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  1. MITllama

    pasta sauce

    I am bored with red pasta sauce, and don't like heavy Alfredo sauce. I have been experimenting with making sauce from cooked sweet potatoes or green peas, but both seem to lack oomph. I added crushed pineapple to the sweet potatoes and that helped, but it needs something more. I tried adding tomatillo salsa to the green peas, but that wasn't quite right either (or not to my taste). Any suggestions? I'm open to any vegetable base.
  2. Hey all, Thought I'd share a nice place with you all. The Italian. New up market restaraunt in the Melbourne CBD. (I think little collins, Can't remember) I think it had a nice balance between rustic and honest fare. Its seasonal, with its mainstays. Mind you, its only been open for seven months, So whose to know what a Mainstay is! The decor is tacky. bad and all thing crap. But last time a checked, I don't eat the surroundings. Don't get me wrong, were not talking grungey, dirty back bar. We are talking try hard, nouvelle, modern architure, with high ceilings and asian tastes. In a place with as authentic italian food as this, i think there is an identity crisis. Nonethelss, lets talk food. Nyway on to the food. For entree had soft polenta with trippa with a sweetish tomato sauce. It was great. I went to italy last year and really felt like a hit of tradition. The polenta was creamy without resembling a cup full of butter, and the trippa was amongst the most tender I've ever had. For main, gnocci with veal stew. Again, the sauce was quite sweet to taste, not dessert sweet but prob some sugar in there to deal with those out of season tomatoes. The veal was tender and the gnocci was fresh, as gnocci should be! For dessert, chocolate fondant. Not as oooozeing as anticpated, somewhat more cakey. But, it was a welcome twist, and still tasted fantastic with the vanilla icecream. John Lethlean (the agre head critic) wrote it up during the year as one of the best meals he had eaten during the year. (pan fired lambs brains). I must have lost it somewhere amidst the massive menu. In any case, I'm going this weekend! If any more q's about it. feel free to ask. Sorry got uni exams, otherwise, if i get a chance I'll add some more places. Cheers. J
  3. What's with all these new Italians? Pretty soon the city's going to be all trattorie and sushi bars. Riccardo Trattoria (Northern Italian from the longtime chef at Bice, opened February in Lincoln Park) Terragusto (BYOB with organic, fresh pastas, opened February in Roscoe Village) Spacca Napoli (Neapolitan pizzas, opened February in Ravenswood) Tony Rocco's (casual homestyle, with twists like Broasted chicken, opened February in River North) Jay's Amore on Madison Ristorante & Lounge (February in the West Loop) Timo (March Italian redo of Thyme on the Near West Side) Frasca (Pizzeria/wine bar from the cousins behind Dunlays on the Square and Dunlays on Clark, May in West Lake View) Rosebud Prime (Italian steakhouse at 1 S. Dearborn St., May) Cafe Bionda (South Loop, from an ex-Rosebud chef, May) Trattoria 31 (Bridgeport, May) Erba (Lincoln Square, from the people behind Brioso, May) Gruppo di Amici (Rogers Park, opening in June)
  4. So my roman mint has given me a much bigger harvest then my roman artichokes. I'm wondering what are other suggested pairings are out there for nepitella? Tripe? Any tripe recipes? thanks, trillium
  5. (N.B.: shamelessly cross-posted from my blog.) I've been thinking a lot about fish lately, prompted by a project I'm beginning on fish in Roman culture and literature. It's not a bad thing to work on here, since it gives me the excuse to do some research on fish in modern Italy. By "research", of course, I mean mostly "eating"-- but I've been looking into fish in other ways as well. You wouldn't think it from visiting coastal Italy (or, for that matter, an inland city like Rome), but the Mediterranean is actually relatively fish-poor, at least compared to the ocean. Modern fishing techniques mean that it's not too hard to get a variety of fish to market. But some parts of the peninsula have historically had better access to fish than others, and that access is reflected on a consumer level by the presence of large fish markets. I'm going to look at two of these, from opposite ends of Italy. The first of these is pretty famous, the Rialto fish market in Venice. Venice's lagoon, with its shallow, brackish water, is a great environment for attracting the wide variety of fish that are the