Pasta Primavera


Pasta Primavera

I’m pretty sure that Pasta Primavera is something that was made up in an Italian restaurant in America. My mother used to make pasta with various vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, squash) as a type of minestra. Usually she used only one vegetable but if she felt like it, she’d use a variety of what was available. She never included cream and cheese was only added at the table. My mother called it ‘Pasta with Vegetables.’ I’ll call it ‘primavera’ – that means Spring.Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera

Start a pot of salted boiling water that you’ll eventually use for the pasta. Boil the vegetables 1 or 2 at a time until almost tender and remove them to a bowl.Pasta Primavera
When the vegetables are done add some more salt to the boiling water and begin cooking the pasta. After cooking  the vegetables in that water it’s now like vegetable stock. While the pasta cooks in one pot, in a second pot sauté the garlic in the oil. Add some salt, black and red pepper and the parsley.
Pasta Primavera
Pasta Primavera
Add the cooked vegetables and toss to coat with the garlic, parsley and oil on low heat. When the pasta is almost done add it to the vegetables, mix and add 1 & 1/2 cups of pasta water and mix well. Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and serve with grated Parmigiana cheese on the side.

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Blistered Peppers

Blistered Peppers

I went to a great restaurant in Harlem last week called Hop House (full menu here). You can tell from the name that they have a great selection of beer and the food was very good too. We tried a few appetizers before the main course and SHISHITO PEPPERS – blistered with sea salt, recommended by Erin the proprietor really stood out. They weren’t exactly hot but they did have a spark to them. We liked them enough to make them at home.
It’s very simple – put the washed and dried peppers in a hot dry heavy frying pan (no oil). Flatten them a bit with a spatula so they make contact with the pan. After a couple of minutes turn them. When done give them a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. That’s it.blistered peppers
If you like peppers with a little more heat, use serranoes.blistered peppers
And if you don’t like “HOT”  you can use the same process with green bell peppers. No heat at all and still very tasty. But since you can’t blister them whole you have to cut them into strips first.blistered peppers
Whatever type of pepper that you use, they’re perfect for eating plain but I scrambled some with eggs and made  an excellent sandwich.blistered peppers

blistered peppers

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Excerpt from Memories of the Fisherman’s Wharf

A drawing my sister Nicki made of the Fisherman’s Wharf

Excerpt from Memories of the Fisherman’s Wharf

I grew up in a seafood restaurant. My family owned The Fisherman’s Wharf on Mott Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy from the mid-1940s to 1958. . . The offerings were mostly seafood but there was also steak and chicken, as well as some Italian-American dishes like spaghetti and meatballs. I loved shrimp, and the deep-fried breaded gamberetto with lots of ketchup was my favorite. The shrimp and rice special was pretty good too. Only, I’d have to pick out all of the pieces of celery before I ate it—I didn’t eat any green food back then except pickles. . .

Excerpt from Memories of the Fisherman's Wharf


. . . they usually started with a few drinks and dinner in one of the local restaurants; Sweet’s, Carmine’s, or Sloppy Louie’s, now all long gone. . .

Excerpt from Memories of the Fisherman's Wharf


. . . Anyone could walk out on the pier where they docked, although no one did unless they were in the seafood business. The pier smelled of sea water and fish, and while the fish couldn’t have been fresher, it still smelled, especially in summer. . .


. . . the piles of clams and oysters heaped like stones. What seemed like sea monsters to me were the giant, decapitated swordfish, sliced crosswise to show the quality of the steaks, the heads on display, their swords pointing at the customers. Always enthralled with crabs, I loved chasing the escapees skittering sideways down the street. . .


. . . The longshoreman worked all night, so instead of scrambled eggs or pancakes, they’d eat a hearty meal of roast beef and turkey with fried potatoes and hot cherry peppers. Everyone drank coffee, steins of beer, and shots of whiskey. I’d have a Coke but otherwise ate everything they did. The cook would tell my father, “The kid’s got a good appetite.”


. . . For some of the clam dishes, Michele often used large chowder clams he’d chop into small pieces, and that’s what led to the problem in the cellar. The clams were kept on ice and covered with damp burlap to keep them alive and fresh. Sometimes when clams are out of water, the shells begin to open. . .


. . .  I wasn’t to go near the lobsters which had much stronger claws than the crabs. They came packed in seaweed and ice, in open-sided crates, with wooden pegs wedged into the joint at the base of their claws so they couldn’t open them.
Pero,” Michele said, “some-a time, the peg, she slip out.”
Michele hardly had to warn me. The lobsters’ fierce looks were enough to keep me away. . .

For the complete Memories of the Fisherman’s Wharf
For Michele’s Deep Fried Breaded Gamberetto and Shrimp and Rice

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Polpette alla Calabrese

Polpette alla Calabrese

My grandmother Nicolina was from Salerno but her husband was Calabrese so this is how she made meatballs.

Polpette alla Calabrese

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. mix of ground pork, veal and beef chuck
  • 1 clove of garlic finely minced
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup of plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmigiana cheese
  • 2 tbs. of olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • A handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • 5 tbsp. tomato sauce

Polpette alla Calabrese

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. It’s easier to mix the 3 meats first and then add the other ingredients. You can really only do it with your hands. Shape the mix into small balls (I use an ice cream scoop to get them the same size) and let them rest for 15 – 20 minutes.  Polpette alla CalabreseFry them in a good amount of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan. Keep rolling them to brown on all sides. Drain and serve with tomato sauce. They’re very good plain too.Polpette alla Calabrese

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A Simple Italian Salad

Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

 

 

A Simple Italian Salad

Try to stick to these simple ingredients. Don’t be tempted to add so-called “Italian” seasoning or garlic. This is a fresh tasting salad, and either of those would muddy the flavors.

Ingredients:
  • 1 orange
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
Start by peeling and sectioning the orange. Use a blood orange if you can get one. Cut each section into 2 or 3 pieces. It’s easier if you use a scissor. Place the sections in the salad bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil and the 2 kinds of vinegar. A good ratio is 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. Use a mix of ½ red wine vinegar and ½ balsamic. Let the oranges macerate for 20-30 minutes to flavor the dressing.

Add the Romaine and arugula, toss and serve.

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Wild Chickens

wild chickens

The Italian Farmer Returning Chickens to the Wild

His chestnut forest is home to thousands of hens.
by Vittoria Traverso
Chickens as we know them are a human invention. The most common chicken species, Gallus gallus domesticus, owes its existence to the domestication of four species of wild jungle fowls, a group of colorful birds that once roamed the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. As early as 10,000 years ago, people began to keep these jungle-roaming creatures for everything from egg-laying to bird-fighting. Today, poultry is the second most common type of meat around the world after pork. But most contemporary chickens no longer enjoy the freedom of their distant cousins . . .

Wild Chickens

The complete article – here

wild chickens

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Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto

Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto

Michele was the chef at my Uncle Charlie’s restaurant, The Fisherman’s Wharf. This was one of my favorites.

Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto


Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto

Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto

Rinse the shrimp and blot them dry. Season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg with about two tablespoons of the milk. Dip the shrimp into the egg wash and drip off any excess. Coat with the breadcrumbs and place on a rack for 30 minutes.

Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto

Heat the oil to 375o. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a few breadcrumbs in the oil, and if it sizzles, it’s hot enough. Deep fry until golden.

Michele’s Breaded Deep Fried Gamberetto

Serve with lemon wedges and Heinz Chili Sauce on the side.

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