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nakji

Tuesdays with Marcella

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And I'm still waiting for someone to show me a "real" Italian sausage. Anyone?

Well, Uli's isn't Italian, but I think this picture works - the meat is more coarsely ground: sausage

Or, the other coast: more

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. . . First, she said when she moved to the US, she couldn't understand the supermarket, because everything was dead. She didn't know how to cook. For me, the journey has been the other way. When I arrived in Asia, I was confused by the supermarket, because everything was alive. I didn't know how to deal with it. I was angry at the vegetables, because they came with dirt still on them. (Nevermind the time I had to help someone kill a chicken for lunch in Vietnam - I never thought a city girl like me would be doing something like that.) Can you believe it?  :laugh: Now I feel like I'm more equipped.

. . .

Additionally, she said that in Italy, what you leave out of cooking is as important as what you include. I fought strongly against the urge to add a little basil to my Salsicce dish, mainly because my plant needs a little pruning - but I think in the end I appreciated the subtlety of the flavouring from only the bay leaves. Japanese food is sparely seasoned as well, and I feel that I have more respect for that point of view.

. . .

Interestingly, she said she felt like today's "Italian" cooking in America was no closer than the kind she saw in the 70's to real Italian cooking. Can anyone shed some light on what she might mean?

That's a really interesting observation you make about your market shock moving over there and how it juxtaposed with Marcella's.

As for her state of American Italian cooking today vs. yesterday . . . I may need to relisten because she seemed to be much more optimistic about where things are today vs. 30 years ago. But I think it goes back to the "what you leave out is as important as what you put in" mentality.

I'm conjecturing here, but based on what I've read from her and other native Italians, Americans fuss around too much when we're making Italian dishes. We dump too many herbs in, either too much of one or too many different kinds.

For example: the couple times I've been to Italy and had tomato sauce on something, it really was just a puree of bottled or canned, top-quality tomatoes cooked very briefly in olive oil. That's it. No celery, carrot, garlic, onion, basil, oregano . . . etc. (all of which, ahem, are in my "simple" tomato sauce :huh: ). MAYBE a bit of onion or garlic is simmered in the oil at the beginning, but if you notice, Marcella usually has you swish it around in the oil and then discard it once it has scented the oil. If a tomato sauce comes with an herb, then it's called "tomato sauce with . . . " which is why and how Marcella gets so many variations of tomato sauce in her books.

So, I suspect that Marcella, like other native Italians, may be put off by all the bells and whistles we put in our Italian food and can't just leave well enough alone. But I still think it's miles better than the tomato sauce and burnt garlic scene of the seventies.

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All kinds of tomato sauce can be good, if made well, of couse. I was surprised when quite late in the U.S. Italian Food Frenzy Mario's basic tomato sauce included that carrot in there, like Italian-American gravies.

Can't remember if any of Marcella's have carrot. She certainly uses carrot for mirepoix/sofrito bases, and as a veg on its own.

An Italian chef who showed me the One True Way to Marinara (he never exactly said that, but it was understood) was disgusted by extra stuff in sauces. His marinara consisted of tomatoes or puree, peeled whole garlic clove, and way less basil than I would have used if I hadn't been following his instructions and wanting to report back honestly, salt, pepper (easy on the pepper), and olive oil. The garlic and basil were fished out before pureeing.

(He was as hard-ass as Marcella.) I had already learned and happily employed making his sauce Marcella's genius point about watching for the oil to separate from the tomato. Now there's something a cook can use her whole life.

It remains, to me, the ne plus ultra of marinaras. As his wife, who ran the front of the house, said during a Marinara conversation, "I think it is very nice if it is light -- it must be light." Not a way one would describe most tomato sauces of my acquaintance before this.

I am trying to think of a Marcella dish that is NOT light. Is there one? Pork braised in milk wants to float up to the ceiling. Even meatballs... isn't this the book with the tiny meatballs baked w/rigatoni? Which manages to be as light and digestible as a leaf of lettuce.

Erin, I love your connecting what ladies the world around create for people to eat with just a stovetop and a few local ingredients. I wish more people could see that it is all ONE cooking continuum.

