Melissa Clark’s Eggs in Purgatory

Melissa Clark’s Eggs in Purgatory
It looks like Eggs in Purgatory is finally going main-stream. Melissa Clark, one of my favorite NYT food writers, just did an article and recipe . Growing up, it was a standard Monday lunch. My mother never made sauce specifically for Eggs in Purgatory like Melissa. She would use leftover Sunday gravy.

Melissa Clark's Eggs in Purgatory

Melissa’s sauce recipe isn’t too far off, except for the anchovies, which might be an interesting addition. The idea of butter in tomato sauce would have been out of the question for my mother.
Aside from this popping up in the Times, about 2 years back I found myself in a trendy restaurant in Williamsburg called Fabbrica. They had ‘Pugatorio’ on the menu. I ordered it and it was standard Eggs in Purgatory, very good too.Melissa Clark's Eggs in Purgatory

Purgatorio at Frabbrica


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Bridget’s Chinese Chews

Bridget’s Chinese Chews

One last Christmas recipe – Bridget’s Chinese Chews. It’s her family’s recipe and a Christmas tradition.

Bridget's Chinese Chews

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the first 4 dry ingredients. Then add the eggs, pecans and dates.
Spread thinly (1 inch) in a baking pan. Cook at 350o, 15 to 20 min. Roll small bit into balls while warm and roll in powdered sugar.

Bridget's Chinese ChewsBridget's Chinese Chews

Christmas Eve Seafood Salad

Christmas Eve Seafood Salad

Christmas Eve dinner is sometimes known as the  Feast of the Seven Fishes. If you’re aiming for seven this will get you almost half way there.  It doesn’t have to actually be fish. It could be anything that lives in the sea. Every year, either my daughter Kristina or my sister Nicki’s son  Stephen make it. It’s served with the antipasto along with lots of other things. When I was growing up I never heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My mother and aunt just cooked and didn’t count. I’m sure their total was always more than seven.

This is the family recipe as recorded by Nicki –


Calamari – Cut the cleaned calamari (not lengthwise) into 1/2” circles.  If you did not buy cleaned calamari you must clean the calamari under cold running water.  Pull the head out of the body, making sure to get the clear “bone” out.  Squeeze the body from the tail to the opening to get out any residue.  Then peel the thin skin off the body.  Snip off the eyes and make sure you get the small beak out.  (Go for the extra buck and buy cleaned calamari).  Boil the calamari in rapidly boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes.  They should be tender not rubbery.  Drain and set aside.

 

Scungilli – Fresh scungilli can be purchased at an Italian fish market.  If you choose to use the fresh you should buy more than a pound because there is a lot of waste when you clean it.  Rinse the fresh scungilli thoroughly under cold running water.  Boil the whole scungilli in rapidly boiling salted water for about 7 – 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Slice each piece thinly, discarding the “tail” section and any hard pieces along the edges.  There is really quite a bit of waste cleaning scungilli.  Canned scungilli saves time, makes your life easier and is very good.  I have found that La Monica is the best-canned brand and I have been using the canned for the past few years.

Octopus – Rinse under cold running water before submerging the whole octopus into salted boiling water.  Boil for 30 minutes or more until tender.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Cut off the octopus’ head and cut to separate each tentacle.  With a kitchen scissor nip the dark purple skin and run your fingers along the “suckers” to release any loose particles.  Cut each tentacle into small rounds.

Put the calamari, scungilli and octopus in a large bowl with the celery and garlic.  Add the parsley, oil and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly. This salad can be made the day before and refrigerated.

– Nicki


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17th Century Pumpkin Pie

17th Century Pumpkin Pie

I came across an old English recipe for pumpkin pie on the Folger Shakespeare Library site. It was adapted from Hanna Woolley’s 17th century recipe by Amanda E. Herbert. I tried it (with a few modifications) and it was delicious. There was a choice of using butternut squash or pumpkin, similar in taste and texture and I used the squash. The result isn’t even close to the pudding-like pie most of us are used to but still, it’s something special and definitely worth trying.

” . . . butternut squash or pumpkin, similar in taste and texture . . .”


