Fregola Stuffing with Dried Fruit and Sage

This version of Thanksgiving stuffing uses the native Sardinian “pasta” called Fregola. This toasty larger grain cousin of couscous offers a pleasing blend of flavors, textures and colors, and, when combined with traditional stuffing seasonings, it has flavor to match but much less fat and more nutrients than traditional bread stuffing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 1/2 cups *Fregola
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned, low-sodium broth (vegetable stock or broth may be substituted)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced or thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
1/3 cup mixed dried fruit (any combination of apricots, seedless raisins, currants, cranberries or prunes cut into small pieces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
Salt and freshly grated pepper to season.

In a large pot, bring the stock or broth to a boil.  Add the salt and the fregola, stir and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the cooked fregola into a colander.

While the fregola cooks, in a large non-stick skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the dried fruit, sage, coriander, and cumin; cook, stirring, another 1 to 2 minutes, then add the white wine, simmering until fully reduced. Now add  the fregola, stirring or tossing to combine. Add the reserved cooking broth, which will quickly come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and stir to combine.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy hot or let cool to stuff your turkey, Cornish hen or favorite “roulade”.

*Fergola is a semolina grain (resembling large couscous) that is a good source of protein and fiber.  It can be found in gourmet and Italian specialty markets.  In Italy, Fregola is used like barley is here, in soups and stews.  It is also served on its own, sauced like pasta.

Makes six servings.

Root Vegetable Gratin

I started preparing this dish for guests about ten years ago, and now I cannot entertain in the fall or winter without a request for it. I’m happy to comply. Root Vegetable Gratin is now a selection on our ‘Thanksgiving Made Easy’ order form.

Classic Béchamel
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
6 cups whole (or 2 percent) milk, hot
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1½ quarts (6 cups) béchamel *See recipe below
2 small smoked chili peppers (I use anchos or dried smoked jalapenos)
3 medium russet potatoes (about 3 pounds),  peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1½ cups fresh or canned roasted red peppers, cut into strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 medium sweet potato (8 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 small or ½ large rutabaga (about 12 ounces), peeled and thinly sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds

Prepare Béchamel: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste bubbles; don’t let it brown. After 2 or 3 minutes, whisk in the hot milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring or whisking constantly until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Prepare Gratin: Preheat the oven to 350F°F and grease a 12- to 14-inch round baking dish or a 9 x 13-inch rectangular baking dish with the butter.

Simmer the béchamel over low heat, add the whole dried chili, and steep for about 10 minutes. Remove the chili and discard.

Peel vegetables and slice them very thinly on a mandoline to 1/8-inch thickness. Place half of the russet potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Top with a third of the red pepper strips. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly spread 1½ cups of the béchamel on top,covering the potatoes and red pepper strips. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheddar. Arrange the sweet potato slices over top,slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper and top with another ⅓ of the red pepper strips. Again top with 1½ cups bechamel followed by 1 cup of cheddar. Add the slices of rutabaga, slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern,and strew with the remaining red peppers strips. Again, add 1½ cups bechamel followed by 1 cup of cheddar. For the final layer,arrange the remaining slices of russet potato on top,slightly overlapping in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper. Put the remaining 1½ cups béchamel and 1 cup cheddar on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top of the gratin is bubbly and nicely browned, about 20 minutes. A knife inserted in the center of the gratin won’t meet any resistance, but should pierce easily into the fully cooked and soft root vegetables.

Serving suggestion: This is great to eat piping hot right out of the oven, but it’s also good reheated the next day.

Variations:

* To lighten this dish, you can make a cornstarch/water slurry, stir it into chicken broth,and thicken simmering until it achieves a béchamel-like consistency.
* Omit the chili pepper and/or roasted red pepper.
* Substitute turnips for the rutabaga.

Nutrition: Roasted red pepper strips add flavor, color between the layers, and lots of vitamin C.

Economy: $$$

Note: This recipe has been adapted from the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Wine Weekly – Ribolla Gialla

As the weather gets cooler, many people seek warmth in a glass of red wine.  But for those of you that may not be fans of red or are open to variety, we have a cool weather white for you, Ribolla Gialla from Tenuta La Ponca.

Many may not know that the Ribolla grape from Italy actually originated in Greece and made its way to the Fruili region of Italy by way of Slovenia.  This grape almost did not survive the phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century because many farmers decided to plant French grapes after much of their Ribolla crop was destroyed.  But the Ribolla survived and by the 1990’s most of the white wines produced in Fruili were at least 1% Ribolla.

