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nakji

Tuesdays with Marcella

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As I mentioned over here, I have a very small kitchen with virtually no storage space. I have no oven; no dutch oven; no toaster oven; nor any immediate plans to get one. Whenever I look at an English language cookbook, I usually end up discarding it in frustration, since most of the recipes contained at some point require an oven. What can you do? It's a cultural thing. It does, however, mean I rarely acquire new cookbooks.

So when I was browsing through a used bookstore in Tokyo the other day, and I came across an old copy of 'Marcella's Italian Kitchen", I picked it up only out of random curiosity. As I flipped through it, I casually skimmed the text for the telltale signs of oven temperature directions, and cooking times listed in hours. Imagine my surprise when there were virtually none. My heart started beating faster, and I thought, "Well, I'm sure all the recipes call for obscure Italian ingredients that I have no prayer of finding around here." I scanned the pages, this time looking for white truffles, strange fish, specific kinds of rock salt....nothing. Instead, it was full of recipes calling for fresh, seasonal vegetables,packaged pasta, and fresh fish...

I clutched the book tightly and thought - "We have fresh fish in Japan. We have vegetables!"

Then I ran up to the counter and bought it, before my husband could see me. (We have no bookshelves at home, either. Zen minimalism, you know.)

When I go it home, I was thrilled to find that not only were the majority of the recipes things I could cook, they were things I would cook. So I went through and tabbed the book with coloured tabs, coded to the seasons here in Japan (green for summer recipes - tomatoes, aubergines; red for fall - mushrooms, pumpkin) and resolved to cook one dish from it each week until I got bored - or my husband begged for an end. Whichever came first.

I invite you to cook along with me, if you have one of her books, and would like to increase your use of them. I have no idea if this book is her best or worst book, since I bought it used, there was no basis for comparison. There's a topic on Marcella Hazan herself, which you can use if you'd like to check out what people have to say about her books.

Tuesday is as good a day as any, so I chose that for menu planning purposes - we still have vegetables leftover from the weekend, but won't need any leftovers from dinner the next day for our bento boxes, since it's my day off. This week, however, I was called away on Tuesday night to sample some mojitos at a new rum bar that opened in our neighborhood. (These things happen) So this recipe got made on Wednesday instead.

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The end of summer is aubergine season in Japan, and our local vegetable stand is literally piled high with bags of them for 100 yen every day. It's my favourite vegetable, so I always like to bring a bag of them home. I'm getting a bit sick of cooking them with dashi and ginger, though, so the recipe for baked aubergine with garlic and parsley on page 264 looked just the thing. I do have a small fish grill, which will grill small things, so my aubergines went in there for the baking. I didn't have any Italian parsley, so I used mitsuba (shh! don't tell!), but they came out great. She called for a half cup of olive oil, which made me gasp, but I used it all anyway. I can see I'm going to have to start buying bigger bottles. When they were done, I whizzed them up in my blender, and tossed them with hot linguine, as she calls for in the note at the bottom of the recipe (well, actually she calls for spaghettini - but I had linguine - you get the idea). I reserved the peels before I blended the insides, and chopped them for a garnish. I know from bitter experience that most recipes that feature aubergine heavily turn an unappetizing gray, and I wanted some colour punch to make it look nice. I julienned them, and piled them on top of the pasta. It look alright, but it tasted divine. And, aside from the aubergine roasting, which was unattended, the whole thing took ten minutes to put together. I think I'm in love.

Now if I can only find a substitute for veal. Do you think kurobuta pork would do?

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Now if I can only find a substitute for veal. Do you think kurobuta pork would do?

Absolutely!

Thank you for your joyous post. It rang all my chimes. What you propose is exactly what a friend and I did some thirty years ago. We signed up for an Italian cooking class, only to find that the teacher was cooking 'chapter and verse' out of Marcella's first book, which we also owned. We made a firm date to meet at one of our houses and cook a complete meal from this book once a week. What a grand adventure it was! Friends begged for invitations and our husbands began to drag their heels when we suggested going out.

