Eggs Two Ways – I hope you weren’t expecting scrambled and fried.
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.
Potato and Egg Frittata
A classic meatless Friday lunch. It’s good with a little ketchup.
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.
Caponata I’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.
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.
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
Fry the eggplant in 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook until brown and set pan aside.
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.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions and celery until soft.
Add the capers and give it a quick mix with the vegetables.
Add the tomato paste, sugar, water and vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add to the eggplant and peppers.
Add the pignoli nuts and olives and cook for 5 minutes, stir to blend the flavors.
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.
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.
Although I call this ‘pasta’ with clam sauce. It’s traditionally made only with linguine or spaghetti.
Start by sautéing some garlic in oil, like the basic Aglio e Oliorecipe. Let it cool.
Steam 20-24 Little Neck clams in a 10 ozs. of water and when they open remove most of them from their shells but leave a few in their shells to decorate the serving dish. If the clams seem too large you can chop them.
Carefully pour the broth from the pot you steamed the clams into the pan with the garlic and oil. I say carefully because there’s sometimes a bit of sand at the bottom of the pot that can be avoided if you pour slowly. Now add the clams to the garlic & oil. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley. Simmer for a little bit and pour over 1 pound of linguini. Sprinkle with a little more chopped parsley and don’t even think about putting any cheese on it.
You can substitute cockles or mussels for the clams.
If you unfortunately happen to be someplace where you can’t get fresh shellfish you can use a can of clams (Doxie or Cento) and a bottle of clam broth (again, Doxie or Cento). (I don’t recommend it but If you must have red clam sauce just add a couple of ladles of simple marina sauce before serving.)
I’ll start with the simplest form, a basically 2 ingredient sauce. It’s very quick and easy to make – an inexpensive meal in a hurry.
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic (more if you like), thinly sliced
Salt, black pepper and red pepper to taste
1 lb. spaghetti
Boil salted water in a 3 quart pot. When the water boils add the pasta and cook until al dente. As the pasta cooks, heat the garlic in oil. Add S&P and red pepper. Add about 6 ozs. pasta water to the garlic & oil. Toss pasta in the sauce. That’s it – pretty simple! And it’s the base for lots of other sauces including clam sauce.
Any left-overs are good for a Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Omelet. Cut the leftover pasta in 2 – 3 inch pieces. Brown slightly in oil, add some scrambled eggs, fold and it’s done.
Although it’s traditionally made with spaghetti or maybe linguine, you can also try it with Japanese buckwheat noodles (obviously not traditional but very good – don’t tell Grandma).
You can add: chopped parsley for a little color and/or chopped walnuts before adding the pasta to the sauce. If you want you can add a can (about 12) anchovies and dissolve them in the hot oil before you add the garlic. Also try about 3 table spoons of rehydrated golden raisins or currants.
Calabrese Aglio e Olio
My mother’s father was Calabrese. Calabrese housewives who ran out of preserved tomatoes during the winter could always come up with some tomato paste. Start same as above but add about 2 or 3 tbls. of tomato paste to the garlic & oil. Fry it for about 5 minutes and then add a cup of pasta water. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. You can sprinkle with some toasted bread crumbswhen serving.
Basilicata Aglio e Olio
My father’s parents came from the town of Laurenzana in Basilicata which is where this recipe originated. When the garlic is frying add a heaping tablespoon ofpowered pepperoncini and 6 ozs. of pasta water. The sauce should be watery and pink in color. When the pasta is almost done, put it in the pan with the sauce to finish cooking. If you’ve put enough pepper the pasta should turn slightly pink. Very spicy! Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs.
Traditionally, these dishes are not served with cheese.
Lots of people think they don’t like anchovies. Maybe they really don’t, at least not straight from the can or jar. But they are commonly used as a flavoring and the anchovy haters don’t even know it’s there. You can dissolve 2 or 3 in some heated olive oil as the base of a sauce. It’s Italian umami.
Another way to get the flavor of anchovies (alici in Italian) is to use Colatura di Alici. It’s essence of anchovy and made by layering anchovies with sea salt in a barrel and then putting weights on top. After a time a hole is opened on the bottom of the barrel and this liquid is drained and bottled.
You might compare it to Vietnamese Nước mắm pha but it’s more complex than that. It’s closely related to garum, a fish sauce used by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
A sprinkle of it on some cooked greens or vegetables or a salad adds a bright note. Try a little on Summer Tomato Salad.
How I like it best is as a simple, uncooked pasta sauce.
Spaghetti con Colatura di Alici
2 oz (4 tbsps) Colatura di Alici
4 oz (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chopped parsley,
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti (no additional salt in pasta water)
While the pasta water is coming to a boil mix all ingredients except spaghetti in a serving dish. When pasta is done, add to serving dish and coat well with the sauce. No cheese on this dish.
If you can’t find Colatura di Alici in stores just Googleit – lots of places to get it on line.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily and March 19th is his feast day. This recipe is in honor of all my Sicilian friends who celebrate his day with this traditional dish. This is a basic recipe and I’m sure everybody’s grandmother makes it a little differently but if you’ve never made it before this is a good start.
Boil the fennel in 4 quarts of salted water for 10 minutes then drain, saving the water to cook the pasta, chop the fennel and set aside.
Fry onion in oil with salt, black and red pepper. Add anchovy to onions and dissolve. Cook onions at a low heat until soft but not brown. Add fennel to onions and mix thoroughly. Add pinoles and rehydrated raisins to sauce. Keep heat low.
