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Tuscan Garlic-Pepper Toasts

Tuscan Garlic-Pepper Toasts


  • 8 1/3-inch-thick 7-inch-long slices pain rustique or other wide flat country loaf
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Recipe Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet. Place garlic in mini processor. With motor running, gradually pour in oil, then cheese and black pepper. Season mixture to taste with salt. Spread mixture on bread slices; sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Bake bread slices until beginning to crisp at edges, about 10 minutes. Arrange toasts on platter.

Recipe by Tim Cole, Hannah ColeReviews Section

Italian Sausage

Sausage making in Italy probably originated in Southern Italy in Basilicata, which was known as Lucania in ancient times. In the 5th Century BC, the Roman historian Marco Terenzio Varrone described soldiers stuffing meat into pig intestines together with spices and salt. They called the minced meat stuffed into a casing lucanica, because soldiers learned how to prepare it from the Lucanians.

The dish was served to Roman emperors who fell in love with it and its popularity then spread throughout the country. A version of the original sausage is now produced in Northern Italy and called luganega. Today its typical recipe includes salt, chili pepper, wild fennel, pepper and anise. It has a long horseshoe shape and is sold by the length instead of by weight.

Sausage differs from North to South in Italy. Here a few descriptions from

Finocchietto mon amour: This Calabrian sausage has a similar shape but different ingredients: in addition to the ubiquitous pork shoulder and belly, there is generally also a significant amount of spicy chili pepper, in addition to sweet chili peppers.

Cervellata in Toritto: Puglia offers both pork sausages and numerous specialties that mix beef and pork. This is prepared with selected cuts of beef (70%) and pork (30%) along with a rich condiment including fresh basil, garlic, pepper, salt and grated pecorino.

Canon: In Tuscany and Umbria, their salsiccia uses fatty meats more abundantly and seasons them with salt, pepper and lots of garlic, in addition to red wine.

Sausage is not cured and must be cooked, unlike salami and prosciutto, two other prominent pork products.

Our partnership with Sackett Farm Family, who raise only heritage breed Berkshire/Duroc pigs, allows us to offer more flavorful and extremely high quality product. M’tucci’s has been making sausage since we opened, using it on pizzas, in pasta dishes and braised over polenta, but we think our dishes with pork have risen to new heights.

After a lot of testing and tasting, we’re pretty excited for M’tucci’s Old World Artisanal Italian Sausage with Red Wine to be available in Albertsons Markets and M’tucci’s Restaurants in the next week. It will be sold in one pound packages in stores in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos.

The recipe was created by Company President/Executive Chef John Haas when M’tucci’s Italian opened eight years ago. The recipe had minor changes two years ago and is a blending of Southern Italian and Tuscan styles. Some of the ingredients are toasted fennel, garlic, crushed pepper and red wine. It’s all natural and does not contain any preservatives. Two videos are below, one showing how we braised it in a casing and serve it with soft polenta and one showing how to make Sausage Burgers. We know you will love it!

Prepare for sausage jokes:

What did one sausage say to the other? Let’s Link Up!

What did the female sausage say to the male sausage? Wait, did you put on a condiment?

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Remove the sausage from its casing and tear it by hand into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 4- or 5-quart heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium high, and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and brown, about 2 minutes more. Be sure to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.

When the broth reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium, add the sausage along with any collected juices, and half the beans. Mash the remaining beans with a fork or wooden spoon and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute. Stir in the kale, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and simmer until the kale is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mangiare! 13 Recipes for an Italian-Inspired Dinner Party

Say you’re having friends over for dinner and are looking to serve up a meal to remember. You could do a French-style fête and go all fancy with soufflé and escargot. Or you could bump elbows over patatas bravas and other Spanish tapas favorites. But if you want your guests to feel like they’re truly feasting, what better way to grab their hearts than by embracing your inner nonna? That’s right: go all out with an Italian-style spread, loaded with mountains of pasta, oceans of red sauce, and other recipes that hail from up and down the peninsula.If you didn’t grow up stuffing pasta shells while tugging at a relative’s apron strings, however, there’s no need to worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are 13 essential Italian recipes to dish up at your next dinner party.

1. Butternut Squash and Kale Toasts

Start things off with some bruschetta-style bites. These wholesome kale and squash toasts get some extra finesse from parmesan cheese shavings, setting the tone of the evening in style. Get our Butternut Squash and Kale Toasts recipe.

