I’ve been after some Italian comfort food lately. The weather is turning a bit blustery, there’s a definite chill in the air and the tomatoes are all but done. It’s time to turn in the garden and maybe start to pack up the barbeque (though I’ve seen my neighbours grill in a snow storm). So we decided to have our last steak on the barbeque one night and, lucky for us, the skies opened up and the backyard turned into a small pond.
With the rain pouring down, we opted for a new version of steak. Often when I want to cook up something comforting and familiar, but new to me, I turn to Lidia Bastianich. Her recipes remind me of my own family’s favourites and she always throws in something new to me for good measure. So to cook up my steaks, I cracked open her new book Lidia’s Favorite Recipes and found pan-seared steak pizzaiola. See Lidia always has a solution, and to boot, it meant we could yell Tutti a tavola a mangiare! until it was ready to serve up. To say the phrase properly, it’s best you do it while holding a glass of wine and you’ve really got to hit that last syllable there to hammer it home. We’ve been practising.
The steak turned out fantastic – as Lidia intends, the flavours remind you of pizza. I used jarred tomatoes from our garden, rather than canned. Keep bread handy to sop up the extra sauce after the steak is long gone.
Pan-Seared Steak Pizzaiola
(Reprinted with permission from Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, Lidia Bastianich)
3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1- inch strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1- inch strips
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
One 14- ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), crushed by hand
Four 8- ounce bone- in shell steaks, about 1 inch thick
What’s it like to be Italian-Canadian? What’s it like to date an Italian-Canadian or join their families? Turns out these are pretty frequent questions I’m hearing.
One of the more interesting aspects of keeping up this blog is seeing what people search (in Google, Yahoo or whatever) that gets them to An Italian-Canadian Life. There’s been quite a few people who search for Italian-Canadian “wedding” or “dating.” It made me raise an eyebrow – it’s a topic I didn’t expect. Here’s a sample of what people search for:
“italian canadian dating”
“italian love phrases”
“italian boyfriend family”
“italian breakup dating”
“what it means to be italian canadian”
I’ve also received emails from some readers who are looking to understand more about their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s Italian-Canadian family. So what is it about dating an Italian-Canadian that is so darn interesting or confusing? While each family is unique, there’s certainly a few things I can recognize as typical of Italian-Canadians (as tongue-in-cheek as this is!)…here’s what you should know:
It’s La Vendemmia! Yes, the grape harvest is celebrated by Italians here too in Canada. Besides the work of many crushing grapes on the weekend, for me it also meant a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake to enjoy the wineries.
This month: grapes, peppers, Joe Avati and a lot of business news make up the “buzz.”
You already know I had too many eggplants on my hands this summer. The eggplant “meatballs” recipe I featured in August was my most popular yet! Well, our garden didn’t stop producing them for some time, so we had to use another way to capture all the eggplant goodness we had. What better way than to jar them as antipasto so we can enjoy them all winter! This eggplant antipasto recipe comes from my husband’s family who used to make this often. We’re happy to take up the tradition again. The result is tasty and a great part of an antipasto platter (my favourite!).
Dried, crushed hot pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Italians across the country spend a better part of August and September processing bushels of blood-red tomatoes into jars of sauce to last all winter long. If you’re one of many that take pride in tomatoes grown in your backyard, you also know the pain of facing a pile of leftover green tomatoes. While some may eventually turn red, some small towns in Calabria have a unique way of preserving green tomatoes. This recipe comes from my grandparents who immigrated here from Lago in the province of Consenza and knew just how to use every part of the garden to it’s fullest.
You can use a bucket or any wide container for this recipe. If you have an old-fashioned clay preserving jar in the basement, bring that out, now’s the time to use it. The amount of each ingredient for this recipe must be made-to-measure to the amount of green tomatoes you need to process. Note that preserving vegetables, like tomatoes green or red, requires a careful use of ingredients and processing. Be sure to do your research about preserving before proceeding.
Preserved Green Tomatoes, Rustic Calabrese-Style
Green tomatoes (as many as you have)
Bucket or clay preserving jar