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nakji

Tuesdays with Marcella

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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.

My husband loves them a lot, too! In fact, when he sees this, he'll probably start agitating for them to be put back into rotation. They're perfect comfort food for cold weather.

How are rissoles typically served?

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

I might stitch it into a sampler for my kitchen - I'll hang it over my spice rack! :biggrin:

Bruce, I just remembered that I have some zucchini kicking around that could benefit from Marcella's attention. I'll give that one a whirl sometime this week.

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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.

And me as well.

And the resonance w/Japanese cuisine, yes.

Like Marcella's using water instead of even light stock in many dishes... years ago she pulled me back from the stock-in-everything precipice.

You know how it is in the early days of cooking and you're making stock all the dang time and you have so much of it around all the time you tend to look for places to use it, and pretty much everybody (else) is saying stock makes EVERYthing better.

But she is right about water often being the best liquid. Veg soups, for instance, water is my default unless I'm going for a particular result that requires stock. Water even in the aforediscussed ceci soup when Marcella specifies light broth, so there.

All this tomato sauce discussion made a can of my favorite tomatoes appear on the counter. What will come of that I wonder.


Priscilla

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

 

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The only one of Marcella's books that I have is Marcella's Italian Table. For some unknown reason, probably the fact that I have acquired a lot of others since I got that one, I haven't used it in some time.

I'm glad that this subject brought it back to my attention.

My two favorites from it are Pollo Arristo con la Pancetta e gli Odori and PolloSpaccato agli Odori e Vino Bianco. Sorry to say that these both require an oven.

After the first two times I made the Pollo Arristo con la Pancetta e gli Odori I dutifully wrapped the chicken in foil as directed but now I just cover the pan with the foil and then remove after the alloted time and don't perceive any difference. (Cringing for fear of the wooden spoon.)

Now I want to try the cartwheels with sausage and cream sometime this week. It looks very tasty.

I hope your hand is healing well.

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You know how it is in the early days of cooking and you're making stock all the dang time and you have so much of it around all the time you tend to look for places to use it, and pretty much everybody (else) is saying stock makes EVERYthing better.

I am ashamed to say I've never made stock. :sad: I'd post a picture of the size of my freezer as justification, but it would only depress all of us. I like water just fine. When I cook Japanese food, I just use instant dashi powder. For European cooking, if I feel it really needs it, I'll add a scoop of "chicken" powder, an absolute integral ingredient in Northern Vietnamese cooking. I suspect it's mostly msg. But water is definitely under-rated as an ingredient.

Now I want to try the cartwheels with sausage and cream sometime this week. It looks very tasty.

You won't be disappointed, and please report back on what kind of sausages you use. Thanks for the kind wishes!

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Nakji, I hope that every day, in every way, you are getting better and better. Another Tuesday, another meal from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen.

Conchiglie col sugo di salsicce, panna e pomodoro [did I get that right?] (shells with sausages, cream, and tomato, p. 137). I must have made this frequently years ago, because the book splits to the binding at this page. We used Johnsonville mild Italian sausage, which helpfully lists “spice” as one of the ingredients, although I did not notice any fennel seeds or flavor. Grated parmigiano-reggiano not shown, but sprinkled on at the table.

Carote in scapece (sauteed carrots with vinegar and oregano, p. 254). We made this first, and left it out for snacking before dinner. Good stuff.

Belga alla moda del radicchio di Treviso (grilled Belgian endive, p. 249). Olive oil, pepper, salt, and delicious blackened leaf tips courtesy of the broiler. Yum.

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Carote in scapece (sauteed carrots with vinegar and oregano, p. 254). We made this first, and left it out for snacking before dinner. Good stuff.

Bruce, I've been eyeing this recipe for a while. My husband came home with a big bag of carrots this weekend, so I think I'll put that one into the rotation. It looks like it'll be a yummy addition to my Thursday bento, if any survives dinner.