And I am SO making the sausage potato tomato dish. In Japanese supermarkets here we sometimes buy little sausages made with Kurobuta pork... might a coarsely-ground version of those work for the dish in Japan? I think Marcella suggests American breakfast-type sausages so that we don't fall for the fennel-seed juke.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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When somebody goes to the trouble OF ALLCAPS there's usually a good reason. It should have been a warning, really, when I read,

Only for Marcella would I PEEL EACH CHICKPEA. But of course it goes without saying but I say it anyway, she is (of course) right: The result is so superior the effort is beyond worthwhile. I always cook the beans from dried, rather than use canned as in the recipe, but I think she would be reasonable about that.

On the record, I have never dealt with chickpeas before. I've eaten lots of them - in hoummus, in curries, and even in the odd soup. But I've never worked with them. So Priscilla, when you told me to PEEL EACH CHICKPEA, I was fairly blithe about it. Yup. Peel each chickpea. Check. No prob.

*sigh*

When I knocked the peas out of their can, I was quickly reminded of how, well, small they are. And numerous. I made the mistake of starting the soup at eleven-thirty on Monday night, with the intention of having it for lunch on Tuesday. We had a dinner date with some friends for the evening, but I'd ended up picking up the can of chickpeas last week, and I had some tomatoes nearing desperation on top of my microwave, so I thought it would be the perfect thing. My husband was happily installed on the computer in the other room, and I could count on no interference from him in the kitchen.

Staring at the pale mound of peas in the bowl, however, I started to have second thoughts. I started off pinching them one by one, delicately peeling the skin off my finger and scraping it into the can in the sink.

This lasted about five minutes, until I got bored, and found a sharp edge on the top of the can.

Then, I developed a method where I peeled them two at a time, bracing two against my longest fingers, and rolling off the peel with my thumb. The peels were dispatched into the sink with a quick flick of the wrist. But I kept misjudging the pressure on one of them, sending little peas pinging across the kitchen floor. Since my can was slightly underweight, I had to go chasing them, of course. I lost a few souls underfoot, and began to leave pale smears over the wood floor.

So then I went back to the one-pea method, but sped up. Instead of delicately taking of the peel, I squeeze roughly, and flicked the peel off my hand anywhere it wanted to go. As I surveyed the cast of ghostly peels accumulating over my kitchen prep area, I had a sense of grim foreboding. I knew that this was turning into one of those kitchen events, the evidence of which I would no doubt find for months to come, stuck to the back of the refrigerator and under the cupboard - like the results of a dropped bottle of mustard or a loose blender cover. The peels themselves bothered me, and I couldn't figure out why - until I realized they reminded me of used contact lenses - that's when I had to get the water out, mid-task, and hose everything down.

Meanwhile, the silence was stretching between the kitchen - where I laboured, and the living room, where my husband was merrily surfing LOL cats and the like. I kept expecting him to say something like, "Hey hon, it's taking a long time. Need some help? Want the radio on?" But nothing. He never even noticed. I resolved to sabotage his lunch the next day.

In the end, it took me twenty minutes to shell the lot, through a combination of incompetence and frustration.

But the soup was absolutely worth it.

Of course, it wouldn't be me if I hadn't taken vast liberties with the recipe.

Well first, she calls for adding a half cup of olive oil. A half cup. But I had faith, and put it all in. The onion and garlic went in as well, and simmered while I was peeling the chickpeas, benefiting from my distraction, no doubt. A few errant peels had to be picked out, of course. As for the tomatoes, (she calls for canned) after all the business with the chickpeas, I couldn't bear to peel them and dirty another pot with the blanching, so I chopped them roughly and scraped them right in. I resolved to pick the skins out later. For herbs, I limited myself to two, thinking about this:

I'm conjecturing here, but based on what I've read from her and other native Italians, Americans fuss around too much when we're making Italian dishes. We dump too many herbs in, either too much of one or too many different kinds.

I used some thyme, of which I curiously have three bottles of in my spice bin, and one bay leaf.

So they all bubbled away together, and I amused myself by reading the intro to the recipe, which is charming:

Our family does not ski, or ice skate, or bounce down hills on sleds, but we welcome winter because it is such a good time to make soup.

It's a pretty accurate description of my family as well. When people meet me and find out I'm from Canada, they always assume I must be a top skier or snowboarder. Little do they know I spend most of my winters in Canada in the kitchen baking, which, as far as I'm concerned, is the only rational way to deal with a Canadian winter.

