Thursday, September 30, 2010

Italian Meat Pie - Scaciatta

Well, they are finally gone. As prolific as they were this year, every last pepper in my garden has been used. I've stuffed them, roasted them, marinated them, they've topped more than one sausage sub around here, they were included in a nice eggplant caponata, but enough is enough! I just know I'll be regretting these words come January.
So today I tried something a little different for me. A dish I make often, but never include peppers. Surprisingly, it turned out just great!

I made an old family favorite -- scaciatta (pronounced ska cha ta) or Italian meatpie or as some call it, pizzachino. I really don't consider this dish a pizza rustica, but you may. This dish is a two-crust pie of risen dough and typically filled with any assortment of meats, tuna, anchioves, vegetables or cheeses. In this meat pie I combined seasoned pork, veal and a little ground beef along with an assortment of my remaining peppers--both sweet and hots, some red wine, chopped onions, and of course, garlic. Earlier this year I posted my recipe for spinach pies. I use my same dough recipe but different fillings and shapes, or you can use a store bought, ready to use pizza dough. But any way you slice it -- they're all good. Served as an appetizer, late night snack or a side with a big salad and if you should have any leftovers, pop the slices into your freezer. They keep beautifully and you'll have a delicious and handy quick meal on those occasions when you just don't want to prepare a large dinner.
I ended up with about 1 1/2 cups of extra filling left over, so later this week I'll be making a chard pie topped with my leftover meat pie filling. As I said, anything goes here. Get creative!

Italian Meat Pie -- Scaciatta

fresh pizza dough - enough to make two 12 inch rounds
olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large onion, minced
2 sweet red peppers, cut fine
2 green peppers, cut fine
3 hot peppers - cut fine, *optional
1 large potato, cut in tiny pieces
1/4 cup red wine
1 lb ground sweet Italian sausage
1 lb ground veal
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/8 cup homemade spaghetti sauce (not gravy :) - *just enough to lightly coat the meat/vegetable mixture
parmesan cheese
pecorina romano cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
ground pepper
ground fennel seed
basil, sweet marjoram, thyme, oregano, parsley to taste

In a large skillet, saute in olive oil the garlic, onion and potatoes until just tender. Add the rest of the vegetables along with the red wine and cook for 6-8 minutes over a medium heat. Next, toss in all the ground meats, incorporating well with the vegetables. Season with ground black pepper, herbs and cook until the meat is finished about 15 minutes or so. Add spaghetti sauce -- I ended up using 8 TBLS total-- just enough to lightly coat the mixture. Put a cover on your pan and let the mixture cook down a bit. Once cooled, I always pour off any excess oils by tossing the entire mixture into a collander. As this has been slowly doing its cooking thing, you can roll out your dough into two rounds. Coat your baking sheet with olive oil, wiping off any excess and place your first dough round onto the sheet, overlapping the edge some. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the dough, and then again with pecorino romano. Begin to add the cooked and cooled filling, leaving a two inch border until you've covered the entire center of pan. You'll be rolling that portion upwards to seal your pie. Once again sprinkle with grated cheeses and top with some mozzarella cheese. (I used a multi package of mozzarella, fontina, asiago blend.) Here's a few photo's up to this point of preparation.

Pretty easy so far? Just about everyone has a few bags of pizza dough in their freezers -- at least I hope you do :+) Now all that's left to do, is to add your cover crust, pressing it in place to seal over the meat mixture only. And finally draw the bottom crust in a rolling action upward while pressing at the same time to seal well all around the meatpie. You want all the filling to remain in your pie without oozing out everywhere. Just give the top crust a few stabs with a fork,to vent it, and just a bit of drizzled olive oil rubbed over the crust and pop this bad boy into a 375 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes total, or until golden brown.

Once you remove it from the oven, cover it lightly with some aluminum foil and allow it to cool down completely, before slicing. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A day of nothingness

    Though the date says it's the end of summer, I was secretly  keeping my fingers crossed for a few more nice days. Yesterday I got my wish -- a simply gorgeous day with temps here in the 80's! A perfectly fine day to celebrate National Estuary Day and Punkinfiddle Festival. It was the last of my outdoor shows, excluding a few more weeks of  farmers market--but then the growing season comes to an end :(  What a fabulous season it's been for gardeners. I still have more cold crop & root veggies left in the garden and way too much kale, chard and turnips left, but I'm looking forward to preparing those comfy Autumn meals I love so much. This morning I picked my corn stalks and a few pumpkins to decorate the entryway and then it began to rain.

So I decided to make the rest of the day  a me day. You know--those days you steal away from your everyday lists of things to do. and simply take a long overdue break.  Italians have an old expression--il bel far niente, which means “the good do nothing.” As I reflected on recent past weeks of events I was reminded how good my life has been. A great family, close friends-the kind you can really count on, wonderful memories, and no regrets. Well, perhaps one itty bitty one. But hey, there's always next year. Real life occurs to us all, and includes all the ups and downs and in betweens that go along with it, right?

This week we were suppose to travel back to Tuscany for an anniversary trip, but then real life stepped in, so we've postponed those plans. It just wasn't in God's plan this year. But, I believe with all my heart, next year for certain. Nod your head if you're listening god.

