Basilicata Home Fries

Basilacata Home Fries

Basilicata Home Fries

My father’s family came from Laurenzana, a small town in the hills of Basilicata.Basilicata Home Fries Ingredients

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Boil in salted water until slightly soft and drain. Fry green pepper in a hot dry pan until it starts to brown. Remove the pepper. Sweat the onions in oil with salt and black pepper then add the potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with powdered red pepper and fry, chopping with spatula until done with brown edges. Return the green peppers.

Basilacata Home Fries a

Basilacata Home Fries b

Basilacata Home Fries c

Left over, this is a good start for Potato and Egg Frittata.

 

Cocktails – some new ones

The Fall Classic Cocktail

We got this recipe from the bartender who invented it for the Sept. 2011 Landmark Feast at the American Museum of Natural History.

Fall Classic

Fall Classic Cocktail

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Add a sprinkle of Angostura.

*cider thyme syrup – 2 cups cider, 1 cup sugar and a few sprigs of thyme. Boil slowly until clear and let it cool. Remove thyme and it’s done.


Bull Shot

Not as dainty as a Mimosa but a very good brunch drink.

Bull Shot

Pour all ingredients over ice in a 10 oz glass, stir and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Zubrowka


Philly Special

Philly tended bar in a place on Stanton Street between the Bowery and Forsyth in the 1960s when it was still the Lower East Side (pre-gentrification). This was his creation.Philly Special

Pour both over ice – simple!

Philly Special


Vodka on the Rocks

A Russian friend gave me this one. Sounds simple but there’s more to it than you might think.

Vodka on the Rocksod

Vodka on the Rocks

Cut a cucumber into thick slices and freeze them solid. Put them into a rocks glass as you would ice, and cover with Vodka.

1st – melting ice doesn’t dilute your drink.

2nd – there’s a fresh aroma of cucumbers with every sip


Caipirinha

A Brazilian friend taught me how to make Caipirinhas. We went to buy limes and I asked how many should I get. She said, “How many Caipirnhas do you want?” So that’s one lime per drink.

caipirinha

Lime – Sugar – Cachaca

Cut the 2 ends of a lime so that you have a barrel shape. Cut that into 4 rings and stack them. Cut that stack into quarters so you now have 16 small wedges of lime.

Put the lime into a heavy duty rocks glass and crush with 2 tea spoons of sugar.

Add ice and fill glass with Cachaca and stir. Some bartenders add a splash of 7-Up.

 

Tomato Beef Sauce

Tomato Beef Sauce

I know some people don’t get Italians referring to tomato sauce as Sunday gravy. In this case it’s justified because there’s so much beef flavor in it.

beef bones

The key to this one is using the right cuts of beef. It has to have lots of collagen, that is, connective tissue which is water soluble and breaks down in slow, moist cooking. I’m using short ribs and ox tail – collagen, bones and marrow. With that as the flavor base you can add, sausage, meatballs, etc.

cooked beef bones

Some tomato sauces can be a simple as the 4 ingredient marinara sauce included in my Eggplant Parmagiana  post. This one is more complex.

beef tom sauce ingr

Season the room temperature meat with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in a pot with olive oil. Remove meat and sauté the onion. Deglaze the pot with the liquid released by the onion.

saute onion

Add the tomato paste and mix with the onion. Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, beef stock and stir. Add the sachet and return the browned meat with its juices. Simmer on medium heat, partially covered for one hour.

Sachet Ingredients
Sachet Ingredients

This is enough sauce for one pound of pasta. Since this is meat sauce and not seafood, serve with grated cheese.

 

 

Eggs Two Ways

Eggs Two Ways – I hope you weren’t expecting scrambled and fried.

Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory

This one is fairly simple.  Start with left-over tomato sauce, the thicker the better. Pre-heat the over to 400 degrees. Heat the sauce in a frying pan large enough to hold as many eggs as you want to cook.  Use the back of a spoon to make indentations in the sauce and break the eggs into the indentations.  10-12 minutes in the oven and it’s done. Sprinkle a little cheese and serve.

