Posts Tagged ‘Italian’



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Chef Calle’s Italian tuna sandwich is a perfect, nutritious and delicious cool meal on hot summer days.

First you start with the finest, fresh, local and organic ingredients you can find. Organic Avocado, organic tomato and canned imported Italian tuna. Yes, it is more expensive but if you taste it you will know why. I also used my own, home grown Basil and Thyme and fresh ground pepper in this preparation.

Another reason that this sandwich is special and healthy is because I use no mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a wonderful classic French sauce and when made fresh at home can be amazing but it is full of fat and calories and if you use mayo from a jar it is typically filled with additives that you can’t spell and don’t want to ingest. 1 tablespoon of mayo adds 100 calories, 90 of which are fat calories. 10 grams of fat from one tablespoon and who would ever use just one tablespoon. Typically 5-6 tablespoons are added to one can of tuna so 70 calories of healthy tuna turns into 500-600 calories and that is before you spread a tablespoon or two on each slice of bread. OUCH!

So why do we always use mayo with tuna? Because that is the way our Mom made it.

Rather than mayo I add a tablespoon or two of extravirgin olive oil, some fresh Thyme leafs and finely diced red onion to the tuna. Yum and fewer than 1/2 the calories and you will fine that if you spend a little more on the “imported Italian tuna” you won’t need to add as much of anything to make it taste good.

In checking the label of mayo I found one ingredient I did not know. That was oleoresin.  So I Googled it. Well, oleoresin is found in most store bought mayo and many other processed foods and is extracted from paprika and peppers. So far so good. Then I see how it is extracted and I quote  from Wikipedia “Extraction is performed by percolation with a variety of solvents, primarily hexane, which are removed prior to use.”  The article doesn’t say how they remove the solvents like hexane. It is enough to know that hexane is a “significant constituent of gasoline“. And it gets better. Did you ever wonder what the main ingredient in “Pepper Spray” is? You got it. Oleoresin.  So check your labels.

Watch the slide show. It is pretty much self explanatory and and easy and beautiful combination of premium ingredients.

I know what some of you are thinking. What do you coat the slices of bread with if you don’t use mayo. Who wants to eat dry bread. Well I say use really fresh bread but if you don’t have any and want something on the bread do what I do. Take a couple of the left over slices of avocado and mash them up with a few drops of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Spread it on the bread and you will find that it is better than mayo and tastes amazing.

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I have been meaning to post this for a month or so, ever since my good friend Flip hooked me up. I have heard about a restaurant named Vahls in California since I was a kid. A cousin of my grandfather Carl who literally came over on the boat with Carl from Sweden in 1928 married a woman and they had  restaurant in  San Jose California since the 1940’s. I didn’t know that the woman was Italian or that the restaurant was Italian until a month ago. Anyway, I suspect I should apply for a Job?

Take a look and check it out on facebook.Vahl’s Italian Restaurant.

By the way the cousin was name Erick. My Greatgrandfather was Erick and my brother is Eric.

Somehow I always know i was Swedish-Italian!!!!  Bring on the dried codfish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Produce from the 23rd Street Farmers Market

Hello from Baltimore Maryland. Home of the Star Spangled Banner, the USA, National Anthem. Home of the Baltimore Ravens NFL team, who are right now playing the Carolina Panthers and winning in the 3rd quarter 20 to 3. Go Ravens.

Think what I could do cooking in one of those elite corporate boxes? If you own or control such a box click here. HERE

Baltimore is home  to a lot more than the national anthem and the Ravens. Baltimore is a great city and the food here is really quite good. Good food of course comes from good chef’s but it takes more than a good chef to create good dishes that excite the palate, the nose and the eyes. Really good food, the kind that I create takes amazing ingredients. Well, it is late November 2010. Summer has come and gone. Autumn is almost over and the harvest took place weeks ago, didn’t it?

Mary and I have been traveling around seeking out the best places to find the best ingredients and Baltimore has quite a few. Unlike restaurants that typically use one or two large commercial suppliers, BDHD has no commercial suppliers that roll up in a large truck Monday morning and unload the menu for the week.

We go to the producers and the best place to find producers is the local Farmers Markets. We purchased a virtual treasure trove of vegetables, fruits and herbs on Saturday at the 23rd Street Farmers Market which is a year round market.

The photo shows most of the items. All local and all fresh and just picked. The growing season in Maryland is much longer than Western New York and outside of the city there are a lot of farms.

Crudo.Red Shrimp, Branzino, Monkfish and Tuna with an avocado-wasabi cream with pickled onions and candied lemon zest.


When you find the best, freshest ingredients you hardly have to cook them at all in order to enjoy them. One of my dishes I created and prepared for my final exam at ALMA was a crudo dish. Crudo is a really popular dish in NYC right now and of course it has been popular in Italy for many, many years. I hate it when people call crudo, Italian Sushi or Italian Sashimi. While both are very good when the chef and the fish are very good Italian is nothing like Japanese. Not the language, the culture or the raw fish.

Last night I prepared a crudo dish at home that came out quite nice. Wild Coho Salmon and Ahi tuna.

Chef Calle's Crudo.


The tuna (dark red) is seasoned with pink fine Himalayan salt, Monini Extra Virgin  Olive Oil with lemon and finely chopped Rosemary.