hallmark of Venetian cuisine. The importance of fish for Venice is highlighted by the elegant architecture of the market. The structure, built in 1907, is a wide portico with room for two rows of stalls, facing onto the Grand Canal. It's easily the loveliest fish market I've ever seen (okay, not that much competition there...) The column capitals along the outside are all in the shape of different fish, boats, etc.: I didn't see any turtles for sale at the market! But these guys are pretty cute. The architect (whom my guidebook lists as the painter Cesare Laurenti) was clearly having some fun, while maintaining a traditional Venetian appearance. As the city of Venice has shrunk (there are about 60,000 people in central Venice, down from 200,000 a century ago), the importance of the market has decreased. Restaurants buy a lot of fish, of course, but they mostly get it from the wholesale market, and while tourists might buy an apple or cherries, a whole mackerel or bag o' shrimp doesn't tend to fit well into a suitcase! As a result, when I was there (late May), the market was only about half-occupied by stalls, and many of the people walking around were (like me) tourists with cameras, rather than shoppers. Too bad, because the seafood there is absolutely gorgeous. I'm pretty bad with seafood names (in English or Italian)- so please feel free to help me out in comments... Here's one I do know, some nice looking red mullets: They're particular favorites of mine, both because the Romans loved 'em (as pets and as food), and because, hey: "red mullet". hee! There's a lot of care put into displaying fish (it helps that I arrived at around 8 AM, when things were just starting to gear up): Here are some canocce: alien-looking crustaceans that are very characteristic of Venice. I don't know if they live elsewhere: I love those "eyes". This is a close-up, obviously, but lots of the vendors stack them up like so much fishy cordwood. We had canocce for dinner that night (at Alle Testiere); they're sweet and tender, sort of between really fresh Gulf shrimp and crab. Here's a bucket o' eels: Still alive: that one in the center was flapping its gills and glaring balefully at me. I have to admit something here and say that eels squick me out a little, and this guy didn't really change things for me... The fruit and vegetable market is right next to the fish market. There's a nice selection, but it didn't strike me as especially distinctive: Hey you! Get back to the piazza San Marco! (And memo to shoppers: be sure to wash that eggplant well! The other fish market I've visited that really impressed me was way at the other end of Italy, in Syracuse. Sicilian seafood is of course famous, and rightly so. Like Venice, Sicilians have been able to exploit their environment to get access to lots of different kinds of seafood. In this case, the straits of Messina provide naturally good fishing grounds. The small space creates a difference in temperature between the western and eastern Mediterranean, something that attracts fish. And the narrow straits funnel fish, making them easier to catch. The market in Syracuse is on the island of Ortygia, steps away from the temple of Apollo and next to the small harbor. It stretches for about two or three blocks on a small street. Not as picturesque as the Venice market, but with at least as good a selection of fish, and with a more vibrant atmosphere. Here are some anchovies. Or maybe sardines. I'm not really sure, actually: To misquote Maurice Chevalier, "thank heaven for leetle feesh!" I've really come to love the miniature members of the scaly tribe: alici sott'olio? Oh yeah. It's a real shame that Americans are so fixated on steak fish (salmon, tuna, etc.); I'm sure whether I'll be able to get them back in the US. Anyway, it's an excuse to eat as many as possible now... I don't know what this thing is. But it kind of scares me. Probably it's delicious, but I wouldn't have the faintest idea what to do with it. Other than back away slowly... Again, not really sure what these are. I just think they're really beautiful. As with these: Let's just call those last photos "two studies in stripes." Finally, the biggest fish in the market that day, a nice-looking tuna: Everybody is impressed (and rightly so), even that kid in the corner. Yum! I love Syracuse; it's a beautiful, friendly city with wonderful food and a fascinating history. One of my fantasies-- once I win the lottery, you know-- is to move there and just cook fish every single day. Someday, maybe...
