Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ready... Set... Squeal with JOY!!!!!

I am delighted to finally announce that 
The Brooklyn Ragazza~
Cathi Iannone is DaVinci Wine's   

2012 DaVinci Storyteller!!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fettuccini with Smoky Sausage Ragu Bolognese

I am a sucker for an old-school Bolognese sauce, so for the sake of variety, I took the classic Bolognese sauce and amplified it's flavor by adding hot Italian sausage. The pairing of sausage and pancetta works beautifully together, and gives a smoky undertone by using the pancetta as the cooking fat and threading that smokiness throughout the sauce. 

The classic soffrito triumverates: (carrots, celery, onion) melt into the tomato paste and olive oil, and brings a little sweetness to the table. A little white wine adds the right amount of acidity and keeps the other flavors nimble and pronounced, while the addition of milk further enriches the sauce.  

All ingredients are thoughtfully balanced, but the standout is the spicy, sausage.  The hot Italian sausage and smokiness is what elevates this classic dish from typical to exceptional. The finished dish is hearty, vibrant and fragrant, making your house smell like an Italian Nonna's in 20 minutes!  I promise you!  But don't serve it up just yet! Letting this sauce simmer for at least an hour and a half renders the meat so tender, it nearly melts in your mouth!

Normally, I make this Bolognese sauce with two pounds of hot Italian sausage, but I would recommend making a bigger batch as the sauce will reappear in different guises throughout the week. Stir into polenta, into risotto, use in a lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, as a bruschetta topping, or on a pizza... or just eat it directly out of the pot! 


2 tablespoons of olive oil
Try Smoky Bolognese topping for pizza!
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of carrot, fine chopped
1 cup of onion,fine chopped
1 rib of celery, fine chopped
3 garlic cloves, pushed through garlic press
2 pounds of ground hot Italian sausage
1 smoked pork shank
5 ounces of pancetta, finely diced (or, bacon)
1/3 cup of tomato paste
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of dry white wine
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating
1 pound of fettuccini pasta


1.) In a Dutch oven or, heavy bottom large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the pancetta and allow to get a bit crispy.

2.) Add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic and sweat down for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are translucent, but not browned.

3.) Add the ground sausage and stir to incorporate with the vegetables and pancetta. Turn the heat up to high and continue to stir so the sausage gets nicely browned.

4.) Add the tomato paste, milk, wine and stir to incorporate.

5.) Add the smoked pork shank and allow to simmer (covered) for a 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Season the ragu with salt and pepper.

6.) Remove the pork shank from the sauce. Allow to cool a bit. By hand, remove any remnants of pork from the bone to add to the sauce enhance the ragu’s smokiness. Discard the bone.

Before serving, cook one pound of fettuccini pasta  el dente.  Do not over cook pasta; the sauce is very hearty, and the pasta needs to have a nice “tooth” to it.  Toss desired amount of the ragu with the pasta and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Buon Appetito!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cioccolato Cabernet Gelato

Chocolate Gelato  +  Wine = Pure Sexiness!!!

My preference for gelato over ice cream goes back as far as I can remember, but it wasn’t until my college days when my Italian Language professor strutted into our Friday class with a generous, bagful of a variety of gelati half-pints to reward our class at the end of the semester, that I fully understood why I loved it so much.  Seeing the green packaging, I quickly darted over and claimed the pistachio, which was already starting to melt a bit. Prying off that rim, I remember thinking, this was the best professor on the planet!

As we dug our little, plastic paddles into the creamy-soft treat, our professor began to rhapsody about the famous, Medici Family of Florence, Italy, and how back in the 1500’s there was a contest held in Tuscany for the best dessert. The Medici’s commissioned the famous artist, Bernardo Buontalenti to prepare a lavish feast for the visiting King of Spain. Being the talented artist he was, Buontalenti came up with a gelato, a creamy, frozen sweet-treat. Before this challenge,  and dating back over 1000 years, only fruit juices were added to ice (that was brought down from high in the mountains), so from this challenge, Buontalenti is considered the inventor of gelato.  Molto grazie, Buontalenti!

 Gelato vs. Ice cream...What's the deal?

Da Vinci Chianti and Chianti Riserva
So, how is gelato different from ice cream, one might ask? One major difference is that gelato is churned at a much slower speed, so it has less air incorporated into it than ice cream, resulting in a creamier, much more intense flavor, coating the palette in a different way.  Actually, ice cream may contain as much as 50% air, with most gelato containing only 25%. Another difference, which some gelateria may take liberty with, is the ratio of milk, versus cream content.  Gelato is made with a greater proportion of whole milk to cream, so actually, gelato, traditionally, has a lower fat content than ice cream.  It is also appropriate that gelato be served at a warmer temperature than ice cream, resulting in a creamy, not completely frozen treat. So, it is advised that you let your gelato sit out for at least 5 minutes before you dig in to it, if you can wait, that is!

I must admit, a bit of liberty was taken with my gelato recipe. I didn’t have whole milk on hand, but I did have heavy cream, so that is what I used. I would, also, venture to try different cream-to-milk ratios and see what you like best. Slow churning the mixture for at least 30 minutes in my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker gave it the thick, dense consistency I was looking for, just like my favorite gelateria!

This recipe delivers the perfect ratio of wine-to-chocolate robust, personality, and just a couple scoops is the perfect satisfying treat.  I still love my pistachio, but, I have to say, this flavor combination leaves a real knock-out flavor impression that will have your friends begging for the recipe!

In this gelato,  DaVinci Wine and chocolate were like two ships passing in the night that had a lusty, encounter and the love child resulted in this Cioccolato Cabernet Gelato. If you were ever curious as to what “sin” tasted like, this devilishly-rich gelato treat is, surely, it! This is, truly, a sexy dessert!  I think, both wine, and frozen-treat connoisseurs would agree!

 Spoon-feed some of this to your lover!


2 cups of heavy cream
Chop chocolate into small pieces
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
½ cup of sugar
14 ounces of dark chocolate (chopped)
4 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt


1.) Heat the milk, cream and sugar in a 2-quart sauce pan until the sugar dissolves and milk starts to simmer. Add the wine and simmer again.
2.) Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
3.) Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and beat. Add about a ½ cup of the chocolate mixture to temper the eggs, so they do not scramble when you add them to the mix.
4.)  Pour the egg and chocolate mixture back into the 2-quart sauce pan and cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Do not allow mixture to boil!   
5.) Pour the mixture into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator to chill completely. (At this point it is considered  custard).
6.) After mixture has chilled, pour the custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. I let mine churn for about 35 minutes.
7.) Pour into pint-sized containers and freeze. Allow gelato to thaw slightly before serving.  

Buon Appetito!

** Cook's note**- Gelato is traditionally, and best made in SMALL batches, so I would not double the recipe. Make separate batches if you need more.  Also, may use Chianti if you do not have Cabernet Sauvignon.

My Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker available at Khols