My husband begged for cooking relief last night, and it was payday, so I felt I had to oblige him. We went to an izakaya and had a good laugh about what a crappy month it had been. I'm cooking tonight, and I'm going to tackle fish, specifically, Filetti di Pesce al Vino Rosso on p. 171.

I say tackle not to be punny, but because fish has always made me feel a little guilty.This is mainly because when I was younger, the fish stocks off the Grand Bank in Newfoundland collapsed, and the news was filled with stories of lives ruined, people out of work, and the borderline extinction of a species. So when I think of fish, I always have a niggling worry in the back of my mind about whether I'm doing the right thing by eating it.

[Also, my husband professes to dislike seafood, but in the past his dislikes have mainly been a product of poor cooking during his childhood. Since Japan is rather known for having some good quality fish, living here is the perfect time to change that. He has eaten grilled sanma with salt happily, and has even managed to choke down some (extremely good quality) tai sashimi. (On my birthday, when he made an effort to enjoy sushi). He likes o-toro and will suffer through maguro. Under no circumstances will he eat either salmon or shellfish.]

I'm of the firm belief, though, as you know, that if you throw enough butter and/or carbs at something, most people will like it. This recipe calls for dredging the fish in flour and then sauteing it in butter, so I think I have my bases covered. It calls for the further happy step of dousing the whole lot in booze, and finishing with a reduced sauce, which should get him into trying it at the very least. If not - well, I'll have lots of carrots on the side, and there'll be more for me.

We used Johnsonville mild Italian sausage, which helpfully lists “spice” as one of the ingredients, although I did not notice any fennel seeds or flavor.

Marcella seems very anti-fennel with regards to sausage. I'm not against fennel myself, in fact, I enjoy it in sausages, but she says it's inauthentic. Are you pro-fennel, or against?

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We used Johnsonville mild Italian sausage, which helpfully lists “spice” as one of the ingredients, although I did not notice any fennel seeds or flavor.

Marcella seems very anti-fennel with regards to sausage. I'm not against fennel myself, in fact, I enjoy it in sausages, but she says it's inauthentic. Are you pro-fennel, or against?

I favor fennel, especially in Indian food. Since Marcella is so adamantly anti-fennel, I was curious to try the recipe as directed. To my taste buds (probably somewhat chile-scorched), the presence or absence of fennel did not alter my enjoyment of the dish.

Caveat: I am not particularly knowledgeable about Italian cooking. Furthermore, when cooking my ultimate goal is enjoyment rather than authenticity (ignoring the long and often interesting discussion of what is authentic). That said, authenticity can provide valuable insights along the path to enjoyment, and often turns out to be the final destination.

Good luck tackling fish. :smile:

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I made the Sausage and Cartwheel Pasta last evening. I didn't want to open a whole large can of tomatoes and then try to use it up so I cut up 1/2 a Roma tomato and used that along with some water for moisture and a dab of tomato paste. I did find the Cartwheel pasta in my local supermarket. I got Johnsonville original breakfast sausage there too.

It turned out to be very tasty but I think I'll make a little more sauce next time I do this. I had to cut the recipe into 1 serving and it's a little tricky with such small quantities. It was more dry than creamy looking like yours was.

I'm somewhat puzzled by her attitude about the sausage. I don't believe that any of my other Italian cookbooks call for sausage without fennel, which I love.

I recently went to Italy for two weeks and the only sausage I tasted, which was part of a brochette, I found was rather distasteful. It didn't especially taste of fennel but had a rather acrid taste. I think it was the only thing I ate that I didn't like.

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It turned out to be very tasty but I think I'll make a little more sauce next time I do this. I had to cut the recipe into 1 serving and it's a little tricky with such small quantities. It was more dry than creamy looking like yours was.

I routinely ignore her measures with regards to pasta. I follow the recipe for sauce, but then just use as much pasta as the two of us can eat. The ratio of sauce to pasta is usually to our liking this way. Interesting note about the sausages in Italy. Did you see them featured on a lot of menus?