  6. Have Italian restaurants in Philly started branching out and defining themselves more strictly by region yet? My impression is no, but I remember thinking (roughly around when fusion cuisines started emerging as the cool thing) that the next food trend (nationally) would be the emergence of regional ethnic cuisines. It's started earliest with Chinese restaurants, with Sichuan and Shanghaiese (also nationally), not suprisingly, but has it started yet with Italian restaurants in the US, the other main cuisine category, as far as sheer numbers (I presume, although sushi bars, restaurants, and joints do seem to be catching up)? I've heard randomly certain Italian restaurants' cuisines described as from Rome, Emilia-Romagna, etc. I have never used subsets of cuisines yet to distinguish the various restaurants in Philly, BYOB or not. Nor have I heard anyone else use regionality of cuisine to distinguish between XYZ restaurant and ABC restaurant. I suppose I'm interested in the issue both locally and nationally.
  7. I read somewhere that you could not get real fragolino anymore because the grape is American (oh no!) and the EU banned commercial production. Is this true?
  8. Click below for Raccolta: Ruché is a bit of a mystery vine. Local wisdom says it is an ancient variety probably indigenous to the Monferrato hills. Even the origin of the name is unclear with some claiming it came from the name of a local monastery while another source points to a resistance to a particular vine disease. Whatever the case, little documentary evidence exists and the history of ruché is more folklore than fact.
  9. Click below for Raccolta: The big and bold flavors of primitivo may grab all the headlines, but Puglia's most complex wines come from negroamaro. This is a vine that in the right vineyards and with the right winemaker can approach nebbiolo in complexity.
  10. Many of us have our own ideas about this, and it's been discussed here at some length... but I'd be curious to hear whatever thoughts you might have about what makes Italian food Italian beyond just the ingredients. I've always felt that your restaurants did not attempt to slavishly duplicate Italian dishes and flavors, and yet were very much Italian in spirit... almost as though you were treating New York City, its culture and available ingredients as just another region of Italy -- creating dishes that would seem "Italian" to any Italian (in contrast to most Italian-American cooking) and yet was distinctly New York as well. What is it about the Italian culinary philosophy/aesthetic that makes this possible, and how do you reflect this in your approach to cooking?
  11. Mario it's a pleasure. I was curious as to which region in Italy is your favorite for food overall? I understand that this may be a tough question and that all regions have their own unique tastes and foods. However I am sure there is a place that seems to call you when you land on Italian soil. I am planning atrip next year and would like to incorporate not only sightseeing but "sighteating." I am very excited since this will be my first trip to Italy. PS- My experience at Babbo was nothing but spectacular. How the heck do you get your octopus to be so tender?
  12. Hello Mario ! What are your thoughts on the (possibly) simplistic feeling that Northern Italian cuisine is light and delicate whereas a dish in Sicily is sure to come with more heavy red sauce than pasta? I always thought I'd prefer the food of Northern Italy...but, after three trips ranging from Lake Como to Taormina I'm not sure I agree....anxious to hear your thoughts. Babbo is a fantastic restaurant with lunch at Salumi another favorite ! Char
  13. Click here to visit Villa Bucci
  14. Thought I'd get another discussion going. What's your favorite "Red Sauce" Italian place in the Denver area? My favorite is the Gondolier in Boulder. I've been going there since high school for the all you can eat spaghetti special that they have on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Homemade noodles and (to me) a great sauce. Plus, in their new location, they have a great patio. Thoughts?
  15. Of course throughout Italy and the mediterranean there are a number of ubiquitous species, such as calamari, octopus, branzino, etc to delight the palate. Howeverr, various areas have their own unique or uniquely special seafood products, whether they be a particular species, extra special quality or method of production/preparation that set them apart. A few that come to mind are moleche (tiny soft shell crabs) from the Venetian lagoon and a tiny, fantastically delicious shrimp, the name of which I have no idea, from the Straits of Messina. There are certainly places taht are particularly known for their products, whether they be anchovies, bottarga or clams. Wherre are they and what are your favorites?
