PIADINA ROMAGNOLA: like a tortilla bread filled with delicious cheese and deli

Piadina is an Italian flatbread which comes from the Romagna region of Italy. It is sort of like an Italian version of fast food, as they are often sold at kiosks or roadside stands, even if some Italians – of course – prefer to make it from scratch. I am not from Emilia Romagna Region (but from Veneto), so it was not in my family tradition to make “piadina” from scratch. But my mom used the pre-made ones to make us happy when we wanted something appealing for dinner that did not require more than two minutes to make- and since “piadina” somewhat resembles a tortilla filled with a variety of cheese and deli meat, it is a simple go-to. Today I’ll share with you the version I make here in US for my family, but, if you prefer to stay close to the “made from scratch” version, here is the link to a very good piadina bread recipe. There is one very important point to make: Piadina was born as a frugal food and its deliciousness depends first and foremost on the variety of delicious cheese (especially fresh varieties like stracchino and squaccherone) and deli meat (prosciutto cotto, prosciutto crudo, speck, mortadella, pancetta etc.) that Italy can offer. By using tortilla bread and local cheese and deli, you can obtain a pretty great taste, but promise me: if you ever get the chance to go to Italy, don’t miss the opportunity to sample this simple but scrumptious meal! And better if you get to sample them while visiting the Emilia Romagna Region, which has a lot of Historical places (among them, Bologna and Parma), and is particularly famous for the great beaches, entertainment, night life, and “movida”.

I will give quickly the directions to make a piadina filled with mozzarella cheese and prosciutto. But some other nice combo would be for sure: – provolone and capocollo;  – ham, cream cheese and mayo (or ham and stracchino if you can buy it online); – pepperoni and asiago cheese; – grilled veggies and cream cheese (or squaquerone if you are lucky to find it around!), or any other ingredients that you could imagine (my daughters also like using Nutella… but let’s keep this option for the most glutton eaters :-).

INGREDIENTS

tortilla breads

shredded mozzarella cheese

prosciutto slices

(Be aware: to fill the belly, I recommend at least two “piadine” per person)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat a skillet on medium to low heat, and place one tortilla. Be very careful just to warm the tortilla, watching it closely to avoid burning it.  Flip the tortilla (to warm up the other side) and arrange neatly the mozzarella cheese on a half of it.

 

When the mozzarella cheese looks melted, switch off the heat, and arrange the prosciutto slices on top of the mozzarella cheese.

 

Fold the tortilla, and serve it still warm!!!

YUMMMMM, so so easy, so so good!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: depending on how you most like the tortilla cooked, I would keep it longer on the heat if you want to obtain a crispy piadina. On the opposite, if you like the bread to be soft, just warm it up long enough to melt the cheese, and take it away from the heat as soon as possible. This is an example of a “crisp” Piadina.

I am seriously curious to  know if this Italian “fast food” would be liked by my American followers… do you mind letting me know what do you think about this recipe? And if you try it, why don’t you leave a comment and possibly a picture of your Piadina? That would be awesome!

Thank you so much,

Silvia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jalapenos Popper Dip: add a spicy kick to your kick-off!

I know this blog is supposed to be all about Italian food and culture, but let me say this: I love food, I live in the USA, and I, of course, appreciate traditions and food from other country!    I have no idea where this amazingly good appetizer finds its origin, but when I tasted it at a friend’s party, I couldn’t help but ask for the recipe so I could share it with you!

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What mostly impressed me about this super easy and fast cheese dip (besides the facts that it makes a great  impression on the table, with very little effort),  is that its spicy taste goes wonderfully along with tortilla chips, but turns out VERY good even with celery! So you can feel less guilty when you snack with a high fat & calories appetizer, if combined with a bunch of veggies 😉 (or at least, that logic works for me, LOL).    So, be sure to make this snack for your Super Bowl fun day, and your friends (and YOU) won’t be disappointed!

INGREDIENTS for a 9” ROUND PAN

For the mix:

2 blocks (2 x 8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup (200 gr.) mayonnaise

1 cup  (100 gr.) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (100 gr.) Parmesan, Asiago, Reggiano shredded cheese blend

1 small can (4 0z.) diced jalapeños (drained)

1 small can (4 oz.) diced green chilies (drained)

For the topping:

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan, Asiago, Reggiano cheese blend.

TORTILLA CHIPS and

if you like the a idea of a little “healthy touch”

remember to wash your celery sticks and arrange them in a nice dish

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DIRECTION

Mix cream cheese, mayo, shredded cheddar, Parmesan/Asiago/Reggiano blend, drained diced green chilies, and jalapeños in a bowl using first a spoon and then an electric mixer.

Grease the round pan and pour in the mixture.

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Mix Panko bread crumbs with Parmesan/Asiago/Reggiano blend and sprinkle over the dip.

Bake at 375 F. for about 20-25 minutes, or until it’s bubbling on the sides and looks golden brown.

Serve it warm with tortilla chips and/or celery sticks and enjoy the game!