2. Focaccia Pizza

Is it a pizza? Is it a focaccia? How about both! You can dip your toes into pizza party territory with this recipe, which acts a shareable prelude to the courses to come. Get our Focaccia Pizza recipe.

3. Panzanella

Tuscan panzanella salad will keep things light before going full blast with the mains. With bits of cucumber, tomato, onion, and bread tossed in a lemony vinaigrette, it’s a bright and snappy way to kick things into gear. Get our Panzanella recipe.

4. Rigatoni with Butter, Tomato and Onion Sauce

Now it’s time for the primi piatti—that’s the pasta. This minimal effort dish, inspired by a Marcella Hazan recipe, bathes rigatoni in a rich, butter-kissed tomato sauce. You can let it simmer on the stove while you work on other important tasks, like getting the table settings just right and picking out the party tunes. Get our Rigatoni with Butter, Tomato and Onion Sauce recipe.

5. Spaghetti Puttanesca

To really pull out all the stops with your pasta, go for puttanesca. Featuring the bold flavors of olives, capers, anchovy, and hot pepper, its a daring sauce that will leave an impression long after the night is over. Get our Spaghetti Puttanesca recipe.

6. Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara

We’ve all had that dinner party where the roast gets overcooked, the soup has turned into a weird gloop, and nothing is going quite as planned. In desperate times, however, you must resist all temptation to call for delivery. Instead, save the day with a simple and quick pasta dish that calls for just a few ingredients from your fridge. This meatless take on spaghetti carbonara will do just the trick. Get our Desperation Spaghetti Carbonara recipe.

7. Broccoli Rabe with Sausage

A good veg dish is essential to round out the spread. Broccoli rabe can help pack some green in, and will do it with flair. Seasoned with garlic, pepper flakes, and pecorino, it is a robust side that will command just as much attention as the mains. Get the recipe here.

8. Roman-Style Artichokes

In Ancient Rome, the artichoke was considered to be an aphrodisiac. Now, we’re not suggesting anything here, but let’s just say we’ve seen grown adults swoon simply at the sight of this delectable vegetable. Serve it at your party for an irresistible hit. Get the recipe here

9. Salt-Crusted Branzino with Agrumi Sauce

Onto the mains! A whole-roasted branzino boasts a maximal wow factor with minimal effort. Serve it with citrusy agrumi sauce for a fragrant finish. Get the recipe here.

10. Osso Buco

Osso Buco is one of those dishes that can command awe just by saying its name. Tell your guests you’re serving it for dinner and watch their faces light up with excitement. This Milanese classic is guaranteed to stun with its combination of veal shanks in a savory, tomato-y sauce. Get our Osso Buco recipe.

11. Pollo alla Cacciatora

Turn up the rustic charm with pollo alla cacciatora, a.k.a. chicken cacciatore, a.k.a. hunter’s-style chicken. Featuring browned chicken pieces stewed in a hearty broth, it’s the sort of sauce-laden recipe that will have guests wiping their plates with large swaths of bread. Get the recipe here.

12. Tiramisu

Don’t forget dessert! Although Italy is known for its wide variety of delectable sweets, from gelato to canoli to biscotti, if we were really looking to impress, we’d go with tiramisu. With layers of coffee-soaked biscuits, mascarpone cream, and cocoa, it’s the perfect pick me up at the end of a grand feast. Get our Tiramisu recipe.

13. Spritz Cocktail

Although you might opt for wine during the main meal, you’ll want to cap things off (or get them started) with a drink centered around one of Italy’s famous liqueurs. Our pick: an aperol spritz, a festive concoction based around prosecco and the bitter orange aperitif. Get our Spritz Cocktail recipe.

Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects white supremacists' challenge to anti-riot law

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Stale Bread Gnocchi

The Trentino region in Northern Italy specializes in this particular type of gnocchi that is made with stale bread. Crusty Italian bread is perfect for this recipe but you could also use rye bread. Bread gnocchi can be flavored with chopped liver, ham or more simply flavored with lots of fresh Italian parsley. Stale Bread gnocchi is a rustic Italian dish that is delicious served in soup and also makes a nice side dish.