Dissolve saffron in ½ cup of warm water. Add some to pasta water and the rest to the sauce.
Cut the filets into four pieces, raise heat, add to the sauce and cook for a few minutes.
For the pasta: Cook the buccatelli in the water that you used to boil the fennel. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and toss gently so you don’t break the fillets.
Place pasta in a large serving bowl and top with some of the toasted bread crumbs (click here for recipe). No cheese on this pasta!
This is probably a very different version for most of you. It’s a ‘parmigiana’ recipe with just parmesan cheese, no mozzarella. You can substitute other vegetables or chicken or veal cutlets but no mozzarella. If you look up parmigiana, you’ll see it’s defined as “cooked with Parmesan cheese,” not mozzarella. Give our family recipe (written by my sister Nicki) a try.
It’s light and fresh compared to the parmigiana al ‘Americana you get in most restaurants with that thick rubbery layer of mozzarella on top.
2 medium eggplants cut into ½ in. rounds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt and 2 grinds of black pepper
1 ½ cup olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups marinara tomato sauce (see note)
½ cup basil cut chiffonade
Remove 3 or 4 strips of skin from the eggplants but leave enough to hold them together. Slice them into rounds and place the slices into a scolo pasta (colander) in layers, sprinkling kosher salt on each layer. Place a heavy plate and a 28 ounce can of tomatoes (you can use any kind of weight but what could be better than a can of tomatoes?) on top for weight and set the scolo pasta in the sink for about ½ hour.
After the eggplants have drained, squeeze out the excess water and dredge the slices in the flour and salt and pepper mixture. Fry the slices in olive oil until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Coat a baking dish (I prefer a high round dish) with a ladle-full of marinara sauce, then a layer of eggplant and a generous sprinkling of cheese topped with another ladle-full of sauce and some torn basil leaves. Repeat this process until you finish the eggplant. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Note: Marinara Sauce– Not all Italian tomato sauce is Marinara sauce. This 3 ingredient sauce (not counting salt and pepper) is simple enough to make on a small fishing boat, hence the name – mariner. This sauce has multiple uses: delicious with pasta (we used to have this meatless sauce when we were kids on Friday nights when meat was not an option), the perfect sauce for eggplant parmigiana, eggs in purgatory, etc.
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic (cut in large pieces so they can easily be removed)
1 ½ lbs of fresh tomatoes or 1 28oz con of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
Salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Lightly brown garlic in the olive oil. Add about a pound and a half of chopped fresh or one large can of crushed tomatoes (approx. 28 oz.). Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer ½ hour on medium heat and it’s done.
One last note – I have nothing against mozzarella. I love it fresh and cold, especially on a sandwich with ripe tomatoes and salt and pepper. I just think it’s been overused by cooks in Italian-American restaurants to the point where non-Italians think that’s the way all Italians eat. And it isn’t.
This is just about the height of La Cucina Povera. What’s less expensive and more filling than pasta and potatoes to feed a hungry family? My mother made this fairly often because it was a family tradition but would never serve it to guests – it wasn’t good enough. She pronounced it in Napolitano dialect as basta badon. It’s really a minestra, that is, sort of a soupy pasta with vegatables.
A quarter pound of meat for a little protein and extra flavor – some parsley to give a bit of color to a white on white dish, and there you have it. Recently my teenage granddaughter Molly came for dinner with a group of her hungry friends. We served six or seven courses with this as the pasta course. Of course it didn’t have the traditional poverty connotation for them and they said it was their favorite course of the dinner. Food doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.
¼ lb pancetta (or prosciutto) cut into small pieces
1 medium onion
4 small tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
3 Idaho potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
salt & black pepper
1 lb small pasta
5 oz parmesan cheese
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Sautee the pancetta and chopped onions until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and stir until they release their juice. Add potatoes and mix. Cover just barely with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are almost done. Remove about 1 cup of the soup, puree it and return it to the pot.
Drain the pasta when it is almost done, saving the water. Add the pasta to the soup to finish cooking and also add as much pasta water as you need to make a soupy consistency. Mix in the cheese. Sprinkle with parsley for a little color and serve with additional parmesan cheese.
This is a round whole wheat loaf, baked, cut in half, then baked again. It’s thin, very dry, crisp and crumbly. It’s about 6 or 7 inches across. You can get them in a good bakery in Bensonhurst in Brooklyn or on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx.
Dip it in, or hold it under running hot water to soften it a little. Shake off excess water. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried oregano and drizzle with oil. You can stop right there and eat it as is or you can add:
sun dried or fresh tomatoes,
shavings or provolone or parmigiana,
red pepper flakes,
etc. (you get the idea)
Serve it with a knife and fork like any open face sandwich. I’d be very surprised to ever see this on a restaurant menu.
Taken verbatim from the 1861 Book of Household Management, by Isabella Beeton, Chapter XXXIII. Milk, Butter, Cheese and Eggs. I followed the “Mode” exactly, whisking over low heat until it thickened. The flavor was reminiscent of eggs Benedict. My father’s version of Scotch Woodcock is scrambling eggs with anchovies and milk, frying in butter and serving it on toast (see below). He said Scotch Woodcock was a late night snack that used to be served at bars in the 1930s and 40s along with Welch Rarebit.
My father’s recipe:
Sauté five or six chopped anchovies in four pats of butter and then add 1/4 cup of milk. Let it rest off the heat for about five minutes. Reheat, add four scrambled eggs and cook until done. Serve it on toast, salt and pepper.