I'll look forward to reading about the progress of Tuesdays with Marcella. And, by the way, I've been substituting pork tenderloin for veal for all these thirty years. :wink:

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I love this idea, and I give full props to Marcella about not stressing the equipment or the batterie. (She still scares me to death with her Emilia-Bologna haughtiness, but because long time ago she taught me about Italian food and still loves her cigs and her bourbon, she's my kinda Signora.)

And what she -- and you -- make plain, it's not about the e fab kitchen,the six burner stove, the Subzero, it's about coaxing the best results from the freshest ingredients without fuss.

And sure, go for the pork! Even in Emiglia-Romana, pork scallopine can substitute for veal. (I actually prefer it.)

Keep us updated.

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Having had a glimpse into your tiny kitchen here, I am amazed that you would even attempt such a plan. Can't say I am a fan of Italian food in general but I will be following along with great interest nevertheless. Who knows, you might convert me! :smile:

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A few of my favorite pasta recipes of all time come from this book - Penne col Sugo di Funghi Coltivati and Spaghettini col Sugo di Erbe e Pomodoro Crudo. As a matter of fact, I see that the first time I attempted the herb and raw tomato pasta was August 27, 1989 (with herbs and tomatoes from my late, lamented backyard garden).

Thanks for bringing back that memory, and we'll be following along with you as you channel Marcella, my favorite of all Italian cookbook authors.

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Great idea. Marcella was indispensable to me in learning the ropes on Italian cooking. I basically cooked out of her first cookbook for an entire year.

This is where having an "older" cookbook comes in handy--Marcella originally started writing at a time when most people thought of Italian food as checkered tablecloths and red sauce. She had to cook with what was readily available and thus her recipes are, as you pointed out, very accessible.

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This is where having an "older" cookbook comes in handy--Marcella originally started writing at a time when most people thought of Italian food as checkered tablecloths and red sauce. She had to cook with what was readily available and thus her recipes are, as you pointed out, very accessible.

When I read the introduction of the book, I was struck by this as well. What I like about it is that it takes an "assume the reader knows nothing about real Italian cooking" approach, and goes from there. And truth be told, any of the really specific ingredients she does call for can most likely be sourced in Tokyo, but I like to use what's readily available and cheap.

A few of my favorite pasta recipes of all time come from this book - Penne col Sugo di Funghi Coltivati and Spaghettini col Sugo di Erbe e Pomodoro Crudo. As a matter of fact, I see that the first time I attempted the herb and raw tomato pasta was August 27, 1989 (with herbs and tomatoes from my late, lamented backyard garden).

The time has passed for me to do tomato sauce; but I just tagged the mushroom recipe with a red: fall recipe tab. Noted!

Having had a glimpse into your tiny kitchen here, I am amazed that you would even attempt such a plan.

Shhh! Don't tell anyone in the Kitchen Consumer forum - but I only have one knife!

I love this idea, and I give full props to Marcella about not stressing the equipment or the batterie. (She still scares me to death with her Emilia-Bologna haughtiness, but because long time ago she taught me about Italian food and still loves her cigs and her bourbon, she's my kinda Signora.)

I picked the book up off the shelf in the first place because I read a profile on her and her husband in the NYT the other week. She sounds crazy scary and cool. The book is full of stern warnings. In the aubergine recipe, she warns not to refrigerate the cooked aubergine, but I totally did. Please don't tell.

What a grand adventure it was! Friends begged for invitations and our husbands began to drag their heels when we suggested going out.

I hope I have half the success you did! I'm glad to rekindle a great memory.

Please, everyone, cook along if you like - the more the merrier, yes? I'm curious if anyone has tried her pasta roses with ham and fontina - do they taste as delicious as they sound?

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She sounds crazy scary and cool. The book is full of stern warnings. In the aubergine recipe, she warns not to refrigerate the cooked aubergine, but I totally did. Please don't tell.