Not only is the long journey of the Ribolla what makes it a stand-up wine for November, but the crisp acidity, apple and pear aromas, and dry finish make it perfect to drink with food.  At Tenuta La Ponca, the Ribolla grapes are picked the last week of September.  They are then pressed and settle for 24 to 36 hours before they are fermented in stainless steel and then refined for 8 months on nobile dregs.  The result being a light to medium bodied white wine with a beautiful straw yellow color. Try the Ribolla Gialla with an appetizer such as the Verdure platter or enjoy it with the complex Pasta Intregale.  The fruit characteristics bring out the sweetness of the vegetables while the acidity refreshes the palate.  The Ribolla Gialla would even be a great wine to drink with turkey!

The Riboilla Gialla from Tenuta La Ponca has survived quite a journey in order to make it to the Gigi Trattoria wine list.  Now we challenge the Ribolla to survive the cold weather of the Hudson Valley and warm our wine-loving customers. For $42 a bottle, you cannot pass up trying this delicious wine.  Come by on Wednesday and the Ribolla Gialla and all bottles are 30% off!  That deal alone can warm the chill out of anyone.

Wine Weekly – Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo

Considered one of the greatest wines of Italy’s Northwestern region, Barbaresco made from Nebbiolo grapes is held with very high regard.  That is why Gigi Trattoria carries one of the best.  Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo is aged for 10 days in stainless steel to allow the skins to ferment and then continues its aging for one year in oak casks and another in the bottle.  This process makes for a full-bodied wine with spicy oak, chewy tannins and hints of cherry and blackberry.  There is even a bit of cinnamon on the palate, making it a perfect wine for a brisk autumn night!

From a small village overlooking the Tanaro River, Batasiolo winery creates this 100% Nebbiolo wine.  The Nebbiolo grape, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a black-skinned red wine grape that is the star of both Barbareso and Barolo.  These are two of Italy’s most acclaimed red wines.  Originally, Barbaresco was Barolo or Nebbiolo with Moscatello and Passeretta grapes added to it for a touch of effervescence and hint of sweetness.  It was not until the 19th century that Barbaresco was vinified for a dry style.  The result being a competitor or brother for Barolo.  Like any good set of siblings, there are many differences between Barolo and Barbaresco.  Barbaresco has a slightly warmer, dryer and milder climate, which causes the grapes to ripen quicker and makes for a less tannic wine.  Still the age and acidity of Barbaresco will please any avid red wine drinker but will be slightly more approachable.

Not that there is a specific season for drinking red wine, but if there were, having a glass of Barbaresco, Beni di Batasiolo on a cold fall night with the smell of spices in the air and the warmth of company, sounds pretty perfect.  That is why we want to offer that comfort to you!  Come into Gigi Trattoria to experience a once in a lifetime chance to have our Barbaresco by the glass for only $15!  A bottle goes for $95 but if you come on Wine Wednesday, this delicious wine and all bottles are 30% off.  Hurry, before the wine runs out!

Learn more about Barbaresco wine here and here.

T.G.I.F. – Autumn Elixir

We continue our autumnal theme with this week’s T.G.I.F. cocktail choice. The Autumn Elixir, as we’re calling it, is just what the cocktail doctor ordered; refreshing, yet made with warming ingredients to help battle those chillier nights. Enjoy!

Autumn Elixir
1 Lime
1/2 oz. of honey
1 1/2 oz. of Hennessy (or other preferred cognac)
Splash of ginger ale

Slice a whole lime into 4 sections and place it in a shaker. Add  the honey and muddle these two ingredients together. Then add the Hennessy and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass over ice and top with ginger ale. Garnish with lime and enjoy!

 

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

*This recipe appeared in the November, 2012 issue of House Beautiful Magazine as part of an article entitled, “The New American Holiday Table.”

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Annandale Atomic Hard Cider

Normally we present you with a cocktail recipe each Friday to celebrate the weekend.  However, in honor of Cider Week (last weekend!), this week we present you with a little bit of info on Gigi’s favorite cider, Annadale Atomic Hard Cider from Montgomery Farms.  This semi-dry cider is served at Gigi Market by the jar or on draft at Gigi Trattoria.  It has 7% alcohol and is unfiltered and unsulfited.

