Saturday, April 26, 2008
This is a complex dish with a lot of prep. (You think Patti doesn't rehearse for you) so be prepared to devote some time to making it, the results are worth it.
I must admit I am a lousy photographer. The dish looks much better than it photographs. It is not a tarty made up chorus girl of a pasta, rather an elegant and refined lady and elegant and refined ladies need better lighting and photo skills than I have.
It has two feet firmly grounded, one in Sicily and one in America. Most of the ingredients are commonly found in a Sicilian pantry, the roots as it were with a couple of touches the Sicilians used more commonly when they came to America. Despite Sicilian grandmothers preparing spaghetti with meatballs when they came to America, meatballs and spaghetti is not a Sicilian dish. The Sicilians were poor and they ate a lot of beans, anchovies, artichokes, eggplant and whatever else could be grown in the garden. Meat was uncommon and until the new country most pastas and soups were topped with bread crumbs, instead of cheese. Nothing was thrown away in the Sicilian kitchen.
When you name a pasta after Patti Lupone, it needs to great and completely different from anything one commonly makes. With one of her feet firmly on American soil, Patti gets both sausage and cheese. Her family came to America and now can afford cheese.
This is for four 2 oz servings of pasta. Pasta is actually a small part of this dish. It brims with other flavors.
4 artichokes, leaves removed, the heart chopped into bits. (Scrape those bits of meat off the leaves at lunchtime or while your prep. In Sicily NOTHING gets thrown away).
8 baby artichokes (If you can find them)
2 links HOT Italian sausage casing removed browned
1 small (narrow) egglplant chopped into bits and fried until brown
1 cup cooked bitter greens finely chopped (collards, broccoli rabe etc.)
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 roast chestnuts(you can buy them roasted)chopped into bits
2 cups prepared stock (Chicken, beef, veal, it's all good)
8 cloves garlic chopped
8 black olives chopped
Good splash of olive oil
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
8 ounces strozzapreti della Nonna (or other small pasta, NO Ziti)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped.
1. Make a stock. Rachel Ray says you can use canned or jarred and it tastes like you have been cooking all day. Rachel LIES. Get some bones and make a stock. Julia Child can show you how if you have never done one before.
2. Boil and clean your big artichokes.
3. Remove loose leaves from your baby artichokes and boil quickly just until tender. Trim and cut in half.
4. Squeeze the sausage out of the casing. Brown, cool chop into bits.
5. Chop and fry your eggplant, I used peanut oil with a touch of olive so I could get it nice and crisp. Set aside.
6. Chop your chestnuts and olives and set aside.
7. Shred your cheese and chop parsley.
Boil the water for the pasta with plenty of salt. As the pasta cooks saute the garlic and chili pepper in olive oil in a large pan. Remove and drain pasta after 5 minutes. Dump in oil and add two cups chicken stock, put burner on highest heat. Meanwhile saute the baby artichokes cut side down in olive oil to crisp. When the pasta nears al dente toss in everything that you have prepped and stir rapidly when hot turn off heat and place in warm bowls. Top with remaining cheese and parsley. Surround with baby artichokes.
I served this with a Villa Borghetti 2005 Valpolicella Classico which paired nicely with the sweetness of the artichoke.
This pasta take time and prep and everything has to come together at the last moment in order to be wonderful. A pasta worthy of Patti.
It's slap your Mama Rose good.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The picture is not great. I just bought a new digital at Radio Shack and am still figuring out how to use it. I am so not a techie. Also this is not the prettiest dish. It tastes incredible however so I would encourage you to try it.
This recipe serves 4 to 6 with some leftover beans, which can be eaten as a side dish or made into a soup.
2 lbs well marbled beef brisket (If you can get grass fed, grass finished free range organic beef it will taste incredible and be good for you, otherwise Whole Foods carries grass fed, grain finished that is not quite as good. After the Jewish Holidays it goes on sale. I picked it up for 5.99 a pound. Get one with some good fat and marbling.)
