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Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Bon Appetit. It’s hardy and make a good winter dish.

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Start a pot of water for the pasta.
Begin by browning the mushrooms in oil. Do this in one-layer batches. Mushrooms have a lot of moisture and if you put too many in the pot at one time, they’ll steam instead of brown.Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Remove the mushrooms from the pot and add the shallots. Cook until translucent and soft, not brown. Return the mushrooms to the pot, season with salt and pepper and set aside until the pasta is ready.

Cook the pasta until almost done. Use any kind you like. We got this colorful pasta as a Christmas present. They’re colored with carrots, spinach and beets.
Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Pasta with Mushroom Cream Sauce
When the pasta is almost done drain and transfer to the pot with the mushrooms and toss. Add the cream and one cup of the pasta water and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and then add the lemon juice and zest, parsley, butter, and toss. Serve with additional grated cheese.

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Excerpt from The Farm on Staten Island

Excerpt from The Farm on Staten Island

. . .  On their first Easter on Staten Island, my grandmother insisted her brother and his new wife come to Manhattan for dinner. She didn’t want them to be alone for the holiday on what she considered a remote island. A dinner guest might be expected to bring wine or dessert, but the brother I knew as Uncle Tony brought a young goat on a leash. His friends working at the ferry had let him take it aboard, but the driver wouldn’t allow an animal on the Broadway bus, and he was left to walk the three miles from the ferry to my grandmother’s on Mott Street. My mother remembered all the kids on the block being excited to see the goat, and the adults in the family, amused by her uncle’s country ways. Grandma didn’t want anything to do with a live animal so Uncle Tony took it into her tenement’s backyard, where it was slaughtered, dressed, and served at Easter dinner. The family accepted Tony’s behavior knowing that although he left the farm, the farm never left him.

. . . He had a tree I thought came out of a fairy tale. Half of its branches grew deep red apples and the other half, pale green pears. I was bewildered, but he explained that since he didn’t have room for too many fruit trees, he planted an apple tree and then grafted a branch from a pear tree onto it. This brought him close to the level of a magician for me.

. . . Everyone in the family knew I loved going to the farm on Staten Island. My mother’s brother, Uncle Jimmy, often took me along when he went to visit. One late summer day, he and I were walking through the property when we came across a fig tree heavy with ripe purple fruit.

Uncle Jimmy said, “Boy, you can’t get figs like these in a store. Let’s have some.”

He began picking them, one for me, one for him, until we’d eaten almost all the fruit on the tree. Suddenly, Uncle Tony came up behind us and said to Uncle Jimmy, “Caroline was waiting for those figs to ripen to make preserves and you, cafone, ate them all.”

It was the first time I’d ever seen him angry, but since his accusations were directed at Uncle Jimmy and not me, I wasn’t concerned. There he was, my white-haired Great Uncle Tony scolding my gray-haired Uncle Jimmy over some figs as if he were a little boy. Uncle Jimmy grinned and looked guilty while Uncle Tony seemed exasperated with his nephew. It all seemed so funny to me I couldn’t help laughing and soon my uncles were laughing too.

. . .  Aunt Caroline grew tomatoes and herbs just outside her kitchen door, and when she made a tomato-basil salad she put ice cubes in it because the ingredients were still hot from the sun. There was one dish her guests often hoped she’d make at lunch. She’d sauté chicken hearts in olive oil with crumpled dried hot peppers and wild mushrooms gathered by my uncle in the wilds of Staten Island: simple ingredients which came together as something very special. She’d hum as she chopped and the earthy smell of mushrooms and olive oil would fill the kitchen.

. . . When he went to pick mushrooms he’d be gone all day, and Aunt Caroline would say, “He thinks I don’t know, but after he gets the mushrooms, he plays poker with his friends. As long as he brings me the mushrooms, I don’t say anything.”

The first time I can remember her serving the chicken hearts, she looked at me and without asking if I’d prefer it, cut a couple of slices of crusty Italian bread and spread it with cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly. “Robbie’s American,” she said to my mother, “so I made him a sandwich I saw on television.” Glad to get the cream cheese and jelly at the time, I did eventually acquire a taste for her chicken hearts.


The complete story – The Farm on Staten Island 

Aunt Caroline’s Recipes

Summer Tomato Salad

Chicken Hearts and Mushrooms


 



Chicken Hearts and Mushrooms

Aunt Carolne
Aunt Caroline

 

Chicken Hearts and Mushrooms

My great aunt Caroline could cook weeds and make them taste good. She had a dish her guests would often hope for at lunch. She’d sauté chicken hearts and mushrooms in olive oil with crumpled dried pepperoncini –  simple ingredients which came together as something very special. The mushrooms were gathered by my Uncle Tony in his forays into the wilds of Staten Island to places only he knew.

When he went to pick wild mushrooms he’d be gone all day and Aunt Caroline would say, “He thinks I don’t know, but after he gets the mushrooms, he plays poker with his friends. As long as he brings me the mushrooms, I don’t say anything.”

The first time I can remember her serving the chicken hearts, she looked at me and without asking if I’d prefer it, cut a couple  of slices of crunchy Italian bread and spread it with cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly.

“Robbie’s ‘Merican,” she said to my mother, “so I made him a sandwich I saw on television.” I was glad to get the cream cheese and jelly but eventually acquired a taste for her chicken hearts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken hearts
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms (your choice)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Dried peperoncini to taste
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Wash, dry and season the chicken hearts with salt and black pepper. Sear them in oil in a very hot pan and remove. Sauté sliced mushrooms in the remaining fat & oil. When done return the chicken hearts. Break up 3 or 4 dried peperoncini into the pan stir and serve when the peppers soften.

Chicken hearts and mushrooms
Chicken hearts and mushrooms