July 2020 Challenge - Italy

Joined Jan 4, 2011
Steak Braciole

I'm lately working with a young Community College student as my assistant. She was in charge of the set-up and pics for this dish. Now not at all her fault, but mine for not checking the set up for this pic. We did not use "seasoned" panko crumbs for this but "plain". We also didn't use the Weber Seasonings. Again this was My fault because that since she's heard me say ad nauseam that I love these and use them for everything she thought this time too. I take all credit for these glitches. We've got evoo, woosty sauce, a nice slice of top-round steak-sammich meat that's gone through the tenderizer, provolone and mozzarella cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, a shallot, prosciutto, fresh spinach, parsley, oregano, basil and garlic (greens all from my garden). This pic is missing a stick of butter and cup of roughly grated romano cheese. ... AGAIN ... MY fault.
This is the tomato-jam that I've used before (a new batch ... DUH), the crumbs and cheese and the spinach nicely sautéed ... a full plate fresh turned into a cup sautéed. The garlic and half of the herbs went into the jam the other half in the cheese-crumb mix.
The meat gets painted with the tomato-jam and the prosciutto is added. Next comes the cheeses and spinach. Last is the crumb-cheese mix glued together with the evoo. After assembly a wax-paper covers everything and it is gently pressed.
It goes into the skillet seam down relieving any need for tying. I painted the roll with room-temp butter and covered it all around with crumbs. I did not sear the meat nor will this be cooked in any sauce. I joke that every Italian dish does not need tomato sauce. The tomato-jam inside does not at all count as a sauce. After making the eggplant in a skillet I have found it to be a nice alternative to a casserole. ... It goes into the oven for a while.
Out of the oven ...

Plated ...

Served. ... (2-servings)

This dish was served with an egg-noodle alfredo w/ minced red sweet-pepper and scallions. The wine served is a <$5 Primativo. The label is Grifone. Look it up. It's over the top for the price.


"We work in kitchens. ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
Joined Jul 13, 2012
Very hot today so a cool to room temp meal was in order. Room temperature tortellini with sauteed marinated shrimp (16-20 sliced in half), grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes (left to cool) and torn basil from the garden with shaved sheep's milk Pecorino. Dressed simply with more evoo and some 15yr. old Sicilian Lemon Balsamic.

Perfect for a hot summer day.
Joined Nov 5, 2007
Unlike Mike9, I made something perfect for a cold winter day, even though it will be close to 100F in a few hours. I've done beef shanks before, I wanted to try a more 'authentic' osso buco using veal shanks.

The Players

First off, got some veal shanks.


18 bucks a pound, ouch!


Partners in crime are onion, celery, carrot, rosemary from the garden, pancetta from the deli counter and white wine from Italy and home made chicken stock.

The Process

First off the veal was seasoned generously, lightly dredged in flour. Pancetta diced and put in the pot to render down over low heat. Shanks got a piece of butcher's twine tied around them to help hold their shape. Once the pancetta was browned and there was some fat in the pan, heat turned up and the shanks went in to brown.


Once they looked good, they were pulled out, heat back to medium low

When and the diced veggies, along with an extra splash of olive oil added.


When veggies were softened, in went the rosemary and about half a cup of wine and the diced pancetta. Shanks back in and enough chicken stock added to reach a little over halfway up the sides of the shanks.


Heat back up, cooked off the wine some. Pot covered, low heat. Checked about an hour later.


Yep, that string really helped! Added more chicken stock, left another hour. Getting close. Started checking the meat every 15, 20 minutes until fork tender. Shanks pulled out, raised heat, reduced sauce a bit.

The Product


Wow! The veal shanks definitely give a richer, more gelatinous sauce than beef. It was delicious!

You might have noticed some arborio rice in one of the ingredient pics. I had intended to make a risotto to put under the shank, but some how it didn't happen. Oh well. But with just a little fresh parsley put on what was in the pot it turned out to be a most satisfying meal.

Joined Nov 5, 2007
5 days to go. I said I had planned on 4, have posted 2 of them so far. Still want to do a pasta and a dessert.

Thinking of a stuffed pasta, perhaps egg yolk or lobster ravioli. Not sure about dessert yet. But some possibilities for both dishes could involve ricotta cheese, so I made some.


Pretty simple ingredient list: whole milk, cream, vinegar. And a bit of salt.

The dairy goes into a pot, along with a good pinch of salt.


Medium heat, stirring frequently, don't want to scorch it. Eventually it comes to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and add a few tablespoons of the vinegar.


You can sort of see it starting to curdle right away.

While waiting for the milk to come to a boil, I cut a piece of cheesecloth big enough to fold over and fit into a large strainer. Dampened the cheesecloth, arranged it in the strainer, set it over a big bowl and waited. Once the milk had started to get a good curdle, slowly poured it into the strainer.


This is what it looked like after about 25 - 30 minutes.


Looks like fresh, home made ricotta to me!

Into the fridge it will go, once I find a properly sized container and a matching lid. Then we will see when, if and how it will be used in the next few days.


Joined Mar 1, 2017
Focaccia. What a delicious, simple and wholly overlooked bread. Despite the fact that its cheap, simple to make and a crowd pleaser, I rarely see it offered in restaurants this side of the Atlantic.

I had a lot of fun making this bread with my 11 year old granddaughter. She's the artist who made the designs on the bread out of veggies and basil leaves. :)

So, here's the recipe. You're basically making pizza dough but, the difference is in the proofing and the amount of olive oil used.

