Monday, July 26, 2010

Food Challenge Results: Pollo con Carciofi e Pomodori and Chicken Artichoke Picatta

So as we all know, artichokes (carciofi) were the winning ingredient for the "Mamma Meets The Cucina" Food Challenge. You voted and we heard ya loud and clear!!! So what you are about to read is the result of long hours of inventing and preparing the (hopefully) WINNING recipes for this challenge:) We both know we've got some hefty competition - but it's all in good fun....for now.

Let's start with Una Mamma Italiana's original
Roasted Artichoke and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

.....or if you want to sound really Italian, Pollo con Carciofi e Pomodori! The roasted taste of the artichokes and the tomatoes is what makes this dish. Don't skip that step...and the creamy sauce, though somehwat of an indulgence - is so worth it because it's the perfect, rich finish to the chicken....I'd serve this with a green salad tossed with none other than - artichoke hearts!



4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 can artichoke hearts
2 TSP Italian Seasoning
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
4 TBSP grated romano cheese
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 LG chicken breasts

Place quartered tomatoes and artichoke hearts on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and season with 1 tsp Italian Seasoning, kosher salt and black pepper (enough to coat). Roast in the oven (under the broiler) for about 5 minutes, or until the vegis get dark and crispy.

While these are cooking, make pockets a pocket in each of your chicken breasts. (NOTE: this is much different than butterflying the breasts. Simply cut a slit in the middle, leaving the back and sides of the breast intact. This creates a pocket for your stuffing to fill.

Roughly chop the roasted artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Stuff the pockets of the breasts generously with HALF of the chopped veggie mixture. Season the outside of the breasts with salt and pepper.

Saute up some of that garlic in the e.v.o.o. As soon as they start to get golden, add the chicken and brown on each side, flipping them with EXTRA CARE so as to keep the filling inside:) Once browned, remove from the pan and place the breasts in a warm oven (350 degrees for 10 minutes or so) to finish cooking.

In the meantime, add the remaining roasted artichokes & tomatoes mixture to the pan. Saute briefly, then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cook on med-high until reduced by about half (and the alcohol cooks out) and then add the heavy cream. Stir in some of the grated cheese and the rest of the Italian seasoning. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken back into the sauce to heat everything through and meld all the flavors.

Then, plate and serve!

And now, here's Cucina Domenico's
Chicken Artichoke Picatta

This is a traditional Italian dish with the addition of artichoke hearts, which makes for great flavor and texture. Although this recipe calls for chicken cutlets, it would also work well with veal cutlets, flounder or tilapia.

Two quick, but important notes about this dish:

1. Piccata is fairly quick and easy to make. As long as you stay on top of your timing, you'll end up with a perfect dish.

2. Whenever you are using wine to cook with (you will be using white wine for this dish), never use anything less in quality than you would drink or serve to guests. Better tasting ingredients make for better tasting dishes!


2 large or 4 small thin cut chicken cutlets
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
juice plus zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
4 tblspn olive oil
2 tblspn butter
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoon capers
1 small jar artichoke hearts

Mix together the flour, garlic powder, dash of salt and pepper, and lemon zest, dredge cutlets in flour mix

In a large pan heat 4 tablespoons olive oil, add 2 tablespoons butter.

Add cutlets, cook 3 minutes each side.

Add 1/3 cup white wine, 1/3 cup chicken broth and juice from lemon, lower heat, let simmer for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons capers and 1 small jar artichoke hearts. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Serve over rice.

NOW it's time to vote again! Use the poll on each blog's sidebar or the Cucina Domenico Facebook Group Page to cast your vote for which recipe YOU think should be the winner!
Happy voting!

Monday, July 19, 2010

NEW - And the winner is....


It looks like Carciofi will be the battling ingredient for the first "Mamma meets the Cucina" food challenge! So stay tuned as each blogger posts their homemade original recipe containing artichokes! Then you can vote AGAIN on which one you think looks like a winner!

A big GRAZIE to every one who voted!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New - Basil Liqueur

'Bazinagole' is no doubt a very versatile herb. Aside from being a major player in your marinara and Sunday Gravy recipes (yes, there is a difference), it can, among many other ways, be chopped up and made into a delicious pesto. You can also use the whole leaf – for example, rolled up with a nice slice of prosciutto and a piece of sharp provolone in a chicken cutlet, then grilled. Delish!!! But did you know that basil can also play a pivotal part in an after dinner drink?