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Potato and Egg Frittata

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A classic meatless Friday lunch. It’s good with a little ketchup.

Potato

Preparation:

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high and add the thickly sliced potatoes, salt and black pepper. After they cook for about 8-10 minutes add the onion. After the onion softens, with the edge of a metal spatula, chop and blend the potatoes and onions making an even mixture. Cook until the potatoes are tender and what you have looks like home fries.

In the meantime beat the eggs with the milk, parsley and salt and black pepper. Add the egg mixture to the pan, mix thoroughly with the potatoes and onions then spread it out to an even layer. Lower the heat and allow it to set for about 5 minutes. The top of the mixture will still be wet so place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. Remove it when the top is lightly browned.

The omelet can be served in the pan, hot or at room temperature. Slice as you would a pie.

Cocktail Miscellany

 

Cocktail Miscellany

Coffee Sport

cafe sport

     My Aunt Lena made a few bottles of this  once a year around candlesChristmas time. She always sent some to my elementary school’s convent. The Sisters of Charity loved this stuff. We didn’t get the recipe from my aunt before she died but after some trial and error Bridget & I managed to come up with it.

pot
Espresso

Make double strong espresso (10 heaping teaspoons / 850 milliliters water) and filter twice with paper filters. Heat in double boiler until it’s reduced to half.

Combine:   450 milliliters of 190 proof alcohol with 300 milliliters of syrup and stir.

Add 380 milliliters of coffee concentrate and stir. It’s ready as soon as it cools.

The end result should be about 70 proof


Pomegranate Liquor

pomagranete

Bridget & I made this one up.

pom

Filter the juice of 6 medium pomegranates (about 500 plus milliliters)

Reduce in a double boiler to 475 ML

Add 300 milliliters of 190 proof alcohol and 160 milliliters of simple syrup for about 70 proof.


Scotch Bonnet Infused Tequila

scotch bonnet z

This is meant to be sipped and savored, un-mixed and no ice. It’s very  HOT.

scotch bonnet
Scotch Bonnet by Scott Conary

Pour 1 liter of tequila into a wide mouth bottle or jar. Take 8 Scotch Bonnet peppers and pierce with a knife and add to the jar. Set aside one month and strain into a bottle.


Maraschino Cherries

cherry jar

cherry

Pick through and wash the cherries and put them in a jar. Heat the Luxardo and fill the jar to the brim. Wait two weeks. Done.

* It’s really better with pit but remove them if you’ve got time on your hands.


Simple Syrup

Using syrup makes mixing cocktails much easier.

1 part water / 2 parts sugar

Heat until clear


Pinot Noir Punch

punch bowl

This was adapted from Duffy’s 1956 edition of the Official Mixers Guide

punch

Mix and chill first 5 ingredients and pour into a punch bowl over a *block of ice with citrus fruit slices frozen inside and add chilled Pinot Noir (or Burgundy). Add chilled club soda just before serving.

*Slice some lemons, limes and tangerines and put them into 4 sandwich size zip lock bags. Add water and freeze. When frozen, put the frozen contents of the bags into a large zip-lock, add more water and freeze. This should leave you with a colorful block of ice to keep the punch chilled.

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Summer Drinks

Summer Drinks

Frullato

frulato

My mother made these. Start with 1/2 a cup of fruit (cherries, berries, peaches, etc.) I used blackberries for this one. Put it in a blender with a few ice cubes, a 1/2 cup of milk and a teaspoon of sugar if you like. Blend it until the ice dissolves and it’s done.


Lime Ricky

lime ricky b

This was a candy store specialty only available in Summer. A squirt each of cherry and lemon-lime syrup. Add seltzer, stir and a squeeze of fresh lime.


Egg Cream

Egg Cream

Also a standard in candy stores, it was a couple of ounces of chocolate syrup (U-BET), a couple of ounces of milk, and stir with seltzer. The sum much more than the parts.


Orzata

orzata

You could get this one in cafes, some pastry shops and Italian owned candy stores. A few ounces of Orzata syrup poured over ice and then fill the glass with water or some preferred seltzer. Simple and refreshing. It tastes a bit like marzipan.

