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Kevin72

The Cooking and Cuisine of Basilicata and Calabria

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Shaya I am basing my assumption that goat milk might not curdle well on goat yogurt used in middle eastern cooking because it does not curdle once heated like cow's yogurt does. So, I could be wrong. Give a small batch a shot and see what happens.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Eggplant Parmigiana was last night's dinner. I like the recipe in Jamie Oliver's Italy book. The dish ends up sort of like an eggplant casserole, with layers of broiled eggplant, pecorino and tomato/onion sauce. Then you top it with mozzarella and breadcrumbs mixed with herbs and olive oil and bake. It's a great do-it-ahead dish and tastes fantastic

The baked dish

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It's not as 'sexy' after plating, but I had to demonstrate my generous addition of chile flakes :smile:

gallery_5404_94_187773.jpg


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Beautiful, Elie!! Eggplant are on the grocery list with plans of trying out the Lucanian stuffed eggplant for a change. After looking at your photograph and Klary's, I may need to buy extra to make a favorite, though Franci's eggplant-stuffed pasta may be one rung higher in my hierarchy of Great Things To Do With Spongy Vegetables.

I just returned Jamie Oliver's cookbook to the library. He's not alone in recommending broiling the slices, but are you saying he also replaces Reggiano Parmigiana with an aged pecorino--or is that something you did to make this more Calabrian?

ETA: Really doing a swell job w Italian and spelling, lately...


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I just returned Jamie Oliver's cookbook to the library. He's not alone in recommending broiling the slices, but are you saying he also replaces Reggiano Parmigiana with an aged pecorino--or is that something you did to make this more Calabrian?

LOL...only you would ask that. Attention to detail, huh? Nope he actually does use Parmegiano cheese. I used Pecorino for the reason you stated. Pecorino, being made from sheep milk, goes really well with this dish. You think it has anything to do with the fact that lamb and eggplant go together so well :smile: .

Kevin, my wife LOVES this dish as well. Before she met me she thought she did not like eggplant...or okra...


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I have been to the Chili festival in Diamante, was fabulous and everything had chili!

had fabulous chili granita and also pastry cream!

My favorite food was a fried bread dough with anchovies kneaded in.

I will also post a fotograph when I am back in Florence for the basket I have for putting ridges in the gnocchi I picked up when at the festival.

My FAVORITE product from Calabria is N'duja, a soft porkfat/chili that is put in a sauage casing and smoked!

We had it tossed on pasta,where it melts like butter.. with a kick!

Diamante is also know for their Citron.... called the Citron Coast, Riviera dei Cedri, producing most of the citron for the jewish populations needs in the mediterranean.

Of course Granita from the Citron was popular too!

Pork is also king in calabria.. and with the added chili kick... one of my favorites!

Chewy hard wheat pastas.. laden with ragu!

long way to go.. and when I went by train there were problems with"bugs" on the trains!

So watch out for the bed bugs!

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Here are some of my images from the festival.

Held at night.... it was one large food orgy!

stands with chili pepper rasta's, and products with chili from savory to sweet, stands with pasta, meats, breads, shops with jewelery, chandeleers, chili eating contests, and more.

the town itself did not have much to offer, using the internet was a desk in a guys shop for 15 euro for the hour!

Selection of chili's for sale from a friend that was raising the chili's as part of a project from the University of Pisa.. the took back the land they delegated to him, and now Dario Cecchini has donated land to help the professor in his studies.

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A proud chili grower

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One of the pork products, Capocollo, bound and tied with small sticks to keep it shape

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A Savory cornmeal and green olive chili infused "bread", more like a savory cookie

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Woman rolling gnocchi on typical "basket" made from wheat stalks. ( potato gnocchi)

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Mother and son frying potato bread.. with anchovy ( his name was Gianni ( John) Travolta)

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The fried dough!

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Chili granita and ice cream

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Citron granita ( cedro)

gallery_10700_574_13304.jpg

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Wonderful photos!

May I ask a "very elementary" question regarding the dry chili pods. What is the best way to use them in a recipe? Do you reconstitute them in water first? Or do you chop them up dry and add to a recipe? Or do you toss it whole into some oil and saute it first? I have always used red pepper flakes and have never tried the dry pods because I am not sure how to use them.


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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^Sounds like a man of experience! :laugh:

Divina, fantastic photographs--what fun!!!

I've been on a mad hunt having a blast searching all around town for chili peppers from Italy in various guises. I'll say more later, but I completely forgot to pick up fresh ones while shopping today. I ended up with a tube of chili paste from Amore which I really like.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Usually we crumble the broken chili's into oil and saute with garlic, for Italian cooking.

I soak in hot water and puree to make harissa.

OR use a coffee grinder to turn to powder...

Be careful breathing when you open the jar!

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no was last year!!!

not many places to eat... we went by train, was going to try to rent a car and drive around. no luck!

Next time will drive down and around to explore more.. Tropea.. over to Matera.

