I grew up with Marie Brizard. That was my father’s go-to brand of anisette. The bottle was on the table after every dinner to sweeten our expresso. It was a low enough proof so I got to use some in my coffee too. I don’t remember too many people drinking it straight. Anisette is very sweet. Maybe an old lady who needed a drink for a toast and didn’t want anything too strong would have some. Sometimes I’d get a sip of it in a cordial glass if I had a cough or sore throat.
Although some people think it’s main ingredient is liquorice root, anisette is made by macerating the seeds of the anis plant in a neutral spirit. I have an anis hyssop on my balcony (see the heading photo) but I’ve never tried to gather the seeds. A friend recently suggested that I can make a passable anisette using its leaves by filling a jar have full with them, then filling it with vodka. Strain it after a month, and add sugar syrup to taste. I may try that when my plant is bigger toward the end of the summer.
My Aunt Lena use to make her own anisette with anis essence she’d get from a local pastry shop. That’s a main ingredient in anisette biscotti so all the pastry shops had it. The essence would be added to black market grain alcohol and sugar syrup. She’d mix it in a big pot on her kitchen table. I remember being small enough to stand on the table to stir it with a long wooden spoon.
When I was growing up, the only time I ever saw sambuca was if someone brought a bottle back from Italy. It wasn’t imported to the US back then. And as much as it tastes like anisette, sambuca is made from the elder berry plant. It’s a higher proof and is now much more common here than anisette.
I still generally use Marie Brizard but when it’s available I buy Anis del Mono, a Spanish brand. I like the monkey on the label. There are other anis flavored liquors made around the Mediterranean: Pernod, raki, ouzo and anazone but anisette is the best for sweetening expresso.
High quality imported tuna packed in olive oil works well with these sauces. Pick a brand that has no additional ingredients. Remember, this is seafood, so please, no cheese.
Tuna Tomato Sauce
Put the pasta water up to boil. Sauté the 1st 6 ingredients and then deglaze the pan with wine. Stir and add the tuna and tomatoes and simmer. Don’t overcook. Add the scallions to the sauce and when the pasta is almost done, add it to the sauce to finish cooking.
Pasta Con Tonno e Piselli
Sweat onion in oil. Add peas and 1 cup water, season with S&P. Simmer for 15 min and add 1 jar imported tuna (8oz). Add chopped parsley and serve with small pasta.
I used to order Pork Chops and Vinegar Peppers every time I went to Patrici’s on Kenmare St. in Manhattan. I got this recipe from my sister Nicki when they closed.
Season pork chops and bring to room temperature. Fry them in a little oil and remove from pan when browned. (If you want, you can also use boneless and cut into bit size pieces). Fry the potatoes, season and remove from pan. Fry the onion and add the peppers.
Put the cooked chops back in the pan and the potatoes, onions and peppers back on top of the chops. Add the red wine vinegar and liquid from the pepper jar. Sprinkle oregano on top. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes more.
If you can’t get vinegar peppers locally, they’re available on line.
I mentioned Annabel Langbein in a previous post – Annabel’s Apple Cake. She’s come up with another easy to-do cake. Her show, The Free Range Cook, from New Zealand, is still on PBS. Check it out. Here’s another of her recipes. She calls it Orange Lightning Cake because its so quick to make. Like her Apple Cake, it’s simple and perfect for dessert or breakfast.
( grams and centigrade converted to US equivalents)
Preheat oven to 325°. Grease an 9-inch-diameter cake pan and line the base with baking paper.
Cut the orange into quarters, remove the seeds and whizz in a food processor until finely chopped. Dissolve baking soda in ½ cup water and add to the food processor with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Whizz to combine. Add golden raisins and walnuts and stir with a spoon to just combine (don’t whizz them or they will break up).
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (about 1 hour).