Stale Bread Gnocchi

1 loaf of stale, firm, crusty type bread –cut into one-inch cubes
4 cups milk
2 garlic gloves-minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme-chopped
Pinch-freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large eggs
8 cups beef or chicken stock
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Image by ulterior epicure via Flickr

Place the bread cubes in a medium size bowl and pour the milk over the bread.
Mix thoroughly and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes.
Drain the bread cubes and squeeze out the excess milk.
Place the bread cubes back into the bowl and add the garlic, pepper, thyme and pinch of nutmeg.
Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and add a pinch of salt.
Beat eggs until thoroughly mixed.
Add the eggs to the bread mixture and mix until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. (You might need to use you hands to get the ingredients mixed).
In a large stockpot, bring the stock to a boil.
Roll the bread mixture into 1 to 2 inch balls and drop into the boiling stock. When the stock returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until the gnocchi have puffed up and float to the top.
Remove using a slotted spoon, drain and arrange on a serving dish.
Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve hot.

Other Paleo Chips to Try (Sweet and Savory Combos!)

Finally, if you’re craving a way to snack on chips in a paleo friendly way but you aren’t quite sold on mixing sweet potato and rosemary, we also have a few other tasty (and oh so healthy) homemade chip recipes that are 100% paleo friendly as well. Have a peek at the following list to see if anything excites you:

Before we wrap things up with this recipe, I thought it might be a good idea to spend a bit of time going over some of the most common questions that we get in regards to making this sweet potato chips recipe. So without further ado…

Brasato Al Chianti-Beef Braised in Chianti

Brasato al Chianti is a variation on the Italian recipe Brasato al vino, which is wine stew made with marinated beef. Beef Braised in Wine is a dish typical of Tuscany. You can use different cuts of beef to make beef braised in wine but I think the best type of beef to use for this dish is chuck roast. Chuck roast comes from the shoulder and neck of the beef and yields some of the most tasty and inexpensive cuts of beef that is perfect for braising. I prefer to use Chianti Classico when making this Brasato Al Chianti because it just happens to be my favorite type of Italian dry red wine. I also think that using Chianti Classico adds a nice complexity to this dish.

Brasato AL Chianti is not a difficult dish to make, but it does take a little preparation and time. Brasato AL Chianti – Beef Braised in Chianti is perfect for any special occasion or when it is chilly and cold out.

Brasato Al Chianti
Beef Braised in Chianti

2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef chuck
1 bottle (24 oz) Chianti Classico
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1 onion sliced
1 stalk celery sliced
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1-tablespoon juniper berries
6 slices dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 plum tomatoes peeled and chopped

Put the meat, Chianti, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and juniper berries in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes.
While the mushrooms are soaking, remove the meat from the marinade.
Dry the meat with paper towels.
Strain the marinade and set the vegetables aside for later.
Set aside the marinade liquid for later.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy stockpot.
Add the meat and brown on all sides.
Drain the mushrooms and set aside the liquid for later.

After the meat is brown lower the heat under the stockpot to low.
Add the reserved vegetables, tomatoes, mushrooms and salt to taste.
Add a little of the marinade liquid to the stockpot.
Cover the pot and simmer gently for about 4 hours gradually adding more marinade and mushroom liquid to keep the meat from drying out and moist.
Transfer the meat to a serving platter, slice and keep warm.
Puree the vegetables by passing them through a fine sieve.
Stir the vegetable puree into the cooking juices in the stockpot.
Cook over medium heat until thickened.
Pour sauce over meat and serve immediately with polenta or mashed potatoes.

I hope you enjoy my journey of Italian Cuisine and of all the recipes that I have collected and saved throughout the years. I am always looking for new, exciting or different recipes, tips and helpful hints. If you have any family recipes that you would like to share with me, I would be excited to share them.

Black Bean Soup

Hearty, flavorful, perfect for weeknight dinner or weekend company!

whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced

whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced

whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced

Kosher Salt (more To Taste)

Corn Tortillas Cut Into Strips

Place the beans in a bowl or pot, cover with cold water, and allow to soak overnight *OR* add beans to a medium pot and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the beans to sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans and rinse them with cold water.

In a medium pot, add beans, chicken stock, water, onions, and bell peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. At that time, add salt, chili powder, and cumin and stir. Cover and continue simmering for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the liquid level is to your liking (anywhere from very thick to a thinner soup is fine!)

Taste for seasoning and add more of what it needs. Serve soup in a bowl with sour cream, extra diced bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, and a lime wedge.

I have several things to say about this recipe I&rsquom sharing today.

First: It has nothing to do with Easter. But I&rsquoll make that up to you.

Third: Beans are my life. Don&rsquot tell anyone.