Crazy scary and cool perfectly sums up how I've always thought of Marcella, too. And this may be my favorite book of hers. Great project. Your use of the reserved eggplant skin is positively inspired.

I've made the roselline many times... back in what we call The Marcella Years (for me, the 1980s) it was a major triumph. The day I found the one guy in the Italian grocery who would slice the Fontina thin enough, carefully layering paper between each slice for my ease in using later, well, that was a very good day. I remember serving it at a dinner party of all my professors from my master's program, nerve-wracking enough, but Marcella didn't let me down. The professors, not an especially charitable group, and not disposed to underestimating their own powers of discernment, were suitably impressed. And Ivan, nervous himself dressing the salad according to Marcella principles that night (and most other nights since), similarly benefited from her uncompromisingness.

A collateral lesson from Marcella is how being married to a charming fusspot (don't tell Ivan I said that) sharpens one's cooking skills. A lot of her inspiration seems to come from Victor's high standards for proper care and feeding.

And in re pork for veal -- somewhere in one of her books she orders vitello tonnato in a restaurant and finds that it is pork, not veal, with the tuna sauce, and the restaurateur says he prefers it and she admits it is possibly better. So there you go.

I've used turkey and pork and chicken in all cutlet preparations, and continue to.

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And in re pork for veal -- somewhere in one of her books she orders vitello tonnato in a restaurant and finds that it is pork, not veal, with the tuna sauce, and the restaurateur says he prefers it and she admits it is possibly better. So there you go.

Actually, I think that's in the book I have, I remember reading it. Now I'll just have to start trying to figure out how to make Japanese cuts of meat match up. I'm sure I'll figure it out, I'm pretty good at compromise.

Crazy scary and cool perfectly sums up how I've always thought of Marcella, too. And this may be my favorite book of hers. Great project. Your use of the reserved eggplant skin is positively inspired.

Thanks :blush: I've been cooking my way through a couple of Japanese cookbooks, and they have a lot to say on how things are supposed to look. There's almost always a note in the recipe on appropriate plating and garnish for dishes. So when the pasta was finishing in the pan, and I saw how gray it looked, I looked over at the skins (which I'd been snacking on) and a little gong went off in my head. They were tasty, too, so: bonus.

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Brava, I now Live in Italy and Marcella's books were my first real Italian books.

living here now ( 25 years).

the secret to Italian cooking is simplicity and quality of ingredients. freshness.

Sounds like a perfect match for Japan!

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Whew - has a week gone by already?

Thanks for all the super kind words everybody, and I re-issue my invitation for everyone to play along. I'd like to see what people with access to a wider range of ingredients can do.

As for this week, I wanted to do something non-pasta, but over the weekend, I visited a mountain town called Takayamathat had a wonderful morning market. Imagine my surprise and thrill when I found not only heaps of aubergine in all shapes, sizes and colours, but also fresh bell peppers and chilis.

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Bell peppers are pretty expensive here where I live, so I snapped up six for 200 yen, along with a bag of baby pickling aubergines, thinking somewhere in the back of my mind that there was a recipe that called for both in my book. And fusilli. Something to do with fusilli.

But when I got it all home and opened up Italian Kitchen this morning I got completely distracted by the recipe for pickled eggplants on page 51, so I pulled out my trusty pickle jar (from Muji, of course) and went to town layering aubergine slices with crushed garlic, basil (no mint on hand, although I did briefly consider using some of my overgrown lemongrass plant, I thought that sort of fusion would be justification for Marcella hunting down and killing me), and chilis. They'll sit in my sink until tomorrow, when I get to drown them in vinegar. I make no excuses, it will no doubt be rice vinegar.

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I always forget to use gloves when I cut chilis, and today was no exception. My fingers are still burning.

Right, a brief examination of my pantry yielded only thin pasta, so I got on my bike and went down to the local supermarket for some fusilli, (and this will be key) without checking the recipe. Marcella goes into some detail about the appropriate place for fresh pasta, such detail, in fact, that I can only guess with a sort of anthropological historian view that fresh pasta might have been going through, shall we say a vogue, when the book was written. And was perhaps being used in everything? She has no cause for worry in this area from me. Fortunately for me (and Marcella's nerves, I'd better pour her a bourbon, with where this is going) my local supermarket carries De Cecco in three varieties. My hand hovered briefly over the penne before selecting the fusilli.