Heat the oven to 425o. Peel the squash and slice it into ¼ inch thick slices. You’ll probably only need half of a large squash for 2 cups. Fry it for about 10 minutes in 1 tbsp butter until it gets soft.
Peel the apples and cut into pieces the same as the squash. Place the cooked squash, apples, currants, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and Marsala in a bowl and mix.
Place the first (bottom) pie crust in a pie pan. Pour the squash/apple mixture into the pie. Dot the top with the remaining butter. Cover with the second (top) crust, crimp the edges, and cut a few vents in the crust to allow steam to escape. Beat the egg with a couple of tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Brush the top of the pie crust.
Bake at 425o for fifteen minutes, then lower the temperature to 375o, turn the pie, and bake for another 50-60 minutes. Total baking time is between 65-75 minutes.

 

Farro – Sweet or Savory

Farro – Sweet or Savory

Farro is an ancient type of wheat. It’s been around for so long in the Mediterranean and Middle East I’m surprised that I only came across it for the first time just a few years ago.  Some more farro information here.


Farro Porridge and Farro Breakfast Bowl

– same ingredients for both but a different preparation –

Farro - Sweet or Savory

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup farro
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup milk

Farro Porridge
Put the farro in a blender or food processor and process until it’s ground but some small pieces remain. It’s fairly hard grain so this will take a few minutes.Farro - Sweet or Savory
Bring the water and salt to a boil and pour in the ground farro while stirring. Lower the heat and cook while stirring often for about 15 minutes until it’s thickened. Stir in the milk and any dried fruit or nuts if you’re using them. Stir for another 5 minutes and serve.Farro - Sweet or Savory

 Farro Breakfast Bowl
Add farro and water to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it starts to boil cover it and lower the heat. Simmer for about 25 minutes, until most of the water has been absorbed and the farro becomes soft. Stir in the milk and any dried fruit or nuts if you’re using them. Raise the heat and simmer another 10 minutes uncovered and serve.Farro - Sweet or Savory

– toppings and sweeteners for both –
Topping for Breakfast Farro – Currents, raisins, chopped dried apricots, chopped nuts – add during the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking.
Sweeten with your choice of honey, molasses, maple syrup or brown sugar.Farro - Sweet or Savory

Savory Farro
Ingredients:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups farro
  • 4 cups water, stock or a mixture of both
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp.  olive oil
Put the farro and liquid in a pot with salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. It should be soft but chewy. Drain any cooking liquid that’s left. Place the cooked farro in a serving dish and sprinkle with olive oil and serve as you would rice.Farro - Sweet or Savory

 


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Murray’s Sturgeon Shop

My favorite – the classic lox and cream cheese on a bagel.

 

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray’s Sturgeon Shop

I consider myself lucky to live just around the corner from Murray’s. I don’t even have to cross a street to get there. Murray’s Sturgeon Shop has been located at 2429 Broadway since 1946 and although the shop is small and unassuming, it’s famous throughout the City. They deal in specialty foods from egg salad & spinach sandwiches to Bulgerian Osetra caviar ($189.00 per ounce).

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon ShopMurray's Sturgeon Shop

 

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop

Murray's Sturgeon Shop


 

Loraine’s Stuffed Artickokes

Loraine’s Stuffed Artichokes

The last time we were in Florida, our good friends Paulie and Loraine who live there, met us at our hotel. Loraine brought us a snack to pick on at the beach – stuffed artichokes. They were delicious and hit the spot. Here’s her recipe.Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes
Ingredients:
  • Plain breadcrumbs (about two cups)
  • A few cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
  • A little salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Locatelli Romano cheese (about a cup or more depending on your taste)
  • Olive Oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 or 3 artichokes depending on size
Prep:
Artichokes – Cut the stem off – cut the top off – cut the leaves in steps – different levels for easier stuffing.Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes
Boil them for about 10 minutes to make them pliant.
Stuffing – Mix all together in a bowl – drizzle with the olive oil so it’s not too dry – not too wet.Loraine's Stuffed ArtichokesStuff the artichokes and then put them back in the pot you boiled them in – adding a little bit of the stuffing and add some olive oil. Sprinkle a little water over the stuffed artichokes to make sure they are moist. Cover and steam until the leaves pull off easily – keep watching to see if more water needs to be added.
After cooked- put them in a cake pan (round or square) – sprinkle with more Locatelli Romano cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes!Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes

