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A year of Italian cooking

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#241 ludja

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 09:16 AM

The maccheroni alla chitarra looks absolutely wonderful, and I like the idea of the salami appetizer.

*Somehow* I just started looking at your thread yesterday; it's really great. I'm sorry I missed a few of the regions in real time but will be reading along from now on. You're almost at the halfway point!
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#242 hathor

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 11:35 AM

Ciao Kevin!! I haven't had internet for a few weeks...but I do today! :biggrin:
Abruzzo! Good food in Abruzzo!! The saffron that comes out of Abruzzo is simply the best tasting saffron I've ever had. Its a most intense red color when you steep it in water, think campari.
OK, I'm gone for weeks, and now I'm going to pick on you: DeCecco is not an artisinal product. Its a very good pasta, but its an industrial product. DeCecco buys their wheat from all over the planet and is very, very proud of having a 'consistent' product.
Oh, you should have bought the chitarra! We've been using ours a lot, its just a quick simple way to cut the pasta and its fun to use. I had our son using all last week while he was visiting us.
OK, what's for dinner?? :laugh: :biggrin:

#243 Kevin72

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 11:47 AM

Welcome back! I thought the fennel gratin would bring you out! :biggrin:

Well, I guess I used the wrong term with artisinal, but De Cecco is well-thought of, at least. Still on that soapbox from your visit? :laugh:

#244 Kevin72

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 11:49 AM

The maccheroni alla chitarra looks absolutely wonderful, and I like the idea of the salami appetizer. 

*Somehow* I just started looking at your thread yesterday; it's really great.  I'm sorry I missed a few of the regions in real time but will be reading along from now on.  You're almost at the halfway point!

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Thanks for the kind words, ludja! Hard to believe we're at the halfway point already. Even so, maybe it's the unseasonably hot weather so early in the summer, but I'm already chomping at the bit for fall and the regions I'll be doing then . . .

#245 Kevin72

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 06:58 AM

My birthday meal for myself was last night.

Started with prosciutto rolled around more of the artichoke puree from the previous meal.

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For a primo I did a timbalo di crespelle, a festive Abruzzese dish. There's a pretty established crepe culture in Abruzzo, a holdover from French rule, according to Callen. This is a baked dish of crepes layered over a prgoression of fillings: bechamel, peas and ham, spinach and hardboiled eggs, and a pork and mushroom ragu.
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These crepes were the easiest I've ever done: I've noted earlier that I usually get through half the batch of batter before I start turning out good crepes after making them thick pancakes, or brittle, burnt wafers. These are almost entirely made of egg, and a lower proportion of flour, which I think aided their ease.
The fillings are improvised but based on similar timbale recipes in Callen's book.

The secondo was roasted duck with seven herbs. To leech out some of the excess fat, Callen's recipe calls for blanching the duck in boiling water for a few minutes, then setting it in the fridge overnight. If you do this, don't drape it with paper towels to absorb the moisture! As the fat congeals at the cooler temps, it glues itself to the paper towels. I went to take them off only to be horrified to see a thin film of the towel left behind on the skin, and so spent ten minutes laboriously scraping it off with a knife.

The duck is stuffed with apples, onion, lemon, and ginger, and rubbed with the "seven herbs" (Callen neglects to give an exact proportional recipe and only describes it :angry:) bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, and mint chopped together with juniper berries. Despite all the wild flavor elements, I found that very little of that worked its way into the flavor of the duck. I should note that I didn't sew the stuffed duck closed as directed, something I just can't bring myself to do. Nor did I cut the duck in half and toss it back into the oven for a few minutes to crisp the skin, also as directed. I'm reminded now of when my mom used to buy and roast ducks for "special occasions", and then we would lament the amazingly low yield of meat you'd get. The breast meat was moist and juicy, if a little bland, but the leg meat was stringy. I love duck, but I think I'm going to stick with braising it from now on.
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Contorno was "drunken cauliflower": cauliflower braised with white wine, fennel seeds, and a chili pepper. I threw in some kale as well.
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For dessert, we had another non-Abruzzese item, but I defy any Abruzzese not to like it: my Mom's rhubarb cake.
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This stuff has started fights, both witihin my family but even at lady's social events when my mom brings it and there's a mad scramble to get it. One year when my mom made it, my wife volunteered to her boss to bring her a slice and I was livid to have to give up a piece, and even more so when I saw the size of the slice my wife cut for her!