I pedaled home and clucked over my aubergines, and then went about doing some other things.

And then I started to make dinner. Now- oh look - the recipe I was thinking of, on page 40, calls for - aubergine. I don't look at the sink, where all of my aubergines are sweating away. Instead, I look to the index, to find another recipe, one calling for peppers alone.

What luck, page 133 has one for peppers and, er penne. Well, the pasta is short, that'll have to do. It also calls for pancetta. I have ham in the fridge. It's never been to Italy, but it'll be salty and meaty, which is the point of it, I guess. I do have the parmesan, I'm not a complete heathen, but there's no butter to be had for love or money in my cho. Olive oil it is. The directions call for sweating an onion in some butter, so I proceed andohfortheloveofgodIdon'thaveanonion.

(One of the great bonuses of living in other countries is the opportunity to learn how to swear in new languages. The Japanese don't seem to have as many exclamations as other places I've lived, but yesterday, when I was on the Shinkansen, the man in front of us, after fumbling for several minutes with bags in the overhead compartment, dropped a bag full of apples on to his wife's head, to which she exclaimed : "Honto! Honto?" Which, loosely translated, means "Really! Really?" I feel I'm finally being able to grasp a bit of this culture)

I stomped around the kitchen for a minute, muttering "honto?" under my breath, until I noticed my negi. (Japanese leek) They would have to do. I sweated the negi, sandwich ham, and olive oil and prayed to god Marcella never checks eGullet. What do they say? There are no atheists in foxholes and tiny kitchens? I completely agree. The peppers chopped up beautifully, and the kitchen filled with an amazing, smoky pepper smell. I've never worked with such fresh peppers. I grated some parmesan up with my ginger grater (What are you looking at?) and finished it with some basil and chili.

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The whole lot was gorgeous and peppery, and I can only imagine what the real deal must taste like. Won't somebody competent following along make this recipe and post a picture of it?

I will keep you updated on my aubergines, I'm really excited about those.

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Amusing story and I'm sure you improvised well.

But as I read the story I kept wondering why you didn't make a grocery list in the first place. :wacko:

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But as I read the story I kept wondering why you didn't make a grocery list in the first place

:biggrin: Trust me, the same thought kept occurring to me while I was attempting to cook. More importantly than making a list, reading the actual recipe first would have helped a lot as well.

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Your improvising sounds just right to me.

I was remembering, thinking of this thread, the great Marcella invocation in Judith Jones' The Tenth Muse -- it was heartening to read that even Marcella's editor and peer shared some of these feelings.

I just love Marcella.

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The whole lot was gorgeous and peppery, and I can only imagine what the real deal must taste like.

Real deal? You DID make the real deal! Or as much of the real deal as any of us who are not Marcella back cooking in her old kitchen in Venice can ever hope to make.

When I discovered Marcella's books a few years back, they completely changed the way I cooked. And I was a pretty experienced cook at that point. Now, even though I don't often open the the books except when I feel the need for a special occasion recipe, I feel like most of what I cook, day in and day out, is a la Marcella.

- I cook with only the freshest, seasonal ingredients.

- The ingredients are minimal; everything that I put in belongs there, with nothing added that doesn't belong.

- I use enough oil and/or butter to carry the flavor of the other ingredients.

- I saute ingredients one at a time, in a specific order, to build flavor.

- I have strong opinions about what I cook and how I cook it, based on long experience. My opinions may or may not agree with Marcella's. But that's to be expected. She doesn't cook with the tomatoes from my garden, or have access to my farmer's market, or shop where I shop, or have my tastes.

- I cook because I love the creative transformation that is cooking and I love to feed my husband and friends.

