lengthwise. Slice mozzarella into thin strips and place in each pepper half. Sprinkle lightly with thyme. Roll pepper around mozzarella for a particularly eye-catching display and garnish with sprigs of thyme (optional).


Pandiramerino (Rosemary Bread)

Dissolve the yeast with a little warm water in a mixing bowl. Add the sifted flour, three tablespoons of oil, the sugar and some more warm water. Mix together briskly, form into a ball and leave to rise for two hours. heat two tablespoons of oil and the washed and dried fresh rosemary leaves in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the sultanas. When the oil has cooled, mix and knead well into the raised dough. Make into six buns, arrange on a baking tray dusted with flour and leave to rise for another half hour. Mark the top of each bun with a cross, brush with oil and bake in the oven at 180°C for thirty minutes. Ramerino is the vernacular word for rosemary and originally these rosemary flavored buns were a specialty prepared on Easter Thursday. Now they are made all year round, however, and Florentine eat these fragrant buns as a tasty mid-morning snack.


Pappa al Pomodoro (Bread & Tomato Soup)

Finely chop the onion, leek carrot, and celery and fry with the oil in a large earthenware pan. Add salt, the peeled and chopped tomatoes, sage and basil and cook, adding water until it becomes smooth and creamy, neither too thick nor too runny. The soup should be served tepid, with olive oil drizzled on top. The flavor can be pepped up with a dash of chili pepper.

The forerunner of this dish was called panunto or pancotto and it contained no vegetables at all. Indeed the original recipe was without tomatoes, as it dates from long before the discovery of America and their arrival in Europe. The ingredients were therefore simply bread, oil, garlic and salt and this tasty, mushy mixture was often used to wean babies.


Carciofi Ritti (Roman-Style Artichokes)

Clean the artichokes and put them in water with lemon juice until ready to use. Spread the leaves open and, holding upside down on the work surface to force them further open. Warm the oil in an aluminum saucepan and put the artichokes in with the stems pointing upwards. Add salt, increase the heat, cover and cook until well browned (about seven minutes). Add a glass of water and leave until completely cooked, checking that the sauce does not dry out completely, as it should be poured over the artichokes before serving. Before removing from the heat, taste for salt and sprinkle fresh thyme leaves over or, if you prefer, parsley, either finely chopped or tied into a bunch. Present on a warmed serving dish.


Spinach, Fennel & Feta Salad

Whisk oil, lemon juice and shallot in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Combine spinach, fennel and radishes in large shallow bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle feta cheese over salad and serve. Serves 4.


Valigette (Beef Rolls)

Layer onto each filled of steak a piece of ham, a slice of cheese, a segment of artichoke, some parsley and a pinch of salt. Roll the meat up to form a neat roulade and tie with a piece of string or close firmly with a toothpick. Chop and dice the carrots, artichoke stems and leaves, if any are left over; fry in the oil until soft in a large casserole. Add the beef roulades and brown on all sides. Dissolve a pinch of salt in the glass of wine and pour over the meat; allow to evaporate rapidly and continue to cook over a low heat for forty minutes. If the gravy has dried out during the cooking remove the meat, add some more wine and drop of oil and leave on the heat to reduce slightly. Remove the string or the toothpicks before serving, as it is rather unpleasant to find yourself munching on them!

Fried or purčed potatoes are the perfect accompaniment for this dish. Domenico Romoli called them "stuffed, stewed parcels", however, his recipe contained some quite different ingredients, while Pellegrino Artusi refers to "artichoke-stuffed steaks".


Chicken Tuscany

In a small flat dish, sprinkle half the oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic and black pepper. Place the chicken breast halves in a single layer on top of the herbs. Pour 4 tablespoons olive oil over the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining herbs, garlic and pepper over the chicken breasts. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

While chicken is marinating, prepare the Marsala reduction. In a saucepan, heat 1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Add shallots and saute until tender. Add the Marsala and chicken broth and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Skim off excess fat and strain to remove shallots. Set aside.

Grill or broil chicken breasts for about 7 to 8 minutes per side or until done. While the chicken is cooking, preheat a saute pan. Add the Marsala reduction, mushrooms, tomatoes and green onions. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Remove from heat and stir the butter into the sauce bit by bit, stirring constantly, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Serve the chicken breasts topped with the sauce. Makes 4 servings.


Barguettes Chez L'Ami Louis

This is yet another KLO dessert that came from the Cake Bible! I have a copy so I can no longer blame Jay for the lack of such recipes!