Right, so when the tomatoes had given up the oil*, I picked out the skins with my tongs - I was in a considerably better mood, have wandered into the living room to catch up with those funny cheezburger cats- and ran it through the blender, since I lack a food mill. At this point, I was supposed to add pasta, but there were no soup shapes to be had at my local supermarket. I had originally been intending to use shells or fusilli that I had left over, but when I tasted the soup, I realized that they would be all wrong - the little pasta shapes were meant to give texture, but not heft to the soup. So left it out entirely, leaving - Ceci soup, if you will.

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Sweet, dusky, and rich, this soup improved even the next day in my packed lunch. I made mimolette sandwiches on wholegrain to accompany it, and it was so satisfying, I got a thumbs up text message from my husband - a hard-won accolade! His only complaint was that I'd forgotten to add a spoon to his lunch. How did that happen? I must be slipping. He swore the soup must have had ginger in it (it didn't) and I thought for sure it tasted like a cream soup (there was no cream)and it literally kicked the a*$ of anything I'd had recently at Soup Stock Tokyo.

Worth the effort! But if you have any tips on how to quickly and efficiently peel chickpeas, I'm all ears.

(* A quick digression, hopefully Marcella won't mind. I learned about tomatoes giving up the oil quite independently of Marcella, in Vietnam of all places. I was learning to make one of my favourite dishes there from a co-worker, and she gave me the tip. The dish is tofu and tomato, and it's simplicity itself. If you make this for a vegetarian in your life, you will learn their lifelong love and gratitude. But you must only make it if you have excellent tofu and tomatoes on hand, since that's all that goes in. Take a block of tofu cut into six cubes, which have been deep fried. I can buy this sort of tofu at my local supermarket pre-fried, but you may have to do it yourself - use firm tofu, and fry the cubes, making sure that all sides go brown and crispy - be careful, and make sure the tofu is well-drained, though, or it will spit water. When it's ready, start a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in a wok or fry pan. Add mixed chopped garlic, ginger, and green onions in equal proportions, to your taste. When these become perfumed, add your chopped fresh tomatoes (I use canned) and the tofu. Cook the lot until the tomatoes give up the oil. Adjust seasoning with salt or fish sauce, and a little sugar if the tomatoes need it. Serve with rice.)

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Lordy, Erin, can you ever tell a tale. How can I follow that? :biggrin: (and the soup looks gorgeous).

Conchiglie with sausage and cream sauce (conchiglie con il sugo per la gramigna): The Classic Italian Cookbook, p. 104. I had my doubts about this dish, particularly while pouring heavy cream into a saucepan of sausage frying in butter, oil, and rendered sausage grease. Not to worry. When the small amount of ultra-rich sauce was tossed with pasta and parmigiano, the results tasted deceptively light. Hey, cardiologists need work, too.

The boys could not stop eating this pasta and singing its praises. Elder son finished two heaping plates full, occasionally lying down to digest before reviving to eat more. I remember being able to eat like that while remaining rail-thin. Sigh.

Chicken fricassee with green peppers and tomatoes (pollo alla cacciatore): The Classic Italian Cookbook, p. 299. Also quite popular, and definitely worth making again. Just the boys and I, so vegetables were notably lacking in tonight's meal.

The Classic Italian Cookbook was one of my first purchases when I started cooking, but the book sat largely untouched for *cough, cough* years. Apparently, learning that Italian differed significantly from Italian-American came as quite a shock way back when, so I redirected my cooking explorations elsewhere. Props to Erin for triggering a much-delayed exploration of Italian cooking.

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Oh my goodness so much good stuff.

Erin, freakily, tonight was the night we ate my ceci soup w/pasta. My husband and son were effusive in their praise, and there was even the cheese sandwich, only ours were soldiers of toasted whole grain sourdough with melted soft blue.

I had made it on Saturday. Peeled the chickpeas while watching a couple of Tivo'd Jamie at Homes. A cooked pound of chickpeas takes 2+ Jamies, zipping through commercials and stopping occasionally to consult on family matters or switch the laundry, I now know. Yes, the pale beige used contact lenses they do pile up. I've never been able to them any other way than one at a time, one of those contemplative kitchen activities.

Also accompanied by LOLcatage, but then, everything is.

Freaky!

And I am so making that tofu dish... it must be absolutely heavenly with rice. I can get delicious deep-fried locally made fresh tofu at the pan-Asian supermarket.