Caveat: I am not particularly knowledgeable about Italian cooking. Furthermore, when cooking my ultimate goal is enjoyment rather than authenticity (ignoring the long and often interesting discussion of what is authentic). That said, authenticity can provide valuable insights along the path to enjoyment, and often turns out to be the final destination.

“Flavour perceived is impossible to draw a picture of or measure out. It is an emotion stirred up by the memory and the senses.”

-Marcella Hazan, p.175 “Marcella’s Italian Kitchen”

It’s funny you should mention enjoyment versus authenticity, because this week that's what I ended up thinking about a lot.

One of the most exciting things for me to learn about a country is its smell on the streets at dinner time. Hong Kong smells like roasted pork, unsurprisingly. Hanoi smelt like star anise at night, when the pots of pho stock got boiling, and the steam was carried down the alleys between bursts of motorcycle exhaust. Korea smelt of pork fat dripping onto charcoal – a smell up there with babies and bacon as far as I’m concerned. Japan at lunchtime smells like curry powder and frying pork.

Nothing is as intimate, though, as the smell of your house when you’re coming up on it after a long day at work, and you smell dinner cooking. Living overseas like I have for the past few years, nothing ever I have ever smelt on the street has remotely reminded me of coming home in Canada. The last year in Japan, I’ve given up trying to cook the dishes of my childhood, and embraced a new style of cooking, not based on butter or potatoes, but one based on ingredients like soy, mirin,and dashi . The smell of meat cooking in this trio has become for me, one of homecoming. The other night, I was walking home from the train, as I often do, amongst the frantically texting hordes of salarymen doing the same thing, and I was struck by this very same smell. I inhaled and immediately thought, “oooh – dinner.”

And then realized I was nowhere near my own apartment. And then I realized that my apartment smelled like other people’s homes in Japan.

I was struck by two things after this realization: First, I was now ready to get serious about cooking fish. You can’t live in Japan and ignore fish.

Second: I have no idea what Italy smells like. How can I worry about whether my dishes are hewing true to Marcella’s, when I have no idea what the real thing tastes like? Or smells like? And I understand her struggle in writing this book. How can you translate the flavour and taste of something out of its context? Is it possible to do so? What is lost in translation?

Something Torakris mentioned in her brilliant eGCI lesson on Japanese cooking was that the most difficult thing to emulate in some dishes was “mother’s taste” – the taste of how your mother cooked something. It intimidates many people, especially when faced with making classic home-cooking dishes like nikkujyaga. She felt freer than the average person in preparing this dish, because she had no mental image of how it should taste, as her own mother had never prepared it.

So I’m going to give up on worrying about fennel in my sausage and incursions of mitsuba into parsley territory. I will cook what I can and enjoy it on its own merits.

Now for the fish:

When you take language lessons as a beginner, you’re generally taught how to introduce yourself and basics like asking for directions and how to tell time. Also – how to describe your work, hobbies, and families. What they don’t get to until much later is the sort of information you actually will need to discuss – such as, “I hurt my arm while hiking, is it possible to get an x-ray?” and “I need two fillets of a firm, white-fleshed fish – how about this stuff?” Nor are you able to understand when people come back with things like, “You have a 30 degree fracture of your radial neck and will require surgery.” or “Lady, that is this shop’s finest sashimi-grade sea bream .”

But that’s okay, because even in a country like Japan, body language is often enough to let you know a situation is about to get really expensive.

My local fishmonger wasn’t completely able to hide his surprise when I walked in today, but he was gracious nevertheless when I indicated I needed some fish for frying, and wondered if maybe the lovely white fillet in the case was suitable? Oh, it’s for sashimi? It’s 700 yen for 100 g? Hmm. Looking around the shop at all of the beautiful whole fish, I mentally kicked myself for not looking up the verb “filet” before leaving home. While I was casting about for something to add to the exchange (Japan is a great place for long silences – people actually seem comforted by them), he plucked a whole red snapper from his case, brandished his knife, and inquired if I wanted “filet.”