Schaller and Weber

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Schaller and Weber

An easy and tasty meal and I got it all from a butcher shop. Schaller and Weber is on 2nd Avenue near 86th Street. They have fresh and smoked meats, goose and venison and all kinds of German wursts. The also make their own salads and other prepared food as well as carrying European imports like preservers, pickles, spätzle, coffee and candy.

I had lunch at the Heidelberg yesterday. I sat at the bar and ordered a Bitburger and steak tartar – light on the onions and heavy on the Tabasco. The barmaid served my beer and then walked out of the front door. She returned a few minutes later and waved a small package wrapped in butcher paper at me.

“Here’s your lunch,” she said as she brought it to the kitchen.

It was the freshly double ground sirloin from Schaller and Weber for my steak tartar. The Heidelberg only serves it during the hours that Schaller and Weber is open and can supply the fresh meat.

store-today

After lunch I went next door and did a little shopping. I got bauernwurst, bratwurst and knockwurst as well a few sides – red cabbage, sauerkraut, German potato salad, cucumber salad and mustard. The only thing that needed to be cooked was the wursts – simple.20150813_185403.20150813_185945

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Caponata

Caponata CaponataI’ll call this caponata for the sake of the search engines but in our dialect it’s gabaladine. It’s a standard component of any good antipasto. This is my Aunt’s recipe which she passed on to my daughter Kristina. My sister Nicki  precisely measured all of the ingredients so I’ll turn it over to her. AuntTootsieLetter


Her given name was Celeste; we called her Aunt Tootsie, Grandma called her “Toots”. Aunt Tootsie lived with Grandma her whole life (even after she married, twice). Living with Grandma had its advantages for her because she cooked just like Grandma, which was excellent. We would go “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house”, which was in Brooklyn for a holiday or special occasion and Aunt Tootsie did all the cooking under Grandma’s supervision. She always had the phonograph on, singing along with Jimmy Roselli and Louis Prima. She would belt out, “Ti voglio bene” at any given moment. Here is her recipe for caponata.

     – Nicki

 

  • 1 eggplant, unpeeled and cubed
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ pound Kalamata olives (pitted and halved)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  1. Fry the eggplant in 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook until brown and set pan aside.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil to another pan and sauté the red peppers until tender then add it to the pan with the eggplant.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions and celery until soft.
  4. Add the capers and give it a quick mix with the vegetables.
  5. Add the tomato paste, sugar, water and vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add to the eggplant and peppers.
  6. Add the pignoli nuts and olives and cook for 5 minutes, stir to blend the flavors.
  7. Note that salt is not included in this recipe. The capers and olives are salty. When it is cooked – TASTE and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cool before serving. Caponata will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I’m sure it will not be in the refrig for that long. It is so delicious it will not be left over.

Cervello dei vitelli (Calf Brains)

brains 2

Cervello dei vitelli (Calf Brains)

More serious cucina povera.  This isn’t for everyone. When my daughter Kristina was about 10 years old, I gave her $5.00 to try it. She took one bite, took the money and never touched brains again. But some people love them. The worst part is the preparation. My wife leaves the kitchen until I’m finished (she won’t eat them either). Another hard part if finding calf brains in a market. I live in New York City and any butcher on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx carries them. If you want to try this, ask your butcher to make a special order. Baked Calf Brains Ingredients

Preparation:

Clean the brains – Remove any of the really ugly parts, i.e. brain stem, membrane, etc. Rinse them in cold water for 10 minutes. Bring some water to a boil and put the brains in it for 5 minutes. Change the water and do it again. Now they’re ready to prepare for cooking.

Pat them dry and season with salt & pepper. Coat them with oil and roll them in plain breadcrumbs. Pack them snuggly in an oiled baking pan or cast iron frying pan. Cover the top of them with the following mix: breadcrumbs mixed with finely chopped garlic and salt and pepper. Drizzle, or better yet, spray oil over the top until the breadcrumbs are well saturated then sprinkle the capers over it. Bake them at 350o until the breadcrumbs brown. Serve with lemon, Italian bread and salad.

brains 1