  16. Are any of the myriad Italian restaurants in Ridgewood any good? My wife and I are interested in trying them but really don't want to waste our time on bad food.
  17. Ciao Mario, I was recently involved in a minor skirmish about my recipe for Buccatini All'Amartriciana. Mine includes a couple cloves of garlic in the sauce. I was severely chastised by someone who travels extensively to Italy, that Italians would never put garlic in this particular recipe. He then criticized Americans for generally putting too much garlic in Italian food and being unable to truly recreate authentic italian cuisine. To me it begged the question as to whether Italy really has such strict and rigid regional recipes. Are Americans generally overgarlicking and mucking up authentic italian cuisine? Grazie, Trish
  18. stscam

    Sticky Pasta

    I'm planning to offer store-made pasta in the new retail section of my bakery. We're going to do a basic egg, a spinach and a tomato basil. The plan is to make sheets, then cut them at the counter for the customer. Problem is - the cut pasta is sticking to itself and doesn't always come apart when put in boiling water; some of it clumps. We tried 100% semolina and 50% semolina - 50% all-purpose. We've tried chilling the pasta before cutting, using lots of semolina when sheeting and cutting, but nothing seems to work. We'd love to hear thoughts about how we can improve our product. Cheers,
  19. 2000 Castello d'Albola Chianti Classico Tuscany, Italy Medium ruby red to rim. Aromas of cherries, plum, brown sugar, and earth. Medium bodied with cherries and sour red fruit. Short finish, ~20s, slightly hot. 83 points (03/28/2004). 1997 Castelli del Grevepesa Chianti Classico L'Alberello di Lamole Tuscany, Italy Crystal clear ruby to slightly oranging rim. Aromas of cherries, strawberries, sliced red plums, orange peel, and finocchio frawns. Medium-bodied with cherry and red plum replays. Well integrated tannins and a moderate-short finish, ~20-25s. Slightly over the hill. Drink up. 86 points (04/16/2004). 1996 Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano Mormoreto Tuscany, Italy 60 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet opaque colour to a ruby/ruddy rim. Aromas of blackberry, tar, varnish, toasted vanilla/oak, black licorice, kirsch, sweet red fruits, and a bit of herbaceousness. The nose seems more in line with a Chateauneuf-du-Pape than a Cab. Medium-bodied with sweet red fruits and a very prevalent green pepper/herbal note on the palate. Very present tannins, and I don't think they'll ever resolve. The fruit is falling apart too. A very drying finish with barnyard, glycerin, and bing cherry are met with more green pepper notes, about 30s in length. This wine is on the downhill slide and would likely have been better a couple years ago. 85 points (04/27/2004). 1997 Michele Satta Vigna Al Cavaliere Tuscany, Italy Opaque garnet/black colour. Aromas of grilled meat, smoke, pancetta, earth, empire apples, and herbs. Medium-full bodied with minerals, fresh figs, and leather. Short finish with apple notes, ~15s. Would have been better a couple years ago. 86 points (04/27/2004). 1998 Vignamaggio Obsession Tuscany, Italy Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah blend. Opaque garnet/purple colour. Aromas of cinnamon, cola, plums, nutmeg, dark chocolate, maraschino cherry, and cassis. Medium-bodied with vanilla, black cherry, and mushroom. Short finish, ~15s. A non-descript expression of terrior in this wine. It could come from anywhere in the world. 85 points (04/27/2004). 1997 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Piemonte, Italy Crystal clear ruby red to an oranging rim. Aromas of bright cherry, earth, mushroom. Simple, clean Barbaresco. Fresh, with cherries and candied orange peel. Short finish, ~ 20s. A definite food wine. 86 points (04/29/2004). 