I plead the Fifth on the blatant Reddi-Whip topping there. I throw myself at the mercy of the eGullet elite and beg them not to revoke my membership.

#246 Chufi

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 07:20 AM

Based on another Marcella Hazan recipe.  The 'chokes and onions are blanched in a vinegar and water solution, then honey and vermouth are added and they cook a bit longer.  Meanwhile you simmer garlic, chilies, and mint in some olive oil.  Drain the artichokes and submerge them in the flavored oil. 

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Happy birthday! now you did not eat all that food by yourself did you?? :biggrin:
I am very intrigued by that artichoke paste. Is it made from the marinated artichokes qouted above? And how do you get it stiff enough to hold together while wrapping salami or prosciutto around it?

btw thanks to you and this thread, I bought the Plotkin book on Liguria. It was on sale for 10 Euro, could not pass that up. I haven't cooked from it yet but it's a great read!

#247 Kevin72

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 07:33 AM

Happy birthday! now you did not eat all that food by yourself did you?? :biggrin:

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Thanks! No, my parents were over, so it was us four. I think I might take the next week off from cooking and give my wife a turn at the stove!

I am very intrigued by that artichoke paste. Is it made from the marinated artichokes qouted above? And how do you get it stiff enough to hold together while wrapping salami or prosciutto around it?

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I was reading through Callen's book looking for an appetizer idea and ran across this recipe. I still had the marinated artichokes from when I did Rome and thought that this was a good excuse to use them up, so I pureed them with a hardboiled egg and some of the marinade oil. Callen's recipe calls for mayo. It isn't so stiff: you have to eat these in one bite pretty quickly after you pick them up. Actually, there's supposed to be breadcrumbs in there too, but I forgot to add them. Oh, and chill the salami (I thought it worked better than the prosciutto) before and chill the bundles after you make them so they hold up a little better.

btw thanks to you and this thread, I bought the Plotkin book on Liguria. It was on sale for 10 Euro, could not pass that up. I haven't cooked from it yet but it's a great read!

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Glad you like that book. He's a great writer, and I had always felt bad about neglecting such a good book. One of the reasons to do this yearlong project was to give some of my unused cookbooks a spin, and it made me appreciate the book (and of course Liguria) all the more.

#248 albiston

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 01:28 PM

I plead the Fifth on the blatant Reddi-Whip topping there.  I throw myself at the mercy of the eGullet elite and beg them not to revoke my membership.

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Kevin,

it's OK this time, but only because it was your birthday :wink: :biggrin: !
Buon Compleanno!!

Pity about the duck. The dish itself, at least as concept sounds intriguing. How much herb mixture did you end up using?
Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

#249 Kevin72

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 02:54 PM

it's OK this time, but only because it was your birthday  :wink:  :biggrin: !

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Did I just add another item to your list of things Italians didn't invent on the previous page? :wink:

Buon Compleanno!!

Pity about the duck. The dish itself, at least as concept sounds intriguing. How much herb mixture did you end up using?

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Grazie!

You mix it yourself and I'm really bad about proportions (hey, maybe I'm really becoming an Italian cook now!). She said the herbs should be dried, but I had all of those items growing out back and just went in and harvested. I just stripped the leaves off of a couple thick stalks of each, basically and then pulsed them together in a processor with the juniper berries. Rubbed the duck with it inside and out, and swirled the rest into the pan juices as I was reducing them. Smelled great, but alas, none of them carried through in the final dish.

#250 hathor

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 01:24 PM

Buon compleano!! Auguri!
Although I could say it was the fennel that me re-surface...its really acess to a hi-speed connection that enables me to visit!
Yes, I'm still on my DeCecco soapbox. :wink:
Reddi-whip....my, my. :wacko: :laugh:
I also think that artichoke filling looks luscious! As well as the crepes. What about some lamb? That's what I remember most about from Abruzzo, and now that you've more less broken your wife in with lamb.... I'm not recommending lamb testa or anything, but something with bay leaves could be good. Ciao!!

#251 mrbigjas

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 01:57 PM

For dessert, we had another non-Abruzzese item, but I defy any Abruzzese not to like it: my Mom's rhubarb cake. 
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This stuff has started fights, both witihin my family but even at lady's social events when my mom brings it and there's a mad scramble to get it.  One year when my mom made it, my wife volunteered to her boss to bring her a slice and I was livid to have to give up a piece, and even more so when I saw the size of the slice my wife cut for her!




oh man. kevin, do you have a recipe for this? some basic guidelines, if it's a secret? rhubarb season is just about over here and i think i need some...