ENJOY!Loraine's Stuffed Artichokes

Nicki, Loraine and Bridget


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Latkes for Chanukah

Latkes for Chanukah

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’m Italian-American and most often post Italian recipes. But not this time. I grew up in New York and specifically on the Lower East Side so that means I grew up with Jewish food. Latkes have always been one of my favorites and my grandmother used to make them. If you think about it, a Jewish latke isn’t very different than an Italian  potato and egg frittata.
My father’s mother, Amalia came to America from Italy in the early 1880s as a young teenager. Her family settled on Prince Street in what was to become Little Italy but was then a mix of Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants. Her first job was in a nearby Jewish garment factory and being surrounded by girls and women speaking nothing but Yiddish, that was the first language she learned in America. English came later.

 

My Aunt Sis told me that once when she was shopping with her mother, she saw a coat she liked. Grandma said it cost too much and started to leave the store.
One of the shopkeepers told the other in Yiddish, “These Italian mothers always give in to their kids. She’ll be back for the coat.”
My grandmother turned to him and said in impeccable Yiddish, “It’s too expensive but I might buy it if we could negotiate a better price.” The surprised shopkeeper did just that.
I remember family dinners at her apartment and there were often some of her garment worker friends invited. Grandma spoke perfect English and Italian and it was always fun for us grandchildren to hear her conversing with her old friends in Yiddish.
I think I’ve figured out the Latke recipe she used although it’s possible she fried them in olive oil. But whatever kind you use, the oil is a reminder during Chanukah of what was burned to keep the eternal flame alive the temple.

Latkes for Chanukah

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and pepper in a large bowl. Add the beaten eggs and stir until the flour is absorbed. Use the coarse side of a grater to grate the potatoes and onion. Latkes for ChanukahDo this right over a dish towel and then squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid as you can. Add potatoes and onions to the flour and egg mix and blend thoroughly.Latkes for Chanukah

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Put a tablespoon of the potato mix in the pan (I use an ice cream scoop) and flatten it with a spatula. Don’t worry about rough edges – they’ll get crisp and that’s what you want.Latkes for Chanukah
Cook them for about 4-5 minutes and turn them. Then the same on the 2nd side. When they’re done, drain them on a paper tower (or a brown paper bag like Grandma did) and sprinkle with salt. Serve them hot with apple sauce and sour cream. Happy Chanukah!Latkes for Chanukah

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Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal Stout

You can buy beer or you can brew it yourself. My sister Nicki gave me a Brooklyn Brew Shop brewing kit and I’ve been using it to make my own beer. The kit comes with all of the equipment you need except for pots and strainers. They also supply the grain, hops and yeast.
I made IPA a few times and it was as good as any I ever got on tap at a bar. I recently ordered the grain and hops to make Oatmeal Stout. The general procedure is similar to the IPA but with a few minor variations that are pointed out on the instructions.

The first step is the Mash – This is where you cook the grain in water for 60 minutes, stirring  and keeping it within a proscribed temperature range.

After that is the Sparge – You strain the cooked grain and then pour more hot water through it until you have about 6 quarts of wort (that’s what will eventually become stout.)

Now for the Boil – You bring the wort to a low boil for 90 minutes, adding hops at set intervals.                                                     Oatmeal Stout hops


The last step for day one is Fermentation – Cool the wort and pour it through a strainer into a fermenter (that’s the the gallon jug that came with the kit) and add the yeast.

I then inserted a blow-off tube to let the CO2 to escape.  All of the preceding steps take place in one day over about five hours. After a few days, I removed the tube and inserted an air-lock in the mouth of the jug to let additional CO2 escape and let it sit in the dark for 2 weeks.


Finally, the Bottling – I siphoned the stout from the fermenter into a pot, leaving the sediment behind. Then I mixed in some maple syrup to feed the yeast and I filled the bottles. Another 2 week wait and it’s ready for drinking.

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