1999 Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Veneto, Italy Tasted over two nights. First night, straight out of the bottle. Clean, ruby red/garnet colour. Fat, thick, slow legs. Evolving nose with aromas of cherries, espresso, mushrooms, sweet red fruits (sliced plums and raspberries), briar, mocha, glycerin, and balsamic. Medium-full bodied, showing a lot of restraint and mouth-searing tannins. Behind the wall of tannin there are hints of cherries, mushrooms, thyme, and cinnamon. Dry, tannic finish, about 30-40s. 86 points right now, mostly for the nose. (04/28/2004) Second night. Decanted two hours the previous night, poured back into bottle and vacu-winned. Stored overnight in my cellar. Seemed to darken with air, becoming almost opqaue with purple tinges to the dark ruby/garnet colour. Aromas of Asian 5-spice, sweet red fruits (plums, cherries), glycerin, and vanilla. Medium-full bodied with sweet red fruits, white pepper, earth, and bannana. Moderate finish, about 30s, with allspice notes. This will be better in a few years, but never be a 90-point wine. 88 points (04/29/2004). 1997 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Gold Label Tuscany, Italy Decanted ~ 30 minutes. Dark ruby red to rim. Aromas of vanilla, black cherries, black plums, earth, smoke, raspberries, and currant. Medium-bodied, fresh tasting, clean wine with cherries, a hint of spice and a bit of milk chocolate. Tannins are fully integrated. Short finish, ~15-20s, with spice and orange rind notes. Slightly disappointing; was expecting more. Drink now with food. 86 points (05/01/2004).
  20. I've looked for a similar thread, but couldn't find one. My apologies if this already exists somewhere. Last night, we went to Il Boccalone (Ebisu 1-15-9, 3449-1430). It had been recommended by friends, but I had been skeptical, as I had read elsewhere that the price exceeded the merits and that it was sometimes "filled with boistrous stockbrokers" (per Tokyo Food Page). Given the location -- Ebisu bordering on Hiroo -- I could see both charges being accurate. I don't have time to write a full review right now, and a friend was paying so I can't directly address the tariff, but I will say I was mighty pleased. Understand that I have been in the western food desert of Seoul for the past few years, so I am probably primed to have positive reactions to even moderately good Italian. (I love Seoul -- enjoyed living there, absolutely in love with Korean food, will happily spend time and money to travel there again and again. However, despite the arguments on another thread in the Elsewhere in Asia forum, there is NO good western food in Seoul. There is literally one Western restaurant in the entire city that I would cross the street to eat at in another country. Again, I love Korea, but it is an Italian food desert.) Zucchini blossoms are shun right now, so one of the app specials was battered and fried zucchini blossoms filled with mozzarella. This is one of my favorite dishes, so I am picky about it and I was thrilled with the result. My wife (similarly picky about Italian food) also ordered it and was exultant. The couple dining with us each had a simple insalata misto. My wife is the world's biggest risotto perfectionist, damn near impossible to please. Her next course was a very simple risotto seasoned with nothing more than good light stock, a well cooked soffrito, and a touch of parm. She split this with the lady from the other couple. I think she regretted having to share. At the same time, I was digging into a plate of rabbit tortolone in a butter sage sauce. Flavor was awesome, with a slight hint of earthiness to the rabbit seasoning, but not much to obscure the nice, almost sweet young meat. I might have had a touch more sage in the sauce, but the proportions were classic. It is my own debased palate that wants the dish loaded up with sage. My one criticism is that a few of the tortoloni were ever so slightly overcooked -- a minor flaw, but disappointing given how good the dish was otherwise. Unfortunately, for the life of me, I can't remember what the fourth member of the table ate. The highlight of the meal came next. As a special, the restaurant has been running a cavallo (horse) steak. I've never fabricated a horse and don't get to eat it that often, so my ability to identify cuts is limited, but it seemed to be a fairly thin cut from an area roughly equivalent to sirloin. It was cooked just to the m-r side of rare, so that it had taken on a pink tone most of the way through, but still bled generously when cut. That blood blended perfectly into the classic, simple seasoning of good olive oil to make me wish I were less constrained by convention and had the chutzpah to drink from the plate! The meat was more tender than I expected and, though not long-aged, full flavoured. I was so absorbed in my cavallo that I was unable to focus on what my wife or our