There is the Accademia del Peperoncino, chili academy, based here and the festival is held in September

http://www.peperoncino.org/old/festival.htm

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Shopping Calabria

Each time we've turned to a Southern Italian region, I've been meaning to visit Litteri, known as the oldest Italian grocer in Washington, D.C. While we have nothing comparable to the Italian-American community of Philadelphia, for example, masons responsible for carving marble on national monuments were Italian and around town, ATMs will help you withdraw cash in their native tongue.

Over the years, the store has become Zia Teresa Luisa, the tiny little bird of a woman wearing a flower-print dress, hunched over her Scotch in the corner at the big family reunion. The entrance is marked by a narrow strip of dark green paint above a concrete loading dock and the kind of aluminum screen door you're likely to find on porches in Astoria or Queens. At the edge of more than a block of wholesale warehouses, it is dwarfed by neighbors with Asian, Latin and African customers loading up with produce, seafood and meat. On a humid, sunny day at noon, you can tell how busy the morning has been; the air smells of what has ripened, rotted and been crushed underfoot.

Inside, Litteri is cool and packed. Students from nearby Gallaudet queue for subs. Carting infants in one of those car seats that make Transformers seem like educational toys, regulars snatch up pizza dough and wine. Then there are the tourists who move slowly, like me, down narrow aisles and towers of bottles, jars, boxes, bags and cans. No one's speaking Italian.

This is where I should have come months ago when searching for wines from various regions—when I was calling store after store for the right olive oil to make maro and pesto. Its old-fashioned Web site boasts of a great selection of olive oils. I wish I had researched the names of Calabrian brands before my visit since I saw more from Sicily and Puglia than any other Italian regions, quite a few classified as DOP. Among the dried beans, lupini which I'm not sure you can find anywhere else in town. Whimsical shapes of dried pasta. White-flecked Sicilian curls. Thin hollowed strands of fusili. Eggy quills.

Over the years, Litteri has retained more of its Italian-American legacy than it has changed. There were few concessions to the past three decades of culinary trends, though I recognized one of the fancy cotton bags of farro Dean & DeLuca sells across town. No Rustichella d'Abruzzo. I was happy to glimpse a sign for Caciocavallo, but it was for a domestic brand. Same with the Calabrese-style salami.

Behind the counter, I also noticed a plastic tub filled with green olives from Calabria. I brought home a container of these along with fresh sausages seasoned with garlic, fennel seed and red flecks of chili peppers.

Another sign of a long pattern of making do was the degree to which the inventory appropriates the foods of other cultures. Italian-Americans must have felt solidarity with Chinese emigrants who preceded them. While I was on the lookout for hot red chilies from Southern Italy, I found only one item worth buying. However, the tube of red chili paste was engulfed by spicy Asian goods, fiery pickles from the American South and jars of tiny red chilies imported from Greece.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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DINNER

• Bucatini al Fuoco (Basilicata)

• Grilled sausage

• Peperonata (Calabria)

• Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

• Green salad w frisée from the farmers market as my chicory

Micol Negrin's surveys of both Southern Italian regions are as interesting as her choice of recipes, so I am finding Rustico a good source to consult.

While it might be Fred Plotkin who calls pasta a once-a-week luxury for some families in Basilicata, the primo is a spare, fiery take on olio e aglio. Bits of dried chili peppers are sautéed with whole garlic cloves and a garlic-salt paste before the cooled mixture is spooned into a mortar and ground. I combined dried chilies with the new chili paste. Results were what you'd expect. Not worth reproducing, though perfectly okay.

What I truly enjoyed was a main course reminiscent of the messy, packed sandwiches of American street fairs, only without all the grease, the gooey strings of cheese, extravagant piles of mushrooms and limp onion rings. According to Negrin, Calabrians prize a kind of meaty, golden bell pepper. Her recipe makes do with a mixture of colored peppers cut into large, 2-inch squares and sautéed with cubes of red onion, red chili bits [or paste] and a little diced garlic. Distinctive is the addition of tomatoes which turns this contorno into a sauce of sorts, seasoned with fresh basil and a drop of red vinegar (optional) at the end. Best room temperature, perfect with sausage.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Pontormo, I love the Litteri description! But, have you cooked lupini beans before? My sister refers to them as the "never cook" bean. She soaked, she simmered, she waited, she was patient, she lost patience as the lupini never ever softened. Any words of wisdom?

Divina: I thought that festival must have been last year, how could chilis be ripe now? It looks fantastic....I still want to go!

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^Thanks for the warning on the lupini. I didn't buy any and have never prepared them, so perhaps someone else like Divina has tips. I picked up some dried fava beans a little earlier in the week since they're popular in Basilicata (alas, too late for falafel that I had to make Israeli-style last week) and one new jar of dried legume is quite enough in my over-stocked cupboards!


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Then we had bucatini with chili paste:

gallery_19696_582_38862.jpg

This had a long, slow heat build to it.  Didn't seem hot at first, but you got a whallop a few seconds later. 

We then had homemade grilled "lucania" style sausage....