At Montgomery Farms, they use about 60 varieties of antique and commercial apples for Annadale Cider.  All these apples are grown on the land that Jane Livingston Montgomery, the original owner, cultivated apples on over 200 years ago.  Annadale Atomic cider uses about 6 different varieties and is their signature cider.  Unfortunately it is sold out for the season.  Luckily Gigi Trattoria snagged one of the last kegs so you have to stop by to try it!

We are such fans of Montgomery Farms and their Atomic Cider that we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share it with all of you!  But we don’t want to leave you stranded this weekend without a great recipe.  So you will find our TGIF recipe below:

1 part Annadale Atomic Cider
1 part Gigi Trattoria or Gigi Market
1 part delicious food (try it with our Pollo!)
Mix together and enjoy!  🙂

Learn more about Montgomery Farms and their cider here.

And find out more about Cider week here.

 

Wine Weekly – Best Wines to Pair With Our Skizzas!

As many of you may know, Gigi has won the Best of the Hudson Valley award for Best Pizza!  We are so thrilled with this honor that we are offering 20% off our Skizzas Monday-Thursday for the next two weeks if you check-in at Gigi Trattoria on Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare.  Gigi not only wants to give you a great deal but we also want you to get the most from your Skizza experience.  So for this week’s Wine Weekly blog, we are going to let you know just what wines go best with our award-winning Skizzas!

Whether you take our word for one of these delicious pairings, or chose your own, be sure to check in on Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare to get 20% off our Skizzas, Monday-Thursday.  If you come in on Wednesday, all our or bottles of wine are 30% off!  Now that is quite a pairing!

Let’s begin with the Margherita Skizza.  Simple yet satisfying.  Our infamous thin crust is topped with Gigi Tomato Sauce, a blend of mozzarella, swiss & provolone cheese and finished with fragrant fresh basil and a touch of dried oregano.  A wine to pair with such perfect simplicity must be bold yet refreshing.  The Evodia Grenache from Cataluyd, Spain is just that.  The minerality enhances the earthiness of the herbs while hints of black cherry and raspberry add a new depth of sweetness to tomato sauce.  For only $8 a glass and $25 a bottle, you will be making the Evodia-Margherita pairing your new “go-to” in no time!

For meat lover’s there is no Skizza better than the Mamma.  Tangy Gigi Tomato Sauce topped with plenty of cheese and thin slices of robust fennel salami and Tuscan-style porchetta make for a fulfilling 10” of flavor.  To hold up to such a powerful Skizza, you need a wine that delivers.  The Altos de la Hoya Monastrell is just that.  Firm tannins, minerality and a hint of spice in this Spanish wine make it strong enough to pair with the heartiness of the Mama while hints of dark berry and red fruit make the Monastrell well-balanced.  This 92% Monastrell and 8% Garnacha is $10 a glass and $26 a bottle, an affordable pairing for an irresistible Skizza.

Seasonality is important at Gigi Trattoria and we are showcasing the flavors of fall with our Zucca Skizza.  Creamy Delicata squash “pesto” is topped with Coach Farm Fig Goat Cheese, thinly sliced coppa and crispy fried sage leaves.  This Skizza is a delicate balance of sweet and savory with a hint of spice from the coppa.  Either of the red wines mentioned above pair nicely with this Skizza but we believe the best pairing for the Zucca is the admired Lugana Limne.  The refined bouquet compliments the crispy sage while the subtle fruit accents bring out the flavor of the squash and hint of fig.  The Lugana can be paired with any Skizza or sipped on its own for just $10 a glass and $33 a bottle.

Last but not least is one of our most popular pairings, the Bianca Skizza with the Gavi.  Loved by staff and customers alike, nothing beats a warm Bianca with a crisp glass of Gavi.  If you are not familiar with the Bianca, it is our traditional crust topped with Gigi Fig Jam, creamy Coach Farm Goat Cheese, shaved pear, Sky Farm arugula and finished with white truffle oil.  To go with such a complex Skizza, you need a quality wine.  The Stefano Massone’s Vigneto Masera Gavi made from 100% Cortese grapes brings out the flavor of pear and fig.  The citrus notes of the Gavi cut the richness of the goat cheese resulting in a clean palate.  If you don’t already know the Gavi is $10 a glass and $30 a bottle, a steal for such an excellent wine.

Whether you take our word for one of these delicious pairings, or chose your own, be sure to check in on Yelp, Facebook or Foursquare to get 20% off our Skizzas, Monday-Thursday.  If you come in on Wednesday, all our or bottles of wine are 30% off!  Now that is quite a pairing!