4 cups chopped onion
2 cups finely chopped celery
1/2 cup (at least two heads) of chopped garlic
1 cup very finely chopped salt pork (see why it is not kosher, wait it gets worse)
1/2 cup diced carrot
2 ripe roma tomatoes chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 pound of beans (I used the 16 bean soup mix but you can use whatever you have in the house, white beans are especially good, but really any combo works.)
Salt to taste
Olive and Peanut oil
Heavily salt the brisket on both sides.
Heat a dutch oven (with a tight fitting lid) over a big flame with olive and peanut oil. When the oil is very hot sear the meat on both sides. Sear to a crisp solid brown, approx 5 minutes on each side. Remove meat and add in the onion. The liquid from the onion will begin to deglaze the pan. Toss in the salt pork and let it crisp while the onions begin to brown, then the garlic til it's soft and finally the carrot, tomato and celery. Deglaze with a bottle of STRONG red wine, Malbec or Cabernet. Never cook with a wine you won't drink, but no vintage required. When the mixture begins to simmer stir in the seasoning, then the beans and add the meat back in. Fill the oven to the top with broth or water. Put the lid on and place in a 275 degree oven for 6 to 8 hours.
It's that easy. Go to a movie, clean the house, do some gardening, take a nap. Don't touch or check the meat, just leave it alone.
Yorkshire pudding/Popovers are an ancient recipe that can stand up to endless variations and always come out beautifully.
1 cup bread flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted beef or duck fat
A good dash of salt
1 cup heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
Turn the oven up to 375 (It won't hurt the Cholent). Mix everything together into a batter with the whisk and put in either muffin pans or small bread pans or a big pan. I used my mini loaf pans because it looks cute and it makes one huge popover. 30 minutes later they will be puffy and crisp.
I have tried the thing where you set the cholent aside and let it cool and try to slice against the grain and guess what...it always falls apart. Let it fall apart. Take some delicious melty bits of brisket and put them on a heated plate or bowl. Take a nice portion of beans and put next to it. Top with some sour cream ( I know meat with dairy) and some fresh parsley. Put your beautiful popover next to it and pour a glass of something really good. I chose the Monarchia Villanyi Cuvee Evolution 2001. Enjoy!
Bulletin: A savvy reader sent me this link to the 2003 Villanyi Evolution, It is available through select wines http://selectwinesllc.com/20vyvicuev.html I can't vouch for this vintage, but if you try it let me know.
This wine was originally imported by Monica Elling and unfortunately Monarchia was sold to Matt Brothers and they tend to import the lesser more American style Hungarian wines. Monica Elling is starting a new company so look for the truly awesome Hungarian wines at a store near you in the future. Kaptarko was one of the finest wines Monarchia imported and since Matt Brothers dropped it I have the feeling Monica will get her hands on it again.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Oh Yea! It's exactly what it looks like, salted lard, delicous creamy salted lard. It can be eaten cold or warm with bread.
This is one of the many wonders available at the International Deli. Brighton Beach is a food mecca and this is one of my favorite places to shop. In addition to the lard we got pork belly, pickled tomatoes, Russian Rye and Turkish Pide, smoked fish, mushroom turnover, chopped liver, and some chocolate and poppyseed cake that were not as good as they looked. We lusted over sausages and caviar but opted to go to the fruit and veg market to put some health into our meal.
Next to the fruit and veg market we found really good almond candy (brittle) and some chocolates with wonderful fillings. The apricot was especially tasty.
You wouldn't think we would have been in the mood for dinner, but we went home and cooked.
S.O. made Taziki with shredded cucumber and loads of garlic, followed by a potato salad with cucumber and pickled tomato. Both totally delicous.
I had some baby artichokes so I boiled them until just barely tender, trimmed them and cut them in half and put them into an iced tea batter. Normally I would use beer but I was out of beer and the iced tea worked pretty well.
1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 cup Flour
Enough iced tea to make a batter. I dumped that prepared baby artichokes in and let them rest until we were ready to fry. Pan fried in olive and peanut oil til crisp and served with a lemon may. Can we say delicous.