Why, as a matter of fact, sir, you read my mind.

He had it broken down and bagged in under a minute, and pressed the bones and head bagged separately onto me as well. He suggested cooking them with a little water for soup, and when I asked whether or not I should add a little miso to it, he had a look in his eye such that I thought he was going to follow me home and show me how to do it proper like.

They’re still in my fridge, as yet unpurposed. Suggestions?

This week's recipe, as I mentioned, is Filetti di Pesce al Vino Rosso on p. 171.

Pretty fillets, pre-saucing:

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In the spirit of not worrying too much about authenticity, I ditched the idea of using celery, which is on the very short list of foods that I abhor. I have a huge bunch of Japanese leeks from the local garden patch, so I used that instead. I foolishly thought I could do the chopping myself, but after getting the carrots done for the scapece, my shoulder ached too much, so I delegated that to my husband. After twenty excruciating minutes of watching him cube carrots, I thought I was going to scream. The rest of the recipe came together in minutes once all the prep was done, however.

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Waaaaayyy too much sauce - or too little fish? But it was nicely soaked up with some bread and plain baked potatoes on the side.

I think the carrots were great, but perhaps too tangy to serve along fish with red wine? Next time I'll pair them with something milder, I think.

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Erin, I am onto Marcella's autobiography now and reading about her childhood arm injury I was cringing as it also put me in mind of your recent one. Owie. Hope you're on the mend. Is it possibly even synchronicitous that you would have an arm injury JUST when you've started on your Marcella Years? Hmmm.

With my can o' tomatoes I made the simple tomato sauce you did up there... delicious. One feels just preternaturally good when a tomato sauce is simmering on the stove, doesn't one?

And, for your fish trimmings, sounds like maybe you should make ara jiru, which Hiroyuki typically graciously helped me out with some time ago... here is a link. So good! AND is fish cookery.

Beautiful description of dinnertime smells. All these things find their way into your personal cuisine, as you see fit anyways, which is only as it should be. What is one's cooking but accumulation of one's life experience made manifest?


Priscilla

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

 

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I made the cartwheel pasta again last evening but made 1/2 batch of the sauce and added just enough to moisten my pasta nicely. I used some fresh tomatoes I had cooked off with the last of out tomato crop.

It was excellent and a keeper as it's so quick and simple.

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One of the most exciting things for me to learn about a country is its smell on the streets at dinner time. Hong Kong smells like roasted pork, unsurprisingly. Hanoi smelt like star anise at night, when the pots of pho stock got boiling, and the steam was carried down the alleys between bursts of motorcycle exhaust. Korea smelt of pork fat dripping onto charcoal – a smell up there with babies and bacon as far as I’m concerned. Japan at lunchtime smells like curry powder and frying pork.

This lovely paragraph deserves to be reproduced. My strongest travel memories are not monuments or museums, but small illustrations of daily life. For instance, I always associate Siberia with the aroma of freshly-baked fruit pastries mingling with diesel fumes and wafting through our hotel window, open in December for temperature control.

I think the carrots were great, but perhaps too tangy to serve along fish with red wine? Next time I'll pair them with something milder, I think.

Erin, we like to pair tangy carrots (nice browning on yours, btw) with something rich and creamy.

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So I’m going to give up on worrying about fennel in my sausage and incursions of mitsuba into parsley territory. I will cook what I can and enjoy it on its own merits.
In the spirit of not worrying too much about authenticity, I ditched the idea of using celery, which is on the very short list of foods that I abhor.

Erin,

Congratulations, you are almost ready to graduate from the Marcella School for Informed and Highly Opinionated Cooks!

