Tag Archives: pasta

#GlimpseoftheOrdinary

Team photo: Boston Americans 1901 – proto-Sox

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 8:20 pm

Wednesday is Food Section Day. I pick up both the Boston Globe and the New York Times.

Manage a fairly “on time”  home arrival and even the signs put up by the Gas Company that the places where I usually park will be a Tow Zone  starting tomorrow at 7 AM doesn’t prove to be much of a hindrance – I get a place even closer to my house than usual.

tow_away_no_parking__10374.1426344590.500.659

They’ve closed off three blocks of a five block street. And then there was Harvey in Texas, so did all the Utility trucks go there? They haven’t seemed to have started digging and the pile of pipes is as tall as it’s been…

Not sure what to have for supper. Had a big salad for lunch, so maybe some toast, or there’s more of the bread and cheese not Baked French Toast. (The real problem with eating food that has no name is the effort to have to describe it every time.)

In the Globe (I start with the food sections, headlines can wait – what is this about Red Sox stealing signs???? Applegate? No, Boys of Summer – steal BASES, not signs  …)

There’s a  “Sicilian pasta  with Ricotta” and I remember that I bought some ricotta at the Farmer’s Market – last week, the week before??  Better check the expiration date.

All good – AND there’s the box of tri-colored rigatoni that I got on sale…

Tricolor-RotiniR

Put the water on, salt it like the sea.

Re-read the recipe to make sure there is no hidden ingredient or technique that will trip me up …so far so good.

SICILAN PASTA WITH RICOTTA

16 oz. short pasta shape (cavatappi, radiatore, mezzi rigatoni) I had tricolor penne. Prince. It had been on sale. It was also 12 oz. so I adjusted accordingly.

16 oz. whole milk ricotta – 2 cups. I scooped out half and then half of what was left.

¾ cup pasta water – I used 4 oz.

1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano for serving

Olive oil, salt and pepper for serving.

 

  1. Bring salt water to a boil. Add pasta, in this case 6 minutes (more or less. I stand over it, spoon in hand, scooping up single pieces, “Are you DONE? Are you Tender? Are you Ready YET??” I look and taste to al dente.
  2. I have a measuring cup that fits under my colander, so when I drain I can have all the pasta water I want. If the water from a can of chick pease is acqua faba, shouldn’t past water be acqua pasta? Or acqua basta, as enough already!
  3. Pour ½ cup of the pasta water back into the pan, toss in the ricotta, and stir it all around. Add the hot penne and stir some more.
  4. Decide it needs more contrast, more bite, more zing than more cheese, so fish out a jar of Kalamata olives – just the thing.
  5. On the plate – a soup plate, because – I put the pasta, top it with some olives and a nice twist of black pepper.

Claudia Catalano Boston Globe Wednesday September 6, 2017, p. G4

I eat at kitchen table.

The downstairs people get a Peapod delivery while I sit down.

peapodstopshop

Leftovers will be for lunch OR a supper frittata later this week.

Time to put on the kettle for a cup of tea. And to read the rest of the papers.

Red Sox…..

RedSoxPrimary_HangingSocks.svg

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Filed under Recipe, Supper

Down the Tubes

Tubular pastas, that is.

I went into the sandwich shop, and they had a supper special – meatball or eggplant with ziti.

Ziti_(cropped)

This is what I’m looking for.

I looked in the case and I could see the meatballs and the eggplant…

and a big tray of penne.

Penne_all'arrabbiata

This is what I see – can you see that they’re not quite the same?

And then I was confused – where’s the ziti?  It turns out it was right THERE, even though it was penne and not really ziti .

Am I getting too picky in my old age? Is there a difference between the two?

Back to the books…

.

Pastabydesign

Pasta by Design by George L. Legendre, 2011.

and

geometry of pasta

Geometry of Pasta Caz Hildebrand & Jacob Kenedy, 2010

 

   Penne:

Dimensions:

Length: 2.12 in.

Width: 0.4 in

Wall thickness: 1mm

Synonyms – mostacciolo (little mustaches); mostaccioloi rigati; penne a candela, penne di natale/natalini; penne di ziti/zitoni, pennoni

They are hollow cylinders with the ends cut at an angle (like a quill pen)…..

penne,_cooked_and_uncooked800px

“Penne should not be confused with Italian ziti, but they often are. In the States, a popular dish of baked pasta referred to as “baked ziti” is in fact made from either the much shorter penne …or American ziti – tubular pasta like smooth rigatoni.p.194 Geometry of Pasta.

According to Past By Design :“A versatile pasta, penne rigate (grooved quills) come from Campania, in southern Italy, and belong to the pasta corta (short pasta) family.” p. 124.

Penne_custom-Geometry of Pasta

Penne in Geometry of Pasta

 

 Ziti

Dimensions

Length: 2 in.

Width: 0.4 in

Wall thickness: 1.25 mm

Similar form: ziti candelati

“Intrinsically Neapolitan, ziti cannot be separated from marriages. The word in fact means “the betrothed” or “the bridegroom”, and ziti are invariably served as the first course of a wedding lunch.” p. 282 Geometry of Pasta

ziti napolean

 

“A pasta reserved for banquets and special occasions, ziti (‘grooms’ or ‘brides’ in Italian dialect) originate from Sicily. Tradition has it that they should be broken by hand before being tossed into boiling water.”)p. 196.Pasta By Design

and since we’ve going down the Tubes…..

Rigatoni

Dimensions:

Length:1.8 in.

Width: 0.6 in.

Wall thickness: 1mm

(PBD – “Members of the pasta corta (short pasta) branch, and originally from southern Italy,….p. 148.)

rigatoni_geo ofpasta

Rigatoni from the Geometry of Pasta

By the way – the PENNE was delizio!

 

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A Tale of Two Recipes, cont

Recipe the Second:

‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; “

I can’t think of A Tale of Two Cities without hearing Ronald Colman ….

roland colman

And now for a far better thing. Not that Broccoli Sauce’d Sicilano was bad…..

When I went to my friendly neighborhood super market and saw these little squashes, cute as bugs ears, live and in living color – and 50 cents a piece – I had to get me 2.  I swear I had seen SOMETHING about them in the last week or so, so I starting poking around……

Chayote_BNC

Chayote – it’s a kind of summer squash

 

But could I find anything that even had that word  in it, that word I’m still not sure how to  pronounce. The cashier called them coyote squashes….hey, she knew they were squashes….

So then I turned to the ‘grow veg/eat veg’, the straight and narrow garden to table books that I have unpacked. Several identified them, but didn’t mention how to use them…..and they have aliases….

Deborah Madison Vegetable Literacy, which I’m thoroughly enjoying and will need to read several times, there’s so much between these covers. No chaypote.

veg literacy

Dominca Marchetti The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which has a dozen dishes I want to do, as well as small batch of giardiniera (five pints being as small a batch that 1 cauliflower can make) lots of summer squashes and zucchinis, no chaypote.

veg of Italy

Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin not a garden to table, but amazing vegetarian food and lots of great asides …..and the book falls open to the Sicilian Spaghetti with Pan-roasted Cauliflower – and where I sub out the pine nuts I’m not too terribly fond of, so why should I pay THAT sort of money for them, with almonds……shades of saucy broccoli….which may have even been the dish he served up at the book signing. My bus ticket is marking the page, so it was on May 6th 2012, in Somerville. His website is Herbivoracious ,too.

herbivoracious

And then I flipped through The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.

CD pasion veg

This book is over 1000 pages, a workout in every reading. I love this cover. Shades of Carmen Miranda!

A little back story: Bean By Bean was where I first met Ms Dragonwagon. But not this revised, 21st century edition, no, not at all. It was a slim booklet, like you’d get from some sort of community group edition. Back in the early ‘80’s vegetarian cooking stuff was still very much a small press/artsy/folksy/hippy-ified/ handmade/crafted sort of thing. I read the whole book standing up in a kitchen, oblivious to the gathering going around me. I don’t remember exactly where or what event, because there was a whole book about beans, and the beans were good. The beans were varied. The beans were interesting. The beans were amazing!

The cover was torn off, so I never saw it till I found it on the internet, much more recently.

CDBean bokk1only

The little pamphlet like book on the left is the first BBB that I met up with – without the colorful front cover.The one on he right is the new, revised edition.

The recipes were all beans and were all vegetarian. Since I knew if you give an Italian woman a pound of beans, she can feed a horde 30 different courses….I naturally had to wonder,

“What was ‘Dragonwagon’ before Ellis Island changed it when they came from Italy?”

Yes, I immediately and completely Italianized Crescent Dragonwagon.

I carried this assumption around for a really long time. Hey – there was no internet in the olden days! When The Passionate Vegetarian came out early 21st century, the cover image only reinforced my belief. Look at her – she’d fit right in an Italian crowd. My people do things with flair. And she was certainly my people…ironically, the very heft and size of The Passionate Vegetation kept me from it for a while.Not forever, but still…

arcimboldo friut basket

Another Italian, another fruit basket worn as a hat…..

Fast forward to 6 or 7 years ago.

I join Facebook.

I join to keep in touch with people who I’d worked with. I re-connected with some people I had seen or heard from in years. Then I discover Groups  – places with topics for like-minded people to gather….groups that talk about food and cooking….and in one of these Groups was

Crescent Dragonwagon

She also had her own pages, and she can tell you her own story – like about her name….. (Here’s a hint – she’s not the least bit Italian) This is her website about her, her writing,and workshops . Because she was commenting on some of the same pages I was reading, and I was even daring to offer some sort of comment from time to time, there were some occasions we were part of a ….conversation.

Now, if you want to continue to converse with certain people on Facebook, you have you request to ‘Friend’ them. You can also un-friend people, which isn’t as drastic as it sounds, and you can downright block people, if they turn out to be a troll (an apt image if ever there was one), and you can also set your privacy settings which helps you control where your stuff goes when it leaves you. In short, though – don’t say anything on the internet you wouldn’t want on the 6 o’clock News, film at 11.

So, I send a Friend request to Crescent Dragonwagon.

She wrote back and said the word friend was one she didn’t take lightly, and could I tell her something about myself that we might have in common (she phrased it much, much better). This is the only time anyone on Facebook has responded this way.

I was thrilled. Where to begin????

So I told her about my Aunt Eileen, who gave me my first cookbook and said,

“Every recipe is a story. And not all of them have happy endings.”

(Good Housekeeping).

I was particularly thrilled because she was working on revising – and by revising she pretty much re-worked it from stem to stern – Bean by Bean

cd bean by bean

Sooooo, as I was looking for chayote…..which in the index said, “Chayote. See Mirlitons”, which in turn brings me to the Squash Family which brought me to Pasta with Pumpkin. A pasta recipe on the same page as Pasta with Hearty Greens and Beans, which is rather a way of winter life for me….and because I had taken some of the roasted pumpkin out of the freezer to make a pumpkin panzanella but what I really wanted as a hot dish, which meant I would have to invent savory pumpkin bread pudding….OR I could just make the Pumpkin with Pasta, have my hot meal and be done with it.

But

WAIT

Read the recipe, the whole recipe and nothing but this recipe right NOW.

I have the actual ingredients, except my punkin is already cooked, so just needs to be heated through…..

And so

Punkin’ Pasta

7 oz fettucine or linguine (half a box)

1 # roasted deep orange pumpkin/squash (no peels, no seeds – I don’t really need to add that, do I?) PS – I love my freezer gold!

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving

3 cloves garlic, pressed

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the noodles. Save about a cup of pasta water before you drain.
  2. Put the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and the garlic, stir madly about, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Breakup any of the larger pumpkin chunks – the smaller ones with break down mostly on there on to make the sauce.
  3. Combine the cooked noodles with the hot pumpkin. Adjust season. Add some of the pasta water to loosen, if that’s what you like (I find there’s such a moisture variation with different gourds, that a little extra water is always good to have on hand.)
  4. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese on top.

2 servings.

Note: These are generous servings. I’ve been eating a big bowl and had enough for a whole ‘nother meal, and still had the orphan portion that was just right for a 3 egg frittata.

Adapted from  Pasta with Pumpkin in Crecent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian. Workman Publishing: New York. 2002. p.858.

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Filed under Books, Influencers, Recipe, squash, winter

Olive U

Oh, yes I do.

Little olive, I love you.

 

Olea eurpaea Kobler

Olea eurpaea Kobler

Although in my kitchen, they often look more like this:Pastene_pitted_black_olivesThe problem is, once I open a can, I can eat a can full.  In a very short time. Let’s just say, there isn’t a storage issue…often not even a serving issue….

So I buy olives when I planning to sue them IN things, and then I can enjoy them over several days, which in the end, is more enjoyable.

Olives in a sauce, and some olives in a salad….

Here’s a story for a sauce, according to wiki:

According to Annarita Cuomo, writer for Il Golfo, a daily newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida, sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous Ischian restaurant and nightspot

In the February 17th, 2005 edition of the newspaper, Cuomo says the moment of inspiration came, when near closing one evening, Petti found a group of customers sitting at one of his tables. Petti was low on ingredients and told them he didn’t have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi (Make any kind of garbage),” they insisted. In this usage, puttanata is an Italian noun meaning something worthless. It derives from the Italian word for whore, puttana.

At the time, Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers; the basic ingredients for the sugo. “So I used them to make the sauce for the spaghetti,” Petti told Cuomo.

Later, Petti included this dish on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca.

Some versions include anchovies, but I usually make this without the little fish.

Pasta Puttanesca

Olive oil (two swirls around the pan)
4 smooshed garlic cloves
1 small onion, diced
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes (I like lots of chunky bits – use crushed tomatoes if you don’t OR if you’re topping spaghetti or another finer pasta shape)
Salt
½ cup pitted, chopped black olives (or more….)
1 Tablespoon capers
1 tsp red hot pepper flakes (more to sprinkle on top, if you like it hot – it keeps getting hotter, so don’t over-do if you’ll be saving some for another meal)
1/3 cup chopped parsley (or half a supermarket bunch, which seems to vary with the season and how much rain wherever THAT bunch of parsley was grown) OR 6-8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1 # penne – or another sturdy pasta with nooks and crannies
Grating cheese

1 Put on the pot of water to cook the pasta in.
2 Swirl the olive oil in another pan; bring to medium heat and add the onions
3 When the onions begin to soften, add the garlic.
4 Add the tomatoes, squishing them through your fingers to make good sized chunks. Pour in the liquid from the can.
5 Season with salt, and simmer on low.
6 When the pasta water comes to the boil, salt that and boil the penne until al dente.
7 Add the olives, the capers, the parsley (or basil) and the red pepper flakes to the tomatoes.
8 Save out 1 cup of the pasta, drain the penne.
9 Add the penne to the sauce (or vice versa, depending on your pot/pan situation). Add some of the save water if the sauce needs thinning.
10 Serve with grating cheese.

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

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Red Gravy…on a just another Meatless Monday

NOT to be confused with red-eye gravy,

Red eye gravy needs a ham steak a-frying and some black coffee to make it, well, red-eye. If there are some long cooked greens and some grits nearby, maybe a biscuit....heaven comes in many forms

Red eye gravy needs a ham steak a-frying and some black coffee to make it, well, red-eye. If there are some long cooked greens and some grits nearby, maybe a biscuit….heaven comes in many forms

which is delightful in it’s own right, just not a tomato sauce to put on macaroni.

This is not Sunday Gravy which always has meat, just basic marinara. Because Italian isn’t as nearly as much one language with dialects as it claims to be, as several languages that have a common Italian accent. The words for sauce/gravy include  sugo/salsa al/di pomodoro or pummarola ...and there are more, and that’s barely getting us out of something with tomatoes that goes over pasta type sauce, and there is a world of others….little wonder they translate into so many variations….not so much”same meat/different gravy”  as “Same gravy/different names”.

Back to the story….

One of the things I discovered when I moved out on my own  that as a single, the pantry and proportions of food I grew up within a large family were completely wrong.

I had to start over and reinvent the wheel.,

Or at least the rotelle…

Rotelle - wheel shaped pasta

Rotelle – wheel shaped pasta

Especially the rotelle – and all the other macaronis. (Back in the day, we called them ‘macaronis’: we were macaroni eaters )

Mangiamaccheroni - we were not allowed to us our hands...

Mangiamaccheroni – we were not allowed to eat macaroni with our hands at the table – EVER.

My mother’s red gravy – or tomato sauce as we say now – was a BIG BATCH affair. Since I’m the oldest of six… and four of them were growing boys – with no dainty appetites – well, let’s just say this didn’t translate well for a single, especially one who decided to be a vegetarian.

But I had been reading about Italian food…..trying to find the dishes and the tastes that my family cooked and talked about.

We talked a lot about food. I thought everyone did. All the time.  I am an not a foodie, thank you very much, I am Italian.

Don’t be fooled by my Irish face – but back to the gravy.

James Beard to the rescue.

Beard on Pasta

Beard on Pasta

Red Gravy (for Winter)

28-oz can whole tomatoes (in puree)

2 small onions, diced*

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dried basil (or one frozen stalk)**

4   Tablespoons Butter***

  1. Put the diced onion and basil in your saucepan.
  2. Open the can of tomatoes (make sure to wash the top of the can first, and when was the last time you cleaned that can opener?) Says the voice in my head –  maybe it’s just a Big Sister thing…).
  3. With your impeccably clean hands, pick out the tomatoes and crush them directly into the pan. No finger licking until the last tomato is in!
  4. Pour in whatever puree remains in the pan, and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the butter at the end, letting it melt and enrich the sauce.
  6. If you use the frozen basil stalk, fish it out before serving.
  7.  If you want a super smooth sauce, puree in the food processor or force through a strainer. I never want a smoother sauce more then I don’t want more dishes…
  8. If you’ve started a pot of water for your macaroni at the same time everything should be done together.

James Beard. Beard On Pasta. Alfred A. Knopf. 1983. p.73.

* He says sliced. He doesn’t say garlic, which I add a clove or two, well chopped.

**I freeze basil in the summer – it turns black and scary looking, but leaves a great basil taste. JB suggests that oregano or tarragon could be used.  Oregano is fine – with or without basil; I would go so far as to suggest even a very little rosemary or the merest pinch of a fresh sage leaf. A pinch of cinnamon is very good, too. Tarragon?? It would seem that Mamma Beard was NOT from Italy.

***This was the very first time I had ever seen butter and tomatoes together in a pot. I used olive oil for years, and one day got brave….it IS very good.

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Filed under Influencers, Perception ways, Recipe, The 1980's