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  1. Has anyone tried to cure guanciale (cured pig's jowls) at home? There is a simple recipe in the Babbo cookbook, which also appears on the Babbo Web site: http://www.babbonyc.com/in-guanciale.html I was surprised that the recipe did not call for using any "curing salt." I would love to avoid using curing salt/nitrite, but from some preliminary research, it seems to be a standard curing ingredient in order to kill certain bacteria. I looked at a few recipes for pancetta, and they all use a curing salt, in addition to regular salt. I'm wondering if this is an omission in the recipe, or if it could safely be made without curing salt. Another question: The recipe does not discuss washing the salt off the meat after the cure and before the drying period. This is a step I have seen in pancetta recipes. Another omission of a step that should be followed? Any thoughts on either of these questions? Thanks.
  2. I have been making pancetta for the first time. I have experience with the curing process doing things like bacon and cold smoked salmon in the past but this is the first time I have ever hanged anything. After a week of curing it has had 11 days hanging so far (I was planning on taking it to 28 days hanging) Although I foolishly forgot to weigh it. It smells really good like some awesome salami and the outer rim of the pancetta looks lovely and rich and dark. It was a recipe by Kuhlman in one of their charcuterie books. But when I inspected it today it had the mould growing on it as in the pics below. I have since scrubbed the mould off with white wine vinegar and returned it to the cellar. Is it wise to continue? Daniel
  3. Here is my predicament: I love limoncello, but the yellow sugary syrupy stuff sold at most restaurants in NYC (notable exceptions: Babbo and Girasole) and at liquor stores is totally undrinkable. Where can I find the good stuff? (I live in NYC, but any recommendation would be appreciated). Let me also add that I have been too lazy to make my own, but am starting to think that is my only option. Please, please help me.
  4. Gnocchi is one of those foods that can be great or horrible. When its good, its light, soft and almost creamy, and when its bad its like tasteless lead sinkers. The strange thing about it is that it contains only 3-5 ingredients (potatoes, flour, salt, and maybe egg and/or some nutmeg). It looks so easy to make, yet I can't seem to get it right. Almost everything I've read says you want to use as little flour as possible, and to do so, you've got to allow as little water as possible into the potato. You also have to use floury potatos such as russets. While I've tried baking and boiling the potatoes, using a masher and a ricer, with egg and without egg, I can't seem to get it right. Does anyone have a tried and true recipe or know what I'm doing wrong?
  5. lamington

    Pasta shapes

    I haven't found a previous thread about this, so what pasta shapes do you like and why? I'm sure we must have both logical preferences and aesthetic predelictions:) I must admit I'm very much a no.1 spaghetti guy. But recently I returned to tagliatelle, finally overcoming the 1980s trauma of too many carbonaras So who likes what? Penne because they're holey, farfalle cos they're pretty, orrechiette cos they take a sauce well... and more...?
  6. The Holidays and New Year caused me to lapse in my planning for this thread, hence the delay and subsequently shoddy initial post. Trentino Alto Adige is one of the Northernmost regions of Italy, above the Veneto and bordering Friuli Venezia Giulia. The cuisines share some similarities and key ingredients. TAA is equally informed by Austria in its cooking and culture. Dark, whole grain breads are a key staple. When they get too stale, one use for these breads is to make them into canederli, a type of gnocchi or dumpling. Sauerkraut also can be found used here, as can perhaps the best-known export of the region, speck or smoked prosciutto. Game abounds, and beef is used quite a bit in the cooking as well. This is one of the thinnest referenced regions we've covered, unfortunately. No books devoted exlcusively to it turn up in an Amazon booksearch. Ada Boni roles up the Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia into one whole chapter. Marlena di Blasi leaves the region out entirely from her Northern cookbook, dismissing it as "too Germanic". That leaves a thin chapter on it from Ada Boni's book, and the chapter from Culinaria. If I recall correctly, Lynne Rossetto Kasper also imparts a few reigional recipes in her Italian Country Table cookbook as well. There's a not-terribly enlightening article on it in the new all-Italy edition of Gourmet magazine. Hopefully, Pontormo will be able to help us with online resources, and of course others' knowledge and input are welcome as well.
  7. I love pasta and eat it several times a week. I love cheese and eat it when I can find it here. When I was a kid, the local grocer called us the Cheese Family as we ate so much. But I loathe macaroni cheese as it is known where I'm from. Maybe just too many stodgy, bad experiences in the past. Or maybe it's just horrible. My brother loved it though and when he moved to Spain insisted on the family sending him regular packs of his favourite brand of British macaroni. What I did like was what my mother called 'Macaroni Mish-Mash', which was basically cooked macaroni fried with bacon, onions and tomatoes plus any leftovers, however inappropriate. Never mushrooms. I hadn't thought about that dish in decades until this topic disinterred it from the ravages of my memory. Might have to make it. I will include mushrooms.
