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The Cooking and Cuisine of Campania


Kevin72
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The traditional New Year's Eve meal at our house.

For the ap, the same calzoncielli that Shaya enthused about back on page 2 of this thread, stuffed with erm, ricotta, pecorino, parmigiano, oregano, and anchovies. Once again, when I brought out the heaping platter to my parents, brother, and his wife, they were shocked at how many there were. Ten minutes later, they were equally shocked that we had managed to gobble them all down! :laugh:

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Followed by my version of timpano:

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Rather messy affair this year, as you can see. I guess I could have been more regionally appropriate and jumped over to one of the timbale from Emilia-Romagna to cap off the year, but that was too much of a production even for me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Way back in the early pages of this thread, we had a discussion about the proper tomato “sauce” for a proper pizza margarita. Pizza Napoletana kindly pointed out that only crushed tomatoes with very little seasonings should be used instead of a cooked sauce. Kevin concurred. I promised to give that a shot next time around. So, this past Sunday, I fired up the oven and baked a few pizzas including a Margarita or two. I only used crushed tomatoes (canned San Marzano) with some salt, pepper and a touch of garlic for a “sauce”. I have to agree, I much prefer this version where the lovely tomato flavor and acidity shine through.

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Click here for the less 'authentic' pizzas from that dinner

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Any particular brand of San Marzanos you used or really like?

Cento is usually my go to brand because it is available at the store I shop at regularly (HEB) and it is pretty good. Although whenever I go to Central MArket I try to buy a few cans of Carmelina brand, I think it is better. Actually Kevin I almost picked up a can of the cherry tomatoes from Cento because I remember you said you used them on your pizza. Then I noticed the price, about 3 times that of the regular San Marzano variety canned plum tomatoes!

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Any particular brand of San Marzanos you used or really like?

Cento is usually my go to brand because it is available at the store I shop at regularly

Hi.

If you were able to find a *true* San Marzano you are lucky!

Around Naples is, practically, not grown anymore commercially, since it is easily attacked by a fungus. All big italian brands of canned "San Marzano" tomatoes are really "Tipo San Marzano" (San Marzano-like), since they use a hybrid similar in shape (F1 hybrid). And often it comes from abroad.

by the way: when I buy crushed tomatoes for my pizza I buy the Mutti brand, which I find slightly superior to other brands.

When I lived in the US (loooong time ago) and wanted to buy some cans at my local Safeway to make pizza I remember I used to read all the labels, and discard every can that contained spices, flavorings and correctors of acidity, and buy the one containing only crushed tomatoes and salt, nothing else :)

Ciao

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Any particular brand of San Marzanos you used or really like?

Cento is usually my go to brand because it is available at the store I shop at regularly (HEB) and it is pretty good. Although whenever I go to Central MArket I try to buy a few cans of Carmelina brand, I think it is better. Actually Kevin I almost picked up a can of the cherry tomatoes from Cento because I remember you said you used them on your pizza. Then I noticed the price, about 3 times that of the regular San Marzano variety canned plum tomatoes!

Ah Cento.

I may have to throw out a bit of caution on the cherry tomatoes: they come with their skins still on and you have to sieve or put them through a mill to get rid of those papery husks.

Thanks for the compliments, Franci, and welcome back! We missed you!

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  • 4 months later...

It is hard to decide to choose which cooking thread to append at times. I could have just as easily added to the one devoted to Puglia, but figured that there are so many recent posts on that region, it made sense to revive this one instead.

Yesterday I made Pizza di Scarola for the first time in over a decade, consulting Marcella Hazan's recipe, if changing a few things to accommodate the fact that we can find fresher, local escarole long after she wrote her book, so I cut back on the amount of time my four heads boiled away before being squeezed and dried and also based on my marginal notes, added a tiny bit of sherry vinegar to the sautéed mix of greens, garlic and capers and then, chopped olives, pine nuts and every last salt-packed anchovy in the house. (I found the instructions for grinding black pepper into the dough interesting though I'm not sure it made much difference.) It was indeed good for an outdoor spread and definitely deserves returning to again since it's perfect for those who like grilling sausages or an entire herb-crusted lamb.

In trying to find online references to the appropriate region, I found that Campania was mentioned more, though recipes specify slightly different fillings, for example, adding grated cheese. This is close, though there is no garlic and it's a bit miserly with the anchovies: Click. This is closest to Marcella Hazan's dish and also sanctions my vinegar by including a spoonful of wine; as the URL suggests, the site is devoted to Italian witches vs. cooking, though. I'm having trouble copying the link I chose as an example, but in general, Puglia's version includes raisins.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 1 month later...