To me, this is the essence of Marcella; this is the gift she gives us. As you discovered, it is a very adaptable cooking style. At first the sound of her voice in your head will sound daunting, but with time and experience you will find that it has transformed itself into your own voice.

Thanks for this thread; it's so wonderful to read your experiences and your joy of discovery! And you write beautifully.

- Laura

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Here are my aubergines:

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I fished one out, and tried it - it was fabulous, but I think I went overboard on the garlic. The whole time I was making these, I was doubtful - she has you layer them with salt and herbs, and tip the whole thing upside down for a day. I was more inclined to use my tsukemono-ki - a Japanese pickle press - but I like to try a recipe straight-up the first time I use it. The pieces looked really dry the whole time. When it came to the step where I had to pour vinegar over them, and then immediately tip them over again, I disregarded her directions, and kept them right-side-up in the vinegar, although I did put a weight on them. This morning, I poured olive oil over them and put them into a smaller jar. They're just unbelievably gorgeous. I think I'm going to portion them out to some co-workers who enjoy good food, and then make another batch immediately. This time I'll have to use the larger sized aubergines, though. For scale, one of the slices is about as big as your thumb:

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Real deal? You DID make the real deal! Or as much of the real deal as any of us who are not Marcella back cooking in her old kitchen in Venice can ever hope to make

Thanks! Although next time, I'll try it with some bacon. Because bacon makes everything better.

- I cook with only the freshest, seasonal ingredients.

- The ingredients are minimal; everything that I put in belongs there, with nothing added that doesn't belong.

- I use enough oil and/or butter to carry the flavor of the other ingredients.

- I saute ingredients one at a time, in a specific order, to build flavor.

I think these are the most interesting things I've learned from the book so far. Just as if you'd toast your spices in Indian cooking, or saute your curry paste a bit in Thai cooking, the flavour has to come out of somewhere.

And since Japan has a deep respect for seasonal cooking, I get a lot of help with the ingredients - that's why I've got a lot of aubergine things on the go - the farmstand in my neighborhood can't get rid of them fast enough.

What books do you own, and what's your all-time favourite Marcella recipe? When you break her out for a special occasion, what do you cook?

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I am really enjoying this thread and admire your minimalism. I can't wait to read future installments.

By focusing on good quality, seasonal ingredients that are local to you, I feel you are very much capturing the spirit of Italian cooking. (I've never been to Italy either, but that's the impression I get of Italian cooking. And also goes some way to explain why Italian cooking transplants so well in Japan, IMO.)

You're doing a great job so far!


Edited by sanrensho (log)

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I totally agree with you, Italian (and Mediterranean cooking generally) is one of the easiest "other" cuisines to cook in Japan. And even my husband doesn't put soy sauce on his favorite Marcella Hazan recipe - "Sausages with Cartwheels, Cream and Tomatoes" (though he's quite capable of tipping it over a bechamel...).

That recipe (heavily adapted...I make it with yogurt :shock: ) is from Marcella's Kitchen, and my copy is nearly falling apart. I think this may be the same book as yours, since I know both contain the "Pollo con le olive nere" (Fricasseed chicken with black olives recipe. I use this much more than her "Classic Italian..." book, because the home kitchen approach makes it so versatile for a non-western kitchen.

If so, some other Japanophilic favorites from the book are:

Rice in broth with celery - I love this any time, but it's best from now on.

Fig icecream (the last of the blowsy, overripe figs are still in the shops)

Pasta and chickpea soup - winter weekend fare!

adaptable risotti

Lamb, alla Marchigiana (if you have a rosemary bush, easily bought in Japan). The combination of tomato and rosemary works wonders on sad, defrosted, economy lamb.

breadcrumbs/black olives with thin spaghetti - so easy!

Ricotta-coated pasta squares in broth - pretty, elegant, not too demanding

Those aubergine pickles - I'm sure this is the same book!

The walnuts in parmesan butter are a pretty popular beer snack with guests too.

