Tuesday, October 12, 2010

great issue

As a peruser of a lot of food magazines, often inundated with recipe after recipe, it is possible to feel bloated in a figurative sense. So when an issue comes along with a creative approach that rings bells and has a lot of "wows", it is a special delight. The October Food and Wine is one of those.

Loving all things Roman, I was entranced with the article "Eat & drink Like a Roman", which provided new insights into the Lazio region. Our love of the food of Rome is well documented -- see www.classicpasta.com, on the home page, for a view of the Piazza Rotunda and links to recipes for the big three of Roman pasta classics: Amatriciana, cacio e pep, and carbonnara. This magazine has its versions of Amatriciana (by the Queen of Amatriciana they claim) and cacio e pepe. We are now trying these versions. And an interesting riff on Lazio's wines -- remember Frascati?

"Ravioli should be tender, not wimpy" says Domenica Marchetti in the magazine, in an excellent article on making ravioli -- plus suggestions for three fillings. No matter how good one thinks one is in creating home-made ravioli, new insights and tips, as here, are always appreciated.

The ubiquitous Mario has yet another meat ragu, what he calls a Butcher's ragu, which he serves in his newest restaurant "Eataly". At the pasta section in this complex, he offers three different pasta shapes and five sauces: customers mix and match as they please. Mario uses fusilli with this ragu.

One of the favorites of mine when I ate at the classic Little Italy trattorias in lower Manhattan in the sixties and seventies, was chicken scarpariello. I haven't had it for years. But Grace Parisi has the recipe for it in this issue, so the missing link has been solved!

And finally a quote we love, as it is really the theme of the recipes in classicpasta.com: from the aforementioned Anna Dente, the Queen of Amatriciana: "Like the best songs, the best recipes have few ingredients."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eating . . . a Memoir

Jason Epstein, an old friend from wonderful New York publishing days, was not only an editor par excellence, a brilliant creative genius and innovator in that world, but also a first-class cook and lover of everything in food.

He has written a memoir -- see above -- that is nothing but a pure delight. And filled with insights that are both entertaining, enlightening and fun. Nothing for you to do but buy the book . . . and enjoy! "It is delicious" as Maida Heatter says. Plus, you will find a host of terrific recipes -- all easily done -- Chinese, Italian, French, New England, etc. A feast.

Jason talks about several key Italian recipes in his memoir, which qualifies it for a place in our "eating Italian" blog. He also provides some excellent tips and bits of advice that I, for one, found incredibly valuable.

As we also recommend: one finds out when the pasta is properly al dente by tasting. We pick out the strand of pasta or the individual penne and then blow on it to cool it for tasting. He has a cup of cold water at hand to do the cooling. When the pasta is ready he lifts it out of its water with a long-handled strainer (for penne) or tongs (for spaghetti for example) and drops the pasta directly into the sauce. This rather than dumping the pasta into a collander to drain it. We like it.

We had to include several of the recipes from "Eating" in our web site:

First there is Jason's take on a classic Bolognese:
www.classicpasta.com/jasons_bolognese.htm. Then you can compare his with our own "best Bolognese sauce ever" and put them both to a test.

His simple and spicy tomato sauce that he prepares for the penne (see above) is found at:
www.classicpasta.com/garlic_tomato_sauce.htm. We present the recipe almost exactly as Jason writes it, in his wonderful style.

And for an added attraction, a scallops and fettuccine dish:
Buy the book: read, enjoy and cook!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

negroni (part two)

If you scroll back through these posts (a highly recommended activity) along about April, 2009, there is a post featuring the classic Italian drink: the Negroni.

It's colorful (deep red in color actually) history of its discovery and acceptance is detailed in that blog: from the Campari bar in Florence in the 1860's through Count Negroni in the early 1900's.

The drink, pictured above, consists of equal parts of Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin, plus a slice of orange, generally.

Now, thanks to an article in the recent La Cucina Italiana, we have another variation, the Sbagliato, which translates into the 'mistaken' Negroni. According to the magazine, in a bar in Milan, the proprietor reached for a bottle of spumante rather than gin. The bubbly was tried, and received wholehearted approval.

Here is the official Sbagliato formula, courtesy of La Cucina Italiana:

one ounce campari
one ounce sweet vermouth
one ounce dry spumante (prosecco)

Fill a rocks glass with ice, add the Campari, vermouth and spumante in that order. Stir and add an orange slice.

Eccola! . . . perfect for summer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Classic Rome, or Roman classics

We recently had lunch at a relatively new restaurant in San Francisco, Chiaroscuro (www.chiaroscurosf.com), where the menu featured three Roman classics: tagliolini cacio e pepe; tagliolini alla carbonara; and spaghetti alla chitarra all'amatriciana. Plus they had a "trilogoia", which was a tasting of all three of these delights, which I had. This was a beautiful presentation and a tasting delight. I was transported back to one of my favorite places: the Piazza della Rotunda.

You may prepare all of these classics yourself: go to
www.classicpasta.com, and on the home page there will be this article on Rome, and the recipe links. Enjoy!

Friday, February 26, 2010

risotto with mushrooms and pancetta

One can not have too many recipes for risotto with mushrooms. It is hard to imagine any other foods that meld so perfectly. There are several risotto recipes available on www.classicpasta.com, but true to our calling, here is another.

This recipe comes from Janet Moga, of the East Bay, who has tested (and corrected) many of the recipes on the site. She uses slightly more dried porcini than we, but both are excellent -- your taste.

If you have truffle oil available, here is a great chance to use it.

The recipe: http://classicpasta.com/risotto_mushroom_and_pancetta.htm

Saturday, January 30, 2010

best minestrone ever

The winter season is soup season of course, and here is our favorite of all the many and varied minestrone recipes out there. This is quite a hearty version, and, for us, when we get the beans "just right" it is a perfect balance: not too thick but definitely not too liquid!

The recipe is on classicpasta.com, and here is the link:


We used a short cut that really works when we last did this soup. We did not have time for long soaking, so we used Lidia's quick soaking method. Put the beans, after cleaning, in a pot of water with the water covering the beans by at least two inches. Turn up heat and boil. When you get to a boil, continue the boil for one minute. Turn off and let sit, uncovered, for an hour.

Works perfectly!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

butternut squash soup

Welcome to our mangia italiana blog for 2010.

Let's keep in touch . . . we promise to keep you supplied throughout the year with a steady influx of information, tips, ideas, discoveries and suggestions concerning all food Italian. (If you haven't done so, scroll back through previous blogs to see the variety and quality of the information herein). Our goal is to provide you with three new blogs a week. So do stay connected!

Now is the time for the great winter squash explosion. Butternut squash is obviously one of our favorites.

Here is a great butternut squash soup recipe we have adapted from Faith Williger's "Red, White and Greens." The original recipe is from Fabio Picchi, chef at the famed Cibreo in Florence.

We add a little cream to the soup at the end which he doesn't. Take your pick. Any squash will do -- acorn for example -- butternut is our favorite.

The complete recipe is on http://www.classicpasta.com/, the best site on the web for all things pasta. Here is the link:


While you are on the classic pasta site, browse for a moment. Go to "pasta" and then click on "ravioli" on the right hand side of the page, and then "butternut squash ravioli". Another taste treat!