When my father was a young man he tended bar in various bars and restaurants in Greenwich Village. He developed a great Old Fashioned and passed the recipe on to me. That’s him, Frank Iulo, in the white shirt at Jay’s Bar on Houston Street.
Put circular slice of lemon in the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Add 1 tsp sugar, a few dashes of orange bitters and muddle. Be sure to crush lemon skin to get oil. Add ice and Rye or Canadian and stir. Float a few dashes of Angostura on top.
Cut the peaches around the equator and then cut wedges into bite size pieces. Place the pieces in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and toss. Allow them to sit for 15 minutes and then cover with the wine. Refrigerate and serve when chilled. Serves four.
My Calabrese grandfather used to have Marsala and an egg for breakfast. He’d just break an egg into a glass of Marsala and drink it without mixing or cooking it. He didn’t use a cocktail glass either.
Marsala Flip – a drink similar to both zabaglione (see below) and my grandfather’s breakfast.
One whole egg
Two ice cubes
Three ounces sweet Marsala
Put the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth and creamy. A flip is a cocktail that’s been around for a long time. This is a simple version of it. You can also use port or sherry. Add sugar if you’re using something that isn’t sweet i.e. brandy or bourbon.
6 egg yolks
1 cup sweet Marsala
½ cup sugar
Put all the ingredients in a double boiler and whisk over medium heat until foamy. I use an old fashioned crank egg beater. It’s faster. Serve it hot or cold for dessert in a cocktail glass as is or with some berries on top.
If you don’t make your own (a blender and two day old bread – simple) always buy unseasoned breadcrumbs and use your own seasoning. To toast – put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan on medium heat. Add a cup of the unseasoned bread crumbs and keep them moving until they darken. Don’t walk away to do something else because they’ll burn. When they reach the right color remove them from the pan immediately or they’ll keep cooking. They should smell like toast, not burnt toast. You can use this on many pastas in place of cheese and there are some sauces where you can only use toasted breadcrumbs – fish sauces like pasta con sarde or baccala.
Use Parmigiana, Loccatelli, Romano or whatever you like but don’t think you can put it on everything because it can conflict with and overpower delicate flavors. If you really want cheese, eat a piece of cheese.
Type can vary according to the sauce but NEVER, NEVER with sea food. Grandma said that was a mortal sin. Instead of the hard grating cheeses, try dry ricotta salada sometime or maybe a tablespoon of fresh ricotta in your dish before you put in pasta with tomato sauce. Instead of any grated cheese at all, try toasted bread crumbs. When Grandma couldn’t afford cheese this was a good substitute and on some dishes it’s better than cheese. I’ll explain how to make them in my next post.
Capozzelli di Angnelli Yes, it’s a lamb’s head. The padrone would get the loin, legs and chops and the peasants had to make what was left taste good.
1 lamb head, split in half
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp oregano
½ lemon plus more for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
Place room temperature halves on a platter and liberally season with salt and black pepper. Mix ½ tspn each, salt and black pepper with oregano, lemon juice, garlic and oil (save some oil to grease baking pan). Rub halves with marinade and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.
Roast for 90 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 325o. Starting with cut side up, turn and baste with drippings every ½ hour. At the end of 90 minutes remove it from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Baste and place in broiler, eye side up, about 6 inches from flame for 2 minutes until lightly browned. When done, let it rest for about 5 minutes and serve with lemon wedges.
Summer Tomato Salad Aunt Caroline would pick the basilico and tomatoes in her Staten Island kitchen garden just before she made this Summer Tomato Salad. The ice cubes were necessary because the tomatoes would still be hot from the sun.
4 medium tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup torn basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil
5 or 6 ice cubes
Cut narrow wedges around the core, discarding the core. Cut each wedge in half and place in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss and let sit for 20 minutes. Before serving add the oil, basil and ice cubes, then toss again.