With all the hype about Thanksgivukkah this year, I also received a challenge to post something that would be perfect for both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah - and it had to be made with some type of mashed food. I normally panic when I get this kind of requests, but this time it was really brainless. These pumpkin fritters are one of my favorite recipes, and always a huge hit with guests.
- 4 small cups of espresso “ristretto” (strong and concentrated)
- 4 ounces really good bittersweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp sugar, or to taste
- Whipped cream to decorate, if you like (I prefer it without)
- Ground cinnamon, if liked
- 1 lb Swiss chard or fresh spinach, hard stems removed
- 8 ounces stale bread, coarsely chopped in the food processor
- 1 ½ cup milk
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 to 6 tbsp white flour
- 2 pinches grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 4 to 6 tablespoons butter, or to taste
- a few fresh sage leaves
- 4 oz bitterweet chocolate (or 4-5 tsps unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
- a small pinch of sea salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon potato starch
- 1/2 pound fresh pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into small dice
- 2/3 head of red radicchio
- 1 1/2 cups Italian rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano type)
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup dry wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- About 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 to 8 cups vegetable stock
- 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 pounds bucatini* pasta
- 8 ounces of a sharp, creamy cheese that melts well (Italian Fontina/Fontal, or Brie or Camembert)
- 4 small leeks
- 2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup milk (or less)
- 1/2 cup coarsely ground hazelnuts
- f1 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 5 cups flour (a little over 1 lb of 00 or all-purpose)
- 25 gr fresh yeast, or use dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (mix 1/2 cold water and 1/2 very hot water)
- 1 scarce cup sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs (if they are quite large, use 3 yolks and 2 whites)
- 1/2 cup mild olive oil or seed oil
- 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in warm water or brandy and drained
- grated zest of one lemon
- 1 1/2 tbsp candied lemon or orange zest (optional) OR aniseeds (optional)
- 1 shot brandy, cognac or grappa
- 1 egg yolk or more to glaze the surface
- 1/2 ripe cantaloupe, diced
- 1/4 small ripe watermelon, diced
- 3/4 cup goat cheese, or crumbled feta
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
- fresh mint or basil
- 2-3 tbsps of the best extra-virgin olive oil you can find (not too strong or acidic)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 loaf Italian or French style bread, sliced and toasted, broiled, or grilled
- Rub the toasted or grilled bread slices with the garlic cloves while they are still hot. Discard the garlic. Brush with very little oil.
- Spread a little cheese on the slices.
- Dress the two melons (separately) with the rest of the oil, and little salt and pepper. If using feta, which is saltier, you can skip the salt.
- Top some slices with the cantaloupe and others with watermelon. Decorate with fresh mint.
- 1/2 lb phyllo dough (home-made or store-bought)
- 1/2 lb vanilla gelato (home-made or store-bought)
- 1/2 lb bittersweet or dark chocolate (grated, or use chips)
- 1 basket berries
- milk and butter
In many households, minestrone is made at least weekly and (thanks to the fact that it tastes even better when reheated), served several times as a primo piatto (first course) with both dairy and meat meals. I usually serve it plain on the first day; on the second day, I reheat it with some leftover cooked rice, pasta or even spelt. If it’s cold outside, or I'm simply too busy for multiple courses, I just throw in some beans to transform this light soup into an earthy meal. At the end of the week I add a boiled potato and turn the leftovers into a creamy passato (blended soup) with my hand blender.
Just keep in mind, if you plan on stretching your soup over the course of a week, that you should skip tomatoes or it will spoil too quickly. In Italy we have countless regional and seasonal variations for this soup, depending on the local produce! Just to give you a few examples, the Genoese minestrone is flavored with pesto; my Tuscan grandmother liked to add rosemary, and the Lombard one preferred Arborio rice in it.
The only key rules are that all the ingredients should be very fresh and the oil high quality; the soup should be cooked very slowly, on low heat; and finally, the vegetables should be chopped very small, Israeli salad-style.... other than that, have some fun!
- vegetable stock, 1 1/2 quarts
- 2 whole cloves garlic (optional)
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 6 leaves of kale or Swiss Chards, chopped
- 1 large slice of butternut squash or pumpkin
- 1/2 a small cabbage (1/4 if large)
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 small (or 1 large) zucchini
- 1 cup peas
- OR asparagus tips, or green beans
- 1 small or medium potato (optional)
- 1 medium tomato, seeded (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra-virgin olive oil (I use a low-acidic, mild Ligurian or Tuscan)
- fresh rosemary or parsley, if liked
- (tip: if you rarely make it to the green market.... it does work even with frozen vegetables!)
- 3 pounds small (Japanese) eggplants
- 3 small golden delicious apples (or 2 large)
- 1 medium orange
- 1 organic lemon
- 6 cups sugar
For a while I resisted the idea of writing about tomato sauce. In fact, as a typical Italian living in the US, I'm often annoyed when Italian cuisine is identified exclusively with tomato and cheese-laden dishes. But then the spring arrived, persuading me to break the ice, and to use this post as an opportunity to dispel some myths!
Tomatoes first arrived in Italy for the first time during the 1500s. They were brought by the the Spanish, who had encounterd them in the Americas. In particular, Jewish or conversos merchants of Spanish or Portuguese origins brought them to Livorno (Leighorn), and from there to the rest of Europe. However, at the beginning tomatoes were met with suspicion: after all, even in the Americas they were still considered poisonous, and enjoyed solely as a decorative plant. It's not clear how long it took for people to realize what they were missing on: all we know is that for a while these myths about the poison lingered, or were replaced by others about magical or aphrodisiac powers. But without a doubt, nobody yet was thinking of pizza margherita!
The fact that in Italy the local Jews, always adventurous with vegetables, were among the first to bite into this forbidden fruit is suggested by the fact that many traditional Livornese recipes with tomato are named "alla mosaica" (Moses-style) or "alla giudia" (Jewish-style). Meanwhile, the general population was also starting to experiment with the "pomidoro" (from the Latin "golden apples"), at least in some regions, and with the exception of the aristocracy, which waited much longer. (In France, au contraire, tomatoes were served at the Royal Court). In any case, it took a while to arrive at today's dishes: the first written record of a recipe for pasta with tomato sauce only dates back to 1837!
Historical digressions aside, one of the reasons I've been wanting to write this post is to state clearly that pasta sauce is a dish, not an ingredient. It's something that you can make easily and quickly to dress your pasta. It should not be used to add flavor to your brisket, or (my pet peeve!) to pizza. You are going to cook/bake your brisket and pizza anyway, so what's the point exactly of adding a pre-cooked sauce? Use simple strained tomatoes and they will cook with the food. Trust me, nobody in Italy would ever put jarred marinara sauce on their pizza. For a realistic, minimalistic and perfect version of pizza margherita, check out the recipe and video by Mario Grazia for Academia Barilla.
And now on to the pasta sauce, in a couple of variations. You will notice that I use canned tomatoes. That's because I live in Manhattan, and I find that the varieties that are sold here tend to be quite firm and have a lot of seeds: they are much more suitable for salads than sauces. Even when I was growing up in Venice we used canned tomatoes imported from the San Marzano area near Naples. However, if you are lucky to live in an area where the tomatoes are soft and juicy, go ahead and use fresh!
Tomato-lovers should also check out:
My Pappa col Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato Soup)
Frank's How To Buy canned Tomatoes
Smitten Kitchen's Slow-roasted Tomatoes
Academia barilla's Tomato Focaccia