Bruce, that sausage and cream sauce was a constant when my son was little, he would request it, as when I was feeding him earlier and we were eating later. It rivals convenience food for ease... a de-cased sausage, a little hit of cream, his favorite farfalle. One of the preparations where you get reminded every time of the importance of the Parmigiano element.

I got a kick out of the mental picture of your boys swooning, but yet, somehow, they recover to eat again!


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Lordy, Erin, can you ever tell a tale.

I have a lot of free time on my hands. :biggrin:

Conchiglie with sausage and cream sauce (conchiglie con il sugo per la gramigna): The Classic Italian Cookbook, p. 104. I had my doubts about this dish, particularly while pouring heavy cream into a saucepan of sausage frying in butter, oil, and rendered sausage grease. Not to worry. When the small amount of ultra-rich sauce was tossed with pasta and parmigiano, the results tasted deceptively light. Hey, cardiologists need work, too.

I know, right? When I poured in the half cup of olive oil she called for, I was shaking my head, but thinking, "Well hey, at least it's olive oil. That's good for you, right?" But sausages cooked with cream and butter.....well, it must be nice to be young and able to eat that, like your sons.

Just the boys and I, so vegetables were notably lacking in tonight's meal.

I'm sure that cacciatore had tomatoes in it. And what - no cucumbers?

Priscilla, I wish I got Jaime's programs - it would be an excellent way to mark time in the kitchen. Are they 30 minutes long? Would it be equivalent to watching one Gossip Girl? Recipe:"Shell chickpeas for two "Jaime at Homes" or one "Gossip Girl". Do not, under any circumstance, use CSI."

And what kind of pasta did you put in your soup?

I'm glad you have good tofu available, although the idea of a "pan-Asian" supermarket intrigues me. It sounds like I could have a lot of fun in a place like that.

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Priscilla, I wish I got Jaime's programs - it would be an excellent way to mark time in the kitchen. Are they 30 minutes long? Would it be equivalent to watching one Gossip Girl? Recipe:"Shell chickpeas for two "Jaime at Homes" or one "Gossip Girl". Do not, under any circumstance, use CSI."

And what kind of pasta did you put in your soup?

I'm glad you have good tofu available, although the idea of a "pan-Asian" supermarket intrigues me. It sounds like I could have a lot of fun in a place like that.

The Jamie at Homes Food Network showed are 30 min., but have the feel of having been edited from a longer length. Maybe I just want them to be longer! I would like to see the whole series.

And I would agree, NO CSI, not EVEN Miami.

I used anellini in my soup, little rings. They were good. Not as much texture as ditalini, but gentle and nice. I like those very teensy ditalini that are almost like cut bucatini or perciatelli for this soup as well.

(In the Western U.S., and, I see in the Wiki link, Canada too, for your visits home, we are lucky to have the 99 Ranch Supermarket chain. I believe it is mainly Taiwanese but I think of it as pan-Asian because it has an incredibly useful and ecumenical representation of Asian ingredients.)


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Ok, I'm a heretic. I spent my thirties slavishly following Santa Marcella, feeling her sneer over my shoulder and learning about Italian food, for which I will light candles to her forever.

But I've been reading Richard Dawkins and Bishop Spong. I worship at Priscilla's feet, and think that nakji is the best thing out of Canada since Marc Messier, but:I'm going to make this soup without peeling the chickpeas and see what happens. May God have mercy on my soul.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Ok, I'm a heretic. I spent my thirties slavishly following Santa Marcella, feeling her sneer over my shoulder and learning about Italian food, for which I will light candles to her forever.

I see her as kind of a cranky auntie, the sort that wouldn't hesitate to use a wooden spoon on you if she felt like you were stepping out of line and using sausage with fennel or similar crimes.

I'm going to make this soup without peeling the chickpeas and see what happens

Please report back. It could be revolutionary.

think that nakji is the best thing out of Canada since Marc Messier

:blush: Surely not.

I used anellini in my soup, little rings. They were good. Not as much texture as ditalini, but gentle and nice. I like those very teensy ditalini that are almost like cut bucatini or perciatelli for this soup as well.

I'll keep my eye out for them. I've seen little stars here in the shops, too - they'd be pretty cute. Japan has made me love cute food. What do you think about orzo?

(In the Western U.S., and, I see in the Wiki link, Canada too, for your visits home, we are lucky to have the 99 Ranch Supermarket chain. I believe it is mainly Taiwanese but I think of it as pan-Asian because it has an incredibly useful and ecumenical representation of Asian ingredients.)

