Piccata is an Italian word used in reference to a way of preparing food. It translates into a method of slicing or sautéing in a sauce that contains lemons and butter together with a variety of spices. The story goes that this process was invented sometime in the 1930’s by an Italian immigrant in the United States. While no research was able to identify the inventor, it is safely assumed that he or she was Sicilian because the piquantly flavored dish contains the tart and zesty lemon which is commonly used in Sicilian dishes. One bite of anything cooked piccata style and you will surely become enamored with this delectable dish. This particular salmon entrée is light, flakey and deliciously nestled in a bed of lemon and caper sauce.
1-2 TBS OLIVE OIL – for the pan
2 SALMON FILETS
SEA SALT – to taste
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER – to taste
FLOUR – enough for coating each filet
2 GARLIC CLOVES – minced
1/4 CUP WHITE WINE – or to taste
½ LEMON – juiced
1 CUP CHICKEN BROTH – low sodium
1 TSP CORNSTARCH
1 – TBS CAPERS
PINCH OF THYME
2 TSPS WATER
Add the olive oil to a heavy-duty skillet or a non-stick pan and heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Add the flour to a shallow bowl and coat each side shaking off the excess.
When the oil is hot enough, add the fillets skin side down and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, turning them over a third time and cook until the top is a slight golden brown and the fillet flakes easily.
Remove the fillets to a separate dish and tent to keep warm. Without cleaning the pan, add the garlic and cook for about 20 – 30 seconds., moving it around the pan and making sure that it does not burn. Add the white wine, fresh lemon juice. and thyme. Whisk to deglaze the pan. Stir in the capers and chicken broth and simmer stirring until well combined. Taste and adjust for seasonings.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with a little water, add to the sauce and whisk until it starts to thicken. (I prefer to use Wondra flour to do this as it dissolves easily and doesn’t lump. I always have some on hand.)
Add the salmon fillets back to the sauce and spoon the sauce over. Serve immediately with some fresh lemon slices on top and maybe a few basil or parsley leaves.
Rapini or broccoli rabe is a green vegetable found in many
Italian recipes and known for its bitter taste. This is not a green
I relished as a child. It is an acquired taste but one I thoroughly enjoy now.
2 BUNCHES RAPINI
6 GARLIC CLOVES – thinly sliced
½ TSP CRUSHED RED PEPPER – or to taste
½ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
½ CUP CHICKEN BROTH
4 OZ PANCETTA
KOSHER SALT – to taste
FRESHLY SQUEEZED LEMON JUICE – optional
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Clean the rapini by discarding the root ends and cutting ½-inch off the bottom of the rapini bundle. Loosen the rapini and add to the boiling water and allow to cook for 2 or 3 minutes, drain and discard water. (I have to stop here to add this little remembrance from my childhood. Whenever my Mother or Grandmother boiled spinach or rapini, they saved the water, cooled it, probably strained it to eliminate dirt and sand, and then gave it to us children to drink as it was believed to contain countless vitamins and nutrients.) PLEASE, JUST DISCARD THE WATER!
In the meantime, heat the oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and crushed red pepper and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant, being very careful to let it burn.
In your colander shake the rapine to rid of any excess water. add the rapini to the pan, stir for a minute and then add the stock and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the rapini is crisp-tender. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Remove to a serving dish, optionally, sprinkle with a little juice from a fresh lemon, and serve.
MARYANN BERRY CAKE
The name MaryAnn comes from the name of the pan which
has a deep indentation in the center of it. Otherwise, I would call
it a “Claudia” cake as it is one of her favorites and I make it for her birthday!
Happy Birthday, Claudia!
2 CUPS FLOUR
2 TSPS VANILLA EXTRACT
2 TSP BAKING POWDER
1 CUP MILK
1 TSP SALT
3-4 CUPS BERRIES
16 TBS BUTTER (2 sticks) – unsalted, room temperature
1 CUP HEAVY CREAM – chilled
1 ¾ CUPS SUGAR – granulated
4 EGGS – large
2 TBS SUGAR – granulated
POWDERED SUGAR – for dusting, optional
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350º
GREASE AND FLOUR A MARYANN PAN
Over a sheet of waxed paper sift together flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the flat beater, whip the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low and gradually add 1 ½ cups sugar beating until smooth, creamy and well blended. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and blend in. Reduce speed to low and add the flour and milk in 3 additions, alternating with milk but beginning and ending with flour. Beat just until all is bended and there are no lumps.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean – about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully turnout cake to a wire rack and cool completely – about 60 to 75 minutes.
Meanwhile in a nonreactive bowl combine your choice of berries, that have been picked over, rinsed, and let dry, and sprinkle over the ¼ cup of sugar, tossing with the sugar until well blended. Cover and refrigerate stirring occasionally until ready to use – at least 1 hour.
Whip cream with the 2 tbs of sugar until holding peaks and refrigerate. Just before serving, pour the berries into a mesh strainer over a bowl, reserving any juices that have accumulated. Brush a little bit of the juice over the well of the cake. Spoon whipped cream into the well, spreading it to the edges. Arrange the berries on top and add a few dollops of whipped cream and, if desired, dust with powdered sugar.
NOTE: for Claudia’s cake I just top with strawberries. However, if you top with strawberries and blueberries you have a very patriotic cake suitable for several of the holidays!