Fritto Misto di Mare (Mixed Fried Seafood)


It’s the week of Christmas and of all the things to look forward to – family, gifts, cookies and Christmas trees – I’ve got my eye on a different prize: seafood. Crazy, right? This is one of the few times of the year my family whips up a massive batch of Fritto Misto di Mare (Mixed Fried Seafood). Christmas Eve is all about fish and while I’ve heard of it called the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” by Italian-Americans recently that’s not how I’ve known it. I do know that as part of religious observance, Fridays, particularly holy Fridays, and Christmas Eve, called La Vigilia di Natale (The Vigil of Christmas, literally, or the Eve before Christmas), we avoid meat products.

I can’t say that we’ve ever had exactly seven dishes on Christmas Eve, but one we always have is Fritto Misto di Mare (and baccala (salted cod fish) but that’s a recipe for another day). Fritto Misto is by far a crowd favourite, there isn’t anyone who passes on this dish no matter how full you are from the antipasto or pasta. Pipping hot, crispy and tangy from a squeeze of lemon, it wouldn’t be Christmas without fried seafood. Below is how my family gets it to the table. I’ve done shrimp and squid here, but we would typically also have scallops. They can be prepared and cooked the same way as the shrimp. But to be honest, I strongly dislike scallops – it’s a texture thing – but don’t avoid having them at your table! If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where all this seafood can be bought fresh that should be your preferred purchase and you can just ignore my instructions on defrosting, a necessary evil for those of us who are landlocked (save for a large, great lake). Merry Christmas everyone! May your Christmas eve be full of Fritti Misti and fun!


Fritto Misto di Mare

500g shrimp (size 31-40 or the larger, the better!)
400g scallops
400g cleaned, frozen squid
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
5 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon salt plus additional for seasoning after frying
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup cornmeal
canola oil for frying
lemon slices for dressing


By |20/12/2015|Recipes, Secondo|0 Comments

Chicken Cacciatore


We spent the summer putting away fresh vegetables and meat products into the freezer. We like knowing where our food comes from, how it is prepared and preserved. Our freezer is well stocked for the winter and even has an accompanying spreadsheet and map (it’s needed! As are labels on everything!). But all that work means making sure we use everything too.

That can be a little difficult months later when you want to branch out to new dishes instead of the same old. There is only so much rapini one person can eat, says my husband, who, last summer, thought it was a good idea to freeze a bushel of the greens. When I pulled out what I thought was a packet of pork last week, and it ended up being chicken, it was time to break out of the go-to recipes and think about something we hadn’t had in a while.

The answer: chicken cacciatore. I’m not a huge fan of green and red peppers, which is why we don’t have this dinner often, but after making it this time, I’m not sure why not. I stuck to the recipe that my family uses, and they used at their Italian restaurant they had when I was young. This is a basic cacciatore recipe, relying on the flavours of the tomatoes, peppers and chicken, rather than wine or capers as you may see in more modern recipes. Smothering rice or pasta, it’s perfect for a workplace lunch the next day too. Now to find a way to get my husband to eat more rapini…

Chicken Cacciatore
2 pounds, bone-in chicken pieces
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 pound button mushrooms
1 large onion
1 jar or can plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste



By |12/02/2015|Recipes, Secondo|3 Comments

Sausage and Polenta

Recipe for sausage and polenta

I had to drag out a sweater last weekend, much to my dismay. It’s starting to get chilly in evenings and, I admit, it feels as though we’ve been cheated out of a usual scorching summer. As a result, I’m still waiting for my garden tomatoes to ripen to a full red. The chilly air also had me craving a good hearty meal. When Aurora Importing sent me over a new product: Allessia Polenta with truffles, I saw an opportunity!

Polenta, most commonly made as a boiled cornmeal, is versatile but can take a little while to cook from scratch. As much as I like slow cooking (and there will be more about that next week!), sometimes you just want a substantial dinner on the table, fast. The Allessia Polenta with truffles looked like the perfect option: all natural ingredients, no preservatives or artificial flavours/colours and made with non-GMO corn. We have a winner! The best thing: just add water, stir for 10 minutes, add a drizzle of olive oil and some cheese (if desired). Quick and easy and the exotic taste of truffles was a fancy addition to dinner.