We served the breads with the warm pork belly and lard. If you have an aversion to salted lard, get over it. This is one of the most delicous things you can taste. Emeril says..."Pork fat rules" and he is right.
Finally I cooked a few baby lamb chops that had been marinated in a garlic balsamic paste. RARE!
With some Titarella Tempranillo Family Reserve, it was a good dinner.
No matter how long you have been married, or dating, or 'hanging out' may I reccomend 'date night' on a Saturday at home cooking together...it is a wonderful way to bond.
Have in a weekend with S.O. is a big treat, needless to say I often work weekends and to have two entire days of time to relax is a big deal for us both.
A culinary adventure was in order. S.O. had never been to Brighton Beach to visit the Russian community so we headed out to go to a Russian restaurant for lunch followed by a trip to my favorite Deli M&I.
By the time we got there we were starving so we first headed to the Oceanview Diner to have a bite. There is no ocean view, but they do have FOOD. It is located at 290 Brighton Beach Avenue for those of you making a field trip.
We shared a smoked fish platter which was sublime. Smoky, not to salty, moist and delicious. Two types of white fish (I should know the variety, but I don't) and a moist salmon topped with salmon roe.
Already we were happy.
Next we had beef dumplings topped with fried onion. These were the most divine dumplings I had ever eaten. Dense, beefy and absolutely delicious.
The camera was forgotten until the Stroganoff (to share, we are not pigs) came out. The picture of the stroganoff is sideways. I am cook, not a techie. I tried to fix it, I failed. Wait til you see the red eye and off center photos I am going to add. You will be grateful for sideways beef.
The shopping trip to the Deli and the resulting dinner I will post later. Along with the photo of the salted lard. I am a big fan of the salted lard.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The guest of honor is on a cleansing diet. She is eating only whole grain rice with green vegetables. I had a very limited choice of preparation method as even such flavorings as stock and soy sauce are verboten. She is also eating berries.
The rest of the staff wanted FOOD.
We settled on;
Berries, not cake for dessert
The collards could not be cooked with ham hocks or smoked turkey wings so I improvised. To a touch of olive oil I added chopped garlic and smoked paprika. I let the collards steam in their own juice and when tender I salted them, taste, salt, taste, more salt, a touch of cayenne and one drop of liquid smoke. It worked.
The Bok Choy was easy. It's naturally sweet so I sauteed green onion and big slices of ginger and tossed the Bok Choy in with a little salt and fresh garlic. Delicious.
The spinach was garlic and oil with lemon.
Three greens, three flavor palates; I felt good about them.
The red rice was steamed with big slices of ginger in the mix which is a delicious way to cook any rice.
For the enchiladas I enlisted the help of one of my Marias. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of Spanish people from Spain, Puerto Rico, and The Dominican Republic. Within a 10 block radius there are at least a thousand Marias. While I tease them about the common names some of my best friends are named Maria.
So Maria came over and this is her recipe for enchiladas to serve 6. I was not allowed to doctor with it and I have to say, Maria...you are the bomb. They were pronounced "slap your Momma good."
18 corn tortillas
Melted Lard to soften them (Maria let me us olive oil, but she swears they are better with lard.)
6 chicken thighs baked with a little salt, meat shredded
1 can refried beans (Maria let me cook and mash my own beans 1/4 pound is about right if you do them yourself)
1/2 pound cheddar shredded
1/2 pound pepper jack shredded
2 big onions chopped
10 cloves garlic diced
3 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chipolte chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne (Maria reminded me this was a lunch and slapped my hand when I wanted to add more)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Saute the onion and garlic in a bit of oil, when tender dump, literally dump tomatoes and everything else in stir and warm through. Your sauce is complete.
Throw a couple of cups of the sauce into the shredded chicken until it is wet.