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"Sausages with Cartwheels, Cream and Tomatoes"

Oooh, what kind of sausage do you use? I'm never really satisfied with the stuff I get at my local store. Do you use plain Meiji yogurt from the supermarket, or do you make your own? This sounds like a recipe my husband would love.

the home kitchen approach makes it so versatile for a non-western kitchen.

You're right, reading through the book, I can't get over how many recipes I'm able to make. I usually get so frustrated if I'm working from anything other than an Asian cookbook.

[small voice] Have you ever used gyoza wrappers instead of sheets of fresh pasta? I'm tempted for the recipe "pasta roses with ham and fontina" [/small voice]

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Here are my aubergines:

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OK, now I will have to try this recipe -- these look so delicious!!

Thanks! Although next time, I'll try it with some bacon. Because bacon makes everything better.

I am so with you there!

What books do you own, and what's your all-time favourite Marcella recipe? When you break her out for a special occasion, what do you cook?

I have Marcella Cucina and Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (which combines The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking).

Some of my favorite recipes are her simplest -- her recipe for Brodo (pg 15 in ECI), for example, which I make with a large piece of brisket, so that I have a nice piece of flavorful boiled beef to as Leftover Boiled Beef Salad with Salsa Verde (ECI p 42). I freeze the broth in 1/2 cup quantities to use in making risotto. Which of course, I make following Marcella's techniques. The Risotto Friuli-Style, with Rosemary and White Wine (MC, p 226) is classic and perfect.

Another favorite is Lamb Sauce for Pasta, Abruzzi Style (MC, p 174). This recipe is basic enough for every day, but I wouldn't hesitate to serve it to guests.

But some day, perhaps soon while the herbs are still fresh in my garden, I aspire to make her Rosemary and Sage-Scented Homemade Pasta, (MC pg 191), served with the Simple Veal Pasta Sauce (MC pg 172).

Just reading Marcella is a feast for the soul!

- Laura

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In October's Gourmet mag there is an excerpt from Marcella's forthcoming autobiography. Here's a link.

What a fascinating read. It sounds like she's had quite the life. I'll look for this the next time I'm in Tokyo.

Some of my favorite recipes are her simplest -- her recipe for Brodo (pg 15 in ECI), for example, which I make with a large piece of brisket, so that I have a nice piece of flavorful boiled beef to as Leftover Boiled Beef Salad with Salsa Verde (ECI p 42). I freeze the broth in 1/2 cup quantities to use in making risotto. Which of course, I make following Marcella's techniques. The Risotto Friuli-Style, with Rosemary and White Wine (MC, p 226) is classic and perfect.

There's a recipe for brodo in my book as well. I've wanted to make some ever since reading Heat, where's it's discussed at length. My husband is a huge fan of risotto, and would probably love it even more if I actually put down the cash and got a bag of arborio rice, instead of making it with koshihikari like I usually do. (Not that that's particularly cheap either - now that I think of it.) I'm not sure how I'd go about getting a large piece of brisket, or any other large cut of meat, for that matter, in Japan. There are several proper butchers in my area, but I'm not sure what I'd ask for - any Japan members care to weigh in?

I have to urge you strongly to try the aubergines. We ate the last of them last night with dinner, as an antipasto, and the flavour had only improved from last week. The flavour of the garlic had mellowed somewhat as well, We ate them by dipping our bread into the olive oil, and topping it with the pickled vegetables. Unbelievable!!!!

Between snorts and grunts while we ate, I mentioned to my husband that we'd never get anything as good in a restaurant here for less than 1000 yen, and it would be two paltry pieces, accompanied with one or two paper-thin slices of bread, to boot. The whole jar couldn't have cost me more than 500 yen to make, and most of that was olive oil - Helen, I completely sympathize with you - I can often eat a lot better, or at least just as well, by staying at home in Japan. At least at my price point.

Of course, it's a lot more work. :biggrin:

As for our main course, I took your suggestion, and tried the sausages with cream and tomato sauce. This time, I read the direction thoroughly, and made sure all the ingredients were actually in the house.