Learnt it, made it, loved it!

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TIP: – You can moderate the spiciness of the dip, by choosing between hot or medium jalapeños. I am usually not a person that likes too spicy food, but I don’t mind this dip even in it hottest version..

          – As you have probably noticed, this recipe contains Parmesan and Asiago cheese.. Indeed,  I would say that it can be considered a “little bit Italian” !

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Italian bruschetta: make your SuperBowl red and green!

I was recently approached by Nuts.com to join in on the 1st Annual Healthy Snack Bowl!

Nuts.com has an awesome healthy snacks page full of delicious and nutritious snack options for kids, vegans, and for those of us on-the-go.  You’ll be sure to find a yummy snack over at Nuts.com.

Since, typically during Super Bowl parties, a day’s worth of calories are often consumed in greasy and fried food, I wanted to contribute to the promotion of healthy eating, sharing with you and with Nuts.com a healthy snack alternative to enjoy during the most famous American Sport Event, with a touch of “Italianity”!

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I hope it does not come across predictable, but I want to share with you a recipe for the most famous and popular Italian Appetizer: Bruschetta! It’s a delicious combination of a handful of healthy ingredients, for an explosion of taste and freshness that appeals to almost anyone! And at just 128 calories per serving (50 gr. of bread, 10 gr. olive oil, and a 200 gr. tomatoes)  it’s full of powerful antioxidants (lycopene), healthy mono-unsaturated fat, protective oleic acid, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is also super easy and fast to prepare, and quite inexpensive. Italian diets (often referred to as Mediterranean diets) are notoriously full of fresh foods and recipes made from natural ingredients- bruschetta is the perfect example! Italians enjoy bruschetta at all sorts of venues, from the most casual meals at home, to even the most fancy meals at expensive restaurants.

Just to share with you a little about Italian habits, you should know that we eat Bruschetta in two different ways: either toasted bread, rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and brushed with virgin olive oil and dust of sea salt, or toasted bread rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and covered with chopped red tomatoes (dressed in Italian dressing, of course). If I should be asked to choose, I wouldn’t be able to pick, they are both my favorite!!!

I will give you the approximate quantities, per person, for the version with tomatoes, but obviously you can use the same quantities (without tomatoes), to make the plain version of Bruschetta.

Ingredients per person

1 slice fresh baked bread (better if Italian Style)

1 medium sized red tomatoes (ripe but hard, in this season my favorite are on-the-vine tomatoes)

1 peeled clove of garlic

2 leaves of basil (one for the dressing and one for decoration)

1 pinch of sea salt

1 tsp. virgin olive oil

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS

 Cut the bread in slices, and peel the garlic. Wash and core the tomatoes, and chop them in small cubes.

Move the tomatoes into a bowl and dress with sea salt, virgin olive oil, vinegar, and the basil leaf, cut in few pieces. Stir the mix and let it rests at least ten minutes for the flavors to mingle.

In the meantime, toast the bread in the oven (at 365 F for about 5 minutes each side), or in the toaster (faster and as good as in the oven).

Now arrange your bruschetta:

a) for the plain version: just rub the warm bread with the peeled clove, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and enjoy!

b) for the tomato dressed version: rub the warm bread with the peeled clove, cover the slice with chopped tomatoes, and if you like, decorate it with a basil leaf.

Delicious, healthy, fast and easy… so you can ENJOY YOUR SUPERBOWL NIGHT!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If you are planning to make more than a serving, consider that with a couple of garlic cloves you can rub more that 10 slices of bread;
  • If you like the idea, you can add to the tomatoes dressing a tsp. of crushed red pepper (I love a little bit of spice!);
  • Bruschetta of course tastes better if eaten warm, but as an appetizer can be served even when the bread has cooled off;
  • for other healthy idea for your Super Bowl buffet, check my appetizer page, or visit nuts.com:
  • If you think that it would be even healthier to add some protein to this dish, why not serve it with some fresh Burrata! Here how your dish would look:

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 *I was not paid or sponsored for this post.  All content and opinions are my own.  This post is affiliated with Nuts.com to simply provide healthy snack alternatives for the 1st Annual Healthy Snack Bowl/Super Bowl.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Savory Cheese and Bacon Pie: puff pastry makes it SO easy!

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Puff pastry is something that usually everybody likes (even kids), and honestly, the one you find at the store is absolutely tasty and so easy to use that it isn’t even worth considering making it from scratch.

In my opinion, using puff pastry could be a good way to approach “cooking” even for those who think they are disaster in the kitchen! It’s the perfect ingredient to use to get beautiful and savory dishes, with a very minimal amount of talent and arduousness.

I use puff pastry relatively often, like to make tasty appetizers (puff pastry and bacon hearts) or to make salted pies.

Salted pies, in fact, are usually fast, delicious, and addictive appetizers/entrees. They are crunchy outside, tender inside, and the one I’m describing here is just a cheesy heaven with a delicate bacon aftertaste.