Finally, this recipe, and the title thereof, raises an important philosophical question that I&rsquove been wanting to address, and that is this:


I don&rsquot really expect an answer. I&rsquom just putting out there.

Here&rsquos how I made the beans. I mean bean soup. I mean beans. I mean bean soup.

I did a quick soak of the beans because I didn&rsquot decide to make them until after church yesterday. (Otherwise I would have soaked them early in the morning for a few hours.) To do a quick soak, just put the beans in a pot with hot water and bring them to a boil. Boil them for 2 minutes&hellip

Then turn off the heat and let the beans sit in the water for an hour.

Then just drain them, rinse them in cold water&hellipand it&rsquos as if you&rsquove soaked them for several hours!

So just put the beans into a medium-sized pot&hellip

And add 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and a cup of water.

You can certainly use all water if you&rsquod like, but I think using chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you prefer!) always adds a little more flavor.

Just use the low-sodium or no-sodium stuff or you&rsquoll regret it the rest of your life.

Meanwhile, while the beans were quick-soaking (soaking quick? quickly soaking? soakling quicky? huh?) you chopped up an onion&hellip

And three colors of bell pepper.

And garlic! Garlic is a must.

Add in the garlic and all the veggies&hellip

And bring everything to a bawl.

Otherwise known as a boil.

Then just reduce the heat to low, cover it, and let the baynes (otherwise known as beans) cook for a good 1 1/2 hours or so.

The beans aren&rsquot done at this point, but they&rsquore getting there!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Paul Hobbs Is Coming to Town

In 1992, we did not realize that our new friend, Paul Hobbs, would go on to become one of the most important winemakers in The New World but he did. Our championing of Paul Hobbs wine was an early coup for us. He was the first in a long line of extraordinary winemakers we introduced to The Garden State. Stage Left's Paul Hobbs Dinner is the only dinner Paul does every year.

Paul Hobbs will return once again on January 28th. This marks a very special anniversary for us both. It's Paul's 25th anniversary year. While Paul has been doing wine dinners here for the 23 years Stage Left has been open, there were two years early on, when Paul did two dinners. That means this will be the 25th Stage Left Wine Dinner on Paul Hobbs' 25th anniversary. Where does the time go?

Paul has called this event the single greatest opportunity to taste the Paul Hobbs Wine every year, bar none, including at The Winery itself. We will have some things available nowhere else, including a near-priceless, one-of-a-kind bottling of Merlot that Paul bottled for us on the occasion of the birth Laura Catherine Pascal, Mark's eldest, in 1996.

Paul and Mark selected a single barrel of merlot that Paul kept separate. In 1998, Mark, his wife Jen and two-year-old Laura Catherine went out to California and helped Paul bottle it by hand. It was put mostly into magnums, with one 6 liter bottle and one impressive 9 liter bottle. Laura's in college now and the wine is ready. We're going to pop the 9 liter in the dinner.

This is a one-of-a-kind bottle from a one-barrel lot from one of the best winemakers in the new world. It is drinking at its zenith at 20 years old and we will drink it at the 25th anniversary wine dinner. I cannot imagine what we would sell it for. Instead, we're just going to drink it with you at this dinner. Laura will be in attendance.

Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner and Tasting 25th Anniversary Edition Thursday, January 28th

Comprehensive Tasting of Hobbs Wines: 6 - 7:30 PM
(wines to be announced)
Dinner: 7:30 PM

Lobster Lasagna
Burnt Orange and Truffle Ricotta
*Chardonnay “Ross Station” 2013 Paul Hobbs Russian River
*Chardonnay 2014 Bramare, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

Duck and Foie Spring Roll
Black Truffle
*Pinot Noir “Hyde Vineyard” 2013 Paul Hobbs, Carneros

Lamb Loin
Minted with Pepino and Crispy Hen-of-the-Wood Mushrooms
*Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Paul Hobbs Napa

Standing Rib Roast
Marrow Bones, Roasted Garlic, Slow Roasted Winter Vegetables
*Malbec “Rebon Vineyard” 2012 Bramare Valle de Uco, Mendoza

Curado de La Mancha Cheese
*Merlot 'Cuvee Laura Catherine' 1996 Paul Hobbs Napa, California, USA
One-of-a-Kind Bottling

Stage Left Chocolate Bar
Caramel, Peanuts, Pretzel and Marshmallow

$295 per person
plus tax and service

Reservations at 732-828-4444 or [email protected]

This dinner will sell out. We already have 40 reservations before we even announced. Please book early if you would like to come.