#252 Kevin72

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 03:53 PM

oh man.  kevin, do you have a recipe for this?  some basic guidelines, if it's a secret?  rhubarb season is just about over here and i think i need some...

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Crap. I knew I shouldn't have gone trumpeting this on eG without the recipe. Brown sugar is a major component, and mom says it's simple. I'll try to get it from her but they're out of town.

Edit: I'm thinking that it's basically a sponge cake recipe with brown sugar instead of white sugar. The rhubarb goes in raw, no precook. But again, I'll see if I can get the specific recipe.

Edited by Kevin72, 13 June 2005 - 03:59 PM.


#253 Kevin72

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 03:54 PM

Buon compleano!! Auguri!
Although I could say it was the fennel that me re-surface...its really acess to a hi-speed connection that enables me to visit!
Yes, I'm still on my DeCecco soapbox.  :wink:
Reddi-whip....my, my.  :wacko:  :laugh:
I also think that artichoke filling looks luscious! As well as the crepes. What about some lamb? That's what I remember most about from Abruzzo, and now that you've more less broken your wife in with lamb.... I'm not recommending lamb testa or anything, but something with bay leaves could be good. Ciao!!

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Yeah, Abruzzo and lamb go hand in hand it seems. It'll come up soon, stay tuned!

#254 Kevin72

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 09:38 PM

Saturday night’s meal:

Antipasto: Abruzzese Bruschetta
Primo: Taccozzelle alla ricotta verde
Secondo: Lamb “piccino, piccino, piccio”

The bruschetta consisted of deep-fried slices of zucchini that are then steeped in a reduction of white wine, broth, and saffron, then spooned over grilled bread.

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The primo, “taccozzelle” are a type of broad-cut pasta squares that are then tossed with a sauce of ricotta and sautéed spinach. When Mario Batali made these on his show, he used egg whites in the dough rather than the water that Callen calls for. This is the version I went with, giving the pasta a pale white look and an interesting, firm bite to it. Mario also cleverly described this almost as an “exploded” ravioli dish, meaning that you just tossed the pasta sheets with the filling instead of making them into ravioli. Perfect for when it’s too hot outside to spend all that time making pasta, he said, and with it nearing or topping 100F that day, I’d agree.

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The lamb “piccino, piccino, piccio” is described by Marlena di Blasi in her book The Regional Foods of Southern Italy as “delicate, more delicate, most delicate of all”. It’s hard not to be intrigued by the recipe: seal the chunks of lamb with one onion studded with cloves and a lump of butter in an ovenproof vessel with an airtight lid, then place in a 400 F oven for an hour. What emerges is a nearly meltingly soft lamb which you serve with or over bread to sop up all the fragrant juices.

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I’m having bad luck making meat lately, after the duck from last weekend and some incinerated steaks I made at mid-week. You’re supposed to leave the lamb in the vessel and not disturb the lid for the full hour it bakes. Twenty minutes in I realized I forgot the butter and seasoning, so I reluctantly added them to the vessel, then set the time back a little. So this could have been the culprit, or maybe the lid wasn’t so airtight and I should have done the flour-water paste di Blasi recommends to completely seal the vessel. Regardless, the meat was dry and hard. Good flavor when you occasionally got the tender bite or two, but otherwise quite disappointing. I’m really curious how this recipe works, though, with no liquid other than the incidentals from the meat and the onion.

Edited by Kevin72, 20 June 2005 - 09:41 PM.


#255 Kevin72

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 09:40 PM

I’ve really been giving Abruzzese desserts a raw deal so far this month. For Sunday brunch I made anise-scented ciambelline from Marlena di Blasi's book to dunk in the morning cappuccino.

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Pretty much followed di Blasi’s recipe to the letter except I glazed them with some apricot preserves right out of the oven. Seems like they needed a little something extra.

#256 Kevin72

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 09:45 PM

Sunday night I did a recreation of only a fraction of the dishes you might get at the famous Abruzzese feast, la panarda.

As usual with writing on Italian cooking traditions and customs, you’re hard pressed to find two authors who agree on origins. Marlena di Blasi gives the quite plausible explanation that la panarda has its origins in the slaughter of the village pig, when all would come by to contribute to helping butcher the pig and put it up for the winter. As a sort of communal rite of passage, the villagers would smear a piece of bread (pane) with some of the rendered pig fat (lardo) for a simple snack to mark the occasion. Thus the fusion of the two terms, pane e lardo, to eventually through the ages become panarda. Then of course, Anna Teresa Callen, in her all-too-brief-for-an-Abruzzese description of the event, specifically dismisses this history.

