Italian Cooking

  • Small Price, Big Flavors: Stewed Cabbage and Luganica (north Italian sausage) with Basmati Rice (or polenta, or ‘taters, or…)
    …if you want a deep, rich flavor on a cool eve but dont feel much like cooking, you can shove this oh-so-easy-to-make classic on a back burner:
  • The Ides of March – Brutus’ Skewered Parmesan and Bologna with Aged Balsamic Vinegar
    “Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods…” Julius Cesar 2, 1  Shakespeare had a thing for Italian regional cuisine, with many of his most popular dishes having a distinctly Italic flavor. Brutus’ “Skewered Parmesan and Bologna” is one of those, a re-working of the noted international food writer Plutarch’s “Parallel Recipes”. This version, […]
  • Frictilia – Fried Sweet Dough for Mardi Gras
    A thousand different names, a million different variations, all derived from ancient times, likely as soon as people learned to mix flour and liquid into a dough, roll it out, fry it, and sweeten it. Certainly a version was already well known in ancient Rome: frictilia. Apicius mentions them as a cheap and delicious street food passed out to people celebrating Saturnalia.
  • Small Price, Big Flavor Meals: ‘Q.B.’ (Quanto Basta) – The Most Important Acronym in Italian Cuisine (and Braised Pig Shanks with Polenta.)
    This is such a marvel of a plate. Deep, satisfying flavors perfect for any cool eve – despite its humble market consideration. You can alter the flavors by fiddling with the marinade and sudes and any sauces. The meat the next day is even better in sandwiches and the cooking pot remains perfect to be blended and mixed into noodles for a pasta dish the following eve. QB.
  • Literary Recipe (The Pasta Papers): Stephen Hawking’s Carbonara
    Contain an incredibly large, dense mass in your kitchen. Hide it behind a door that says ‘loo’ or ‘bathroom’. Invite a dumb undergrad over, (any faculty will do though economics would be preferable,) telling him or her you want them to take part in a revolutionary experiment. When he gets to your house, have him sit down and then slowly explain to him about black holes. (Don’t worry if you make a mistake or two. He’s dumb, so he’ll never know the difference.) Pour him plenty of beer as you do. When he asks to use the loo, show him to the door behind which you’ve hidden the black hole – but remember to give him the pasta dough before he steps inside.
  • Pizzoccheri (buckwheat noodles) and…. cheese.
    …so. Your friend comes back from the low mountains. You’ve been there, to his old mountain-top home. You know that wonderful food store next to the river in the valley below, heard the crackling of its wood burning fireplace on the left as step inside, gazed wide-eyed at all those locally made products it sells, […]
  • Small Price, Big Flavors: Penne with Ricotta and Bacon
    t’s late. It’s been a fairly busy day, your girl friend will be getting back about 20 minutes or so after you will, tired and a little stressed at the ongoings of the day. It’s your turn to cook and you really, really don’t feel like prepping a meal. What’s worse: you’re hungry, even ravenous. You want massive, mouth-filling, gut-fulfilling fair in a hurry. Pizza? Burgers? The deli on the corner?
  • Wednesday Will (at Halloween) – 6 Witches’ Polenta with Ragu…
    t’s unclear just where Shakespeare’s popular ‘Weird Sisters’ soup chefs came from, or if they were sisters at all, given their physical disparity. Some commentators say they were British natives, others that they emigrated from Sweden or Norway while a few even mention the Mediterranean. In any case, what is clear is that at some point they started working in the kitchen at Holinshed’s Soup, Steak and Salads in Brodie, Scotland.
  • World Pasta Day: The History of Pasta (and a timeline of video recipes)
    the history of pasta
  • Literary Recipe: Calvino’s Floating Bucatini (98 years this month)
    The windows of the kitchen are foggy now with the steam that has condensed on them while you were cooking. It’s almost 8:30, time for dinner. You take the big serving dish out into the dining room where everyone is waiting. As you serve out the pasta, you notice that the sauce is slightly watery. It’s supposed to be, making the noodles appear to float just above the reddish pools of sauce beneath. And since the individual bowls are translucent black, the reddish pools themselves also appear to float in the bowls above the blackness as if hovering over a void. You sit down at the head of the table. Then you twirl some of the bucatini onto a fork to taste them. After swallowing you realize ‘Hey, I’ve just eaten some of Calvino’s floating bucatini!’
