Category Archives: Recipe

Erbe in abbondanza

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A staple at the table around here is “erbe.” Google Translate says erbe means “herb” in English. Google Translate is entitled to its opinion. The word erbe covers a wide spectrum of green stuff. (Plug “cut the grass” into Google Translate and you get “tagliare l’erbe.”) Continue reading

Maltagliati, Ceci, Clams, and Porcini

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This too we ate at Trattoria La Marianna in Rimini. It’s a soup made of maltagliati, clams, ceci beans, and porcini mushrooms. You can very easily use a variation on a theme on this soup (sans clams, for example, or hand-crunched tagliatelle in place of maltagliati) and be very happy. Continue reading

Poached Cod with What?

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Who thinks of these things? In conversations I’ve had with Italians about talented chefs, they refer to “fantasia,” which  translates as something like “imagination.” This cod dish, served as an antipasto at Ristorante La Vela in Pesaro, is an excellent example. And as with most things on the table in Italy, particularly in my wife’s regions (Emilia-Romagna and le Marches), the guiding principle is simplicity. Continue reading

For Dessert? Baked Pears

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This dish falls into the “life is short, eat dessert first” category. You could eat this dessert without feeling guilty. Poached pear and prunes.

We enjoyed this dish the other day in Rimini at La Marianna, a seafood trattoria. Pears and prunes are baked in red wine, with a couple cloves added. These looked like Bosc pears. They were baked whole, peel and all, then sliced for serving. We split one between us.

To add just a little guilt to this dessert, the pears came with a small dish of gelato on the side. The gelato was whitish–I’m guessing crema. My wife tilted the dish and drizzled a little of the wine-pear-prune sauce over the ice cream. She tasted it and gave it her O.F. (oh fuck!) approval.

Definitely try this at home.

http://www.trattorialamarianna.it

Grab a Bunch of Gobbi

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They should be soft. They will have a slightly bitter taste.

Grab what?

They look like celery stalks. Except much bigger. Except for the leaves that sprout along the edges.  And really except for the spines along those same edges that make gobbi look more like a medieval weapon of war than a food. Continue reading

A Moderately Unthinkable Proposal

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It’s the pot’s fault.

The Italians call it a tegame di coccio or a pentola di terracotta. What cooks in it–a stew, a sauce, a roast– is, well, bliss. During the long cook, fragrance permeates your house. Of rabbit ala cacciatore. Of polpettone. Of lamb shoulder. You smell the meat, but also there is the unmistakable fragrance of hot terracotta. You smell the pot. It smells so good. Why I don’t know. It just does. Continue reading

Sausage, Resurrected

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The sausage is more than rehabilitated.

Since the dawn of time, man-woman-cook has pondered this question: What to do with leftover sausage?

Just the other day I grilled more sausage (plain Italian, no fennel) than we could eat. In the hours after lunch the leftover meat came to room temperature. Along the sheath of sausage casing the fat congealed, rendering the links slippery and mildly unpleasant. Occasionally inclined to gluttony, I occasionally dropped by the kitchen counter and took a bite of cold sausage. On its own, there is nothing very appealing about it. Even reheated there is nothing very appealing about cold, leftover sausage, on its own.

How to rehabilitate leftover sausage? eat them twice? Continue reading

Brown Rice, Chopped Tomato, Arugula

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When gluttony meets restraint…

There’s always brown rice.

We are on the threshold of tomato time in Michigan. It’s hard to be patient. At the local farmers market they will have both red and gold cherry tomatoes (what the Italians call pendolini) and Early Girls and Big Boys bursting with flavor. You take the Girls and Boys, slice and anoint them with olive oil. Continue reading

A Sweet and Tangy Spaghetti Dish

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How to make a fast sauce that’s always great

A number of years ago I taught a cooking class I called “ten sauces, ten pastas, ten wines.” The animating idea was to become a good match-maker. Some sauces need a particular form of pasta. Meat sauces, for example, instead of spaghetti or linguini or tagliolini, are best paired with wheels or fusilli or a wide noodle like fettuccine or tagliatelle. Tengono il sugo, they say in Italian. The pasta holds the sauce. And wine? I didn’t know much about wine then, and still don’t. The class was an excuse to try ten different wines from all over Italy. Continue reading