I learned something new by reading her note on choosing appropriate sausages - I guess not all commonly held presumptions about Italian food have been banished, as I am familiar with "Italian sausage" having peppers and fennel in it. I was surprised to read that those are not traditional flavours, although I shouldn't really be surprised, knowing what I do about what gets passed off as "Western" food in Asia. Anyway, I chose the simplest sausage I could at the supermarket - not that there was much choice. And the only pasta I saw that was vaguely cartwheel-shaped were some dodgy-looking Halloween themed pasta shapes dyed orange and black, which I sensibly passed on in favour of shells.

Normally, I look forward to cooking on Tuesdays, because I have the next day off, and can relax and chug around the kitchen at my own speed, glugging some celebratory red wine, while my husband surfs the internet out of my hair. This week, however, due to ongoing pesky work obligations, I have to work on my day off, after an already late finish on Tuesday.

Normally, my husband doesn't cook. He washes dishes extremely well, though, so we have a system worked out: I cook; he cleans. But I knew I'd be a mess from work, so I asked him this week if he could prepare dinner. Since I rarely cook anything from a recipe anymore, unless I'm making it for the first time, my husband is under the impression that cooking is some sort of alchemical task that requires innate talent. Imagine his surprise on the rare occasion I've asked him to prepare something from a recipe, and it has turned out not only merely edible, but delicious.

When I came home last night, bags full of bread and (usually celebratory; tonight consolatory) red wine, he was standing next to the stove with a proud look. In the pan - sauce.

It took a few minutes to put the pasta on, which we filled by decimating the aubergines and watching "Gossip Girl".

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The pasta was great - just the thing for a cold, rainy fall night, and with the aubergines I felt like I'd had some approximation of an authentic Italian meal. I'm not sure about the bread, though - do Italians usually have bread with a meal that includes pasta, or is that just me? And if they do, what kind of bread? We didn't eat it with the pasta, but rather before, with the aubergines, as it absorbed the oil so well.

I think my next project will be to try making a three-course meal from the book, maybe with - *gasp* - guests. I need to figure out how to put a menu together. How do you pick complementary dishes?

I had some chilis from Takayama that I turned into pickled chilis in oil following her recipe - I used a neutral oil, since I'll probably end up using them in Vietnamese cooking, as well. Hopefully the oil will infuse in a few weeks, and it can be used on gyoza. Multi-tasking chilis!

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[small voice] Have you ever used gyoza wrappers instead of sheets of fresh pasta? I'm tempted for the recipe "pasta roses with ham and fontina" [/small voice]

Speak up Girlfriend, I can't hear you!

Gyoza wrappers work fine -- I think, in a pinch, I've used them for cannelloni. If you can find wrappers that contain eggs, it's very very close.

(I won't tell Marcella.)

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Thanks for starting this thread, Erin, and congrats to hubby – the sausage with cream and tomato sauce is one of my all-time favorites. We cooked from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen tonight:

Sauteed scallops and mushrooms (canestrelli saltati con i funghi, p. 183): Thinly-sliced mushrooms cooked down with shallots, garlic, olive oil, white wine, chiles, and parsley, and then finished with tender bay scallops. Yum.

Rigatoni with Belgian endive and bacon (rigatoni con la Belga e la pancetta affumicata, p. 103): Bacon fried in butter with heavy cream and parmigiano reggiano. Artery-clogging goodness.

Light sunflower seed bread from the farmer's market.

gallery_42956_2536_52324.jpg

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Oh....that looks divine, Bruce. Thanks for cooking along! The marriage of bacon, butter, and cheese is one of the all time best threesomes I can think of. :wink: Belgian endive has a faintly bitter taste, right? I wonder what I could use as a substitute....

I see you also had bread with pasta. Clearly something is needed to wipe up all the amazing juices! What kind of mushrooms did you use?

If you can find wrappers that contain eggs, it's very very close.

Hmmm, I think wonton or shumai wrappers they sell in the shops have eggs in them - they're more of a yellow colour than gyoza wrappers.

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