Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicken Modiga

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One of my favorite Italian dishes is chicken modiga.  It is chicken smothered in a white, cheesy sauce with peas and mushrooms.  It is decadent and anyone can make it!

Here are the ingredients:

Chicken breast - pounded thin
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
Panko bread crumbs
Garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
Dried mushrooms OR chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Marsala wine
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup shredded provel cheese
Parsley - 2 tablespoons, minced

To begin, add dried porchini mushrooms in 2 cups water.  Boil for 30 minutes.  This reconstitutes the mushrooms and makes a fabulous mushroom broth.  If you do not want to make a mushroom broth, you can substitute chicken broth.

Take 1/2 cup olive oil and add the minced garlic.  When you need to add olive oil to the saute pan, take from this dish.  The garlic will infuse in the olive oil but will not be overbearing in the dish.

Pound your chicken breast to 1/2 inch thickness.  Place chicken breast in Ziploc bag.  Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Dredge in bread crumbs.

Heat a saute pan - add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter.  Add the chicken and brown on both sides.  Remove from pan and keep warm in oven.

Clean out your sauce pan so that you remove the leftover bread crumbs.  Return the pan to the stove top.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter.  Saute the mushrooms until brown.  Throw the peas in there to heat them up.  Remove the mushrooms and peas - set aside.

Add 1/2 cup of the mushroom broth/chicken broth to the saute pan.  Add the flour - whisk until the lumps are gone.  This will make a roux - a thickener for the sauce.

Slowly add more broth, stirring constantly.  Slowly, add the Marsala wine and cream.  Add the sauteed mushrooms and peas.  If you used dried mushrooms, dice those up and add them too.  Add the provel cheese.

Top the chicken with the cheese sauce.  Serve with a side of buttered pasta.  The cheese sauce slathers into the pasta - YUMMY!


This recipe is featured on What's Cooking Wednesday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Are Your Thanksgiving Food Traditions?

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Every Thanksgiving my mother makes an Italian dish called cardoon.  It is also called the artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi.  The cardoon is a plant similar to an artichoke plant.  Italians, and others from Mediterranean cultures, eat the stalks of the cardoon in soups, stews, and fried.  It reminds me of a stalk of celery, but tougher.

The stalks of the cardoon
This plant is not readily available but my mother finds it in Dierberg's every fall.  To prepare the cardoon, you first need to boil the stalks in water, flavored with sea salt and lemon.
 Boil the cardoon until they are fork tender - about 60 minutes.  As my mother says, "They are tough little buggers!"
When the cardoon are tender, drain them and let them cool.  Pat the cardoon dry.
Get two bowls ready for dipping.  In one bowl put buttermilk and pepper.  In another bowl, mix 1 cup of bread crumbs and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Heat a skillet, with olive oil.  Dip the cardoon in buttermilk and bread crumbs.  Fry the cardoon until golden brown.
My sister Karrie checks on the cardoon
Mom gives her approval (even though it doesn't look like it)!
You will need to fry the cardoon in batches.  After each batch, clean the saute pan so you don't burn the leftover bread crumbs. 
Cardoon is a tradition in our family..............what are your holiday food traditions?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pasta with Butter, Oil and Garlic

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My father, Anthony Maniaci, was one of a kind.  He passed away two weeks ago and I feel like my heart has a big hole in it.  He was so proud of his Sicilian heritage.  He always taught me Italian songs, and told me stories about how he grew up on "The Hill."  I feel so blessed that he was my father.  I love and miss him so much!

My father, with Tonette, mom and I - last Thanksgiving
One of dad's favorite things to eat was PASTA!  He could eat pasta every day and every meal.  His favorite pasta was with a simple oil, butter, garlic sauce.  He called it "Pasta Colei Lu Yu" (spelled differently I'm sure). 
Here are the ingredients:
Pasta - 1 pound
Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
Butter (salted) - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 2 cloves minced
Red Pepper Flakes - 1/2 teaspoon
Parsley - 2 teaspoons
To begin, put the minced garlic and red pepper flakes into the olive oil.  Take a sauce pan and fill it with water.  Add a generous amount of salt to flavor the pasta as it cooks.  While you are waiting for the water to boil, take out the butter and let it come to room temperature.
Cook the pasta, drain and add back into the saucepan.  Immediately add your olive oil and butter.  Stir to coat the pasta.  Add the parsley and salt to taste.  Serve immediately.
I serve this pasta with breaded chicken, steak, or by itself!  It is very easy and quick to make.  My father loved this pasta! 
Dad and Jonah - Summer, 2012

Tonight I am having a pasta toast to my Daddio who I miss very much! My dad would light up every room he entered.  He was always smiling (well, unless my sister Karrie made his Italian temper come out - normally this would be an opportunity to jab at Tonette but I promised I would lay off for a while......)  If your father is still alive, hug him, kiss him and treasure every minute because life is too short.
I love you dad.....................