All posts by robiulo

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

I adapted this from I recipe by Rhonda Carano that I saw in a Ferrari-Carano wine ad. It works for me.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Instructions:

In a small pot, heat chicken broth to a boil. Add porcini mushrooms and take it off the stove.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic. Remove the casings from the sausages, break them up and cook until lightly browned.

Remove porcini mushrooms from broth and reserve the liquid. Chop mushrooms and add them to skillet with rest of the ingredients. Add the Marsala, stir and deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes and the reserved chicken/mushroom broth. Add oregano, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms

Cook the pasta until it’s almost done. Strain it and add it to the pan where the sauce is cooking. Remove bay leaf and turn off the heat. If necessary, add some pasta cooking water to thin the sauce. Add cheese and chopped parsley, blend and serve

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms


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“Italian” Food

Italian Food

To many people, “Italian” food means tomatoes, garlic, and gooey melted cheese in the form of things like spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and veal cutlet parmesan.

Italian Food

Well, that’s not what Italians eat, especially not Italians in Italy. The food of Italy varies by region, and it’s not what’s typically served in American “Italian” restaurants. (I suppose the same is true for Chinese food. Tourists are disappointed when they go to China and expect to find spare ribs, fried rice and egg rolls.)
What may be common in Palermo might be rare in Milano. Types of pasta and sauces, aromatics, herbs and spices and preparation methods are so varied throughout the regions of Italy that America’s Olive Gardens couldn’t possibly keep up with it so they make up their own “Italian” recipes.Italian Food

“Italian” Spice – What exactly is it? I see it often in recipes – “add one teaspoon of Italian spice.” Try Googling Italian Spice and you’ll find dozens of combinations of spices including everything from garlic and fennel to dill and basil. Keep it simple and use the spices that fit the other ingredients in your recipe and not somebody else’s mix of what they think tastes good. Try asking for Italian Spice in a store in Italy and they won’t know what you’re talking about. Use good, fresh ingredients and limit the variety of spices – more isn’t necessarily better.

Italian Food


“Italian” Breadcrumbs – So what makes breadcrumbs Italian? It makes sense that they would be made from Italian bread but no, that’s not it.

Read the ingredientsNiacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Vegetable Oil (Soybean And/Or Cottonseed And/Or Corn And/Or Canola Oils.

Italian Food

I’d rather have just breadcrumbs in my breadcrumbs. Season whatever it is that you’re going to bread. Coat it in flour, dip in an egg wash and then plain breadcrumbs. Fry it in good oil and leave out the chemicals listed above.

“Italian” Salad Dressing – This one is a lot like Italian spice. Everybody has something else to add. The Olive Garden actually uses Miracle Whip in their so-called Italian salad dressing. Miracle Whip – can you believe it?

Italian Food

Here’s a simple version of dressing that’s common in Italian-American homes and in Italy too.

Sprinkle salt and black pepper on the greens. Then a drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar (use balsamic if you like). Use more oil than vinegar. Toss and serve – that’s all.

Try this simple dressing on some cut up orange sections with a mix of arugula and romaine.

 

And don’t get me started on “Spaghetti Sauce.”

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Goetta – a Cincinnati Breakfast

Goetta – a Cincinnati Breakfast

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

If you’re from the Cincinnati area you’ll know what this is and if not, you should try it. Goetta (ged-da, silent o, pronounce like feta) is a hearty breakfast side made of oats and meat that’s fried and goes great with eggs. It’s of German origin and I can’t think of anything to compare it to, so taste it and form your own opinion. It may not be Italian but it’s certainly cucina povera in that it started out as a tasty way of preparing a hearty breakfast when there isn’t enough meat to go around. Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

A couple of points to remember:  (1) you must use steel cut oats, not rolled or instant and (2) some people use ground beef with the pork sausage and others use ground pork, it’s up to you.

