If you don’t make your own (a blender and two day old bread – simple) always buy unseasoned breadcrumbs and use your own seasoning. To toast – put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan on medium heat. Add a cup of the unseasoned bread crumbs and keep them moving until they darken. Don’t walk away to do something else because they’ll burn. When they reach the right color remove them from the pan immediately or they’ll keep cooking. They should smell like toast, not burnt toast. You can use this on many pastas in place of cheese and there are some sauces where you can only use toasted breadcrumbs – fish sauces like pasta con sarde or baccala.
Use Parmigiana, Loccatelli, Romano or whatever you like but don’t think you can put it on everything because it can conflict with and overpower delicate flavors. If you really want cheese, eat a piece of cheese.
Type can vary according to the sauce but NEVER, NEVER with sea food. Grandma said that was a mortal sin. Instead of the hard grating cheeses, try dry ricotta salada sometime or maybe a tablespoon of fresh ricotta in your dish before you put in pasta with tomato sauce. Instead of any grated cheese at all, try toasted bread crumbs. When Grandma couldn’t afford cheese this was a good substitute and on some dishes it’s better than cheese. I’ll explain how to make them in my next post.
Capozzelli di Angnelli Yes, it’s a lamb’s head. The padrone would get the loin, legs and chops and the peasants had to make what was left taste good.
1 lamb head, split in half
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp oregano
½ lemon plus more for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
Place room temperature halves on a platter and liberally season with salt and black pepper. Mix ½ tspn each, salt and black pepper with oregano, lemon juice, garlic and oil (save some oil to grease baking pan). Rub halves with marinade and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.
Roast for 90 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 325o. Starting with cut side up, turn and baste with drippings every ½ hour. At the end of 90 minutes remove it from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Baste and place in broiler, eye side up, about 6 inches from flame for 2 minutes until lightly browned. When done, let it rest for about 5 minutes and serve with lemon wedges.
Summer Tomato Salad Aunt Caroline would pick the basilico and tomatoes in her Staten Island kitchen garden just before she made this Summer Tomato Salad. The ice cubes were necessary because the tomatoes would still be hot from the sun.
4 medium tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup torn basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil
5 or 6 ice cubes
Cut narrow wedges around the core, discarding the core. Cut each wedge in half and place in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss and let sit for 20 minutes. Before serving add the oil, basil and ice cubes, then toss again.