 

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Cranberry Cobbler

We finally noticed this week  that all the leaves are turning color. It always seems to sneak up on us. We’re never sure if we weren’t paying attention or it really did happen overnight? All of the great and vibrant oranges and reds we’re seeing around us inspired our delicious cocktail this week, the cranberry cobbler. Perfect for a fall weekend!

Cranberry Cobbler

Place about a dozen cranberries in a shaker and muddle thoroughly with about a teaspoon of cane sugar. Then add:

1 1/2 oz Bourbon (we use Bulleit)
1 oz Carpana Antica sweet vermouth
1 oz blood orange juice

Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass or enjoy on the rocks. Leave the cranberries in the drink for a festive look. Enjoy!

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – The Hudson Valley Pear Martini

Thank goodness another Friday is upon us, and for many, the start of a long weekend with Columbus Day on the horizon. We love long weekends, especially because it gives us more time to try one of the super delicious cocktails on our fall menu; the Hudson Valley Pear Martini!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz. House Infused Pear Vodka
2 oz. Pear Nectar
1 tsp Orgeat Syrup *
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg and a slice of pear. Enjoy!

 

*Orgeat Syrup is an almond flavored syrup.

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Gigi’s Apple Cider Margarita

Well it is officially fall, no turning back now. The temps are cooling, the leaves are starting to drop and the shorts are getting packed away ’til next year. But as we all know, fall in the Hudson Valley is a wonderful thing, with beautiful sites and delicious seasonal ingredients. Nothing says fall like apple cider!! Behold the delicious, festive, fall bonanza that is Gigi’s Apple Cider Margarita!

1 3/4 oz. Sauza Gold tequila
1 1/4 oz. Tuaca
1/2 oz. cinnamon apple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. apple cider (We use local cider from Migliorelli Farms)

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into rocks glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar over ice and enjoy.

Happy fall!

T.G.I.F. Cocktail – Pomegranate Ginger Cosmo

Saturday is the first official day of fall, so we thought we would dive right in with one of the festive recipes on our new, delicious, fall cocktail menu. Voila – the Pomegranate Ginger Cosmo!

Pomagranate Ginger Cosmo

1 1/2 oz pomegranate tea infused vodka*
1 1/2 oz ginger syrup**
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz pomegranate juice

*We use Harney & Sons pomegranate oolong tea bags to infuse vodka (about 3 bags per quart of vodka.)  You are good to go after about four hours of infusion.

** Make ginger syrup with raw sugar, water and fresh ginger. Boil for about 20 minutes. 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into martini glass, garnish with lime, and enjoy. Hello fall!

 

Wine Weekly – Cerasuolo Rose

Last chance Rose!

Possibly the most loved time of year in the Hudson Valley is when the nights get cooler and the leaves change color.  Well that time is rapidly approaching but we still have some warm days ahead.  So before you put away your short shorts, have one last glass of rose.  At Gigi Trattoria we have just the rose for the end of summer!

First introduced early in the season you may already be familiar with the Marramiero Dama Montepulciano Cerasuolo Rose D’Abruzzo.  This rose is truly like no other with its rich cherry pink color and fragrant nose.  At first glance it resembles a glass of cranberry juice.  Subconsciously you may believe you are in for a burst of berry but there is way more flavor to experience here.  Hints of licorice and even a bit of floral, this rose is complex.  Aged for 12 months in stainless steel and 6 months in oak barrels the Cerasuolo Rose holds up well even to stews, cheeses and cured meats.  We recommend this ruby red wine with our Fiorino.

It’s no wonder that such an intense wine is highly regarded in the Italian wine world.  In order for a wine to receive the Denomination of Origin “Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo” it must be 85% Montepulciano grapes.  The Marramiero Dama Cerasuolo Rose is 100% Montepulciano grapes.  This gives it a dry quality that you expect more from a red wine, making it pleasant to drink even as the weather starts to get cooler.

Before you switch to big bodied red wines and heavy sweaters, come by Gigi Trattoria and experience the end of summer with a lovely glass of the Marramiero Dama Montepulciano Cerasuolo Rose D’Abruzzo.  $10 a glass or $32 a bottle, this wine is a steal!  And if you come in today or any Wednesday, all of our wines by the bottle are 30% off.  The weather man predicts sun and temperatures in the 80’s for the next few days.  What better way to celebrate then with a bottle of Cerasuolo Rose on the Gigi patio?!