friends were eating, though I know my wife had veal marsala and seemed to enjoy it. Our friends ate some sort of beef. They seemed to be content as well, but I really did zone out when my carne came. Wine list seemed to have a reasonably well selected, though perhaps a little expensive, range. As I said, we knew we wouldn't be paying (and our dining partners aren't really wine people), so I went with a simple Rosso di Montalcino for about $55 US. Drinking highlight was the following exchange: me: What choices would I have in terms of grappa? maitre'd cum captain cum sommelier: Well sir, can you tell me what you might like? me: How about some nebbiolo, something from the Piemonte? him, a few minutes later: Here sir, I've brought two -- a Barolo and a Ghemme. As you can see, the Barolo is almost empty. Why don't you try both and then pour yourself a glass of whichever you like? Needless to say, that was enough to bring me back another time. Desserts were good. I had a simple spongy cake partially macerated in cinnamon liqueur. Wife had a chocolate concoction I didn't really have room to taste. Cuban friend had cake with Italian meringue icing (traditional Cuban birthday cake treatment). They were good, but I was perfectly sated by the meat and should have stopped. I certainly had little critical faculty left. In summary: Didn't see any stockbrokers...Noise was discernable, but pleasant...Don't know the full tab, but 2,800 yen for my cavallo steak was well worth it...Ghemme grappa was excellent...definitely heading back soon. What are other peoples' favorite Italian places in town? Jim Edited to correct typo that affected meaning (and a few others that were just embarassing...because I can't proofread for s---
  21. I'm going to alba in july, and am looking to get some bottles of barolos. I am only going to be in the area for two day, and hopfully will be going to a few winerys. I was wondering if there are wine shops that either have better selections then others or have better prices?
  22. July brings us the cooking of Sicily. I’m really pumped about this month of cooking, most especially to see how everyone else does with it. Last year when I cooked from Sicily (also in July), I had a great time; I would just find myself grinning while prepping the food. It’s so aromatic and exotic and full of weird combos that you don’t see elsewhere in Italy. Things you’d never think would work together wind up being the best dishes; I’d encourage finding some out-there Sicilian recipes and giving them a spin (my favorites from last year: duck with chocolate, cantaloupe caponata, baked pasta with and orange and cinnamon-scented sausage ragu). I’m going to try to acquire an actual Sicily cookbook this month, since usually I just go by the references in my other books. A booksearch on Amazon for Sicily reveals the following books: Ciao Sicily by Damian Mandola, Johnny Carrabba Sweet Sicily: The Story of an Island and Her Pastries by Victoria Granof Sicily: A Way of Life in 50 Recipes by Janine Saine Foods of Sicily and Sardinia and the Smaller Islands by Giuliano Bugialli, John Dominis The Flavors of Sicily by Anna Tasca Lanza "Pinch" of Sicily : A Collection of Memories and Traditional Recipes by maria sciortino Cucina Paradiso: The Heavenly Food of Sicily by Clifford A. Wright The Heart of Sicily : Recipes & Reminiscences of Regaleali, a Country Estate by Anna Tasca Lanza Sicily (Flavors of Italy , Vol 2, No 4) by Mariapaola Dettore, McCrae Books Southern Italian Cooking : Family Recipes from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies by Jo Bettoja Pomp And Sustenance : Twenty Five Centuries Of Sicilian Food by Mary Simeti Taylor Cucina Siciliana by Clarissa Hyman Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood by Maria Grammatico Sicilian Feasts by Giovanna Bellia La Marca Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio by Wanda Tornabene, Giovanna Tornabene, Michele Evans Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa -- by Vincent Schiavelli So, quite a bit to choose from, over and above the chapters on Sicily in the regional cookbooks we’ve been referencing. I have Schiavelli’s book and really enjoy it, Sweet Sicily is dessert-oriented but still very worthwhile. Classic dishes and preparations would take up pages, but suffice it to say, lots of seafood, especially compared against Sardinian traditional