Archive for March, 2010

Zuppa di pane pomadoro (pappa ala pomadoro)

As a classic Italian cook, I believe in the philosophy of reducing a recipe to the lease number of fresh ingredients. For this reason, one of my favorite dishes to demo at Celeb Chef appearances is BREAD SOUP. The recipe that follows is called PAPPA ALA POMADORO. In this case the word PAPPA has nothing to do with His Holiness the Pope , or your grand dad. Instead it has it’s origin in the word PAP , which means baby food.  Another reason why I love doing this dish is, people can watch you create it in just a couple of minutes………I finish it off by anointing each serving with a special high grade olive oil and a dusting of parmesan cheese.  Then I sit back and watch their expressions.  They oooooh and aaaaah and just can’t believe something this luscious can be so simple.  So, now you can do the same with your friends and family, and spread the word about the simplicity of authentic Italian food.

Classic Tuscan bread soup

1 ½ cup red onion (chopped)                                                             

1  large can crushed tomatoes (2 lbs fresh finely chopped)                                      

1 1/2 handfuls of stale Italian bread (about 2 cups)                                                

2 cups water

1  ½ cups torn fresh basil leaves

9  tbs good extra virgin olive oil (divided)

¼   cup grated quality parmesan cheese

2 large toes garlic (thinly sliced or minced)

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1.     In large sauté pan heat 3 tbs oil, cook onions for 2 minute (do not brown)

2.     Add garlic and sauté for 2  minutes (do not brown)

3.     Add tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes until they start to break down

4.     Tear bread into chunks and add to liquids

5.     Add water, cook mixture until it breaks down…

6.     When soup is the right consistency, add salt, pepper, most of basil

7.     Stir in the remaining 3 more tbs oil

8.     Transfer to shallow bowls, anoint  with  oil , dust  with parmesan cheese and garnish with remaining basil

Buon Appetitto

Swai (frozen package)

Package of frozen SWAI at Kroger

There’s a new fish in town (at least at Kroger) , and it’s called SWAI and I love it!  Have you noticed the price of fish lately?  What used to be a reasonable price per pound has now ballooned to $10 to $15 !  Affording a nice healthy low cost seafood meal for your family has become almost impossible.  

Well, now there’s a solution, and it’s called SWAI.  SWAI,  or pangasius hypophthalmus  (also know as BASA, PANGA, or iridescent shark)  is a product of South Asia. It’s actually not a shark at all. It is farm raised in the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam.  The fillets are all frozen in seperate individual packets, about 10 ” long  by 3″ wide  3/8″ thick.  The firm mild flesh is white and sweet………perfect for grilling, baking, broiling, or frying.  Swai cost from $3 to $4 per pound, which is an amazing price for such a versatile seafood component.  I have personally, grilled it, fried it , sauced it, and used it chopped with crab or shrimp to make cakes (but that’s another recipe).   All this and at only 90 calories and 3 grams of fat it makes a VERY HEALTHY meal!  I recently served this fish to a couple of my buddies from our Sportsmen’s Club.  These guys are true fish aficionados, and they said it was the best they ever had!  So, here’s the recipe:

Pan Fried Basa/Swai with lemon butter Sauce

2 thin swai/basa/panga fillets

2 TBS minced red onion

2 toes minced fresh garlic

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup brodo (chicken stock…optional)

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

3 TBS capers

2 TBS olive oil for frying

2 TBS butter for sautéing onions & garlic

2-3 TBS  butter for sauce

3 TBS chopped parsley

  • In a medium sauce pan, lightly sauté fish, both sides
  • Remove semi cooked fish to warm platter
  •  Add onions in 2 TBS butter, add garlic, cook two minutes
  • Add wine, stock,  heat and reduce   
  • Add cream,  capers, thicken a little more
  • Add fish back into pan……cook 2 minutes
  • Whisk in rest of the butter to reduced wine mixture, very low heat
  • Add ½ of the parsley, pour thickened sauce under then over fish
  • Serve on warmed plates
  • Garnish with parsley

Oh, and by the way….it’s FILLET  (fill- it) of fish, and FILET (fill-aye) of beef.