Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra
This isn’t about the Mafia. Cosa nostra literally means “our thing.” And in this story, the thing is how an Italian woman feels about her cooking. In New York’s Little Italy there was a Neapolitan-Sicilian cooking rivalry between housewives.

 

My Aunt Lena, a first-generation Neapolitan-American who grew up in Manhattan’s Little Italy, happened to fall in love with a first-generation Sicilian-American. This wasn’t quite as tragic as Romeo and Juliet. Really, it was no big deal—except where cooking was concerned. Shortly after the wedding, Aunt Lena’s Sicilian-born mother-in-law, Rose, came to dinner. My aunt put together an extensive menu, including a Neapolitan standard: lasagna. The basic family recipe is broad pasta layered and baked with a garlic based tomato sauce, three cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan), and meatballs “no bigger than a dime.” My mother and aunt could roll these little gems between their palms three at a time.

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra

Rose said she loved it, and sometime after that, she invited my aunt to dinner, saying she liked her lasagna so much she thought she’d serve her own version of it—of course, with a Sicilian twist. In Rose’s version, the garlicky sauce was supplemented with chopped onions. In addition to the three traditional cheeses, Rose added a good amount of provolone. And, layered with the strips of pasta, she added sliced hardboiled eggs and some sopressata. The all-important little meatballs were gone. My aunt politely ate some of Rose’s dish and commented on how good it was, all the while hiding her outrage that a family recipe should be so casually bastardized. She hoped she would soon have her chance to avenge this affront to the cuisine of Naples. She didn’t have to wait long, as March 19th was coming up. That’s the feast day of St. Joseph, when many Sicilian households traditionally serve pasta con sarde. The name means “pasta with sardines,” . . .

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra

So my Aunt Lena invited Rose for a St. Joseph’s day dinner, and said she wanted to serve pasta con sarde. Like a good daughter-in-law, she asked her for her family recipe, and Rose was happy to supply it. My aunt followed the instructions precisely, but during the simmering of the sauce, she added enough crushed San Marzano plum tomatoes (imported from Naples, of course) to turn Rose’s green sauce red. Rose, in turn, controlled her reaction to this wrong-colored sauce, and said it was all delicious. My aunt’s honor was satisfied.

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra


. . . I was twelve when I ate lunch at a friend’s home, where his grandmother served us delicious sandwiches made with breaded flounder fillets. When I got home, I made two mistakes. First, in my innocence, I asked my mother and aunt, “How come your fillets aren’t as tasty as the ones Vinnie’s grandmother makes?” Second, I forgot that Vinnie’s grandmother was Sicilian. My mother and aunt always treated me like a little prince who could do no wrong, but this time I really made them angry.

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra

“If you like Vinnie’s grandmother’s cooking so much,” my mother huffed, “you should eat there from now on.” And she wouldn’t talk to me after that. I knew she didn’t mean it, but I also knew she was very upset. When I sat at my family’s dinner table that evening, hoping the afternoon’s conversation had been forgotten, I discovered that I wasn’t allowed to have any of the pasta lenticchie and pork chops with vinegar peppers everyone else was eating.

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra

“Since you don’t appreciate the way we cook,” announced my aunt, “this is what you’ll eat from now on.” And she and my mother made a big show of serving me a baloney sandwich on Wonder Bread. When I’d finished the sandwich my penance was complete. They forgave me, and gave me my real dinner. And I was very careful to watch what I said about their cooking after that.


. . . Not being able to talk about food, or exchange recipes, or even go grocery shopping together without some subtle eye-rolling, made it difficult for the Neapolitan and Sicilian housewives of my childhood to become close friends. But they did have at least one thing that bound them together: They all looked down their noses at the Toscana housewives from the north who cooked with butter instead of good southern olive oil.

Excerpt from La Cosa Nostra

 

La Cosa Nostra the whole story from TOMATO SLICES

My Aunt Lena’s Pasta con Sarde Recipe

 Traditional Pasta con Sarde Recipe

Pasta Lenticchie  and  Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers recipes

Italian Wine Glasses

Italian Wine Glasses

I suppose any wine glasses made in  Italy can be called  “Italian Wine Glasses.” But that’s not what I’m talking about. There are traditional stemless glasses that are used in some trattorias and other unpretentious Italian restaurants and those are Italian wine glasses. Sometimes called a bacaro, it holds 5 ounces which is about what you’d get in a typical stemmed glass.