What you will need:

- 4 to 5 cups all purpose or bread flour - dealer's choice;
- 1/4 cup good olive oil plus another 1/4 cup or so for basting;
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt plus 1 - 2 pinches to sprinkle on the dough;
- 2 cups warm water;
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp yeast
- Assorted herbs and veggies for decoration such as red/green onion, shaved carrots, basil leaves, sliced radishes, julienne colored peppers

In a bowl, combine 1 cup warm water, the yeast and sugar until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the second cup of warm water and salt. Stir thoroughly. Combine flour 1 cup at a time until a loose, shaggy dough forms, about 3 to 4 cups. Remove from the mixing bowl to a well floured surface. Add the remaining dough and kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic. By hand, this will take at least 10 to 15 minutes. With a mixer and a dough attachment, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Test the dough by pressing in with your finger. The indentation should slowly return to its shape. When the dough reaches this point, shape into a ball and brush with olive oil. Return the dough to a clean bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 3 hours in a warm place. The oven with the light on is always a good place.

After 2 to 3 hours, punch down the dough and reshape it into a ball. Baste with olive oil once again and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. The longer the more flavor you will have.

After 12 to 24 hours, remove the cold dough from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. With your hands, press the dough onto a medium sized cookie sheet so that it fills in evenly. Make indentations with your finger evenly over the entire surface of the dough.

You are now ready to decorate your dough or bake it as is.

Preheat the oven to 425'f and bake for 15 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Enjoy! :) Focaccia 1.jpg Focaccia 2.jpg Focaccia 3.jpg
Joined Sep 8, 2015
I came up with this because I really wanted a version of eggplant parmigiana where the flavor of the eggplant really came through. I use thick slices of grilled eggplant topped with parmisean and mozorella, fresh ripe tomato, more parmisan, and broil until hot.


First I used the trimmings from slicing the eggplant to start a sauce. I sauted it in olive oil until very soft, adding water as necessary to keep it from burning. Then a added an anchovy fillet and about half a clove of sliced garlic before combining with marinara sauce.


I grilled the eggplant and then double breaded the bottom and fried.



Joined Sep 8, 2015
Hey these count too! Biscotti. I made these this morning. I often make them with dried cranberry but this time I used apricot and almonds. I started making them myself because they are kind of expensive to buy. But now I eat one on a lot more mornings so ... maybe not cheaper overall plus not great for the middle age man belly.

Joined Nov 5, 2007
This is going to be a tricky chalkenge to judge!
So many great entries
I know! It is good to see the level of interest in this one. And I'm still hoping to get in two more myself.

I forgot I had this:


I am planning on ravioli of some sort later today. Maybe I'll use this, maybe not. A lot depends on how well it goes with a sprinkler system repair I need to do first, before it gets too hot outside.

We shall see.

Joined Sep 8, 2015
IMG_1046 (1).jpg

Last night we had risotto with zucchini flowers, a recipe that Mrs. Hanks cousin from Lucca happened to send to me early in the summer.

Nothing special about the process. The the cubbed zucchini went in about half way through the cooking, the chopped flowers near the end. I also did some Tuscan grilled meat. Sausage and thinly sliced pork chops marinated all day in olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

IMG_1053 (1).jpg

We have no idea how the wine was mostly gone by the time we sat down.
Joined Jul 13, 2012
The garden is coming in and it's hot so here is a Caprese salad done my way - fresh tomato, mozzarella, basil, some anchovy fillet, kalamata olives, a little prosciutto, some shaved Pecorino, some shaved fresh garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of 15yr. old Sicilian grapefruit balsamic and sprinkling of Cypress flake salt. We had this with some leftover tortellini, and shrimp from the other night . . . and now I'm full. No wait I have room for more wine.

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Joined Nov 5, 2007
Getting closer to an actual dish. Made some pasta dough.


All purpose flour, eggs and salt. I do have some semolina, not sure if it is an 00 grind, I just went with the AP. Thought about doing it in the food processor, but decided for a ChefTalk challenge I should go old school by hand, with the well in the pile of flour.


Dam failure, an engineering mistake, next time food processor!

I did manage to actually end up getting all the egg and flour gathered up and eventually made into a dough. I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded, it finally came together as a smooth, soft dough, but not too soft.


Wrapped in plastic to rest for a while. And I'll rest my weary arms, do some quality control on the wine selected for dinner.

Stay tuned, more to come.

Joined Dec 29, 2019
howabout a biscuit tortoni, made with leftover dried macaron.

4 separated eggs, 8 oz sugar
1 pint heavy whipped stiff.

Whip yolks with 4 oz sugar to ribbon stage.
Whip cream stiff
whip whites with 4 suaar , add dried cookies and fold it all, add rose water or grand marnier whatever.
think ice cream but very light and simpler to throw together.

Joined Jan 4, 2011
R retiredbaker ... NICE VID. ... I like "real people" vids with all the regular every-day stuff in the background. I think of all the time and effort I took organizing my kitchen only to see it was still loaded with all sorts of every-day kinda stuff. ... Good job.

"We work in kitchens. ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
Joined Mar 1, 2017
The garden is coming in and it's hot so here is a Caprese salad done my way - fresh tomato, mozzarella, basil, some anchovy fillet, kalamata olives, a little prosciutto, some shaved Pecorino, some shaved fresh garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of 15yr. old Sicilian grapefruit balsamic and sprinkling of Cypress flake salt. We had this with some leftover tortellini, and shrimp from the other night . . . and now I'm full. No wait I have room for more wine.

That's pretty dish! :)
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