Tantalizing Tuscan Tidbits…!

By Published On: April 25th, 2017Categories: Appetizers0 Comments on Tantalizing Tuscan Tidbits…!

Easter 2017–To Tuscany…with Love–fabulous celebration of food, friends, laughter and love. I want to share a couple of the Hors D’ Oeuvres that got our Easter feasting underway.

Rolled Bell Pepper Delights


Peppers are front and center.

Having just come off a total hip replacement I needed lots of help prepping this years Easter dinner…and I got it! My good friends, Debby Vis and Myrna York did hours of work on Saturday, which made finishing the dinner on Sunday much smoother. All of the guests pitched in on Sunday to pull the final details together. Truly…a Cook with Cindy! event.

These little bites of Red Bell Pepper were stuffed with 3 kinds of meat. Super yummy!

Deb is mixing the meat stuffing for the peppers.


Here is Deb with peppers all rolled up and ready to
bake on Easter Sunday. She is already working on
her next project: Limoncello Tiramisu.

6 large Red Bell Peppers, cut into 1 inch strips. Cut along the longest length after they are roasted.
1 lb. Mortadella (I could not find Mortadella so used 2 Italian sausages out of their skins.)
1/4 lb. Cooked Ham
1/2 lb. Ground Beef
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 Egg
Salt/Pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Soften peppers by placing 2 at a time inside a plastic bag and heat in microwave for 3 minutes. I did this the day before to make assembly a little faster. The microwaving did soften the peppers, but they were still too firm to peel so I placed them under the broiler until they just started to singe. Cool. Remove seeds and skin. Cut into 1 inch strips along longest side.
Prepare the meat filling by processing the mortadella (or sausage) and ham in a blender or mini-food processor. Stir in the ground beef. Because we used raw pork instead of mortadella, Deb lightly cooked the 3 meats in a large saute pan. Cool and then add the rest of ingredients. In a large bowl add bread crumbs, egg and mix well with the ground meats. Add salt/pepper.
Spread about 1 Tbsp. of meat mixture on the Bell Pepper strip. Roll up until you have a small roll. Fasten with a toothpick. Pour enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of a large cookie sheet or baking tray. Put peppers in one layer on the tray.
At this point we covered and refrigerated overnight until ready to bake.
Next day, bring to room temperature. Drizzle a little more olive oil over tops of peppers. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes until tops of rolls are slightly browned. Remove and let cool 10 minutes before serving.


Sun Dried Tomato and Pesto Cheese Spread
Yes, I did also add some thinly sliced Sopresato to the platter.

4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp. fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups softened cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/3 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup butter
Salt/Pepper to taste

Myrna is putting together the Cheese Spread
 on Easter Eve. Lots of steps, but well worth it!

Chop garlic in food processor. Mix in basil, lemon juice, pine nuts and olive oil. Process until well blended. Mix in 1/3 cup cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Blend using pulse setting until almost smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
Coarsely chop sun-dried tomatoes in the food processor. Mix in tomato paste and 1/3 cup cream cheese. Blend until smooth.
Place 2 cups cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish (Myrna opted to use a couple smaller dishes which made the presentation much more elegant.) Line the dish (or dishes) with plastic wrap so that the wrap extends over sides of the dish.
Evenly spread 3/4 cup cream cheese and butter mixture in the prepared dish. Layer alternately with 1/2 the sun-dried tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cream cheese and butter mixture and 1/2 the pesto mixture. Repeat layering, topping with remaining cream cheese and butter mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. Carefully invert dish onto a platter and remove plastic. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh basil leaves.

The third hors d’oeuvre we had was Cecina (Farinata), a Tuscan flat bread made with Garbanzo (chickpea) flour. The story behind this bread is better than the actual bread. I served the Cecina with a dipping oil laced with garlic and fresh herbs. Here is the story:  Cecina was “invented” by accident along the coast when a ship carrying garbanzo flour was caught in a storm. The flour was all wet, but not wanting to throw it out, some oil was added and then it was baked like bread…voila, Cecina! If anyone wants the recipe please send me an email. It’s really easy to make (3 ingredients: chickpea flour, water and oil); has an interesting flavor and somewhat odd texture, but I love the story!

Lots of wines accompanied our feast, both Italian and others. Here are a few:

Dennis and Diana Makes with 2 lovely bottles of Italian wine.
Getting one of these giant bottles of wine open is not all that easy.
Centine is on the left and the ‘normal’ bottle beside
is Educated Guess-gorgeous cab from Napa.
From l to r: Dick York, my husband Jerry and Steve Vis.
This is a big bottle of Centine. Very smooth blend from Tuscany.


Diana enjoying a laugh with Jack Zittere!



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