  • Wednesday Will: Mercutio’s Fois Gras
    Before opening his now world-renowned restaurant The Mab, Mercutio worked alongside Romeo and Juliet in Verona. He and Romeo were best friends, so much so that Mercutio decided to work for a short spell at The Globe not long after the young couple emigrated from Italy. There, his brilliant juxtapositions of textures and flavors were quickly noticed, prompting local chef and food critic Dryden to note that Shakespeare’s kitchen “show’d the best of its skill in Mercutio.” However, unable to compromise his inventive nature into The Globe’s more structured kitchen, William was forced to dismiss him.
  • Cheap and Delicious and perfect for the October cool: Passatelli in broth.
    …it’s a great plate for cool October days, rich and comforting while refined at the same time, and if you haven’t tried them at home before, they will seem… like discovering someone new.
  • Hungarian Plum-Stuffed Gnocchi (szilvas gomboc)
    it’s a great dish, well worth making this time of year – for peasants and nobility alike. A simple, inexpensive meal outside with a very big wow factor surprise once in the plate:
  • Milton Friedman’s (109years) Laissez-Libre Spaghetti Frittata (The Pasta Papers vl. 2)
    Since no lunch is free, well, unless you’re senior management, where breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee, drinks, brunches, Christmas gifts, transportation, art collections, housing, computers, cell-phones, subscription services, healthcare and pretty much everything else IS free – try a simple dish great for the 99 percent of us on a trickle-down budget. The day after you’ve made a spaghetti and made too much to finish, don’t just take it out of the fridge and plop in the microwave. Instead, place the cold spaghetti on a big enough cutting board and chop into three or four to shorten the noodles.
  • Big Flavors, Small Price, One Pan: Butterfly Pasta with Tuna and Broccoli
    4 of the top 10 things that guys, even more so heterosexual, don’t do naturally of their own free will are: 1) their nails; 2) shopping; 3) ironing… and; 4) dirty dishes, the later only it there isn’t any more space left in or around the kitchen sink. You know, those leaning tower constructs of stained, somewhat brownish plates, glasses and silverware that seem to defy gravity as they glisten under the lighting, testaments to the open and heat meals of days gone by?
  • Wednesday Will – Garlic Pasta Sonnet 116
    Garlic Pasta Sonnet 116   Garlic Pasta Sonnet 116“And scorne not Garlicke like to some, that think / It onely makes men winke, and drinke, and stink.” Joannes De Mediolano, The Englishman’s Doctor, 1608   Garlic Pasta has become a motto for the recent revival of simple, good, healthy traditional cuisine. The recipe states right […]
  • Cheap Eats, Full Flavor – A Recipe everyone should eat: Tomato Bruschetta
    Spread a thin layer of the fresh cheese over top. Now, spoon over the sauce – and it’s ready to go.
  • The Simplest of Pasta (spaghetti with a Neruda – 117 years – tomato sauce)
    ‘…the tomato, star of earth, recurrent and fertile…’ Pablo Neruda
  • Wednesday Will: Shakespeare’s Vermouth Shrimp alla Elsinore
    ‘In his recipe, however, Shakespeare does at least change the liquor Belleforest used as well as adding the “Wha’s up!” exchange, taken from the noted add campaign by Bud-of-Weiser, in the opening scene, a second sea scallop dish later in the recipe and of course the ghost of Julia Child.’
  • Is it the figs you miss, or the people attached to them in memory? Prosciutto and Melon (or figs) big flavor, small price (June menu 2).
    But one important smell, for me, that you can find here as well as in hotter, more southern blue places: fig tree. I was surprised to find out: in my hick-ignorance I thought they’d be a rarity. Instead they’re all over – as they should be. One of the easiest, hardiest trees to plant and grow.
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