You will know the day has truly come when you find that Marcella's techniques have been so thoroughly integrated into your way of cooking that you no longer look up her recipes, but you cook in her "style" without recipes (which you will adapt to become your own unique style), based on what's available in the market, your own (and your family's) tastes, the season, and what you feel like eating. And you will start applying her basic approach to recipes from other cookbook authors as well -- you will *always* cook the onion first, then add the garlic, and you'll never cook anything in just a tiny bit of oil or butter again...

Welcome to Legions of the Converted!

- Laura

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Risotto con la Verza e il Parmigiana, p. 161

Finally, I got around to making this recipe with rice.

In the spirit of using what's around me, I used 1 cup of regular koshihikari rice, and 1/2 cup of mochi rice. I've never actually eaten arborio rice, and when I make risotto from Mark Bittman's recipe, I never think twice about using the Japanese rice I have on hand. This time, I felt a slight twinge, but I soldiered on.

Now that it's winter, I always have chinese cabbage on hand for making nabe, so that substituted for the savoy cabbage. I followed her instructions to the letter, however, on cooking it to "a rich nut brown". What is it about the marriage of bacon fat and cabbage that adds up to more than the sum of its parts? Making this reminded me of making one of my favourite Korean home cooking dishes, kimchi bokkumbap, where you fry kimchi and some fatty pork - Spam is popular, but I like to use thin strips of pork belly.

It took forever to make, but came out satisfactorily creamy, I think, despite not having any cream. I think the addition of mochi rice was a brainwave, really. We devoured it while watching Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, episode two. I love eating and watching TV about food at the same time.

Congratulations, you are almost ready to graduate from the Marcella School for Informed and Highly Opinionated Cooks!

Do I get a certificate I can put on my fridge? :raz:

and you'll never cook anything in just a tiny bit of oil or butter again...

And that's what I'm afraid of!! :biggrin:

For instance, I always associate Siberia with the aroma of freshly-baked fruit pastries mingling with diesel fumes and wafting through our hotel window, open in December for temperature control.

See, that's the sort of thing I always remember about my travels. And I can smell Siberia now that you've shared that - isn't there something intriguing about a delicious and a harsh smell mixing? I feel like I'm there with you. And since I'm Canadian, I know exactly the feeling of hot air escaping out a cold window - and who can forget the smell of diesel?

Is it possibly even synchronicitous that you would have an arm injury JUST when you've started on your Marcella Years? Hmmm.

Oooh, she got me with bad karma for making all those substitutions. [clenches good fist, shakes it at the sky]

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Has anyone else pondered the irony of a Canadian cooking Italian food in Japan?

It's a small world after all. :biggrin:

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Congratulations, you are almost ready to graduate from the Marcella School for Informed and Highly Opinionated Cooks!

Do I get a certificate I can put on my fridge? :raz:

No, but at your official Initiation Ceremony, you will learn our Secret Handshake, which will allow you to connect with other members of the Society, wherever you may happen upon them.

- L.

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Please PM me the details. :biggrin:

This week: mushrooms.

There are lots of varieties of mushrooms available in Japan, and Fall is the season to eat them. I haven't broken down yet and bought the 2000 yen-for-one matsutakes in the supermarket - although don't think I haven't been tempted. Last weekend my husband and I were in Ofuna market at our favourite produce shop, and they had several kinds of mushrooms for cheap, so we loaded up.

This produce shop is incredible. Literally 100 m from a luxury department store selling 10,000 yen melons, and individual limes wrapped in protective foam blankets, this shops sells Aomori apples four for 300 yen, bags of lemons for 100 yen – and my favourite – 1 kg of Chinese garlic for 100 yen. Unbelievable! My husband usually goes every Saturday on his lunchbreak, buys whatever is on sale, and texts me the “market report” as I’m at work, so that I may torture my co-workers. They don’t live anywhere near Ofuna, and are stuck shopping at the luxury department stores near their own home stations.