Add oats, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to the boiling water. Return to a boil, lower heat, stir and simmer until the oats are cooked and thick (1 to 1 ½  hours), stirring occasionally.

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Fry the onion in oil until soft and transparent. Remove the sausage skins and discard. Add the sausage meat, chopped meat,  and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper. When it’s done, set aside the meat-onion mixture.

When the oats thicken, remove the bay leaf and add the meat-onion mixture and blend thoroughly. Cook for another ½ hour. If it’s thick enough for the spoon to stand up in, it’s done. If not, continue cooking. If it’s too dry, add a little water.Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Let it cool a bit and then pour it into a greased baking pan. It doesn’t matter if the pan is too big too big. Spread it to about a ½ inch thick layer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Turn the pan over and cut the goetta into serving sized pieces. I got 12 out of this recipe. Fry and serve as a side with eggs or anything else you’d like. You can freeze any left-over pieces but wrap them separately so they don’t stick together.

And it’s not just for breakfast.


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Ninja Diet

Ninja Diet

In the past, I’ve done the gladiator diet and the sumo diet. Today it’s the ninja diet. The ninja were pretty much vegans. They avoided meat, fish and dairy. They also avoided foods that have an odor so no one could smell them when they were sneaking around in the dark.

 

What they did eat was mainly whole grain rice and wheat, potatoes, mushrooms, chestnuts and pine nuts.

 

To quench their thirst the had “thirst balls” made of plum pulp, rye ergot and sugar. For hunger, they used hunger balls – carrots, flour, yam and licorice root steeped in sake.Ninja Encyclopedia

 

All in all, I think it was easier and tastier to eat like a gladiator or sumo wrestler than a ninja.


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Potato Croquettes

Potato Croquettes

This is the first time I’ve ever made potato croquettes. They were pretty tasty but it wasn’t easy. Mashing the potatoes was hard work and breading and frying the croquettes was time-consuming and sloppy. Maybe it gets better with practice but the next time I want potato croquettes, I think I’ll just go to a Sicilian-run pizzeria and buy them.

 

Boil the potatoes in their skins for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain them and let cool 15 minutes then peel. Mash the potatoes and let them come to room temperature uncovered so they dry out.

Add 2 eggs, the Parmigiano, 5 tbsps. flour and parsley. Taste and season with the salt and pepper. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon and take some of the potato mixture and form it into a small canoe-shaped roll.

Roll the croquettes in the flour and shake off excess. Then dip the beaten egg. Drip off excess and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Let the breaded croquettes rest 20 minutes before frying.

Heat oil until a bit of the potato dropped into it sizzles. Fry the croquettes turning until they are evenly golden browned on all sides. This should make about 20 to 25 croquettes.

Drain and serve warm.


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Pier I Cafe

Pier I Cafe

There’s a stretch along the Hudson River on the Upper West Side that used to be train yards and other industrial uses that is now the Hudson River Park. There are sculpture installations and an old gantry crane that’s sculptural in its own right.

Pier I Cafe


At about 70th Street you’ll find Pier I Cafe. (Use the park entrance at 68th St.) You place your order at a counter and they give you your drinks and a pager that will notify you when your food is ready.

Pier I Cafe


MENU

Pier I Cafe


 

Pier I Cafe
Pier I Cafe is dog friendly

Pier I Cafe


Pier I Cafe

Pier I Cafe


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Chicken Wing Lollipops

Chicken Wing Lollipops

They take some time to prepare but once you get the knack it isn’t too bad. They’re tasty, easy to eat and worth the trouble.Chicken Wing Lollipops

Chicken Wing Lollipops

The hard part –
Remove and discard the wing tips. Separate the remaining pieces at the joint.
Starting with the lager piece with the single bone – with a sharp pointed knife separate the skin and tendons from the bone at the narrow end and begin to slide the meat downward scraping with the knife as you go until you end up with a ball of meat at the end of a smooth bone.
For the smaller piece with two bones – separate the two bones at the pointed end. Continue as before but this time with two bones. When you’re halfway down begin to twist and wiggle the thinner bone until it breaks off and you can remove it. Slide the rest of the meat down scraping the bone as you go.Chicken Wing Lollipops