Warm your tortillas in the oil or lard stacking on a plate and keeping warm with a towel. Schmear each one with a big tablespoon heaping of the beans and two tablespoons of the chicken and place seam side down in a pan with a little sauce on the bottom. Pack them together like sardines in a can. Top with the cheese. Heat for 30 minutes 375 degree oven (1 hour if you make ahead and chill).
They pair well with the ginger scented rice but plain white will do as well.
They were all to full to eat the berries which will sit until they are ready for them, but the lunch was a success.
Now I have to go home and figure out something for my dinner...any suggestions?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
At dinner time I was at loose ends. I called up my friend and neighbor J and suggested we go out to this cool Tapas place on 137th and Broadway. "Aren't you going to cook?' she shrieked. This is not a woman who often shrieks.
"Why not eat out for a change?"
"Because of your blog, you need a new recipe for the blog. Let's do another celebrity pasta, I'll bring a few things." and with that she hung up.
I surveyed the pantry, pasta was no problem I had about 20 pounds on hand of various shapes and sizes. I wasn't sure what to do for a main course but I figured she was showing up with food and I would take it from there.
J showed up with Parsley, Basil, Salad Greens, Green Beans and one Tomato. I pulled 8 frozen shrimp out of the freezer and put them in some lemon and garlic to marinate while I ruminated on the ingredients.
J kept naming names of people, many of whom were unrecognizable to me. I really need to brush up on my pop culture. We finally settled on Joy Behar because we saw her show recently at the Zipper Factory and as always, she was hysterical.
My strongest connection to Joy was her radio show several years back when she used to say to me.."I have not had enough coffee to deal with you this morning." You had to ease into things in the early a.m. or risk pissing off the Joyous one.
I took Orecchlette which is an ear shaped pasta and even on television she has to listen in order to respond.
For the sauce, pesto with equal parts basil and parsley and a lot of garlic. I made enough pesto for 8 servings and froze the rest.
Joy used to be a schoolteacher so this dish had to be good for you so I chopped a bunch of green beans into 1 inch pieces. It needed to look good and be substantial so I chopped the tomato for the garnish and pancetta into little bits for the base. (Even as I type I am worried about Joy correcting either my spelling or grammer. There is still something quite schoolteacherish about her.)
Pasta Joy Behar
4 cups basil leaves, well packed
4 cups parsley leaves, well packed (This is essentially two big bunches of both so be relaxed about it)
15 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano or Pecorino cheese (or a combination of the two)
2 cups olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1 slice of pancetta per serving (I made 4 servings, 8 ounces of pasta)
1 cup green beans per serving
Cut the pancetta in tiny strips (Yes you can use bacon if you have no pancetta)
Saute til brown and crisp
Toss in the green beans and give a stir, turn off the heat.
Cook your pasta al dente, just before you drain it put the pan with the pancetta and beans on HIGH, and stir a couple of times. Drain pasta and toss over beans and pancetta and toss once or twice, turn off heat and begin to pour the pesto on, tossing or stirring. When well coated and smelling absolutely wonderful pour into the warm bowls. Top with the chopped tomato and a sprinkle of reserved parsley and basil.
I left half in the skillet. I made 4 servings and there were two of us, both of whom are watching our weight.
For the second course I grilled the lemon shrimp and put them over the salad greens with a touch of balsamic and mustard.
We shared an orange for dessert. Hey...my S.O. will be back on Friday. I am not getting fat in the meantime.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Cooking only for myself I decided to make my lamb meatballs.
1 lb ground lamb
1 cup green or black olive tapenade
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon Turmeric
2 good grinds of black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 cup pine nuts
Mix with hands. They will look a little orange because of the seasoning but don't let it scare you. Make little balls with your hands and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and remove for sauce.
I made the sauce not so much for tonight but for the left overs. You can make and freeze a bunch of the meatballs and then make the sauce fresh each time to heat them in. This is enough sauce for 8 meatballs.
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons salted butter
Splash of olive oil
Chop the garlic and warm it in the oil until it is soft but not brown. Add the milk and the butter. When the butter has melted add the meatballs and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for a few minutes.
