Pasta all'Amatriciana

Submitted by John on Sat, 01/23/2021 - 14:34

Spaghett all'AmatricianaAmatrice is a small city in very central Italy. Occupied since prehistory, it was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 2016. Right after that tragedy, many Italian-American restaurants added this as a special to help raise funds for the stricken community.

It's a simple, delicious dish, but not quite as quick as it looks. Pancetta is rendered and then cooked with onions and tomatoes long enough to become soft and mellow, then it's tossed with pasta, typically spaghetti or bucatini. 

Cotechino with Lentils

Submitted by John on Fri, 01/22/2021 - 19:00

Cotechino with LentilsHere's a traditional New Year's Eve dish eaten all over Italy! The lentils are supposed to remind you of an abundance of coins, suggesting prosperity in the coming year.

Cotechino is an ancient variety of fatty pork sausage that goes very well with lentils. Fresh cotechino are hard to come by, but you can buy shelf-stable vacuum-packed precooked cotechino from Levoni - that's what I used here and it was delicious.

Patate alla Scamorza

Submitted by John on Mon, 01/18/2021 - 15:08

Potatoes with Scamorza CheeseHere's a vegetarian dish that's easy to make and fun to eat. Scamorza is a very stretchy-stringy-melty cheese.

It includes a teaspoon of curry powder, which might seem out of place in Italian cooking. Remember Marco Polo! Italian chefs included eastern spices in their pantries long before the potato was introduced from the New World. 

Deviled Eggs

Submitted by John on Sat, 01/16/2021 - 17:05
Lorna's Deviled Eggs

This homey treat is a fixture at church picnics and art-show receptions, but it deserves much broader appreciation. You'll notice when they are set out at an event, they're among the first dishes to disappear. 

I like to make these on rainy or snowy days when we plan to be in the house all day catching up on chores. These make an easy protein-based grazing lunch when you don't want to take time to sit at the table an noon. 

This is a dish that rewards creativity, and you keep an eye on balancing flavors, you can't really mess it up. Here's the version that Lorna likes. 

Herb-Perfumed Meatballs

Submitted by John on Mon, 12/21/2020 - 06:00

Herb-Perfumed Pork MeatballsI had some ground pork looking for a way to be useful and this recipe looked intriguing - I love it!

The pork is mixed with ground almonds and fresh rosemary and sage, then formed into meatballs that are cooked on skewers of the rosemary branches that provided the rosemary needles in the pork!

There's a lot of ingredients here, but nothing weird. The trickiest part is getting multiple soft, uncooked meatballs intact onto the rosemary skewers! 

Bell Pepper Risotto

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/19/2020 - 15:10
Bell Pepper Risotto

This is a nice, light, colorful risotto, bright red streaks against a white-golden risotto, with great flavor too. 

It's vegetarian, and it could easily be made vegan by substituting something for the parmesan cheese that you stir in at the end. 

Farfalle ai Gamberi

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/19/2020 - 14:42

Shrimp & ButterfliesThis is a popular combination: shrimp and peas on pasta in a light butter-white wine sauce.

It cooks up quickly and you can use frozen peas and shrimp and dried pasta so it's one of those recipes that you can whip up on short notice, and it makes an easy weeknight dinner.

Valle d'Aosta Polenta Pasticciata

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/19/2020 - 14:15

Valle d'Aosta Polenta PasticciataA pasticciata is a mess of something, and many recipes based on polenta are called Polenta Pasticciata con something or alla someplace. This one is in the style of Valle d'Aosta, way up in the far Northwest, up against the French Alps, so that means is uses the famous Fontina cheese, of which the best is the name-protected Fontina Valle d'Aosta.

The cheese is not stirred into the polenta when it cooks, but rather you take a stiff cooked polenta and layer it with cheese and butter and then melt it all together into a rich golden gooey mess - a pasticciata. This is a hearty cold-weather treat.