cooking. Sicily’s been ruled by nearly every Mediterranean power at one point or another and has embraced an elaborate layer of influences and dishes. Sweet and sour is a common preparation, but what is interesting is how varied the theme plays out: it’s a lot more than vinegar, sugar, raisins, and pine nuts. Chocolate is thrown in for a dash of bitter to balance out the dish in some recpies; in others the sweet comes from fresh fruit or honey instead of just sugar; in others the sour comes from citrus instead of vinegar. There’s a wealth of antipasti to choose from: many of them deep-fried. Pastas abound, but there’s also an interesting tradition of rice dishes and timabelle. Finally, vegetables are abundant and you could almost make a month out of vegetarian dishes, and a month more just on the variations on caponata, the sweet/sour condimento found here. Even more pages could be devoted to the elaborate Sicilian sweet tooth: gelato, cannoli, zeppole, bigne, cassata just scratch the surface of some of the more famous sweets originated or perfected here. Let’s get cooking! I’m really excited to see what everyone does . . .
  23. I was about to prepare a recipe calling for orzo but it specifically says "not Greek". When I retrieved my unopened orzo from the pantry -- guess what! It says orzo - kritharaki and is made in Greece! What problems will this cause? It is a simple side-dish that calls for orzo, chicken broth, parmesan and some seasonings. The orzo is cooked in plain water, drained and cooled quickly in cold water and then cooked again in the broth and then basically tossed with the remaining ingredients. There are no directions on the package that might guide me. Many thanks.
  24. When I was still a graduate student, I would leave the library just before it closed. Winding down Via Sant'Antonino where four little pigs sat stuffed, clutching forks and knives, checkered napkins tied around their necks like the ropes that suspended prosciutto from the ceiling of the shop behind their table, I headed toward the bus at Santa Maria Novella. Often it was one of those accordian monsters, the front of the vehicle attached to the rear by pleated folds of a substance that resembled vinyl. If the bus was really packed, there was nowhere to stand but on the metal platform between those folds, pitching and adjusting your balance with every turn down narrow streets while the space around you expands and then contracts over and over until it stopped beside the lumber yard far from the city center. From there, the walk home was through twisting, dark passages lit by electric candles set before Madonnas enshrined within the towering walls. At the end: a club for working men; above, my apartment. Behind that, fields where the rooster crowed just before the light returned to us once more. I shared the space with three other students. We would collect in the kitchen when it got really cold which it did that winter. Instructions on the wall advised us to turn on the heat only in the evening and only until we went to bed. Even when the heat was on, it was barely enough for the two of us from the U.S. We wore layers upon layers and walked around with hands wrapped around mugs of tea. We sipped lots and lots of soup. Kevin's thread on ragu has gotten me to think about that nourishing soup. If you are also as grateful as I am for thick, substantial winter soups from Italy, I would love to hear from you, whether it is a recommendation of a favorite restaurant, or recipe or advice you'd like to share based on soups you have made yourself. Since this post is rather lengthy, I will mention only two sources very briefly: 1) in Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen there is a recipe for ribollita that strikes me as amazingly Tuscan and authentic. It is now a favorite. 2) Wasserman-Miller's Soups of Italy is now on sale at JessicasBiscuit. Based on what I have made from a copy checked out at the library, I highly recommend the book.
  25. We have this package of pasta, and all the labeling is in Italian. Is it bucatoni, or is bucatoni not this large? Anyway, not knowing for sure what it is, I didn't look in my recipes or online for something to cook with it. What kind of dish or what kind of sauce with it would you suggest? I was hoping the photo would show the size. It's almost two feet long.
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