I rarely get back to Canada, but I wish my hometown had a place like that. I could really have some fun cooking for my friends and family.

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(* A quick digression, hopefully Marcella won't mind. I learned about tomatoes giving up the oil quite independently of Marcella, in Vietnam of all places. I was learning to make one of my favourite dishes there from a co-worker, and she gave me the tip. The dish is tofu and tomato, and it's simplicity itself. If you make this for a vegetarian in your life, you will learn their lifelong love and gratitude.

Erin, just a quick word to tell you how much I am enjoying this thread, and also to tell you I made your tofu and tomato a couple of times since I first read about it on your blog.. it's fantastic!

This thread is giving me a whole new appreciation for Marcella.

And I already loved her, a lot.

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And can I just say how utterly shocked that anyone other than my mother has read my blog? Thanks, Klary, I appreciate the kind words. Have you got a favourite recipe from Marcella? I'd love to see what you make, especially if it involves any of the large cuts of meat I don't have access to.

Hint, hint.

My problem with this topic is that I'm already eyeing Marcella's other books on-line - and I've barely delved into this one!

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Have you got a favourite recipe from Marcella? I'd love to see what you make, especially if it involves any of the large cuts of meat I don't have access to.

From this book, I´ve made the Cipriani´s dark chocolate ice cream many times.. it´s my favorite chocloate ice cream because it´s very chocolaty but not heavy.

I love Zucchini with vinegar and mint.. it was my summer go to side dish for years.

I also adore the Baked risotto with aubergines but that will be a no for you since it requires an oven..

I used to use her books a lot and now I realize I haven´t looked at them much lately.. maybe it´s time to revisit them!

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I'll keep my eye out for them. I've seen little stars here in the shops, too - they'd be pretty cute. Japan has made me love cute food. What do you think about orzo?

I think orzo would be good, maybe an affect not unlike the denser, small-diameter ditalini.

Awaiting to hear the report on Maggie's non-peeled cecis. I can't imagine it'll be bad, of course, the basic flavors are so good in this preparation. But the velvetyness; whither the velvetyness?

I love how your project, Erin, is reigniting Marcella love and cooking around the globe. Also, I just received her autobiography!


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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From The Classic Italian Cookbook:

Fillet of flounder with piquant tomato sauce (filetti di sogliola con pommidoro e capperi): No sole, so we used flounder. Onions, garlic, capers, oregano, tomatoes, s+p, simmered down to a sauce in olive oil. We dipped the fillets in the sauce, folded them over, and then baked until just done. I liked the tangy sauce very much, and would have preferred a higher ratio of sauce to fish.

Spaghetti with garlic and oil (spaghetti “ajo e ojo”): Lots of garlic, simmered until golden with salt and lots of olive oil. Toss with spaghetti, parsley, and pepper. Dead simple and very good.

Green bean salad (fagiolini verdi in insalata): Blanched green beans tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Again, simple and very good.

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Sugo Fresco di Pomodoro, p. 122

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Marcella: "Here is a recipe as sweet as it is short."

There was a moment, on Sunday, as I was tumbling head over heels down a trail outside of Hakone, where I finally understood all the posts over on the You know you're an eGullet member... topic. When I heard my right arm crack, my first thought was, "Not my knife hand!"

As the leaves settled around, and the silence of the forest was broken only by the frantic puffs of my husband running back up the trail after me, I stared up at the sky and wondered how I was going to cook dinner.

Two days and some extremely expensive hospital visits later, I'm laid up at home, facing the considerable annoyance of having a lot of time on my hands, a fridge full of vegetables waiting to be chopped, and a useless right hand. And straightened fiscal circumstances. Finally, I'm part of the zeitgeist.

But there are worse things in life than being shut up in an apartment with a new Jenny Cruisie novel and a can of tomatoes in the cupboard. My husband, genius that he is, came home with a can of tomatoes, saying, "I noticed we were out. You said we should always have a can of tomatoes around."

And I complain he never listens to me. :wub:

Right, so trauma aside, I knew I couldn't miss my date with Marcella. Priscilla, I don't have my own copy of her biography, so I can't say for sure, but she seems like the kind of lady who wouldn't let something as silly as a broken arm stop her from cooking. I have to honour that.

