In celebration of La Tavola Italiana, Mariano’s grocery stores offered classes celebrating Italian culture. Chef Tony Priolo from Piccolo Sogno (http://piccolosognorestaurant.com/) shared his recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana and homemade cannoli. No meal is complete without a delicious wine to compliment each dish. And Terlato Wines presented the perfect accompaniment to each course. Never underestimate all the amazing cooking, food and beverage related tips you can learn in your grocery store!
The evening began with an introduction to the different types of ricotta cheeses that are offered in the market.
1) Whole milk ricotta had a whipped consistency that was creamy and light. This would be delicious in dips, desserts, lasagna and served on top of pasta dishes.
2) Ricotta salata has a harder texture and saltier taste. This is the cheese for use on cheese platters with fruit and nuts as well as grated over pasta instead of parmigiana.
3) Water buffalo milk ricotta is imported from Italy and has a creamy texture that is richer in taste than the whole milk ricotta. This can sell for approximately $24 a pound. It would be great in dips and desserts.
The wine we enjoyed with the ricotta appetizers was a Cusumano Insolia white wine. Very easy drinking white wine.
Now, on to the main course with Chef Tony Priolo.
Ingredients — makes 4 servings
3 eggplant – sliced thin (about 1/4 inch thick), salted and dried
1 cup flour
4 eggs beaten
2 cups bread crumbs seasoned with sea salt and pepper
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup fresh mozzarella – sliced
1/2 cup parmesan – grated
1) Dry off the eggplant slices and dredge in flour, then dip into eggs coating both sides. Then place the eggplant into the breadcrumbs coating all sides. Do this until all the eggplant has been breaded.
2) In a braising pot, add one inch of olive oil, place the breaded eggplant into the oil cooking quickly on both sides until the eggplant is crispy. Then take it out and place on a pan that has paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
3) After all the eggplant has been cooked, line a baking pan with a little tomato sauce and layer the eggplant, grated parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Try to make at least two layers of cheese with the final top of eggplant. Then add the remaining marinara sauce on top of the eggplant, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Here are some helpful tips on how to make the dish.
1) When choosing an eggplant, find one that is firm with no bruises.
2) Instead of slicing off the top of the eggplant, peel off the green leaves so as to not waste any of the eggplant.
3) To remove the bitterness, salt the eggplant slices and let it rest for a short while. Then take paper towel and wipe the moisture off instead of rinsing it under water.
Along with the eggplant, we were served a gorgeous red wine by Cusumano called Nero d’Avola. Both this red and the white from above are perfect for every day wine choices and sell for just $9.99 each.
Our final course of the evening, cannoli, doesn’t even have a formal recipe. But not too worry as this is one of those dishes that there is really no wrong way to make it. There are two parts to the creation, one is the shell that you can make from scratch or buy already prepared and the filling. It’s the filling where all your flavor ideas can be explored.
The two key ingredients are:
¾ pound buffalo milk ricotta
½ cup powdered sugar – you may adjust to your taste
In our dessert, Chef Priolo included:
Candied orange zest
Figs – rehydrated in marsala wine, chopped in small pieces
The easiest way to fill the cannoli shell is to use a pastry bag where you can cleanly squeeze the ricotta mixture into the shell.
Then, as a final touch for both taste and appearances, dip each end of the filled cannoli into chopped pistachios.
It’s just that easy. And so very good!
Terlato Wines recommended a delicious sparkling wine called Fizz 56. This was just the right finish for our evening but would also be a lovely choice as an aperitif. Fizz 56 is made with the brachetto grapes which offers a natural sweetness that is not over the top.
Mariano’s, Terlato Wines, Chef Priolo and the Taste Makers hosted an evening filled with delicious foods, wines and must make recipes. Hope you enjoy the eggplant parmigiana and cannoli recipes as much as I did. Please share your favorite cannoli ingredients and pictures with me.
Thanks for stopping by. Happy Holidays!