Mutton Chops all'Inglese

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/19/2020 - 14:02
Broiled Mutton Chops

I found some mutton chops at Brown's Farm in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I'd always been curious about mutton, so I bought them. I was surprised to see that the favorite Italian preparation of mutton chops is Costolette all'Inglese, or Mutton Chop in the English Style!

This is a very simple recipe. In my opinion, the best value of having it written down at all is just to be quite clear how very simple it is: just broil the chops with butter and serve with salt and pepper.

Mutton is meat from an adult sheep, as opposed to lamb from the young sheep. Even mutton is seldom from very aged sheep, which is said to be quite gamey, but I'd like to try it sometime.

Pasta alla Puttanesca

Submitted by John on Fri, 12/18/2020 - 15:42

Pasta alla PuttanescaThis well-known favorite dates back less than a hundred years. It was invented on the Neapolitan island of Ischia in the 1950s by a creative host who had hungry guests and little in the icebox to work with.

In Italian, "puttanesca" means something like "trashy", and it can be applied to prostitutes and to pasta preparations. In this case the inventive chef gave his dish a provocative name that reflected its scrounged origins and delighted his guests!

Gamberi Dolceforte

Submitted by John on Fri, 12/18/2020 - 15:19

Shrimp inn  strong, sweet sauceThis is an amazing recipe that works best as an appetizer if served on its own. You could make a supper of it served with pasta or rice because the sauce is quite flavorful and it really benefits from having something mild to balance it.

This recipe has many ingredients and it uses many pans and burners. It's fun to make, and the result is amazing, but you really have to read it through carefully and assemble all of your ingredients and utensils first. Believe it or not, this is a simplified version of the recipe in the [[nodetitle:The Silver Spoon Cookbook]]!

Genoese Tocco

Submitted by John on Fri, 12/18/2020 - 13:56
Tocco on Ravioli

Tocco is Italian for Touch. I don't know why this classic Genoese pasta sauce is called Tocco, but it's delicious in whatever language you use.

You braise a chuck roast with some Mirepoix and beef stock low and slow to extract all the flavor of the beef. Then the beef goes in the fridge for some other use - it's the now extra-flavorful stock that you're after. This is often served with ravioli, but it works with any pasta.

Chuck braising to become Tocco or Toccu

This is a great winter recipe! It simmers on the back burner for hours, warming the kitchen and smelling delicious. And when it's done, you have that "boiled beef'' all tender and ready for some other use, maybe as a ravioli filling.

I have examined many versions of this recipe. Many of them use one shortcut or another, some use additional or fewer herbs; this one seemed the most promising, and it worked out really well. I expect to make it every winter! 

Pasta with Black Olive Cream Sauce

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/12/2020 - 21:19

Penne with a Black Olive Cream SauceThis was a surprise! I don't usually think of olives and cream together, but this was delicious, and really easy. 

For the olives, get good tender Kalamata or Gaeta olives in a jar or from the deli counter, not those woody little horrors that come in a can.

This is usually made with penne, but any short pasta will do. 

Cod Baked in Tomato Sauce

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/12/2020 - 21:08

Cod Baked in Tomato SauceThis is a flavorful way to wake up cod.

Most of the work is preparing a basic fresh tomato sauce, so you could save time by using sauce from a jar if you are in a hurry, or just doctor a jarred sauce with some white wine and fresh parsley. I prefer the texture of the diced tomatoes to a smooth sauce; maybe you can find a sauce like that.

Chicken Legs with Juniper

Submitted by John on Sat, 12/12/2020 - 20:50
Chicken Legs with JuniperThis is an interesting recipe! The chicken is cooked between layers of thinly sliced onion, and the liquid comes from a 2:1 mix of white wine and gin that slowly mingles with the cooking juices from the chicken legs and the onion. The only seasonings are bay leaf and juniper berries, so the flavor profile is different from many other Italian dishes. It's simple and delicious.