A mid week dinner from Campania,

Chicken Cacciatore - recipe bastardized from Schwartz. I made a few...errr...additions. Because I love raisins in the meatballs recipe he has, I added osme here to the sauce. I love how their sweetness works with the rich brasiing liquid and acidic tomatoes. Highly recommended addition.

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The braising sauce made a perfect condimento for spaghetti along with homemade fresh ricotta and herbs from the garden.

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E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Notice how we're all returning to southern regions now that tomato season is upon us.

Just a report on what to do on those rare occasions when you make too much tomato salad. Have Eggs in Purgatory (Uovi 'Mpriatorio) for breakfast!

This might have been the first time I was faced with that predicament, caused by the size of a Purple Cherokee that looked as if it was about to expire. While I typically dress these salads simply with olive oil after sprinkling on salt and then scattering basil over the top, this time around I threw in capers, slivers of green olives & shallots that had steeped in red wine vinegar. Before condemning leftovers to the refrigerator, I poured the juices into a separate bottle.

I prepared the eggs without adding anything else other than a little butter (yes) to the pan to cook the tomato-shallot mixture first, then poured in the juices. No cheese. While the vinegar's flavor is muted by the time the egg poaches, I read that vinegar is added to this dish in Le Marches.

As good as tomatoes and bread may be in Naples, a runny yolk makes excellent company.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 2 months later...

I love this seasonal cool weather! Puts me in mind for good baked pasta dishes. The one I made recently from Schwartz's book hit the spot right on. It is a baked pasta full of mushrooms (dry and fresh...love those dry porcinis), a meaty ragu, peas with pancetta and the whole thing is covered with a rich inch thick snow cap of balsamella. Delicious stuff. The only devaition from the recipe was in using spaghetti instead of tagliatelle and I also used homemade crumbled sausage instead of ground beef.

gallery_5404_94_471465.jpg

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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I love this seasonal cool weather! Puts me in mind for good baked pasta dishes. The one  I made recently from Schwartz's book hit the spot right on. It is a baked pasta full of mushrooms (dry and fresh...love those dry porcinis), a meaty ragu, peas with pancetta and the whole thing is covered with a rich inch thick snow cap of balsamella. Delicious stuff. The only devaition from the recipe was in using spaghetti instead of tagliatelle and  I also used homemade crumbled sausage instead of ground beef.

gallery_5404_94_471465.jpg

And where were the peas from?

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I love this seasonal cool weather! Puts me in mind for good baked pasta dishes. The one  I made recently from Schwartz's book hit the spot right on. It is a baked pasta full of mushrooms (dry and fresh...love those dry porcinis), a meaty ragu, peas with pancetta and the whole thing is covered with a rich inch thick snow cap of balsamella. Delicious stuff. The only devaition from the recipe was in using spaghetti instead of tagliatelle and  I also used homemade crumbled sausage instead of ground beef.

gallery_5404_94_471465.jpg

And where were the peas from?

A bag of frozen peas

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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  • 2 months later...
[F]rom Elisabetta Cuomo (forum of Cucina Italiana)

Stuffed paccheri with eggplants

300 g paccheri De Cecco or Setaro

1 kg eggplants

150 g fiordilatte

200 g provola affumicata (NOTE: if you like, I hate smoked provola or mozzarella)

75 g grated parmigiano

150 bechamelle

10 basil  leaves

750 g of cherry tomatoes (or 1 and half can of the cherry, one can 400 g)

200 g passata

evo and garlic

Cut 750 g of the eggplant in long slices  1 cm thick, the rest cut in cubes and put under salt. Rinse, dry. Flour the long slices  and deep fry. Fry the eggplants cubes. Dry well on kitchen paper. In the mixer pulse the eggplant slices with the bechamelle and the basil. Transfer to a  bowl, add the cheeses in very small cubes, the parmigiano, add the cubed fried eggplants. Cook the pasta 4-5 minutes. Fill it with the eggplant stuffing. Make a sauce with the garlic, oil cherry tomatoes and passata and pour on the paccheri in oiled baking pan, sprinkle with a lot of parmigiano and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. More basil at time of serving.

It was sublime!  Somehow the combination of eggplant, bechamel, fior di latte, basil and parmigiano made for a sweet, creamy, luscious mouthful.

I used canneloni shells which are longer than the traditional "pacchieri" pasta that the dish calls for. 