So I dug out the can of tomatoes, thinking that I wouldn't have too much trouble opening it with its ring-pull top.

Let me tell you, the word I shouted when the ring popped off without budging the top was enough to make the petty yakuza who live next door blanch. Twenty minutes later I had it off with the can opener, and had the aching arm to prove it.

What Would Marcella Do?

I cast my eye around the kitchen until it found my husband's bottle of Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and I knew She was sending me a message.

Fortified, I addressed the issue of the garlic. Was it in Goodfellas the scene where they're in prison, slicing garlic with a razor blade to get it thin enough? Marcella states the magic of the recipe comes from the thinly sliced garlic melting into the sauce as it simmers. I experimented with using my left hand to chop. Slicing the garlic as thinly as possible with a non-dominant hand is the sort of risky task that requires calming music - in this case, only the Cowboy Junkies would do - "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning" seemed the most appropriate. The Timmins' elegy to failed relationships and waking up to find you're out of milk for the tea suited my mood perfectly.

When the garlic was done, after another ten minutes, I added the 1/3 cup of Olive Oil OMFG is She serious, and does She know there's a recession on? and simmered away. When they were pale gold - and I watched them like a hawk, I have a bad history of burning garlic - I slopped in my cursed tomatoes, put on "Horse in the Country", and waited for my husband to get home so I could put on the pasta.

When the door clicked open, I dumped into the water a half pack of De Cecco spaghettini and thanked Marcella for recipes so easy they could be done one-handed. My husband requested his favourite Junkies number, "Anniversary Song", feigned shock and unfeigned relief that I was cooking.

Sometimes, you're so blue that the only thing that can make you better is a big bowl of pasta with red sauce and Margot Timmins on the stereo.

Actually, a large pans of brownies for dessert would have helped a lot, but I can't expect miracles.

Guess it's tea and toast for breakfast again

maybe I'll add a little T.V. too

No milk! God, how I hate that - Cowboy Junkies

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Oh Erin I am so sorry for your injury! Is it really broken? Terrible.

You face your trials with style and fortitude.

The tomato sauce story is beeyootiful. Plucky heroine cooking dinner w/broken arm? Petty yakuza next door?!? I feel like I have a window into one of those Japanese Sunday night dramas we get subtitled here.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Erin, dear, not only did you channel Santa Marcella perfectly -- you can bet she'd have a piccolo of a belt of bourbon before she soldiered on, (Victor would expect dinner if his wife was in a body cast)but you're a shining example of Canadian womanhood.

That moment when the tab snapped off -- ouch! And slivering garlic wrong-handed? You're an Amazon.

I remember the first time I made this sauce and I had the same "She's gotta be kidding!" reaction to all that olive oil. But because I know that Marcella has Santa Claus-like powers:

She knows when you are sleeping and when you are awake,

She knows if you've been bad or good, etc.

I used the full amount, and she was right. Take good, good care of yourself.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Don't get to chop-happy, Madam, just because your fingers are sticking out doesn't mean you can use them to put pressure on your poor broken bones!

That book really works...all in the details, exactly HOW much to brown this or that, HOW much oil is good...that spaghetti looks just like the kind of ketchup spaghetti I used to see in Japanese coffee-shops when I first came to Japan- it's about as simple, but how different. Time to show my sons that picture and see what results!

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Ciao from Tuscany-

A little marcella secret for you, years ago when I was working at the Stanford Court hotel, Marcella and Victor where there to teach a class at Fornou's Ovens.

Marcella had Teresa ( I believe her name was or Maria) who was her right hand woman, shall we say.

Marcella has one crippled hand! so I am sure your efforts to cook one-handed are totally understood!

I hear the other hand usually had a cigarette in it while she was teaching!

Ha ha

Buona fortuna!

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Erin, how did I miss this topic? What a hoot -- bring on the Tuesdays!

I don't have a Marcella book but now I want one. Your words paint a moving picture . . . I would've said directed by Woodie Allen, but since the accident I'll go with Quentin Tarantino.

I had a pint with Margo Timmins years ago at a New Year's Eve Party -- Allen's on the Danforth, Toronto, 1998 -- she talks likes she sings. Downbeat with a mischievous smile, perfect for your movie's soundtrack.