You’ll notice this is a white polenta rather than the usual yellow type made with yellow maize. Ground from white maize from the foot of the Maiella mountain in Guardiagrele found in the Abruzzo region of Italy, this type is popular in northern Italy. The finer grain also makes a creamy, soft polenta, whereas a courser grind would make a firmer polenta great for shaping and frying. Either way, polenta is a filling and healthy addition to a meal. 

Recipe for sausage and polenta

 Sausage and Polenta
4 fresh pork sausages
1 whole white onion
1 jar or bottle of plum tomatoes
1/2 cup Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese (or your favourite cheese)
salt to taste
olive oil
Allessia Polenta with truffles

By |29/08/2014|Recipes, Secondo|1 Comment

Meatballs and Veal rolls (polpette e braciole)

meatball and braciole recipe

In celebration of our fourth #pastatuesday and the winner of An Italian-Canadian Life’s first pasta contest, I’m offering up a recipe for the perfect side or pairing for pasta: a recipe for meatballs and veal rolls (or polpette and braciole).

Meatballs are a classic  part of Sunday dinner and braciola are always a special surprise. For southern Italians, braciole are veal cutlet roll ups but what is inside can be debated. Each family has their own version. Some just put herbs and cheese inside, others, like my family, puts a meatball mixture inside. While “braciole” which refers to “slices of meat” in southern Italy, this recipe is common throughout Italy, but called “involtini”, meaning “little bunches.” Whatever you call them, they are a little labour-intensive but worth the work.

Polpette e braciole
1 pound pork meat, minced
1 pound veal meat, minced
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup parmigiana cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup parsley, chopped
4-6 eggs
8 veal cutlets
vegetable oil for frying
tomato sauce


By |29/05/2013|Recipes, Secondo|0 Comments

Rotolo di Pollo (Chicken Roulade)

Recipe Pollo Rotollo












2012 Canadian Weblog Awards winnersWe have a little celebration this weekend, so I’m breaking out the celebration food with this new recipe! An Italian-Canadian Life won third in the Ninjamatic’s 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards! YAY! Thanks so much to my readers and supporters, it’s an awesome honour to have the first year out of the gate. I was in amazing company with the other nominees and I know I have a lot of work ahead of me as I improve the blog and continue to document the Italian-Canadian life that I love.

In Italian families, celebrations mean food, lots of food. So I’m serving up an all-food month of blog postings for February. It’s what my readers (and me, let’s be honest), love best. So join the celebration – grab a seat, pull up to the table and dig in! We start the celebration with hubby cooking up his rotolo di pollo recipe, a hand-me-down recipe from his Nonna that he knows by heart. The stuffing is fantastic and the meal itself makes for a great presentation. Of course, I tagged along on the cooking with my camera and notebook in hand so we can finally write this recipe down.

Rotolo di Pollo
1 whole chicken, with liver and heart
meat from 2 sausages
1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
1 cup parmiggiano cheese
1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil


By |02/02/2013|Recipes, Secondo|4 Comments

Pan-Seared Steak Pizzaiola

pan-seared steak pizzaiola












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


By |09/10/2012|Recipes, Secondo|3 Comments

Fettini (Breaded Veal Cutlets)

Fettini recipe












The summer is busy and when I get busy I crave comfort food. Luckily – I think – my family has tons of comfort food to turn to and fettini (breaded veal cutlets) are one of them. In our house, say that you are making fettini, and it gets an immediate smile. This time around I was also inspired to cook these by Aurora Importing’s Nonna’s Tips. If you haven’t seen them yet, you have to check them out. Tip #1 was all about bread crumbs and this fettini recipe features them well!

This recipe is standard for my family but was also a big hit in the restaurant they used to run, years ago. Served with sauce and cheese, or gravy and mushrooms, or eaten while crispy and hot right out of the frying pan, you can’t go wrong.

Fettini/Breaded Veal Cutlets
6 to 8 veal cutlets
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
garlic powder
dried oregano
vegetable oil


By |17/07/2012|Recipes, Secondo|2 Comments