Friday, August 14, 2009

Trophie con salsa di funghi (Spiral Shaped Dumplings with Wild Mushroom Sauce)

This recipe calls for a knitting needle. Knitting. Fortunately I have a few of these floating around my house. The needles are used to make spiral shaped dumplings which are not unlike unleavened pretzels. I suspect my dumplings were a bit on the large size and this likely added to the Germanesque feel.

I myself wasn't completely fond of the dumplings. They were a touch chewy and seemed underdone (though I boiled them until they floated). There was too much dough to wrap the tongue around. My family, however, gave the dumplings a thumbs up (I won't tell them about the wheat bran in the dough). The kids ate them covered in melted butter and parmesan cheese. Of course they wanted nothing to do with wild mushrooms and thus wouldn't touch the sauce. Truly they missed out. The sauce was delicious and would be good with any variety of noodles.

As with all the recipes in the book I have been dutifully par boiling my tomatoes and peeling and seeding them. I wonder if this is necessary. According to this article the extra step is worth your while. For the sake of deliciousness I 'spose I'll continue. Plus it makes for a pretty picture:

Now in previous posts I alluded to an injury which occurred while making this dish. No I didn't burn myself with boiling water. Neither did I stab myself with a knitting needle. And I most certainly did not drop a hot tomato down my shirt.

In order to explain my injury I need to explain the cooking process. This recipe has one boiling the noodles until they float then keeping them warm in an oven. My primary oven was already in use so I elected to use the warming drawer which rests near the floor. I was using my feet to open the drawer and store the cooked dumplings. Had I been wearing steel-toed shoes all would be well. But no. I was wearing flip-flops.

I am fully aware that flip flops in the kitchen are, perhaps, not the wisest of all moves. I would have expected to obtain some sort of injury from, say, boiling water or by dropping a can of tomatoes on my toes. What I did not expect was to cut my foot open with the metal on the bottom of the warming drawer. Oi vay did that smart! The injury wasn't too severe (no stitches necessary) but a band aid would have come in handy. It seems, however, that the Costco sized container of band aids had already been commandeered by my children. As such I was forced to tuck a napkin into my flip flop to get the bleeding to stop. The term dork comes to mind here ...

As they say. All is well that ends well. We had a nice meal. My foot has since healed and I appear to be tetanus free.

Now scroll to the top and look at the photo of food rather than my foot.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sogliola alla fiorentina (Sole, Florentine style)

We don't cook a lot of fish.  It's not as if we don't like seafood but we don't know how to prepare it. Italians, however, consume tons of seafood.  As such my fishy education begins.

Last week I ventured into the first seafood recipe of the book, Sogliola all fiorentina.  Sole.  Did I look up this fish before I left for the market?  No.  Here is the definition from Food Lover's Companion

"The popularity of sole dates back at least to the ancient Romans, who called it solea Jovi (Jupiter's sandal), undoubtedly because of the enlongated-oval shape of this flatfish ...
this true sole is found only in European waters."

Had I actually done my research I might have realized sole would not be readily available.  I might have made a list of white fish fillet substitutes (cod, perch or red snapper).  But I did not. Nonetheless my inherent frugal nature saved the day.  The market did not have sole.  They had multiple varieties of fish for $15.00 per pound, or more.  The recipe called for two pounds of fish.  Red snapper, however, was a mere $7.99 a pound.  A no brainer.  We were going to have Red Snapper alla fiorentina whether it was good or not.  

The best part of this dish is the sauce, which would pair well with most fish (or chicken for that matter).   Onion, thyme, butter, milk, whipping cream, egg yolks and parmesan.  Rich and delicious.   

The fish turned out well though needed to cook longer than the twelve minutes called for in the recipe (fifteen minutes would have been adequate).    The dish is layered with spinach which is a nice way to sneak in some veggies.  I don't know that the spinach imparted much flavor.  My children, nonetheless, refused to eat the evil green stuff (it was coated in butter and whipped cream for goodness sake).  They did try the snapper but were somewhat dissuaded by the small bones present in the fillet.  

All in all it was a good recipe and one I'll make again.  


I'd like to tell you this dish was prepared without injury.  After all I didn't burn my hand as in the last entree.  I didn't injure my foot as in an upcoming post.  And yet I have the recipe book open as I type.  Smack in the middle of the pages are two lovely spots of blood (actually they look like a red inkblot test.  Hmmm - I see a butterfly and a set of owl's eyes.  Take that for what it's worth).  

Only here's the thing. I do not recall a bloodletting.  Yet the evidence sits before me. Apparently cooking is a dangerous venture.  As they say things come in threes ... I'm hoping this is affirmation of a third injury thus absolving my culinary curse.  

And finally, in my haste to serve said dinner, I forgot to photograph it.  This from the person who carries her camera on library excursions.  As such you're left with a picture of bread. Which, by the way, is excellent for soaking up the remains of sauce.  No italian meal should be ever served without bread.  

Buon appetito!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bucatini all'amatriciana (Bucatini with Spicy Bacon Sauce)

Or alternate title "Everything tastes better with bacon."

This is my favorite recipe to date. It was picked on a whim - not too many ingredients, not too much prep time, not too much heat in the kitchen (our heat wave was still in full force).

Ironically we had been watching a Martha Stewart re-run earlier in the day. She was making an exotic pasta and was going on and on in her level-headed yet over the top way about these fancy noodles. Now I wasn't completely paying attention. I got that she loved the noodles. I saw her HUGE pot (where does one store such a thing?) and observed her bag of very long noodles. My thought? I'll never make those because my pasta pot is too small. Then, within moments of this decree, I unwittingly picked a recipe using identical noodles. Now the bucatini in my grocery store are half the length of Martha's bucatini. Me - I didn't even realize they were the same.

As we were eating dinner my husband asked, "Hey, aren't these the noodles on TV this morning? Hollow spaghetti?"

"Why yes. Yes they are." I replied trying to sound authoritative all the while covering up the light of realization that just lit up over my head. Hey - I'm a middle-aged mother of three and have a full time job. I can't be expected to be brilliant all the time.

And here's the thing. As much as I hate to admit it - I agree with Martha. Bucatini noodles are fabulous. They absorb all the wonderful flavors of the sauce (in this case bacon, onions cooked in bacon grease and tomatoes -- mmmmmm bacon!).

Served with bruschetta and homemade sangria (pinot noir with sliced peaches) this is a lovely summer's meal. Throw a tablecloth over the rustic table out back, invite the neighbors over and have a true Italian feast.


Note: This recipe was prepared last week. However I did not write about it until today due to a ahem minor kitchen incident. It seems our metal pasta fork fell over a hot, albeit off, burner. In my infinite wisdom I grabbed it with my bare hand. Not. Too. Smart. Fortunately my daughter had been making ice projects. I spent the rest of the evening cradling a water bottle filled with ice and pine needles. It did the trick and I was near normal the next day. Then, as time is bound to do, it got away from me. Now I have two additional recipes to share (soon I promise) and one additional incident. Let's just say flip flops and kitchens are not a good combination.

Buon Appetito!