Edited by Peter the eater (log)

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Erin, I hope your arm is on the mend. If you can’t cook, would you write anyway? :smile:

Election night with Marcella:

Fricaseed chicken with onions (pollo con le cipolle), from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen. Six cups of thinly-sliced onions morphed into a concentrated, delicious mass after two hours or so. This method reminded me of brown-frying onions in Indian cuisine.

Thin spaghetti with anchovy and tomato sauce (spaghettini con sugo di pommodoro e acciughe), from The Classic Italian Cookbook. Quick, simple, and disappeared completely.

Sauteed zucchini with tarragon and white wine, from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen. The recipe called for sage, but none was available so we used tarragon. Not bad, even though I missed the part about adding the wine in stages.

gallery_42956_2536_15881.jpg

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Thanks for all the kind wishes, all! I'm on the mend, tho typing and cooking are still both a pain for me.

Fricaseed chicken with onions (pollo con le cipolle), from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen. Six cups of thinly-sliced onions morphed into a concentrated, delicious mass after two hours or so. This method reminded me of brown-frying onions in Indian cuisine.

This reminds me, Bruce, that often, there is as much uniting food and cooking around the world as there is separating it.

I don't have a Marcella book but now I want one. Your words paint a moving picture . . . I would've said directed by Woodie Allen, but since the accident I'll go with Quentin Tarantino.

Well, there are certainly enough schoolgirls in uniforms running around with deadly weapons to qualify. And I am sick of being attacked by ninjas on my way to the train each morning. :raz: But seriously, my Marcella book, which was pristine despite having been purchased used, was christened last night when my husband dumped a half a glass of red wine on it. So it's getting broken in appropriately. You've got to go get your own.

That book really works...all in the details, exactly HOW much to brown this or that, HOW much oil is good...that spaghetti looks just like the kind of ketchup spaghetti I used to see in Japanese coffee-shops when I first came to Japan- it's about as simple, but how different. Time to show my sons that picture and see what results!

Yes, with that dish especially - God is in the details, if you will. I'm sure your sons will find this a rewarding recipe to make. Cheap, too, which is always a bonus when feeding teenage boys.

As for this week...

I gave my arm a rest, and let my husband do all the work. :biggrin:

We tackled one of her veal recipes:

Polpettine di Vitello con Panna Rosa, p. 217

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Not terribly pretty, but delicious.

Marcella writes, "...It is a dish originally prepared for children, but there must be something of the child in grown-up palates, for I have found it equally appealing to adults."

I chose this recipe because it reminded me of another popular dish in Japan: hambaagu.

Essentially a patty of meat served with a soy-sauce glaze, or similar, and a favourite of kids across Japan. You can find hambaagu at the 7/11, in the local Dennys, or countless other "family" restaurants. If you've never tried this dish, I urge you strongly to try Hiroyuki's nikomi hambaagu, which is an excellent use of ketchup.

I haven't seen veal for sale in Japan, so instead I used the ground pork-beef mix common in Japanese supermarkets. Instead of soy or ketchup in the sauce as is the case in Japan, we used cream and canned plum tomatoes.

This dish is minimally seasoned, calling for chopped garlic and parsley in the meat, and no additional bells or whistles in the sauce. Looking back over my previously completed recipes in this topic, I've done quite a few tomato-based dishes, but the subtle differences in seasoning each has prevented them from feeling repetitive. Restraint is rewarded with flavour. Stepping back, this is the lesson I've learned so far. (And is echoed in what I've learned about Japanese cooking!)

One of the things I love about eGullet is that though many of you following learned these lessons years ago, you're still willing to follow along and help others discover the same things. Cheers!

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Looking back over my previously completed recipes in this topic, I've done quite a few tomato-based dishes, but the subtle differences in seasoning each has prevented them from feeling repetitive. Restraint is rewarded with flavour. Stepping back, this is the lesson I've learned so far.

Maybe I've learned that lesson years ago, but it's a lesson all too easily forgotten.

Thanks for reminding me.

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Essentially a patty of meat served with a soy-sauce glaze, or similar, and a favourite of kids across Japan. You can find hambaagu at the 7/11, in the local Dennys, or countless other "family" restaurants.  If you've never tried this dish, I urge you strongly to try Hiroyuki's nikomi hambaagu, which is an excellent use of ketchup.

I have a 33 year old husband who I think would like that very much! Thanks for pointing it out.

I made rissoles this week and served them with gravy. Not at all how they are normally served, but it was what I wanted at the time. :laugh:

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