So I'm taking the day off, re-reading one of my fave books and remembering our last visit to Italy. I wasn't even planning to cook a meal today -- but then just had a hankering for mussels and pasta.. The summer's disappearing and we simply love mussels prepared any way. but my favorite is mussels marinara.  Quick and easy and you only need a few ingredients, So instead of meal planning, I went back to Italy today-- here's a few of my fave pics.

If you should get hungry along the way make yourself a big bowl of mussels marinara and dream of a hill town in Tuscany; Panzano, San Gimignano, Montepuliciano, Cortona, Siene, Rhadda in Chianti, Lemole. Be sure to stop at every gelato shop and try a new flavor too!  Or head south and take a drive along the amazing Amalfi coast,. Be sure to stop in Sorrento to sample the limoncello and sample the quiet out of the way family run ristorantes,  Positano perhaps.. a small quaint, and remarkabley hilly town ( you'll really get your daily workout ) with lovely shoppes or a cozy dinner in Rome-- historical, cosmopolitan with fountains galore! Vatican City and Sistene Chapel -- Michaelangelo's work of art simply breathtaking. Be sure to toss your lucky coin in Trevi Fountain. You'll need a great meal after all the sightseeing you'll be doing while there or  in Florence for that matter--known for it's world class fashion, by their own world class designers.  If you're into art you won't want to miss Uffizi Gallery and of course no one misses a visit to the Duomo and Bell Tower, or Statue of David and be sure to pick up a trinket or two or three :-) when you visit the Ponte Vecchio's which spans the river Arno.  Maybe you'd love a visit to the romantic Isle of Capri. Rent a boat and let the local fisherman give you the tour.  Nothing beats the pizza and pastries in Naples... but then I'm partial.   Memories -- they sure beat working on your list of things you should be doing today :+)

Mussels Marinara

2 lb mussels, rinsed & bearded
4 garlic cloves, smashed & minced
2-3 TBLS fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup pinot grigio
11/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup clam juice
1# linguini

In a large pan heat olive oil.  Add garlic, mussels, tomatoes, wine, clam juice and hot pepper flakes.  Cover and cook until all the mussels have opened.  Discard any mussels that have not opened.  As the mussels are cooking toss your pasta into a boiling pan of water and cook til just al dente. Once the pasta is ready, drain and pour the mussels and tomato mixture over the pasta, sprinkle on the fresh parsley and toss well. Serve with crusty peasant bread and enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You're the blogger

Saturdays are busy days for me, and this Saturday was no different than most - so I thought.  I was busy setting up my booth, when my girlfriend Marsie popped into my booth at Kennebunk Farmers Market to ask me for my autograph??  I replied. 'Marsie what in heavens are you talking about'?  She laughed and said, she was sitting at her kitchen table having her morning coffee when she opened her newspaper to find an article about three local bloggers.  And as luck would have it, I was one of them! I interviewed so long ago, I had forgotten all about it, and I hadn't been to my PO Box all week to read my own newspaper, as dh is back in the hospital.  So she ran into the local pharmacy nearby just to pick me up a copy to see.  Thanks so very much Marsie xox.

Then market opened up for the day, and as my customers came into the booth -- instead of sniffing all of my soap offerings, instead I just kept hearing, 'You're the blogger!' What a fun way to spend at our newly acquired title, "Maine's Best Farmers Market" yakking about food, veggies and sharing recipes.  It really made my day!
So, anyone who's stopping by due to the YCCS article, howdy and welcome! Happy to have you here :-)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fresh from the garden - Eggplant parmesan

What a great season this has been for many gardeners here in the northeast. We were lucky side stepping a bit of blight that only a few witnessed this year, as opposed to last summer. What a nightmare! This week I harvested the rest of my ripened tomatoes, many eggplants and far too many peppers. So I have been busy roasting tray after trayful of yummy roma's. The rest of the tomatoes were canned, or frozen--or went into sauce and some even into jams.

With this last basketful of assorted tomatoes,herbs and veggies, I prepared a pot of chili and then  last night, one of my favorite eggplant dishes...eggplant parmesan. Now all I have left to put up is my annual piccalilli and I won't even have to go out and buy  green tomatoes this year :+) 

Eggplant Parmesan

3 medium sized eggplants
1 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten
3cups Italian bread crumbs
olive oil for sauteing
marinara sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pounds of mozzarella cheese,shredded
2 cups of ricotta cheese

After rinsing the eggplant, slice them into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a layer of paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt, then cover with another layer of paper towels and hold it down with something heavy to drain the excess moisture. Let them sit for about a half hour.

Take one slice of eggplant at a time, dust with flour, dip in beaten eggs, then coat well with breadcrumbs.Saute in preheated olive oil on both sides until golden brown.

In your baking dish, alternate layers of marinara sauce, eggplant slices, ricotta, parmesan and Romano cheeses, until you almost fill the baking dish. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake for 25 minutes covered,in a 375 degree oven. Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Marinara Sauce

2 TBLS chopped garlic
3 TBLS olive oil
6 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 cup fresh basil, chopped fine
pinch of thyme, savory & rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
One tsp white pepper
pinch of sugar

Lightly saute the onions in olive oil in large pot for a few minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the wine with the tomatoes and bring sauce just to a light boil, then turn heat to low.
Add remaining seasonings and herbs, cover and let simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.