A few years back, my good friend John had given me a bottle of his mother's home made basil liqueur. He told me to use it as a digestivo (a sipping drink made of water, sugar and alcohol, flavored with a fruit, herb or root, and enjoyed after a huge meal to help assist with the digestion) Limoncello is one of the more popular digestivos today. I knew to dare not ask John for his mom's famous family recipe, but I did come across a recipe online that is similar in taste, scent and color, and honestly is quite enjoyable...but still a distant second to the treasured old world bottle that John gave to me and still sits in my liquor cabinet.

As with all home made liqueurs, you want to use a higher proof alcohol base to extract the flavors from whatever fruit or herb you are using. While grain alcohol is not absolutely necessary (and can be hard to find), I recommend using at least 100 proof vodka. It is strong enough to do the trick without packing too much of a wallop. And be sure to use good vodka. The cheap stuff will taste just that – cheap and harsh.

Aside from being a tasty digestive aid, basil liqueur is easy to make and has a short preparation time compared to most other liqueurs. It also makes for a generous and impressive gift for birthdays and holidays.



40 leaves fresh basil
1 750ml bottle 100 proof vodka (be sure to use a good brand vodka)
2.25 cups water
2.5 cups sugar

Boil the water. Put the washed, fresh basil leaves in the water, in a covered jar, and leave for a day in a dark, dry area. The water will now be a greenish yellow color. Filter using a fine filter (cheesecloth or coffee filters work well). Add the alcohol and sugar. mix and bottle. And that's it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

NEW - The Mamma Vs. The Cucina: Food Challenge!

Calling all foodies! Una Mamma Italiana and Cucina Domenico are ready to go head-to-head in their first Food Challenge Throwdown, and we need YOUR help! We have decided to let YOU, the readers, pick which key ingredient we'll use. The ingredient that gets the highest vote will be used by both Una Mamma and Cucina Domenico in a unique recipe developed by each of us. The winning prize? Two fantastic home made recipes to be shared with all of you, of course!

Here's the rules:
Select an ingredient from the list below, then vote in one of the following THREE WAYS!

• Place your vote via the poll on the left sidebar of this blog.

• E-mail your choice by this Sunday, July 13th to either or

• Post your vote on the Cucina Domenico Facebook Group Page.

The votes will be tallied and the Mamma and the Cucina will get to work developing recipes.

Next week, the winning ingredient will be revealed, followed by both Una Mamma Italiana's and Cucina Domenico's recipes using that special ingredient.

This week's ingredient choices are:
A: Lemon
B: Artichokes
C: Olives
D: Pesto

We look forward to receiving your suggestions. Now start voting!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

NEW - Tips for the perfect Pot Roast!

Wondering how to make the perfect pot roast? Look no further, as my friend and blogging partner offers up some fantastic suggestions! Enjoy....

I often get questions from readers on how to make a large pot roast that is not dry and tasteless. I am here to tell you that it is not as difficult as you think to make a juicy, tender roast, out of an otherwise tough piece of beef! The secret is good seasoning and slow cooking.

Here's my tips:

(DISCLAIMER: I do NOT use specific measurements and directions. The fact that I am Italian is enough of an explanation for that. If you can't handle my style of cooking, then I sincerely apologize, and feel very badly for your pot roast.)

Start with a seasoning rub that you will coat your roast in. I prefer using a variety of chopped FRESH herbs like thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary, etc. I mix all the herbs with EXTRA VIRGIN Olive Oil and KOSHER SALT and cracked black pepper. Don't skimp on the olive oil and the be sure to use the Kosher salt, it just dissolves so well and adds such amazing flavor. And DON'T forget the minced garlic!

Coat the meat with this mixture and broil it in the oven until you have a nice brown crust on it. Put in your meat thermometer (You're gonna want to invest in one of these, they are pretty awesome!) Then turn the temperature down to 250 degrees and bake until your meat has reached an internal temperature of 130 degrees for rare-medium rare. You may cook it until it reaches a higher temperature for a more well done roast.

I personally, just keep watching my meat thermometer until its ready. But as a guideline - you could estimate somewhere around 20-30 minutes per pound of meat. But that is ONLY a guideline!

When you take your roast out of the oven, LET IT SIT! This is a good chance to work on your patience for about 20 minutes:) If you do not follow this step, you WILL end up with a dry roast. When it cooks in the oven, all of the juices travel to the center of the meat. If you cut it right away, you would be losing all this goodness! So let it sit, let the juices redistribute, and you're golden!

The only other advice I can give you for achieving the perfect mouth-watering roast is to serve it with some mascarpone mashed potatoes. Then, my friends, you've got the perfect meal.

Buon Appetito!
Una Mamma Italiano