This week, there were lots of mushrooms, so we got a pack of shiitakes, and two packs of eringi mushrooms. They always delight me, as the first part of the katakana in their name has the same spelling as my name in Japanese. These are the sort of things you take pleasure in when you’re functionally illiterate most of the time. I had no idea what I was going to do with them at the time, but Marcella never disappoints.

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Penne col Sugo di Funghi Coltivati, p. 132

Finally, finally I begin to really taste the insaporire, thanks to the pungent kick of the anchovy.

Marcella writes,

“The expression insaporire comes up in Italian oral or written recipes dealing usually with vegetables that are tossed with sautéed onion or garlic or both during the first cooking stage.” (p. 16)

Now, if I learn nothing else from this book, this skill alone will have been worth it. A vegetable that has been properly treated stands up against any fine meat or cheese or piece of bread, as far as I’m concerned, and what better way to treat a vegetable than to bathe it in hot olive oil aromatic with sweet onions and spicy garlic?

[On the weekend, I made a trip to the nearest Costco to load up on bulk olive oil – not the Kirkland, but an Italian brand. I hope I’ll stop choking when recipes call of olive oil in cup, rather than spoon measures.]

From the recipe on page 132:

“The mushrooms undergo two cooking stages: the first one draws away and evaporates their bland, taste-diluting liquid; the second concentrates their flavour together with that of wine, anchovies, tomatoes, and parsley.”

After supervising sous-chef Peter’s prep work, (Erin: “Cut the onions in a small dice.” Peter [proudly] “I know what that means now!”) I took over the actual cooking.

What do y’all use as cooking wine? I’m working on a bottle of something cheap and Chilean purchased from the convenience store .

The two steps seemed to take forever, since I was starving, but once again, Marcella can’t be faulted. Despite using yet another can of tomatoes, this sauce was completely distinct from sauces that have gone before. The anchovy paste, garlic, and wine worked together to lend the mushrooms a meaty, earthy taste, and it reminded me of something I had tasted somewhere else before – but couldn’t put my finger on. What was it?

I skipped the parsley, as ever, but am beginning to think I might invest in a plant.

Another hit, anyway.

Christmas is coming, and Santa might bring me another Marcella book. Any suggestions? Something with fewer veal recipes?

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What do y’all use as cooking wine? I’m working on a bottle of something cheap and Chilean purchased from the convenience store .

Usually, whatever we are having for dinner. Light and fruity seems to work better than heavy and oaky or tannic. Cheap and Chilean sounds just fine.

Christmas is coming, and Santa might bring me another Marcella book. Any suggestions? Something with fewer veal recipes?

Old thread discussing Marcella cookbooks (clicky). The Classic Italian Cookbook, has a lot of, well, classic recipes -- the kind with name recognition.

Saturday with Marcella, a light meal before meeting friends downtown. On the first Saturday of the month, the many quirky shops on the main drag stay open late and offer wine tastings, hot chocolate, cheese samples, occasional outbreaks of doo-wop, and free drinks. I had a martini and a Manhattan, gratis. :cool:

Conchiglie con pepperoni verdi, rossi e gialli alla panna (shells with green, red, and yellow peppers and cream, from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen): Fry onions in butter and olive oil, add peppers, and saute until soft. Add heavy cream, cook down, and finish with s&p. Grated parmesan added after the picture. Before inhaling the pasta, the boys carefully picked out all of the lovingly-sauteed peppers. :sad:

Quoth elder son: “It would be OK with me if we had pasta every night.”

French beans with bacon and onion: Not from Marcella, but justifiably popular.

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Edited to eliminate repetitive redundancy.


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

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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. 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.)

Erin, I made this today, having all the elements together after a visit to 99 Ranch yesterday for the fried tofu.

What an excellent dish. Made a great breakfast.

I have always agreed with Holden Caulfield that digressions are the best part.