The easy part –
Mix the salt. pepper, paprika and garlic salt and season the lollipops with it.Chicken Wing Lollipops
Make a marinade of the vinegar, sriracha and brown sugar. Put the lollipops in the marinade and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Chicken Wing Lollipops
Remove the wings from the marinade, dripping off the excess. Coat them in the flour, let them rest 20 minutes and fry them until dark golden and the coating begins to caramelize.
Chicken Wing Lollipops

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Fine and Schapiro’s

Fine and Schapiro’s

Fine and Schapiro's

Fine and Schapiro’s Kosher Restaurant and Delicatessen had been on the Upper West Side of Manhattan since 1927. That’s about 80 years of excellent pastrami. And although that’s my standard order, it isn’t all they serve – MENU.

 

Fine and Schapiro's

Something to pick on while you’re waiting for your order.

Fine and Schapiro's

Lean pastrami on rye, pickles and a hot cherry pepper – perfect!

Fine and Schapiro's
Good take-out too.

Fine and Schapiro's


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Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I just got these at a local green market. Making stuffed zucchini flowers isn’t an exact science so I can’t give you exact ingredient measurements.
I got about 20 flowers and started by pulling out the pistil. It’s hard and takes up room that can be used for stuffing.
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Pistils
I mixed 3 heaping tablespoons of ricotta with 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiana. I tasted it and it didn’t need any additional salt. I put 1 to 2 espresso spoons of stuffing into each flower depending on their size. The petals stick to the stuffing so there’s no need to tie them.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I rolled them in flour and then beat an egg with 2 tablespoons of cold water to thin it. I dipped them in the egg wash and then rolled them in the flour again.Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Fry them until they’re yellowish-gold, drain and serve. 

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Filomena’s Fettuccine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

Filomena’s Fettuccine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

Filomena’s Fettucine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Anchovy Tomato Sauce that I got from a pizzeria chef I know.  I thought it was pretty good. A friend of mine showed it to his Sicilian grandmother who, to put it mildly, didn’t approve of it. The differences in the two recipes don’t seem too extreme to me but to her, there’s a world of difference. Out of respect for Nona Filomena, I’m posting her recipe. I tried them both and prefer Nona’s.Filomena’s Fettucine with Alici and Tomato Sauce
Filomena didn’t exactly give me a breakdown of ingredients and preparation so I’ll paraphrase our phone conversation and fill in a few blanks.

Filomena’s Fettucine with Alici and Tomato Sauce

“You start with a small can of alici (anchovies) in a frying pan with some oil (olive). When they start to dissolve, put in your garlic (2 cloves) finely chopped so you don’t mistake it for a pinole. You cook that a little bit (5 minutes)and then put in a small can of paste (6 oz.). Stir it until it absorbs the oil and then a little of the pasta water to thin it, but not too much. Put in the pinoles (pine nuts) and currants (about 1/3 cup each). Now, a little sugar (two teaspoons) to cut the acid of the tomatoes. Let it cook until it’s done (about 20 minutes) and maybe if you need it, a little more pasta water. You should taste it then. There’s probably enough salt from the alici but if you like it salty you might want more. No cheese with this but you put a bowl of fried breadcrumbs on the table and people help themselves.”
A few of Nona Filomena’s comments:
  • No parsley in this sauce. It doesn’t belong.
  • You make this with fettuccine. No other kind of pasta.
  • You don’t put the toasted breadcrumbs in the sauce as it’s cooking because they get soggy. You want them crisp.
  • It’s all right to finish cooking the fettuccine in the sauce but if you’re making two or three pounds when the whole family is coming, you don’t have to do that.
  • No red pepper in this – just black.

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