  8. AlaMoi

    Osso bucco

    okay, it's spelled many ways. that's not the point here.... I'm working on the perfect sauce/cooking liquid/+other things combo for a delectable dish. I don't have problems with the meat - I can get good shanks, browned nicely, they come out tender and tasty. it's the in-pot accompaniments that disappoint. I done multiple versions of 'trinity,' tried tomato based/adds, tried various seasonings. I've served it with rice, pasta, barley, faro as the 'side reinforcement.' there was a little resto in North Henderson / Patrick Lane(?) that did "my ideal" knock-em-dead version, I've never been able to duplicate the taste. anyone have a super-version? am I missing some magic spicing classic to the real Italian deal?
  9. It's one o'clock on a warm summer's day in Florence, I'm on my way to get ingredients for lunch. The sun is high in the sky, the cobblestones are warm under my feet and the aroma of something delicious is in the air. My mind starts to drift to the onions, celery and tomatoes I need for my pasta sauce, oh and don't forget something sweet for dessert...this truly is la dolce vita. My thoughts are soon interrupted by an unwelcome "chiuso" sign on the door of my new favorite deli. The blinds are closed and the friendly owners are nowhere in sight. The reality of having my favorite pasta dish for lunch was slipping further and further away. What a nightmare! How can this be? A local passing by must have noticed my frustration. "Signorina, è riposo. Tutto è chiuso!" Of course! How could I forget about the sacred Italian siesta? A siesta or riposo, as most Italians call it, is a time of rest. This time is usually around midday, or the hottest part of the day (very inconvenient if you're craving a bowl of pasta.) No one can really say where the tradition of the siesta originates, but many say it's all about food (no surprises there really). For many Italian families the main meal of the day is lunch. This heavy meal in the middle of the day is attributed to the standard Mediterranean diet: A minuscule breakfast of a coffee and pastry , a heavy lunch and an evening meal around 10 o'clock. The logic is that after such a heavy meal one would surely be drowsy and need to rest, no one can work efficiently on a full stomach! Post offices, car rentals, supermarkets and even coffee shops (in some smaller towns police stations too) all close their doors for a riposo. Everything comes to a standstill as every Italian goes home to kick of their shoes, enjoy a homemade lunch with family and bask in the Italian sunshine for three to four hours. This is serious business. One would not dare work for 8 hours straight. After their riposo most businesses open again around 4 o'clock and stay open till 7pm. Its the perfect balance between work and play and does wonders for your digestive system! "Grazie!" I thanked her for the reminder. The midday sun started to become unbearable. The streets had cleared with only a few tourists braving the midday heat still around. I thought about the strawberries I bought from the market earlier that week. Strawberries for lunch on my shaded balcony and maybe a nap afterwards sounded like my perfect riposo. The pasta will have to wait till 4.
  10. Society members Alex and Aki (twodogs) over at Ideas in Food have been displaying some remarkable pasta made with their Arcobaleno extruder. I need another kitchen gadget like I need a whole in my head, particularly one that has no price listed on the website but instead offers a "Financing" tab. But that doesn't prevent me from living vicariously from y'all. So who's got a good extruder out there these days? Even the hand-cranked ones are in the $400 range, it seems. Any budget options for those of us who just must make bucatini at home somehow?
  11. Anybody else's family make these? We make then on Holy Thursday every year. We roll out the dough into rounds, then stuff with a filling of basket cheese, romano cheese, pepperoni and eggs. Roll the dough into a half moon, brush with egg yolks and bake. We also make varieties with prosciutto instead of pepperoni and ones with crabmeat or shrimp so we can eat those ones on Good Friday.
  12. Does anyone have a recipe for the filling for butternut squash ravioli? I've been craving it recently, and squash is now in season here. I'll probably go with a sage and brown butter sauce in keeping with the way it's usually served in these parts, but I'm open to other suggestions as well.
