Pasta e Ceci stew is a Roman recipe. It’s sort of a vegetable stew with pasta. You can use any kind of greens you like – Swiss chard, escarole, even kale. I’m using a mix of arugula and spinach.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
Salt, black and red pepper to taste
2 tsps. finely chopped rosemary
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 – 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup ditalini
4 cups chopped greens
Lightly sauté the onion in oil in a large pot. Season with salt and pepper. When the onion starts to soften add the garlic and rosemary. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chick peas. Crush about a half cup of the chickpeas with a spoon to thicken the stew.
Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stirring often. Ditalini has a way of sticking to the bottom of the pot . After the pasta absorbs the water you may want to add some more if you’d like it soupier. Add the greens and stir. They’ll cook in a minute. Serve with grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
“Sampling the local street food is one of the best ways to experience a country’s culture. The nature of traveling means you’re always on the move, so the quick, portable bites you can get from the street stalls make a big impression. Mediterranean street food encapsulates the culinary cultures of several different countries, from Italy to Morocco. Here are 10 Must-Eat Mediterranean street foods to try the next time you travel. . . “
Chicken picatta isn’t something that I grew up with. My mother and aunts made a tremendous array of Italian dishes but no chicken picatta. I sometimes wonder if it’s a real Italian recipe and not something like Fettuccini Alfredo, which was invented in America. It’s a dish that I enjoy and order often when we go out to eat. Chicken with a lemon sauce, what’s not to like? Since I didn’t have a family recipe to go on, I looked through a few online. I put together a combination of things that appealed to me.
1 ½ lb cutlets
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup flour
Olive oil for browning
1 tbsp. finely chopped shallot (optional)
½ cup white wine
½ lemon cut into thin wedges
½ cup chicken stock
2 tbsps. rinsed capers
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
3 tbsps. butter
If you can’t get cutlets, 3 chicken breasts should give you 9 cutlets. Season the room temperature cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Shake off any excess flour and lightly brown in oil and remove. Cook in batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Pour off chicken fat from pan if any. Add more oil and cook the shallots on low until soft. Add the wine and deglaze the pan.
Add the lemon slices and sauté for a few minutes before adding the chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes and then lower the heat. Add the lemon juice, capers, parsley, and whisk in the butter. Pour the sauce over the cutlets and serve.
Rhode Island Calamari – I didn’t know there was such a thing. At the Democratic National Convention last night, during the roll-call Democratic Party chair, Joseph McNamara, endorsed Joe Biden and praised his state’s official appetizer on a short video.
Here’s the video (you can skip any ads).
If you’d like to try making it here’s a recipe from King and Prince Seafood.
If you want to order it in New York, you can go to Café Fiorello near Lincoln Center. They just call it fried calamari on the menu and don’t mention Rhode Island but the peppers make the difference.
Some cultures – Irish, Indian, Chinese, etc. – drink tea and others prefer coffee. Italians like coffee and they’re fussy about how its made. Caffés and patisseries have large high-pressure espresso makers that are too big and expensive for home use and the traditionalists among us don’t use pods, percolators, Mr. Coffees, or Chemexes for our espresso.
For a long time, at least 200 years, a typical home espresso maker has been the Napolitano Maganette. This is the one where you add the coffee and water in the pot, put it on the stove upside down, and when the water boils, flip it over. That’s the type of pot my mother used when I was growing up.
We also had a Vesuvianna. It’s made of one piece of cast aluminum in a mid-century modern design. It makes great espresso and is beautiful to look at. The one I have is electric. They aren’t made any more, but you can still find them on EBay.
The espresso pot we use most of the time is our Moka. It was invented in Italy just after World War II and is the most ubiquitous coffee pot in the world. It’s easy to use and makes perfect espresso.
1957 ad for a Moka
Translation – “Where’s Dad?” “He’s in the kitchen with the Moka Express.”
Nice cups are important too.
Medaglia D’Oro is the espresso brand I grew up with and still use today.
“North Carolina-based baker Hannah P. has planted herself firmly at the intersection of art and food as she transforms her crusty rye loaves and spelt focaccias into edible canvases for her botanic projects. Through her Instagram account Blondie + Rye, Hannah shares hundreds of flour-covered creations replete with twisting vines and leafy stems. Some pieces even feature layered fruits and vegetables that resemble verdant gardens and floral bouquets. . .”
These Little Bird Cookies were a typical Easter dessert when I was growing up. Well, Easter was different this year due to COVID 19 so we’re having them in August. My Aunt Vicky’s family was from Abruzzo where these cookies originated. When she made them, they really did look like little birds. Some of ours resemble chickens and others look more like fish but they still taste good.
16 oz. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup white wine:
3 tbs. granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
Put the flour in a large bowl and add the liquids, sugar, and salt. Mix and knead to form dough. Cover and let it rest for at least 1 hour.
5 oz. blanched almonds, toasted and ground
2 oz. grated dark chocolate
Zest of 1 orange
10 oz. Montepulciano grape jam (not so easy to find – I used raspberry preserves)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. dark rum
Dried currants for eyes
Place the almonds in a dry frying pan and toast on medium heat until they lightly color. Grind them in a food processor to a coarse powder. Chill the chocolate in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier to grate. Put all the filing ingredients in a pot and heat on low for 15 minutes. Let it cool before using it.
Pre-heat the oven to 340 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out into a thin sheet. Use a bowl or glass to cut circles. Re-knead and roll out the scraps. The bowl I used was 4 ½ inches in diameter and I got 15 cookies.
Put a teaspoon of filling in the center of a circle. Fold it in half and press the edges to seal. Shape a head and make a triangular cut for a beak. Use a current for an eye. Poke a few holes where the wing should be to let the steam escape and cut a few lines to represent feathers in the tail. If you’re artistic and take your time it should look like a little bird. If not, just shape it into a half moon. Bake for 20 minutes, let cool and serve.
. . . “Prosciutto Crudo is an Italian dry-cured ham that is usually served raw and thinly sliced. The word crudo means raw, as opposed to prosciutto cotto, which is cooked. It is characterised by a pinkish-red color and is slightly veined with thin streaks of fat. The fat or lard around it, which is pure white, is delicate and complements the meat so, when eating Prosciutto Crudo, both the meat and the fat should be enjoyed together. . .”