First, Kevin, my apologies for completely overlooking your post when I recorded my recent meal. I am sure the photo registered somewhere in the back of my mind when I picked up Rustico and went shopping for red chilies and bucatini in the first place and ended up buying sausages as well. I think the mint is a good touch and might have added greater interest to the dish since I wanted a contrast to the chilies and garlic that just wasn't there as much as I appreciated the method of slowly sautéeing whole garlic cloves and adding crushed garlic-salt at the end before making the paste.

* * *

Has anyone here made fresh pasta without eggs? I have so much dried pasta in the house now that I don't want to bother, but I am planning to make this tonight and am curious.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Pontormo: if you want to make pasta without eggs, you need to use a durum/hard wheat. It works fine as long as you've got that hard wheat. I do it all the time when I make a Sardinian ravioli, makes a really white pasta.

Have fun!

p.s. making cavatelli (sp??) is fun! Use your index and middle finger, cut a small piece of dough, and push/roll firmly on a wooden board. It's sort of zen like once you get going....


Edited by hathor (log)

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Well, the heat down here in Calabria is getting to me, so I will be uncolorful except when it comes to highlighting fonts.

1) The spaccatelle with turnip tops (short-cut use of manufactured pasta) were great, right up Mrbigjas's alley with all the greens boiled first in the water used to cook the pasta. I under-cooked the latter to add to the mess of chili-flecked greens and a little of the cooking liquid as a finishing touch. I currently can't get enough of those sweet little white Japanese turnips and slivered some to mix with the garlic and greens.

2) Used Rustico to prepare:

Bucatini con Melanzane Spappolate

La Carne 'Ncantarata dei Fratelli Alia

The former requires a long stew of stubby slivers of unpeeled eggplant in too much olive oil with lots of garlic before tomatoes and fresh oregano are added. At least it seemed like too much oil until the tomatoes went in. (It's been a while since I used fresh oregano in any of this project's dishes.) Once the sauce is done, tear fresh basil leaves and add them along with seasoning. Nothing remarkable, but absolutely delicious.

Since I had an enormous eggplant to use up, I baked slices and layered them with basil leaves to use in a parmigiana or maybe pecoriano. (Micol Negrin, BTW, says Calabria's eggplant parm requires battered, fried slices, hard-boiled eggs, meatballs, mozzarella....Whenever I read "hard-boiled eggs" as an ingredient in a layered dish, my stomach taps on my shoulder and warns me to turn the page.)

The recipe for the second dish compensates for the lack of a certain type of salted pork you can get in Calabria. It also acknowledges our lack of wild fennel. I imagine it would be spectacular with the two. Nonetheless, marianating boneless pork loin chops for several days in a spice rub (ground fennel seeds, paprika, salt & chili flakes) flavors the meat. I ignored the instructions for cooking since Niman Ranch's pork would have turned into leather, but the chops were seared and baked with orange juice & olive oil. Reduce pan juices with orange-blossom honey :wub: (Spanish) and more paprika to sauce. Contorno: fava beans, purplish spring onions and yes, baby turnips.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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:unsure: Babies or region?

* * *

Hathor: I might have been searching for something to say as well, but the fresh oregano was not a pronounced taste. While dried oregano dominates many Italian-American dishes, I just have not prepared many Italian recipes that require oregano. The Ancient Greek heritage of Basilicata and Calabria probably have something to do with the use of the herb. (A similar cross-pollination is apparent in old-fashioned grocery stores such as Litteri where the shared culinary traditions of Italian and Greek immigrants account for the inventory.)

The sauce was extraordinarily good the following day, as is often the case with eggplant. Allowing the vegetable to stew into mush with copious amounts of olive oil was key. Preferred this to the classic recipe from Marcella Hazan that I've been making for years since it is also good with a little feta (from French ewes) mixed in.

* * *

Patate Raganate (Repeat that ten times, fast :raz:.)

The cucina povera of Basilicata features a number of main courses in which vegetables are layered in repeated strata, drizzled with olive oil, topped with bread crumbs and baked like a gratin. Near the coast, mussels might be included. Since eggplant is also traditional, I made this dish as a kind of contorno to use up the rest of the Calabrian pasta sauce along with thin slices of potato, Spanish onions and canned plum tomatoes. The crumbs were tossed with grated Pecorino, olive oil and fresh oregano before baking for over an hour. Good--even better, I'm sure, once tomato season arrives.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Patate Raganate... I forgot about that, in all of its lovely variations. It seems as if tomato season will never come, but that is part of the pleasure....the anticipation.

Has anyone noticed how we seem to be focusing more on Basilicata than on Calabria? Love of the underdog?

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I may have researched Basilicata more, but of the seven dishes I prepared, four are Calabrian. Then, there are all the beautifully photographed eggplant parmigianas...


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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What are the long skinny bits that are in with those beautiful mushrooms?

...The skinny things are another kind of mushroom, but I can't remember what their name is. They are all attached together at the base and then you lop that part off and separate them. ...

Chiodini ("little nails")?


Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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