As the Peking to Paris rally is quickly drawing to a close, we find ourselves on the Italian peninsula -- but only for a night. The rally participants left Greece this morning and, taking the ferry from Igoumenitsa, they crossed the Adriatic and docked in Ancona, a rather large city on the east coast of the Italian peninsula. As the day draws on, the competitors will head west and cross the Italian countryside, spending tonight in Viareggio, a seaside resort town most well-known for its annual carnival and parade of papier-mâché floats, traditions dating back to the late 19th century.
And so today, we proudly bring you an Italian-themed menu, using traditional ingredients and regionally inspired flavors!
Italian Country Garbanzo (Ceci) Bean Soup
One 14 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup gluten-free pancetta, chopped (may substitute bacon)
1 scallion, chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
Pinch of marjoram
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup lean pork, chopped into 1/2" pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil and when hot, add pancetta, scallion, garlic, parsley, marjoram and saute. Stir in beans and tomatoes. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Add pork. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Italian Roasted Chicken with Prosciutto
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large chicken breasts with bones & skin
4 slices of prosciutto
8 basil leaves, plus 1 Tablespoon minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup gluten free chicken stock
2 Tablespoons cream
In a small skillet melt butter in olive oil over medium heat. Add half shallots and garlic; sauté, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Scrape mixture into a small bowl and let cool briefly.
Loosen skin of chicken breasts without completely detaching. Place a teaspoon of shallot mixture under skin of each breast. Top with a folded piece of prosciutto and
2 basil leaves. Smooth skin over fillings and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Set chicken in a roasting pan, skin-side up. Broil for 5 minutes. Turn and broil for 5 minutes more. The skin should be crisped on top.
Turn oven temperature down to 350°F. Bake chicken for 20 minutes or until juices run clear when meat is pierced.
Transfer chicken to a plate, tent with foil to keep warm.
Transfer juices from pan into a small bowl; spooning off any excess fat.
Place roasting pan over medium heat. Add remaining shallots and garlic; sauté until soft and golden. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of the. When wine is nearly evaporated, pour in chicken stock and cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced to about
1/2 cup. Stir in minced basil and reserved drippings. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place a stuffed breast on a plate and spoon sauce over top.
Tuscany Inspired Orange-Almond Cake
1 small/medium orange*
6 ounces almonds**
1 cup gluten free flour (for this recipe, I used Jules All-Purpose GF flour)
1 Tablespoons baking powder
4 large eggs (or 5 medium), at room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil (the higher quality the oil, the better)
Confectioner's sugar, for serving (optional)
First things first, get started on preparing the citrus. Put the orange and lemon in a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. They're going to float, don't worry about it. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
In the mean time, preheat the over to 325F (one rack in the center) to toast the almonds. Distribute the almonds on an ungreased sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until they look golden and smell all roasty and delicious. Err on the side of over-toasted, just make sure they don't burn! Let them cool completely, (I dumped mine out onto a tea towel to expedite the process) then toss 'em in the food processor until finely ground, like coarse corn meal. Set aside and don't worry about cleaning out the food processor.
Bump the oven temperature up to 350F and grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. The baking time will differ depending on which size you choose/have on hand.
When the fruit has cooled, cut the lemon in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds; discard. Cut the orange in half also and remove the seeds, leaving pulp in tact. Put the lemon rinds and orange halves in the food processor and chop until they form a really coarse paste.
Meanwhile, combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
In a mixing bowl or the base of a KitchenAid, combine eggs and salt, then beat until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar. If using a KitchenAid, switch to the blade attachment, stir in the flour/baking powder mixture. Beat in (on low speed) the fruit, almonds and olive oil, until just incorporated, but be careful not to over mix! Pour batter into springform pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean: 45-60 minutes for a 9-inch pan, 30-40 for a 10-inch pan.
Remove from oven and cool in the springform pan on a wire rack (I used the stovetop of my gas range-- you just need circulation to facilitate quicker cooling). Remove the sides of the pan (by far, my favorite aspect of using the darn things) and serve.
Serving suggestions: ganache or chocolate glaze, Sabra glaze (Israeli orange-chocolate liqueur), confectioner's sugar. Honestly, our house isn't huge on super-sweet desserts and we love it plain. Next time, I'll probably press sliced almonds into the top of the cake half-way through baking.
For storage, keep at room temperature and cover tightly with plastic wrap to maintain moisture. This cake improves with age and is best on its second or third day.
* Because you are eating the whole fruit, rind and all, if possible, use organic fruit.
** You can substitute pre-roasted almonds but it turns out so much better with freshly toasted almonds.