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While it's hard to feel nostalgic for summer during a winter of unusual warmth and little snow, finally the temperatures dropped and winds picked up enough to make treks down long city streets a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, the best place to pick up basil in January is only two blocks away and the leaves survived the journey home. Eggplants were on sale and I've been thinking about this dish ever since I spied cans of cherry tomatoes imported from Italy at Whole Foods. Also found something equivalent to paccheri called "gigantoni" by a local supermarket as part of its upscale line.

So, last night, after a two-hour hike, I came home and listened to old radio shows and prepared this dish. Ate around midnight since it took forever to chop the garlic, make the sauce, slice two eggplants into slivers, salt, drain, rinse, dry them, coat them with flour, fry and stack them in between sheets of paper towels. Then, there's the béchamel. Water to boil. Pasta to cook half way through in 10 minutes. Cheese to weigh, cube, and mix in with the eggplant, including the fried slices processed with basil and white sauce. The gigantoni are only about 1 3/4 inches long, so I don't want to know how many I stuffed. I will say, the proportions in the recipe are nearly perfect since I had enough stuffing to spare for not quite 2 more by the time I was through. Baked for half an hour.

FYI: I subbed feta for about 1/3 of the cheese in the filling with success. However, omitting the passata this time around was not a good idea. Perfectly fine, but sort of Italian-American since cherry tomatoes are canned w their skins and the thicker sauce that results does not seep into the pasta the way a thinner sauce does. Next time, I think I'll skip flouring and deep-frying the thin slices of eggplaint--I don't see why baking or even a flip under the broiler wouldn't suffice.

I raise my glass to Alberto of Campania whose warmth, knowledge and passion for Italian food are sorely missed! Here's to Franci for introducing us to this wonderful dish and Shaya whose documentation inspired me to prepare it in the first place. Tanti auguri to all who participated in these threads in days of yore.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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....mmmmm.....that sounds delicious.... I can almost smell it from here....

I've a Campania question: are there other recipes in Campania that call for bechamel? It just seems so E-R to me, or at least more northern in flavor.

I miss Franci...she should be a mom by now, so I'm guessing she's just a little bit busy!

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Pontormo I'm so happy you enjoyed the dish. I've made it several times since, the farmer's market eggplant in the fall always inspires me, and the same vendor has fabulous basil as well.

Seeing this thread pop up makes me nostalgic somehow...

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I've a Campania question: are there other recipes in Campania that call for bechamel? It just seems so E-R to me, or at least more northern in flavor.

I can see why you say that, though aren't sformati rather widespread at this point? At least you find them in Central Italy and not just Piemonte.

Given the importance and fame of fresh cheeses in this region, it makes sense that there are more dishes w balsamella, which Marcella Hazan attributes to Romagna. Sartu, is the one that springs to mind.

* * *

Shaya, good to see you here, too! This is actually the second time I've made it, the first being at a time when my principal ingredients were local and in season. It's still one of my absolute favorites of all the things I prepared first for these regional cooking threads: up there with those incredible swordfish impanate!

* * *

As for Franci, send me a PM and I'll be happy to update you (sort of) with pictures, etc.

* * *

Finally, many of you have probably heard the sad news about bufale and the fate of our beloved mozzerelle. Just in case: BBC on the threat of disease.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Finally, many of you have probably heard the sad news about bufale and the fate of our beloved mozzerelle.  Just in case: BBC on the threat of disease.

A friend from Campania tells me that this story is very under-reported in Italy; she says she's seen nothing in La repubblica, for example, which she reads daily.

The British Guardian newspaper also talked recently of fears that the rubbish disposal crisis in the region may also see more toxins leached into the food chain... worrying times.

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Finally, many of you have probably heard the sad news about bufale and the fate of our beloved mozzerelle.  Just in case: BBC on the threat of disease.

A friend from Campania tells me that this story is very under-reported in Italy; she says she's seen nothing in La repubblica, for example, which she reads daily.

The British Guardian newspaper also talked recently of fears that the rubbish disposal crisis in the region may also see more toxins leached into the food chain... worrying times.

That's horrible. On a few levels, one being that the mafia is somewhat responsible for the spread of the disease. You'd think they would have a more long term business view of the matter, after all they've been around for a long time....

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.

I've a Campania question: are there other recipes in Campania that call for bechamel? It just seems so E-R to me, or at least more northern in flavor.

sometimes a degree of richness based on bechamel does co-exist in the otherwise sleekly tomato-evoo-basil leaf Neapolitan palate. a leftover of the French chefs who cooked for the aristocrats during the days when naples was part of the kingdom of....whichever kingdom it was part of......

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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