Priscilla

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

 

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Oh, I'm glad you liked it. It warms my heart to know that dish being cooked by someone new. There's just something so cozy and delicious about it, isn't there?

I have not abandoned Marcella, and her recipes, despite a posting absence. Most recently I've taken to making Salciccie con Cime di Rapa, from page 238, a recipe I had tabbed last fall in anticipation of nano hana season. I believe both nano hana and rapa are one and the same - if not, they're close enough for my purposes. I'm still frustrated, however, by Japanese sausages, which are both smaller and less flavourful than the ones she calls for. Even if they're extravagantly pierced all over with a fork, they barely yield a teaspoon of cooking fat.

I've also returned again and again to the mushroom recipe - while the sausages here are a disappointment, the mushrooms are anything but. I've also tried the tagiatelle alla romagnola con sugo di spinachi on page 102, as the allotment in my neighbourhood has been turning out heaps and heaps of winter spinach for 100 yen a bunch. I continue to shock and awe the allotment man with my abilities to use vegetables. Sample conversation: (try to picture it in Japanese)

Erin: ooh, spinach. I'll take it.

Allotment man: Spinach? Do they eat spinach in Canada, America-san? (He calls me America-san, despite knowing I'm a Canadian. I'm taking it as a complement)

Erin: Yes, we do.

Allotment man: What do you call it?

Erin: Spinach.

Allotment man: Huh. Spinach in Canada. Is that so?

Erin: That's so.

I neglect, of course, to tell him there's no way in a hundred years anyone's taking fresh spinach out of the ground in Canada in February.

I got my hands on some fresh tagliatelle that an Italian deli has started selling for the recession-friendly price of 200 yen a bag. The recipe is nothing more than a bunch of fresh spinach, sauteed extravagantly in olive oil and garlic, with some tomatoes added. Marcella's cookbooks really ought to be sponsored by the olive oil industry. That's the sum of the recipe, really, but if you're working with fresh, sweet spinach, the olive oil turns it velvety soft, and the sweetness is complemented by the tomatoes. Another hit.

Before inhaling the pasta, the boys carefully picked out all of the lovingly-sauteed peppers.

I used to torture my parents in a similar fashion with bacon.

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Allotment man: Spinach? Do they eat spinach in Canada, America-san? (He calls me America-san, despite knowing I'm a Canadian. I'm taking it as a complement)

I can picture this, and I am laughing. Older Japanese guy, worked vegetables all his life? Good guess?


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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You have him exactly. :biggrin: He wears plastic shower sandals all the time, which I love. He has a crew of lesser allotment men, who shout for him when they see me coming. I introduced another like-minded foreigner in our neighbourhood to buying there, and now we compete to see who can get the better produce from him.

Really, I have to say I'm glad I decided to start cooking from this book in Japan - in Canada, it wouldn't be half as fun going to the Superstore and tossing a sad plastic bag of spinach from Mexico into my cart. There's no colour there at all, is there?

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That is wonderful.

Vegetables inspire like no other ingredient category -- at least they do me. You are lucky to have your veg man and he is lucky to have you.

I have recommended to people looking to cook vegetarian to use Marcella's books.


Priscilla

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

 

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Really, I have to say I'm glad I decided to start cooking from this book in Japan - in Canada, it wouldn't be half as fun going to the Superstore and tossing a sad plastic bag of spinach from Mexico into my cart. There's no colour there at all, is there?

Actually, I was thinking that this thread also rightly belongs in the Japan forum. Because it really boils down to the ingredients that you have at your disposal in Japan.


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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I am making Marcella's Melanzane sott'Olio (Eggplant Perserved in Oil). It's a wonderful and flavorful dish; very simple but I have a question. In the first step, you are told to peel and slice the eggplant, salt them, and leave to steep for 12 - 16 hours.

It says nothing about refrigeration during this time, so I assume that's ok to leave them out on the counter, correct?


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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