My Aunt Lena got this recipe from a chef in Salerno. He told her the idea was that a woman could be out with her boyfriend all day and serve this to her husband when he got home – with him thinking that it took her all day to cook it when it wasn’t cooked at all.
4 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
Salt & coarse black pepper
½ cup olive oil
Put the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes until the skin cracks, then run cold water over them and peel off their skin. Cut them in half across the core and squeeze out the seeds. Finely chop and put them in a large serving bowl. Add garlic, basil, parsley, salt & pepper and cover with ½ cup of olive oil.
A few optional additions: chopped anchovies, drained capers, chopped olives.
The ingredients should all be at room temperature before mixing with 1 lb. just cooked spaghetti. The heat from the hot pasta will be all it needs.
Raw Puttanesca is kind of a light and delicate summery sauce that’s almost a salad, so no cheese unless you must.
Bridget and I were bike riding in Cape May and came across a yard sale. There were some nice old kitchen utensils among other thing. I saw a stove top deep fryer labeled, “$1.00 – Made the Best Crab Cakes.” The woman who was running the sale told me it was her mother’s. I said that if she gave me the recipe I’d buy the fryer and continue the tradition.
Here it is, Elaine Walls’ Cape May Crab Cake recipe:
Sauté onion & celery (S&P) in butter until translucent. Add flour, mustard, cayenne, Worcestershire and milk (slowly). Cook until really thick. Add drained crab and sauté until dry enough to make patties. Cool and shape into 8 patties- dip into breadcrumbs, dip into egg wash and dip into breadcrumbs again. Let rest about 20 minutes, re-shape and then deep fry in Canola oil.
They may not really be smelts although that’s how they’re sometimes labeled. They’re between 2 and 3 inches long and you can find them in an Italian or Chinese fish market. Some people call them bait fish, shiners or Kellies, I call them the potato chips of the sea. My Aunt Vicki used to make them on Christmas Eve. She called them “fried little fish.”
Rinse ½ pound thoroughly in a strainer under running cold water. Leave them head to tail, fins and scales. Spread them out on paper towels and blot them as dry as you can. Put 3 tablespoons of flour and some salt and black pepper in a bag, add the fish, shake until they’re coated and then spread them out again. Put about an inch of light oil in a pan and add the fish when it’s hot. Make sure to separate them before putting them in the pan because they’ll stay stuck together – a little tedious but worth it.
When they’re done add salt. Eat them while they’re hot with white wine or beer like potato chips. A great snack for guests hanging around the kitchen while dinner is cooking.
A tuna and lemon sandwich was one of my Uncle Charlie’s standard late night snacks.
1 can or jar of imported tuna packed in olive oil
1 fresh lemon
1 small red onion
A sprinkle of olive oil (infused with chilies if you have it)
Salt and black pepper
Crunchy seeded Italian bread
Drain the tuna and arrange it on the bread. Add thinly sliced red onion and thinly sliced lemon (include skin). You’ll need a very sharp knife for this. Sprinkle with plain or chili infused olive oil, salt and black pepper Add some Romaine if you like. This combination really works.
This is an old recipe that Rochelle has kept alive. Our mother used to make it on Christmas Eve.
2 large onions, sliced
½ cup olive oil divided
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 lbs tuna steaks, at least 1 inch thick cut into 2 by 2 inch pieces
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped mint
Fry onions in ¼ cup of oil on medium heat until soft, translucent and slightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove onions and add the rest of the oil to the same pan.
Season tuna with salt and pepper and lightly brown on both sides leaving the center rare. Return onions to pan, mix with tuna, increase heat and add the vinegar. Cover and let steam for 3 minutes. Oil, vinegar and liquid from the tuna will create a light sauce.
Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with the mint. This dish can be served hot or cold. Serves six.
Pepperoncini don’t have the intensity of jalapenos but still provide a good sparkle to many dishes. Wash, dry and place fresh (not pickled) green pepperoncini in an open work basket or string them together and hang them (out of direct sunlight). They’ll eventually turn dark red and become dry and brittle.
– Dried Pepperoncini Paste #1 -Heat about 1/4 cup olive oil; add 3 cloves of garlic and 10 crumbled dry peppers (remove stem, core and some seeds). Keep the heat low and don’t burn it. When the peppers and garlic darken a little put everything, including the oil in a food processor with a teaspoon of salt and grind until it’s a paste. Add more oil if needed. Put it back in the pan and heat until it dries. This works as a condiment on various dishes where you’d normally sprinkle red pepper flakes.
– Dried Pepperoncini Paste #2 -Start with dried pepperincini. Take off the stems and soak in water overnight – include seeds and ribs. Drain well and put in food processor with oil. Chop and add oil until it’s a paste. One suggested use: Add paste and some pasta water to pan when making Pasta Aglio e Olio (pasta w/ garlic & oil). Finish cooking pasta in the sauce and serve with toasted breadcrumbs.
– They’re great crumbled and fried with eggs,
– They can be eaten plain too. Remove the stem and the core of seeds. Give them a quick fry in hot olive oil. Their color will change from red to light brown. Let them cool and eat them like potato chips.
– Powdered pepperoncini– grind red pepper flakes in a blender until powered, Basilicata style. Be careful not to inhale when you uncover the blender or you’ll cough like a cat with a hairball. If you don’t dry your own peppers, you can used store-bought red pepper flakes for this one.
– One last suggestion – take one or two fresh green peperoncini and remove the stem and seeds. Cut it into pieces small enough to fit into a bottle and then fill with virgin olive oil. Allow it a week or so to infuse and use this oil to drizzle on soups, meat or seafood dishes.
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.