Regardless of its humble roots, la panarda has over the years become a Herculean feast still observed (but less and less frequently) in the small mountain towns of Abruzzo to mark major celebrations: a birth, a wedding, a family reunion, anything. The typical number of courses for a panarda starts at 30, usually averaging out at 40. And you have to at least try them all, or you risk severe insult to whichever family that made the dish you refused. Family feuds lasting generations have begun this way.

So, I did only the briefest, smallest panarda (panardina?!) Sunday with five dishes.

We started with a simple dish that some authors tout as the height of the refinement Abruzzese cuisine is capable of: screpelle ‘mbusse, crepes in a broth.

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The remaining dishes were just laid out to take as you please: clockwise from the upper left are marinated mushrooms, sautéed swiss chard with ham, grilled lamb rosticini, and an escarole frittata.

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The mushrooms are seared, then glazed with white wine. Finally, a paste of olive oil, shallots, vinegar, and capers is poured over them and they are placed in the fridge to steep for a few hours. The swiss chard is blanched, chopped, then sautéed in butter with ham, and finally a ladle of broth is added then cooked completely off to give it an added richness. The lamb rositicini are skewers of slices of leg that had been marinated over night in a warmed bath of olive oil, chilies, rosemary, and fennel seeds. Finally, the frittata was made of sautéed escarole and scamorza cheese, which played well off the bitterness of the vegetable.

One dish that I didn’t make, and probably won’t get to make this month, that is often served at la panarda, or even becomes its own feast all by itself, is le virtu, a soup made on or near the start of May. The idea, according to di Blasi, is to clean out one’s larders from the winter and combine all the dried beans and bits of salumi left over with the first crops of spring. Callen and Batali both give much more elaborate recipes in their respective treatments of Abruzzo, making it into a multi-pot cooking affair. With temperatures here already nearing or topping 100 F daily, I just don’t have it in me to make such a rich, robust soup, But I felt I’d be remiss to not at least mention and recommend tracking down this towering achievement in Abruzzese cooking.

#257 albiston

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 11:21 PM

....
le virtu, a soup made on or near the start of May.  The idea, according to di Blasi, is to clean out one’s larders from the winter and combine all the dried beans and bits of salumi left over with the first crops of spring.  Callen and Batali both give much more elaborate recipes in their respective treatments of Abruzzo, making it into a multi-pot cooking affair. With temperatures here already nearing or topping 100 F daily, I just don’t have it in me to make such a rich, robust soup,  But I felt I’d be remiss to not at least mention and recommend tracking down this towering achievement in Abruzzese cooking.

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With those temperatures I wouldn't be making that dish either :smile: . I was wondering if any of those authors mentions at all the religious connection of le virtù. A few Italian authors give the same explanation di Blasi gives and state, as you mention, that the name of the dish wants to point out the virtue of the home cook who managed to make it through the winter with enough food left to still have a little bit left when May comes. Others point out to the traditional repetition of the number seven in this recipe (text below quoted from the official webpage of the Abruzzo region):

The "virtù" is an auspicious dish which includes seven types of dry pulses (the remains of the winter supplies), seven types of fresh pulses and seven types of vegetables (fresh produce), seven qualities of meat, seven shapes of pasta, seven seasonings, and seven hours cooking time.


Because of this repetition of seven some authors claim the name of the dish is a symbol of Catholic influenced gastronomy since it evokes the seven capital virtues in a dish.

My impression is that the first theory is a better explanation for the origin of the dish and that the religious context has probably been added in a second moment. I just cannot imagine those Abruzzo farmers giving a thought to capital virtues while they try to scrape a dish together with the last food left from winter.
Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

#258 Kevin72

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 04:16 AM

Callen does explore a number of different origins of the dish along the similar lines you state, Alberto. She quotes Waverly Root who also attributes it to the "virtue" of the woman who can make it through the winter with enough left over to make this soup. There's also a folk legend she cites of seven virtuous sisters, each contributing one ingredient to the pot. Finally, she surmises that it might be called le virtu because it involves six separate cooking methods to assemble!

#259 Kevin72

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 07:52 PM

Tuesday night I made a few more Abruzzese seaside dishes.

First up was polenta with clams and chickpeas.