  13. Hi there Italian chefs around the world - Two years ago (while visiting my family in New York - we live for 25 years in California)) we went to New York and ate in an Italian Restaurant in Syosset Long Island, New York (Steve's Piccola Bussola) and ordered their Chicken Cacciatore. It was unbelievable, so savory and tender and juice and it had 4 lean and juicy (no skin, no fat, no gristle) rollups wrapped around what looked like a small (about 1-2" rib bone) (in chicken???_ was able to get some of the recipe because I called them 2x, but after 5 tries at various times, I am giving up. He (the chef) said they used thighs - but the thighs I know are fatty and tough so I don't know where they got it. He said they buy the whole chickens and cut it up, so I guess they can get rid of the fat,skin and gristle that way. One, because I am never able to get their dark brown sauce (don't know how they do it because having a brown sauce by working with chicken, mushrooms, wine and onions is an enigma. Their sauce is not sweet, or sour just rich and savory. I saw the kind of sauce that it was when I saw the recipe of Hubert Keller's Beef Borguignon on TV, but it looked soooo difficult and was made with meat, not chicken. That has meat rollups sitting in a dark brown sauce. Help! I want to learn how to make that. The initial recipe that they gave me was this: Take chicken and cut it into pieces the size of a meatball with or without the bone. Take olive oil and make very hot. Brown. Add 2 cups chicken stock, salt and pepper, parsley, and simmer for ½ hour. After brown, put until broiler and brown some more. In another skillet, put mushrooms, onions, little tomato sauce, and when sizzling and hot, add white wine (or Marsala) and cook in pan – ½ hour. Add butter to thicken – but do not boil after butter melts Said I can also put a little tomato sauce in there - maybe it was tomato paste. After ready, marry the two and cook another 15 minutes all together (or not) – just eat it. Below is a photo of Steve's Chicken Cacciatore - I know it looks like beef, but this is chicken!
  14. I'll be in Naples for a few days next month and I wanted to try something traditional, and my friend recommended trying parmigiana. She said she loved it, but the problem is that she ate it at her Italian friend's house, and I won't be able to have that exact parmigiana. So, I did some research online and found a few restaurants that have good ratings and are serving allegedly great eggplant casserole. This place is 4 stars rated, but people seem not to agree whether the parmigiana is good or not.... On the other hand, this place has a great rating, appears when searching for the parmigiana, but nobody seems to write about it in their reviews. Finally, this one is said to have the best parmigiana in Naples (or in the world, for that matter), and I wanted to know if anyone had the so-called world's best? I would really appreciate if you could help me make the decision. Looking forward to your advice!
  15. I am looking for cookbooks that feature recipes and cuisine from the Northern region of Italy. ( My ancestors originate from Torino. ) I am looking for 'light' or healthier versions of traditional northern Italian recipes. Any recommendations?
  16. My lucky younger sister got to travel for a few weeks in Italy last summer and fell in love with the pizza. Now she wants me to take her somewhere in LA where she can relive the experience she had in Piacenza. I've already made it clear that wherever I take her will obviously not be 100%, but I'd do my best to get "as close to authentic" I could possibly do. Other then Antica in LB, is there anywhere else I could take her?
  17. I understand that it used to be traditional for a family crest or similar to be used as a pattern for pizzelles. My girlfriend's family is from Abruzzo, and her sister has pizzelle duty for the holidays who also has a high interest in genealogy. I thought it might be a really nice gift next year if we could get her a pizzelle maker with custom plates with her family's crest, but I've no idea to where to start. Ideally, for convenience sake, it would be best to get an electric maker or something that would work with a commercial device vs. traditional irons. Any ideas?
  18. Italian vintner likens wine to men who improve with age well this is one obscure old grape for me...goes back to the documented date of 1298...but we know it's much older... Click On Me
  19. Pardon me if there's already a thread, but I haven't seen one in all my searching and I'm really interested in this book. I happened to pick it up at the library on Saturday and I've been looking through it with various feelings since. I think most of it is wonder. I've never seen anything I'd rather eat more of than what's in this book. There are some particular selections which look especially incredible right now: The acorn squash sformato; the sweet pea flan; the goat cheese truffles; the asparagus vinaigrette; the duck liver ravioli; the pumpkin lune; the spaghetti with sweet 100 tomatoes; the penne with zucca; the gnocchi with venison and rosemary. My list goes on and on and about half the recipes in the book are on it. Not to mention the pasta recipe he gives, which I plan to try this evening. To give you an idea of how crazy I am, I don't have a pasta maker. I would love to know if any of you have made things from this book. Today is just the pasta, but I plan on making more than enough for at least 3 dishes for Adam and I. For a first dish, I may start with the beef cheek ravioli, though I plan to use brisket due to the fact that I highly doubt that here, in this tiny town in Iowa, I'll be able to find cheeks. I do plan to ask, though. Then we'll go to the tortelloni with dried orange and fennel pollen, though the pollen is going to be hard to source around here, though. And then the one that intrigues me the most because, as most of the people on my father's side of the family, we love the weed: asparagus and ricotta ravioli. I plan to make the ricotta from whole, lightly pasteurized milk. My grandmother grows asparagus, but I tend to go the more labor intensive route; here in Iowa, it grows in the ditches along the highways in massive quantities in the early spring. The wild really does have a better flavor than the store bought variety, but home grown tends to be about the same. I can just get the wild stuff about 2 weeks sooner. One other interesting thing about the book is that he mentions rhubarb being a 'nostalgic childhood memory', and I heartily agree. Both my grandmother and my great grandmother on my father's side grew it at home, and when my husband and I were looking for a house a few years ago I almost went with this one just for the four large plants that produced relatively large amounts of the stuff. As a child I used to eat the stalks raw, dipped in a little bowl of sugar, as a snack. If you don't like rhubarb in my family you're looked at a little funny. Hubby still doesn't get it. Anyway, this is getting much longer than it was supposed to be. Looking through this book made me yearn to live somewhere I could more easily get the ingredients used. Sourcing the things or coming up with suitable substitutions is going to be interesting and fun.