Milk sauce with lamb may sound weird but trust me when you have this over rice and the creamy buttery sauce penetrates the rice you will be in heaven. With the potatoes I didn't so much need the sauce, but you should know how to make it.
Between the olive tapenade in the lamb and the salted butter in the sauce you really don't need more salt unless you like things really salty.
8 meatballs, half a pound of asparagus, a good bunch of leftover potatoes and two glasses of Terra Rosa Malbec, (A wine I really love, fruity and dense and complex enough to stand up to spicy lamb and gentle enough to sip by itself) and I am quite content to be sitting here at the computer for a few minutes before going back to my book.
Roberta Flack is playing in the background and it is just about as romantic it can be...considering I am alone tonight. What can I tell you...sometimes you have to be happy with lamb meatballs, wine and a warm bed, and even if not completely happy at least content.
I am so having some chocolate.
Last Thursday I catered a reception and they wanted mostly light food but needed a substantial dish that would be a protein but not a high calorie choice. I did a whole series of Spanish Tortas and they were delicious so with a few variations I set out on the Torta trail today.
First the base.
2 med apples peeled and sliced thin
2 med onion peeled and sliced thin
2 med potatoes NOT peeled, but sliced thin
A good splash of olive oil in a 9x13 pan and I threw them all in, hit with a touch of salt and let them roast in a 350 oven for 90 minutes stirring every 30. They get really creamy which is the texture you want. Let cool in a bow, when cool mix in one egg. Hit with a dash of Cayenne and turmeric and a little more salt. Set aside.
Then you start looking for all the cool veggies and things you have in the house to use for the topping. This recipe is open to endless. Today I measured what I used to give an idea of proportion.
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes split in half
1/2 cup black olives (oil cured, but any will do, except those awful canned and jarred ones)
1/2 cup chopped green scallions
1/2 cup roasted garlic (You can peel and simmer in olive oil until tender unless you have some in the house)
1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus (about an inch)
Beat two eggs
A few good shakes of salt
A good grind of pepper
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Sweet Paprika
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp. Dried Herb mix (Italian, Provence...whatever you have)
Toss in all the veggies.
Get a nice pan, I used a 9 inch spring form, but you can use a deep dish pie plate, a shallow casserole, a baking dish, whatever you have, the smaller the deeper the Torta the longer you bake, more shallow thinner and cooks faster. Cut parchment paper in the shape of the pan. It's next to the foil in the grocery store and if you don't have some, get some. Nothing sticks when you use parchment and clean up is a snap.
Rub the parchment with a little olive oil and toss in the egg, apple, onion, egg mixture. Top with the veggie mixture. Throw in the 375 oven. I baked it alongside a bread for 40 minutes. The top should be set. I tend to serve it on the creamy side but if you don't like your eggs to be too custardy, bake a little longer.
Serve cut in pie shaped wedges.
This blows quiche and omelet out of the water when it comes to taste elements. It was served alongside bowls of strawberries, thick sheep's mile yogurt, hummus, olive tapenade, and a multi grain flat bread.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
As a general rule I don't buy hams I inherit them. If a ham is served at a party I always ask for the bone for soup and get either a few slices or an abundance to go with it. I don't often eat ham, an occasional ham and onion sandwich loaded with mayo suffices once every year or two when I get the craving.
I love cured meats but prefer those aged in Italy that have a nice dose of fat and are tender and wrapped around figs.
The sad truth is that I had a luncheon cancel last week and the ham had already been ordered so I kept the minuscule deposit and they gave me and was gifted the Ham of God which now sits in my refrigerator demanding attention.
I read the ingredients on the glaze pack attached and it has all kinds of savory ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and hydrolyzed vegetable protein;Garbage.
First the glaze.
1/4 cup fig liquor
1/2 cup mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
I rubbed that puppy not only on the ham but down into the slices. Cover and set at 350 oven to warm for one hour.
Then the confit.
The Ham of God is too dry and uninteresting to have on it's own so I made an apple, onion confit.