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For some reason this dish really fascinated me from the start. It seems to typify the whole "forte e gentile" aspect that is Abruzzo, marrying a robust, ribsticking mountain staple (polenta) with seafood, normally a light, delicate affair. Steam open some clams in tomato paste, chilies, and white wine, almost like you would for a pasta sauce, but then use it to top polenta. I combined it with another recipe for polenta and chickpeas. Three earthy, base flavors mingled well and made it an unusual but instantly comforting and satisfying dish. Now if only it had been about 40 degrees cooler when I served it . . .

Followed with braised calamari with artichokes.

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Pretty simple, straightforward stuff. It was finished with lemon juice and zest and basil. Kind of reminded me of when I was cooking from Liguria.

Edited for clarification.

Edited by Kevin72, 24 June 2005 - 08:05 PM.


#260 Kevin72

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 07:55 PM

Wednesday night, I made pizza e fuie.

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In this case, the “pizza” was simply an unleavened dough of cornmeal and flour that was rolled out into smaller discs, then grilled. The “fuie” are bitter greens, traditionally an assortment of wild greens that are gathered from the mountainsides, but I used broccoli rabe and escarole. They are braised with onion, olive oil, and chilies. The scamorza isn’t called for but I like how it interacts with the bitter greens. Besides, how can I make something called ”pizza” and not put cheese on top of it? :smile:

#261 ludja

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 08:23 PM

The pizza e fuie look and sound delicous--nice to use the escarole along w/the broccoli rabe.

Does the scamorza cheese add a unique flavor as opposed to using mozzarella? I know some scamorza is smoked, but I've never used it.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#262 Kevin72

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 05:49 AM

The kind of Scamorza we get here in Dallas is smoked, so I've come to, rightly or wrongly, associate scamorza as being a smoked mozzarella. I actually posted about this topic last weekend: look here.

#263 hathor

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 01:57 PM

What is a 'pulse'? What can 'seven left over pulses' mean? :blink:
OK, Kevin, you know I love being the devils advocate, or chef's advocate as the case may be. But, its hot as hell over here right now, so what do you think they are eating right now in Abruzzo? How would you adapt your Abruzzo cooking to reflect a Dallas and an Abruzzo heat wave? Fortunately I'm far enough from you that can't pop me one!! :raz: :smile:
But, I'm kinda of serious, its one thing to recreate traditional recipes but how does seasonality affect your cooking?
(p.s. I'm mastering the art of feeding people many different types of cold dishes...it feels like the depths of August here...so forgive me if I sound a little cranky).
Your Abruzzo feast looked just delicious!
Ciao!

Edited by hathor, 27 June 2005 - 01:59 PM.


#264 albiston

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 01:07 AM

What is a 'pulse'? What can 'seven left over pulses' mean?  :blink:

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Pulses.

Or maybe you know these as legumi in Italian :wink: .
Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

#265 Kevin72

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 04:15 AM

What is a 'pulse'? What can 'seven left over pulses' mean?  :blink:
OK, Kevin, you know I love being the devils advocate, or chef's advocate as the case may be. But, its hot as hell over here right now, so what do you think they are eating right now in Abruzzo? How would you adapt your Abruzzo cooking to reflect a Dallas and an Abruzzo heat wave?  Fortunately I'm far enough from you that can't pop me one!!  :raz:  :smile: 
But, I'm kinda of serious, its one thing to recreate traditional recipes but how does seasonality affect your cooking? 
(p.s. I'm mastering the art of feeding people many different types of  cold dishes...it feels like the depths of August here...so forgive me if I sound a little cranky).
Your Abruzzo feast looked just delicious!
Ciao!

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Seasonality absolutely plays into how I cook, or at least plan to cook. That's why in spring and at the height of artichoke season I chose to cook from Rome, where they do artichokes best. Or in the depths of winter I went to Friuli with its ribsticking fare. Abruzzo's hard because you've got the mountains mediating the climate there. I'm probably way off base but I try imagine it being alot like Denver: hot during the day, but cools off rapidly at night.

The challenge is trying to convey a "sense" of the cuisine while playing along with seasonality at the same time. So while I'm sure the Abruzzese are much more likely right now to be tucking into a plate of pasta with simple tomatoes, or just a piece of grilled fish, than, say, a eleven-layer crepe timbale followed by a stuffed duck, I want to show off the more unique, interesting sounding dishes that to me capture what that certain cuisine is all about. It's not that the Abruzzese don't lack for lighter dishes, and Callen's book abounds with them, but , some of these more unique dishes, like polenta and clams, or the soup Le Virtu, just work better in the cooler months. I was absolutely planning to doing le virtu but I just can't, in all this heat, bring myself to make a heavy, bean-laden, porky soup that requires six separate pots. But I feel there have been some dishes that do match well with the weather: the panarda feast, the heels with ricotta sauce come to mind.