It’s a casual way of serving and I think that’s what’s good about these glasses. Wine is an everyday part of a meal and not just for special occasions.


Italian Wine Glasses

Shaped like a tumbler or highball glass but a lot smaller.


Italian Wine Glasses

They hold just about the same amount as you’d pour into a stemmed glass.


 Italian Wine GlassesA trattoria tradition.


Italian Wine Glasses

They don’t have to be plain.




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Beef Cointreau

Beef Cointreau

This is an easy recipe. You can make it on an outdoor grill or an indoor stove.  The Cointreau can be replaced with Triple Sec, Sweet Marsala or your choice.

 

Beef Cointreau

Beef Cointreau

The Marinade:  Mix the Cointreau and honey in a small bowl until the honey liquefies then mix in the soy sauce.

The Steak: Cut the flank steak across the grain on an angle, making slices not thicker than 1/4 inch by 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Beef Cointreau

Put the sliced meat and marinade in a zip lock bag and refrigerate it overnight or for at least 4 hours, turning it occasionally.

Weave the slices onto bamboo skewers and cook them over charcoal or in a ridged broiler pan until the edges of the slices start to crisp or until they’re as done as you like them. It’s a good idea to soak the skewers in water for 20 minutes before using them. It helps keep them from burning.

You can also make this without using skewers. Leave the steak whole and marinate it the same way. Fry or broil it and let it rest 10 minutes. Cut it across the grain in one inch thick slices and serve.


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Icelandic Birch Cocktail

Icelandic Birch Cocktail

My friend Bea sent me this cocktail  recipe from the Sons of Norway Magazine about 6 weeks ago. My super market finally got blood oranges but I had no luck finding Birkir Snaps. The recipe said you could substitute Bourbon with a dash of pine syrup. The Bourbon was easy but I didn’t know where to start looking for pine syrup. I substituted a dash of Retsina, a Greek wine made with a bit of pine resin. I suppose people in Iceland don’t have it too easy getting blood oranges either.
Here’s looking at you, Bea. Thanks for the challenge. It was delicious.

 

Icelandic Birch CocktailIcelandic Birch Cocktail

Put the Bourbon, orange juice, Retsina and syrup into a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass. A splash of club soda or San Pellegrino and a couple of dashes of Angostura – done.

Icelandic Birch Cocktail

 


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Pasta with Shrimp and Paprika

Red Rock Shrimp  Credit: D.D.Deheyn and M.C.Allen


Pasta with Shrimp and Paprika

Pasta with Shrimp and Paprika

Here’s my take on Nick Stellino‘s pasta with shrimp and paprika.

 

Pasta with Shrimp and Paprika

Pasta with Shrimp and PaprikaPut up a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the salt and red and black pepper.  add the garlic and parsley and cook for a few minutes – don’t burn the garlic.

Increase the heat to medium high and add the shrimp and paprika. Stir together and cook until the shrimp starts to color.Pasta with Shrimp and Paprika

Add the wine and stir and simmer simmering over medium heat, until the wine reduces.

Add the butter and stir until it melts. Drain the almost cooked pasta. add it to the sauce and pour in the stock. Turn off the heat add the optional parsley, stir to combine and serve.Pasta with Shrimp and Paprika


 

Red Wine Beef Soup

A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms – Pieter Aertsen

 

 

Red Wine Beef Soup

This soup is dark, hardy and meaty. Cotes du Rhone is always recommended for meat soups and stews. It doesn’t have to be expensive but should be good enough to drink.

Preheat oven to 350°. Season meat with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown and transfer to a plate. Pour off all the drippings from pot and return 3 tablespoons to the pot and use 3 for the roux.

In separate pot add 3-4 tbsps. drippings and 3 tbsps. flour to make the roux. If it’s too dry add some more drippings or wine.

