Sample text for Cucina amore / Nick Stellino.

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Toasted Bread with Tomatoes and Basil

  Serves 4

6 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 slices Italian bread, about 3/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (optional)
In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes, chopped garlic, oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper until well mixed and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors mingle.  You can store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours, but after that, the tomatoes will become too soft.

Toast the bread slices under a broiler until the edges are brown on both sides, but still white in the middle.  Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, rub both sides of the bread with the whole garlic cloves  until the cloves are too small to hold with your fingers.

Lay the bread slices on an ovenproof serving plate and top with the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle a little of the cheese on top and place it quickly  under the hot broiler until the cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

Veal with Sage and Prosciutto

Serves 4

1 pound veal scaloppine, pounded thin
1/4 pound prosciutto ham, thinly sliced
20 fresh sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup white wine or Marsala
1 cup Chicken or Beef Stock
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Cut the veal into 3 x 4-inch pieces.  Place a slice of prosciutto on top of each piece of veal and top with a leaf of fresh sage.  Skewer with a toothpick to hold the three together and sprinkle the bottom sides with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Pour the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter into a large sautÚ pan and cook over high heat until almost smoking.  Add the veal slices and sautÚ  30 seconds on each side, shaking the pan to prevent sticking.  Transfer the veal to another dish and pour the oil out of the pan.  Place the pan back on the  heat and deglaze with the wine, cooking until reduced to a thick glaze, about  2 minutes.  Pour in the stock and the remaining salt and the pepper, and bring  to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, return the meat to the pan and cook  for 2 minutes.  

While the meat is heating, mix the remaining soft butter with the flour  to make a thick paste.  Remove the meat from the pan and place on a serving dish.  Bring the stock to a boil and add the butter/flour paste, one spoonful at  a time, whisking well until the sauce is thick.  Pour it over the meat and serve.  

Cook's Tip
If you'd like more sauce, increase the wine by 2 tablespoons, the stock  by 1/4 cup, and the flour/butter mix by 1 teaspoon of flour.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms and Tomato

Serves 4 to 6

3 quarts water (salt optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
8 ounces fresh or fresh-frozen porcini mushrooms,  scrubbed and diced into 1/2-inch pieces, or 1 1/2 ounces dried,  softened in 1/2 cup hot water for 30 minutes, drained and chopped 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons white wine
5 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 pound pasta -- fettuccine all'uovo, fettuccine verdi, spaghetti or tortiglioni 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil with or without the optional salt. Cook the olive oil, garlic, porcini mushrooms and red pepper flakes in  a large sautÚ pan set on medium heat for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with half of the salt and cook until the mushrooms are just starting to brown, about 2 minutes.  Add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook on high heat until the wine reduces  by half, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and the remaining salt, bring to a boil and  cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until just tender.  Drain well and return to the pot.  Add the sauce to the pasta, toss until well coated and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, until most of the juices have been absorbed. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and toss until well coated.  Enjoy.

Cook's Tip
If you are using dried porcini mushrooms, soften them in 1/2 cup hot chicken stock instead of water and reserve the liquid to add to the sauce when you add the tomatoes.  It will greatly enhance the flavor.

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