The Salmon is season with Borgo de’ Medici Sale Spezie, (sea salt flavored with saffron, Mosto Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva, non filtrato from L’Acropoli di Puglia, then sprinkled with a few fresh thyme leafs.  Since we were eating at home I left the plating quite natural but the taste was awesome.

I am friends on Facebook with Antonella Ricci a chef and restaurant owner from Pulia who I wrote about in a prior post some months ago. https://italiancookingschool.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/from-puglia-guest-chef-ricci/

foccichia on the planet. I hope she has subscribed to my blog.

I need to end with a very personal admission. Do you want to here it? Well, I am a closet meat eater and I can also cook meat quite well. Take a look!

Roasted chicken rubbed with fresh sage and Pulian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fresh ground Himalayan Salt.








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The Whole Group. Final Day at ALMA. In the wine cellar.

Today was our last day at Alma. Tomorrow we start to move to our Stage Restaurants. I am heading to Fano on the East Coast of Italy.  The Region of Marche on the Adriatic Coast. I have been assigned to Alla Laterna, a totally seafood restaurant where I can expect to start the day cleaning and filleting a few hundred fish. Then perhaps I will chop things for a few hours and then who knows?

Anyway, Mary is here and we are heading for Parma this evening and then tomorrow to Siena, then Assisi, the City in Umbria that Saint Francis made a household name and then to Fano in Marche.

This is all for now. More to come soon as the adventure continues. I will talk to you about the wine, the cheese, the olive oil, the cured meats and of course the seafood common to the region and of course I will talk about the people I am surrounded by.

So arrivederci for now. In the famous words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’LL BE BAAACH.

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Elegantly simple. Red Shrimp over white bean puree and spinach with a drizzel of Tuscan olive oil and garnished with mustard sprouts.

Chef Santo is the Executive Chef at Relais & Châteaux , Villa La Venetta. The location of this super luxury hotel and restaurant has the best view of Florence from a hill on the south side of the Arno River. I know this for a fact because a few weeks ago Cip, Kristen, Greg, Tamara and I had dinner at the restaurant during a quick trip to Florence.  Amazing. Thet evening we met Chef Santo and had an amazing fine dining experience.

Chef Santo worked in 2 Michelin Star restaurants in London and Siena before starting his current position in April 2009.

The best description for his cuisine is elegantly simple but not necessarily  “traditional”. The photo’s show what I mean better than my words.

Fresh Egg tortelli filled with ricotta di pecora, pear sauteed in maple syrup served with a tarragon pesto and fresh tomato juice.

Panzanella, Tuscan Bread Salad.

Chef Santo’s presentation was interactive and Ante’, Brittney and I assisted in making the Tortelli. I assisted with the peeling of the shrimp. I did so very expertly because of my experience in 1976 when fresh out of High School I worked for a summer in a seafood restaurant where every morning my first job was to peel, devein and cook 30 pounds of jumbo shrimp.

Dessert, yum!

Chef Stefano Santo

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Chef Antonia Klugman

Antonia Klugman is 31. Born in Trieste, like me, she first sought the law as her vocation, and despite 8 successful exams she gave it up to become a self taught chef. Unlike me she didn’t spend 25 years to figure out what she really wanted.

What stuck me most was the confidence she displayed in her knowledge of what she wanted to accomplish and how she used the tools of her “trade” or should I say “passion” get her to where she wanted to be. More than any of the prior guest chefs, all but one, older and more experienced, she had a very distinct philosophy, not just for cuisine in general, but for each dish and a reason for using each ingredient in each dish.

She also had a magic box of techniques, no doubt somewhat self taught that kept our own Chef Bruno on the edge of his seat. He examined her techniques and approach to her cuisine more closely than he did the prior guest chefs.

For example she cooked polenta without stirring. Yes, that is impossible, we all know and have been taught that polenta must be stirred constantly, yet she did it and the result was perfect.

I am a bit tired of repeating the words, simple ingredients, simple techniques, fresh, local ingredients and traditional. Virtually every successful Chef says those words in describing their dishes and the reason for their success. But there is more to it than that. Way more to it than that actually.

Three strips of cuttlefish cooked for 30 seconds.

The question is how does a Chef take the fresh local ingredients, not so common in the USA, but very common in Italy, then prepare them in a simple way and create a masterpiece to senses of sight, smell, taste and touch. Yes, the sense of touch so you not only taste the food but also feel the food in your mouth.

What Chef Antonia possesses that I suspect is rarely possessed by Chefs with her experience is the ability, or talent if you will to use and of course, cook the ingredients in innovative ways and then combine them so as to create on the consumers “palate” a work of art, in the same way a painter combines the various colors on his “palette”  each of which alone is nothing but all combined in a certain way becomes a masterpiece.

Antonia was a painter in the way she wisely, creatively, respectfully and artistically placed the ingredients together, adding a bit of heat or cool when necessary, a touch of bitter or sweet or savory at the right moment and then to combine them all in a way that permitted all the ingredients to be tasted separately at the same instant they are tasted together.

In the middle is Chef Antonia's current intern/assistant from Alma.

She will go far. Antico Foledor Conte Lovaria.

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