So get ready by simply taking out of your freezer a puff pastry sheet, mix together any kind of cheese that will otherwise soon be going bad in your refrigerator (don’t forget some ricotta cheese to make the mix less heavy), stuff the pastry with the cheese mix, lay some bacon slices on the top, bake and … VOILA’!

INGREDIENTS for 4-5 serving

1 thawed puff pastry sheet

1 lb. ricotta cheese

a handful (or more) of asiago cheese cut in small cubes

a handful of shredded parmesan cheese

a handful of blue cheese (or better, real “Gorgonzola“)

5-8 slices provolone cheese

1 beaten egg

5-8 slices bacon

(Truth be told, you can use any kind of cheese you like, as long as it melts easily, and the result will not change… BUT mozzarella cheese will ruin your pie by making it watery!)

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F.  Then take out of the freezer the puff pastry sheet and let it thaw until it is easy to roll out, and lay it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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In a bowl, mix all the cheeses together evenly.

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Spread the cheese mix on the puff pastry sheet, being careful to leave the sides free.

Arrange the bacon slices on the top of the cheese as evenly as you can.

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Close inward the sides of the pastry so the cheese doesn’t run out while baking. Then brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the pie rises and becomes golden.

Enjoy it still warm!

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tip: – If you have guests and decide to make this pie, consider that it needs to be served warm, and would not be an easy “finger food”, so be ready with some plates and silverware.

– This pie is really, really rich in flavor and calories, so opt for a light side dish when you serve it!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Italian Flag Colors Sandwich: an impressive appetizer!

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As much as I like cooking, I love parties even more! Unfortunately, it is uncomfortable going to parties at someone else’s house if you have young kids to bring along. And sometimes, those same young kids also makes it difficult to prepare really delicious food for friends you might invite over to your house. So, I have found that the alternative to becoming an hermit until your youngest kid reaches an appropriate age, is to have an arsenal of recipes that you can make in advance, and that also look and taste amazing. That is why I LOVE this recipe!

This is a really, really fancy and tasty appetizer, which can be prepared even a couple of days in advance, and will make a buffet absolutely attractive and colorful: the “Italian Flag Colors Sandwich.” With just a few easy ingredients- like white and whole wheat bread, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, some herbs, and a slice of salmon- you can create this impressive loaf of deliciousness!

This recipe doesn’t belong to my family tradition, but instead comes from one of my favorite Italian Food Websites (Giallo Zafferano), and since I really like this different way to arrange a sandwich, I made some modifications, I translated the quantities for you, and, of course, as usual I’m showing you how I make it step by step!

Please, give this sandwich a shot… you (and your family and friends) will love it!

INGREDIENTS for a loaf pan size sandwich

1 bag white bread

1 bag whole wheat bread

1 slice frozen or fresh salmon

2 to 3 tbs. tomato sauce (better if concentrated)

 9 oz. cream cheese for herbs sauce

5 oz. ricotta cheese for salmon sauce

7 oz. ricotta cheese for pesto sauce

5 oz.  Genovese pesto

2 tbs. thyme (better fresh)

2 tbs. parsley (the Italian one, better fresh)

2 tbs. chives (better fresh)

salt

DIRECTIONS

For the “herbs sauce”

Chop chives, parsley and thyme as thin as you can and mix it very well with 9 oz. cream cheese. Save this herbed cream cheese for later.

Do not rinse the food processor, and go ahead and use it for the next sauce.

For the salmon sauce

Boil the salmon in half a inch of water. In the food processor combine the salmon with sea salt (to taste) and two tbs. of tomato sauce (better if concentrated) and 5 oz. ricotta cheese. Keep the sauce apart for later.

For the “pesto sauce”

Combine the 5 oz. pesto with 7 oz. ricotta cheese and stir very well until smooth. Keep this sauce, in few minutes you will use it!

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To arrange the sandwich:

Once you are done preparing the sauces, you are ready to build up the sandwich.

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Cover the loaf pan with abundantly plastic wrap (once the sandwich loaf is assembled, you will need the extra plastic to wrap it up).

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Remove the crust from the loaves of bread. Then cover the bottom of the pan with several slices of whole wheat bread. Spread the salmon sauce evenly over the top.

 

Now is the turn of the white bread. After removing the crust, make a layer with this one and spread evenly the herbed cream cheese.

 

Now again make another whole wheat bread (no crust) layer and cover it with the pesto sauce.

Finish your loaf by covering with a layer of white bread.

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Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the loaf and let it rest in the coolest part of your refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving, or not more that a half-hour in the freezer.

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Before serving, flip the loaf onto a cutting board, and cut it into 1/2 inch slices using a very sharp serrated knife.

If you like, arrange it in a nice tray and ENJOY!!!!

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LEARN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If kept refrigerated this sandwich loaf can last up to 4 or 5 days.
  • Serve the sandwich slices still cool.
  • This sandwich variation could be a fun way to entice your kids to eat salmon, as well as an excellent addition to your lunch box menu!
  • If you have leftovers, keep them refrigerated and enjoy later!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia