Posts tagged Italian
Thursday, July 25, 2013

pasta with sun gold tomatoes and onion

pasta with sun gold tomatoes and onion

I’ve started this post. And then started it again. And then started it again. And again. And here I am, still struggling. I kind of just want to delete everything below, and just write, Make this pasta. Tonight. The end.

What I don’t want to do is to write a twee post on how amazing this dish will be. I want to be all, Ok, so we’ve known one another for awhile and you just have to trust me on this, m’kay? Is it delicious and will you want to eat it on a weekly (if not a more frequent) basis? I’m pretty sure once you’ll try it, you’ll answer yes. But do I want to rhapsodise about it and use hyperboles? I’m just not in the mood. Lately, I’ve been feeling very small-d democratic about food, very pedestrian.

In a busy household such as ours, and we’re not even busy-with-kids kind of busy, what I appreciate so much more than having time to test a recipe, is having a homemade dinner with Andrew as often as we can make it happen. Most of the time, we can do it about five days a week. That’s not bad, right? And while I’d prefer to be in the kitchen day in and out cooking for you, I’ve this pesky thing called rent and work has been piling up mountain high. What’s up, summer – aren’t you supposed to be all low and slow?

Continue reading pasta with sun gold tomatoes and onion.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

veal ricotta meatballs

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

This is a very important post, dear readers. One that’s taken me many hours to put together, because I cannot implore you enough that whatever it is you’re doing right now – you need to stop and rush to your kitchens to make these. I know – you’re thinking, meatballs, big deal, what’s the rush. But because I’m what you’d call, a meatballs skeptic, this is doubly important. I wouldn’t just sigh over any meatballs, right? They would have to be really, truly magnificent. And they are.

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

These are the meatballs I’ve dreamed about for over a year. A year, people – do you know how long that is in food obsession terms? That’s twelve long months of fantasizing about these orbs made seemingly out of meat clouds and so delicious and light, they practically melt in your mouth. You barely even have to chew them. And until very recently, they weren’t a staple in my kitchen. But that’s all changed now.

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

About a year ago, a good friend of mine took me to a little wine bar in the East Village called Terroir, run by the same lovely folks behind a thoughtfully run restaurant “Hearth” where Marco Canora, the chef behind this recipe, makes his amazing dishes. She had mentioned, on our way there, that aside from an excellent wine list, there are some worthwhile nibbles we should order, namely, the veal ricotta meatballs, which we promptly ordered upon arrival and that order changed everything I knew about the dish. These weren’t regular meatballs of my past: heavy and dense and bland; instead they were light, delicate and perfectly seasoned. I tasted a bite of Parmiggiano, a gentle hint of ricotta, a tang of tomato sauce. Instantly smitten, I knew, at that exact moment, that these were the meatballs I’ve been searching for (if one does indeed go on a search for the perfect meatball, which you know I would, because that’s the kind of girl I am).

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

Since then, I’ve sent dozen of my friends to the bar, always instructing them to order the meatballs and have tried to recreate the magic at home. Until two nights ago, I’ve been using the Mario Batali recipe, but after Deb alerted me to Marco Canora’s recipe, I switched over. The ingredient list and proportions are very similar, if not identical. But a few additional steps, and helpful hints below, I think, make this recipe more useful. These meatballs are a process and take over a day to make, which, I know, is a bit belabored for something as rustic as a meatball. However, asking your butcher to triple-grind your meat (which is recommended below) ensures a delicate, light texture. Starting on your ricotta cheese the night before, is a necessary step because store bought ricotta just won’t cut it, and you see in the previous recipe just how easy it is to make ricotta at home. Moreover, I read somewhere, in relation to this recipe that you need to have your ricotta cheese need to be the texture/density of tofu (super helpful, right?), really helps you in determining how much draining of ricotta you have to do. And there’s also chilling the meatballs before frying them. I’m not sure what chilling your meatballs before frying does, but I dutifully followed directions and can tell you, it’s worth the trouble because the results are that good.

veal ricotta meatballs - take 2

And while normally meatballs are an accessory to spaghetti, I urge you to resist having them play second fiddle. These are in their own category of excellence and deserve to be first violin at your dinner with a solo performance. Serve them alongside a simple salad, as it’ll only highlight the rustic simplicity of the dish. Spaghetti and meatballs, just might become a thing of the past.