#266 Kevin72

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 04:37 AM

mrbigjas, I haven't forgotten the rhubarb cake request. I talked to my mom, and she didn't have it on her, but said it's similar to a recipe found in a two volume set called Recipes From the Heart, except that her recipe calls for much more rhubarb, like maybe two cups, chopped. And it isn't a sponge cake, either.

Anyways, I wrote it down and now of course have lost it, so I'll have to ask her for it all over again.

#267 hathor

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 01:59 PM

Alberto: legumi! OK, that makes sense. But what a great word, "pulses". someday, if I'm ever on a real internet connection, I would look up the etymology of that word. Thanks.

Kevin, the choices you've made regarding which region to do when make total sense. I think your 'project' or mission is interesting, excuse me, is totally perfect just as it is...but you don't have to cook the specialty dishes, I'm completely enthralled as you try and capture the spirit of each region. That being said, artichokes/Rome/spring was total genius! But what I'm trying to say, is that the big signature/holiday dishes are one thing, and they are fantastic, but a simple grilled fish with some fresh oregano. or a saffron dish would be completely in keeping with your project. Put the 6 pots away! If I had a source for some Abruzzo saffron I would surely send it your way. Are you familiar with it? The most amazing color and one of the best flavors in saffron I've ever tasted.

and sort of off topic: what would a good Abruzzian do with melanzanie? My orto is over producing and I need input and you have a far better cookbook selection than I do!

#268 Kevin72

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 06:07 PM

Kevin, the choices you've made regarding which region to do when make total sense. I think your 'project' or mission is interesting, excuse me, is totally perfect just as it is...but you don't have to cook the specialty dishes, I'm completely enthralled as you try and capture the spirit of each region. That being said, artichokes/Rome/spring was total genius!  But what I'm trying to say, is that the big signature/holiday dishes are one thing, and they are fantastic, but a simple grilled fish with some fresh oregano. or a saffron dish would be completely in keeping with your project. Put the 6 pots away!  If I had a source for some Abruzzo saffron I would surely send it  your way. Are you familiar with it? The most amazing color and one of the best flavors in saffron I've ever tasted.

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Well, see, I just cook that way out of hat, as it were. Certainly when I find simple stuff I try to showcase it, too, but alot of these festive dishes are so locked into that region's traditions and culture it's hard not to reach for them first as an examplar of the cuisine.

and sort of off topic: what would a good Abruzzian do with melanzanie? My orto is over producing and I need input and you have a far better cookbook selection than I do!

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Callen only gives one recipe in her book and it's called "alla Mediterreana". Prick an eggplant all over, then roast or grill it whole, then coarsley chop it. Toss it with mustard, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, capers, olive oil and seasoning.

I quite like the Pugliese method (clickety-click) where you halve eggplants, score them, then massage in a paste of mint, parsley, garlic, capers and olive oil and grill them.

Sweet and sour: saute with some red onion and celery and then add vinegar (I like commercial balsamic, certainly not the artisinal stuff!) and sugar in near-egual portions and reduce.

#269 hathor

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 08:12 AM

Ciao! Thanks for the melanzanie recipes...I'll have to give them a go. I just havent' worked myself up to starting a grill yet...it's too damn hot! Man, if this is June...but I digress..... Since I also have some excellent mint overproducing at the moment, I'll have to do some experiminting (I couldn't resist the pun....sorry) with mint and eggplant.
Grazie mille!

#270 mrbigjas

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 08:37 AM

mrbigjas, I haven't forgotten the rhubarb cake request.  I talked to my mom, and she didn't have it on her, but said it's similar to a recipe found in a two volume set called Recipes From the Heart, except that her recipe calls for much more rhubarb, like maybe two cups, chopped.  And it isn't a sponge cake, either.

Anyways, I wrote it down and now of course have lost it, so I'll have to ask her for it all over again.

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excellent, thanks! i swear i've gotten more ideas from this thread than almost any other in recent memory.

in other topics, i have some saffron from abruzzo, and it's excellent stuff. i've enjoyed the looks of things this month. i have a friend whose husband's family is from abruzzo, and her descriptions of what they've eaten while there makes my mouth water.





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