• Saturday, September 26, 2020

Northern Italian Appetizers

Race Hard, Dine Hard
By , CYJ Contributor
May 1, 2013

There’s nothing like watching adrenaline-fueled Europeans driving sleek, turbocharged cars to help work up an appetite. If the sound of roaring engines, cheering fans, and a whole lot of horsepower flashing by isn’t enough to quicken your pulse, then you’re a far cooler cat than us. Either way, we’re not quite sure what’s hotter – the cars or their drivers – so in an effort to toast both, we’ve fashioned a bold Northern Italian menu that’s easy on the eyes.

Rally Royale


2 oz high-quality gin, like Plymouth or Hendrick’s
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz Prosecco


Victory tastes oh-so-sweet, and winning a title only fuels the need for more. This strong and smooth twist on a Negroni will decelerate the adrenaline and kick-start the post-race euphoria.

Yield: 1 serving

Add gin, Campari, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into a glass. Top with Prosecco, and serve.

Asparagus Risotto


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb asparagus, rough ends cut off and discarded
1 large yellow onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
1 tablespoon chives, chopped fine
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Rally racing isn’t for the faint of heart, but this light and creamy risotto will fortify even the shakiest of nerves. Asparagus is in season, and risotto is the perfect canvas for its bright green splendor.

Yield: 6 servings

Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil. Blanch asparagus in water for 30 seconds, then plunge into a bowl filled with ice water. Strain asparagus, dice into 1/2-inch pieces, and set aside.

Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low. In large, wide saucepan on medium-low heat, add 3 tablespoons oil. When oil is shimmering, add onion. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds.  

Add 2 tablespoons butter. When foam has subsided, add rice. Stir constantly, until rice is toasted evenly, about 4 minutes. Add wine. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. Repeat process with vegetable stock, adding 1 cup at a time. Cook until rice is tender but not mushy, and creamy but not soupy.  Add asparagus, lemon zest, cheese, parsley, and chives. Cook an additional minute, until asparagus is warm and cheese has melted. Adjust seasoning, and serve immediately.


Veal Milanese


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
4 boneless veal chops, pounded to 1/4-inch thick
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups arugula
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped fine
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 shallot, sliced thin
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


Starving after a day of extreme speed? These simply breaded chops served with a bright salad will soothe and satisfy. Pickling the shallots add a nice touch, if you have the time.

Yield: 4 servings

Set up breading station: Add flour to a medium bowl; add eggs to a small bowl; add breadcrumbs to a large bowl.

Pat veal dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, making sure veal is completely coated. Dip entire chop in egg, shaking off excess. Add to bowl with breadcrumbs, and toss until evenly coated. Remove from bowl, and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Repeat process with rest of veal. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high. Add 1/2-cup oil. When oil is shimmering, add 2 veal chops. Cook 3–4 minutes, until breading is golden brown. Flip, and cook for another 3–4 minutes. Remove veal from pan, and place on sheet pan lined with paper towels. Wipe out sauté pan, and repeat process.

Add 3 tablespoons oil and lemon juice to a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk. Add arugula, parsley, tomatoes, and shallot to bowl. Toss gently to mix well. Adjust seasoning, and serve with veal.

Strawberry Panna Cotta with Candied Basil


2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
3 cups strawberries, stems removed and discarded
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
5 large basil leaves
1 egg white
sugar, for dredging


Mobility is key during any race, and this portable, individually portioned panna cotta is perfect for a dessert on the go. Mint is the traditional herb for dessert, but basil is much more exciting.

Yield: 5 servings

Add gelatin and water to a small bowl and set aside. Add strawberries to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture through a sieve and into a bowl, using a ladle to push liquid through sieve. Discard solids.

Add sugar and yogurt to bowl with strawberries, and mix well. Bring cream to a boil, whisking occasionally. Shut off heat. Add gelatin mixture to hot cream mixture and whisk. Add cream mixture to strawberry mixture, and mix well. Pour mixture into 5 ramekins and refrigerate until cold. Cover ramekins with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Beat egg white until it turns to foam. Brush basil leaves with egg white, then gently dip both sides into sugar. Place leaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let leaves stand 4–5 hours, until dry. Using scissors, cut basil into very thin strips.

To remove panna cotta, dip mold into hot water. Dip a knife into hot water and gently trace blade along entire inside edge of each mold. Place serving plate on top of mold and flip over. Garnish with candied basil.



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