Add trinity and oregano to Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until lightly browned. Then add the tomato paste and blend. Add the roux and stir until well combined. Stir in wine and blend, then return the meat with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil.

Add all herbs and garlic to pot. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until ribs are tender, about 1 hour 45 min. Transfer ribs to a platter and remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones.

Strain sauce from pot or remove herbs, garlic, etc. with a spider and discard.

Add 8 cups of water to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, cook until al dente and serve.

This is good served with a little prepared horse radish or parmigiana cheese or both.

Trinity  &   Roux  Instructions


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Eat Sumo Style

Chanko Nabe (sumo soup) by Naomi Sloman

 

 

Eat Sumo Style

Chanko Nabe


 Eat Sumo Style

Sumo wrestlers want a weight advantage. They average over 400 pounds and work to keep that bulk. They do it by eating Chanko Nabe almost every day. It’s a sort of stew or hot-pot with lots of protein, a delicious broth and varying ingredients.  In itself it’s not particularly fattening but in the quantities that it’s eaten, plus lots of beer and a nap after each meal, it does the job.
Eat Sumo Style

From Gurunavi


Eat Sumo Style
OSAKA, JAPAN – The Sumo Stable holds open day events for sumo fans to watch their training sessions, take part in sumo exercise classes and eat ‘chanko-nabe’ or ‘sumo stew’; a favourite dish in the diet of sumo wrestlers. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

From Atlas Obscura


Chanko Nabe Recipe from EpicuriousEat Sumo Style

 

Jalapenos

Jalapenos

Sun Dried and Brochette

Sun Dried Jalapenos

Hang the jalapenos someplace where there is good air flow. They don’t have to be in the sun to be sun dried.


Depending on the weather, after a couple of weeks when they become hard and red, they’re done. Cut off the stem end and place them in boiling water for 5 minutes.


Drain them, pat them dry and lightly press them to squeeze out as much water as you can. Let them continue to dry for 60 minutes and then place them in a jar. Fill the jar with olive oil, close tightly and shake. This will release some air bubbles. Add more oil and refrigerate. They’ll be ready to eat in a week.

Jalapeno Brochettes

Start by roasting the jalapenos on an open flame. First, they’ll blister and then blacken – keep turning until they’re done.


Scrape off the blackened skin with the back of a knife and cut off the stem end. Some specs of black might remain and that’s OK. Don’t be tempted to rinse them. You’ll wash off the flavor.


Slice them open and scrape out the veins and seeds.


 

Put them on a slice of bread, a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt – done.

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Tomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce

Tomato and Anchovy Butter SauceTomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce

My mother would have let the family starve before she’d combine butter instead of olive oil with tomatoes for pasta sauce. Tomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce? I try to keep an open mind. Here’s my cover of Bon Appetit’s recipe and it’s not bad at all.

 

Tomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce

Tomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
Lightly cook the anchovies and garlic in the melted butter until the anchovies dissolve. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften.Tomato and Anchovy Butter Sauce
When the pasta is almost done add it to the sauce to finish cooking. Add the chopped herbs and mix just before serving.

New York Times – Squab: A Primer

New York Times – Squab: A Primer

New York Times - Squab: A Primer

The New York Times Food section just did an interesting illustrated article called – Squab: a Primer.

New York Times - Squab: A Primer


According to Wikipedia – squab is a young domestic pigeon, typically under four weeks old. . . It formerly applied to all dove and pigeon species. . .  More recently, squab meat comes almost entirely from domesticated pigeons. 


There’s more to pigeons than the ones raised for food and the others you see on city streets. Some people race them as a hobby. There’s also the sport of triganieri  that originated in Modena and is still practiced in New York today. And others just like the look of the fancy pigeon breeds.

New York Times - Squab: A Primer


Some pigeon facts –

A pigeon can fly as high as 6000 feet, at an average speed of 75 mph and cover 600 to 700 miles in day. They’ve passed the ‘mirror test,’ – the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. They are one of only 6 species and the only non-mammal able to do that. These facts apply to the ones you eat as well as the ones in the street.

New York Times - Squab: A Primer


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