In a non stick skillet
1 BIG splash of olive oil
2 medium peeled apples thinly sliced
2 medium peeled onions thinly slices
Saute, stir, saute, stir etc. Let the whole mess melt together. You can stop when it's creamy or take it to mildly sweet and carmely. I took mine all the way because quite frankly Ham needs all the help it can get.
Ham tends to cry out for potatoes so what choice did I have?
Roughly two tablespoons of flour
A little salt but not too much, the ham has enough
A good dose of Cayenne pepper
Half a stick of butter melted
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar (I was short in the cheddar department so I mixed in a little Swiss which ended up tasting great. )
1 clove freshly grated garlic (You have the grater out for the cheese anyway.)
1 teaspoon turmeric
Most recipes I have read Have you layering the potatoes and dusting each layer and slowly drizzling the liquid. I toss the potatoes in a big bowl, shake the flour salt and pepper around and toss in everything else and pour the whole mass in a baking pan. The bits that stick out tend to brown more and are very popular and the whole mass pretty much sorts itself out like a pecan pie. Bake it alongside the Ham of God for an hour or so. The potatoes should be tender and a bit crusty on top.
I did a quick saute of a bunch of string beans with olive oil and garlic.
I served the whole thing to two victims...uh test subjects from Minnesota. I can't invite them to most of my dinner parties because they declare everything 'too spicy', but ham and potatoes are their speed.
I served the meal with a Domaine Laurens Marcillac 2005, which at first taste I thought insubstantial but it had a bright light flavor that really worked with the food.
And now...the opinions.
My friends declared the ham 'better than their Mother's' and 'not too sweet' which from them is high praise.
The potatoes which formed a crust both top and bottom were in my opinion incredible. My subjects loved them as well and told me that 'I clearly didn't use too much garlic or Cayenne or they would have tasted it'. I didn't mention the turmeric or the garlic in the green beans she had wolfed down because she thinks that she hates everything with garlic. I am sure I will get a phone call when they read this tomorrow.
This is heavy food so I just served some berries for dessert. My guests offered to go to the store to 'buy a cake'. We don't eat store bought cake in this house, I just have the feeling they bought one on the way home to have with their decaf Sanka. I had an espresso, I was good.
So for the moment we bid goodbye to the Ham of God, until I start making sandwiches I don't particularly want.
If anyone has ideas for getting rid of ham, please feel free to post them in the comments section.
Friday, April 4, 2008
A couple glasses of Ox Malbec Reserve later (leftover from last night's party) I am calm enough to commit this recipe to paper. It was damn good and I am much comforted.
1/4 pound of spicy sausage (An Italian is great, tonight I used Carolina loose meat sausage which has both more hot pepper and salt than an Italian)
2 large ripe Roma tomatoes chunked
10 cloves of garlic chunked
10 green olives chunked
1 cup Rose wine (Any decent wine will do)
4 ounces of pasta (Two appetizer portions or one comforting meal)
Brown the sausage and when it is almost done add the chunked garlic to brown and soften a bit. It doesn't take long. Throw in the tomatoes and wine, stir and lower heat to reduce. In about 5 minutes throw the pasta in the water. When the pasta looks almost done throw the olives in the sauce and put the sauce on high. Toss the pasta in the sauce til glazed and put the whole mass in a warmed bowl.
You need a strong red with this one and don't plan on kissing anyone who does not eat it with you.
My someone is in D.C. (Or is it Baltimore) tonight and the cat is visiting a friend so my breath will not offend. I wish the IRS offices were open, I would go over there and breathe on them.
p.s. If you want the garlic smell gone from you by morning take a few chlorophyll capsules before bed.
This will be my discipline.
In no particular order I shall write down what's good and as often as possible give an idea of how much of the ingredients I use.
My advise to all of you who use these recipes is to learn to taste, if you think it needs more salt, add more salt. If your basil is weak and you want a more pungent taste add more, or even a little fresh mint to kick it up. No recipe is written in stone and if you add milk instead of cream to your soup I will never know, and even if I did know I wouldn't judge you for it.