  20. We're heading off next week to a big gathering of friends in a house in the South of Le Marche, on the edge of the Sibillini mountains. I've volunteered to be one of the cooks. Is anyone familiar with the region at this time of year? Would absolutely love any tips on exciting seasonal treats that we should be making a beeline for in the markets, or favourite recipes involving local ingredients. I'm feeling hungry already...
  21. Hi friends, I am proposing an Italian starch dish for Christmas in my menu(Buffet style), I am toying of a polenta, risotto, lasagna or others dishes that is practical and suitable for buffet and at the same time maintain its traditionality. Thanks you and do correct me for any misconception. Thanks you.
  22. Having just returned from the UK we are out searching for apartment and Saturday took us to Bondi Beach, after checking out the apartment we strolled along the beach and by chance came across NBIF. I had heard a lot of great things about it, and so took this opportunity to give it a go. As you would expect on a sunny spring afternoon it was mobbed, they don’t take bookings so we added out name to the list and were told it would be two hours (and no they don’t take mobile numbers). Off we headed for a longer walk with the aim to get back for a few beers before a late lunch. We arrived back 40 mins later (we were thirsty) to find our table ready. Good news but a bit worrying on the time estimate front. A good position on a shared table (more later) at the front with a prime view of the beach, this is really one of the best located beach side restaurants I have eaten in, and given the location the scenery inside isn’t at all shabby either. It is quite a big menu divided up in the usual Italian style, starters are around $16 to $18 mark, mains head towards $30 and sides $10 t0 $18. It reads pretty well, with some interesting sounding dishes including a daily roast (evenings only) and an offal section. We start with some very good bread and oil, great texture to the bread and a nice bite to the oil, the draught beer is “Blue Tongue” which hits the spot. We share “Baccala Fritto” for a starter and it is OK, probably a lot more potato than fish and quite a bland aioli to go with it, OK but we have had lots that are better. My partner had a good “Carpaccio White Fish” which really worked well with some chili flakes and toasted fennel seeds, it is a good dish but really only a starter size ($21). I chose the “Coteletta” which again was fine but not really inspiring, again I have had many that are better. Only the roasts come with veggies so I ordered a side of zucchini, asparagus peas etc. It was quite good but at $18 for basically a bowl of peas I would hope so. Service is very good, even though it is packed there is no pressure to move on. We were still at the table when dinner started at 6:00, no reservations again so it gets busy quickly. We offered to clear the table and head for the bar but the waiter was happy to let us stay. When we asked for the bill he said: “Have you guys been here a long time?” “Yes” “Wow” He then gave us the bill for $675. It looks like the people we had shared the table with had done a runner and left us with the bill, it was quickly cleared up and our bill for food, a few beers and two bottles of decent wine was just over $200. Not bad value given the location etc. Overall the food is OK, but I would not go back for just the food. Interestingly it is owned by the same team that own “Icebergs” on the other side of the beach, and this is another restaurant I find has a “style of substance” problem. When it first opened the food was fantastic, but on a recent visit in March is was good but no longer stunning. However, the location of NBIF is stunning and it is a perfect way to while away an afternoon with a few beers, some wine, and then eat a few dishes to balance the alcohol.
  23. Darcie B

    Holding Pasta

    I would like to serve a variety of pasta shapes and sauces for a dinner party (a pasta bar of sorts). Making the sauces ahead and either holding/reheating poses no challenges, but having multiple types of pasta does. I don't have enough large burners to make more than 2 varieties at once. Is there a practical method of parboiling/holding/reheating pasta that I can use at home? My biggest concerns are overcooking the pasta and having it stick. Suggestions? Or should I just limit it to the two I know I can do?
  24. My wife is on meds now for a heart condition that thankfully is not life threatening, but requires some additional lifestyle changes including lowering carbs. She is already fairly frugal on carbs, but this reinforces that. So, she wants ravioli. What can I do? I am having trouble thinking outside the box on this one. Sure, lettuce cups or such. What else?
  25. On a recent visit to Toronto I had for the first time Italian bread and it was the best bread I have ever tasted. I would love the recipe for this bread or does it use ingredients only obtained commercially? Any information on this would be very gratefully received. Thanks norm
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