Continue reading veal ricotta meatballs.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

classic almond biscotti

classic "nonna's" biscotti

The trouble with homemade care packages you mail out – is that most homemade treats have a limited shelf-life. Cookies – three days or so, granola – loses its crispness if not refrigerated, cupcakes – can’t quite ship them without compromising their shape as the frosting gets in the way. I’ve always wondered what do people send as care packages, and do they send it overnight, or on ice? Needless to say, I’m not the most ingenious person out there, so if I’ve failed to think of obvious solutions, please leave a comment and let me know your suggestions.

before pulverizing mixing the batter
thick classic "nonna's" biscotti

And yet, there I was, trying to think of a treat for my friend, Katy (who designed Sassy Radish and made it so pretty!), who was working on her master’s thesis at RISD while battling an interminable nasty cold. Apparently, there was this cough she couldn’t shake, and congestion that was persistent and relentless. Poor Katy couldn’t even smell her morning coffee – and if there’s anyone other who lover her coffee, it’s Katy. I felt for her – I wanted to help somehow, but short of sending decongestants (which aren’t all that exciting – I mean, who looks forward to receiving decongestants in the mail?) I couldn’t think of much that might survive a few days of shipping.

classic "nonna's" biscotti

So after thinking about the short shelf life of perishable goods, I discovered what I call a “care-package loophole”, and that loophole is biscotti! Originally eaten by Roman legions – the word originates from the Latin word biscoctum, which means “twice baked”. They were twice baked, in fact, so that they could be easily stored for long periods of time, say for long journey and battles. You wonder where I dig up this wealth of useless knowledge – and I say to you proudly, middle school Latin class complete with a Latin Feast at the end of every year! And in case you’re wondering, cooking Roman food was by far my favorite part of the class curriculum. Today, biscotti are probably some of the most definitive Italian baked treats and are really easy to make. I liked this recipe because the author who contributed it for the January issue of Gourmet, got it from his Italian grandmother so this was the real deal.

classic "nonna's" biscotti

In fact, the recipe’s notes highlighted that these “biscuits” will get better the day after baking, so the flavors will only improve! A baked good that improves with age and goes perfectly with coffee – if this isn’t a perfect care-package material, I don’t know what is!

Continue reading classic almond biscotti.

Monday, January 8, 2007

mozarella-stuffed meatballs

Mozarella-Stuffed Meatballs

In the days leading up to me starting my new job, I was in a perpetual state of lamentation like woe is me, when will I ever find time to cook? What’s to become of my blog that I’ve maintained in my two months of leisure? What would I feed the boyfriend if I am coming home at 9 o’clock at night thinking of little besides Lean Cuisine?

In one of those particular stretches of despair, I found myself casually flipping through a Williams Sonoma catalog, wishing I could just wave a magic wand and the entire contents of the store would magically outfit my kitchen. I should be so lucky. Plus, my ant-sized kitchen can barely fit a few pots, nevermind an arsenal of cookware and cutlery. And as I was about to flip another page, regretting my budget and my limited shelf space, I spied a recipe so good, I paused to read it, and made mental note: mozzarella stuffed meatballs!! Bliss, happiness, melted cheese! Can anything be more perfect and breathtaking? And then I got distracted by a photograph of a ladle. And flipped the page.

A few hours later, after the boyfriend, flipping through the same catalog mentioned the recipe to me, my heart was set on making the meatballs. Soon, I promised him, maybe Tuesday. And sure enough he wasn’t about to let me forget. “Is it meatballs night,” he wrote Tuesday morning.

After running my pre-work errands that evening, I stopped at Bazzini to pick up the ingredients. I will tell you now, that I modified the recipe – so if you go and look up the stuffed meatballs recipe on Williams Sonoma website, you will get a slightly different version than I have here. Personally, I think mine’s a lot better, but that’s just me here. I’ll tell you what I did differently. I omitted the parsley and instead finely chopped an onion – I think it gives the meat deeper taste. Secondly, instead of beef, I opted for turkey. I figured with equal parts of veal and pork, beef would be maybe a little too rough in flavor and that turkey would give it a gentler taste, not to mention make it a tad healthier. So those have been my changes. I stand by them and think you ought to make your stuffed meatballs my way.

Meatballs with Mozarella

But then again, you have the right to have those balls any way you like.*

*The author is in no way, shape or form suggesting anything lewd and is shocked and appalled that your mind would even go there. ;-)

Continue reading mozarella-stuffed meatballs.