Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall is, of course, wonderful fresh tomato sauce time. We bask in it, and put a lot of sauce away in the freezer for those winter months. We came across this recipe, and adapted it slightly. It is just terrific. Peppers, when they come to the market in all their glory, provide not only a wonderful flavor and texture, but dazzling color. We have an all-start flaming red extravaganza with this fall classic.
And note -- true to our roots -- we do not peel or roast the peppers! Easy.

for the sauce:

one pound of red bell peppers, cut in medium dice
one and one-quarter pounds tomatoes, roughly diced
two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
three garlic cloves, peeled and diced
one medium onion, roughly chopped
one quarter cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
two tablespoons fresh parsley
one quarter cup fresh parmesan

for the pasta:

one pound spaghettii (or linguine, or penne)

In a saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic. After thirty seconds, add the onion. Cook until the onion is tender, about three minutes, and add the peppers, a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Cook until the peppers have softened, about ten minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the basil, and bring to a simmer. Cook about fifteen minutes; the tomatoes should have broken down.Then cover, reduce the heat to a very mild but constant simmer, and cook for another fifteen minutes. Cool and then put the sauce through the medium blade of a food mill. Return to the pan.

Bring 4-5 quarts of cold water to a heavy boil. Add a couple of teaspoons of salt. Add the pasta, stirring it well to get it separated and mixed. Cook to al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta water. Drain.

Add the pasta to the sauce; add the parsley; stir. Add cooking liquid if necessary to make the sauce not too thick. It should easily thoroughly coat the pasta. Check for salt and pepper. Serve with the parmesan on the side.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

fegato alla Veneziana

This is Trattoria alla Madonna, just off the Rialto, in Venice. I first found this gem in 1970, and since thenI have established a tradition that my first luncheon on a trip to Venice always would be here. With always the same menu: spaghetti con vongole and fegato alla Veneziana. Not having been in Venice for a while, I pined for a fegato, so last week I made it myself. My wife and I loved it.

There are many recipes, varying only slightly, for fegato -- some with a touch of aceto (vinegar) -- not here. Marcella's does not have wine, but we like it with. This simple recipe is adapted from that huge compendium, La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy

Whatever the recipe, one fundamental principal must hold: simmer the onions very slowly for a long time and then cook the liver in a flash!

  • four tablespoons olive oil
  • four tablespoons butter
  • one-half cup beef or veal broth
  • one pound of onions, thinly sliced
  • one pound of calves liver, cut thin and then thinly sliced
  • two tablespoons white wine
  • salt and pepper

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, butter and broth. Add the onions, and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until very translucent, but not colored. Remove the onions. This could be a half hour.

Add a touch more olive oil if needed. Turn heat up. Add the liver and do a quick stir. The liver, depending on its thinness, should be done in just a few seconds. Add the onions back, add the wine, salt and pepper, stir and serve. Serve ideally over a soft polenta.

A simple variation: at the last step add a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of chopped parsley.