Italian Family Cooking: Like Mamma Used to Make by Anne Casale, EPUB, 0449901335

February 15, 2017

 Italian Family Cooking: Like Mamma Used to Make by Anne Casale, EPUB, 0449901335

Italian Family Cooking: Like Mamma Used to Make by Anne Casale

  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Publication Date: October 12, 1984
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007OLYRD4
  • ISBN-10: 0449901335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449901335
  • File Format: EPUB

 

”Preview”

A Fawcett Book

Published by The Random House Publishing Group

Copyright © 1984 by Anne L. Casale

Illustration copyright © 1984 by Lauren Jarrett

Silhouettes copyright © 1984 Heather Taylor

Design by Beth Tondreau

Cover design by James R. Harris

Silhouette by Heather Taylor

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Fawcett Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Fawcett is a registered trademark and the Fawcett colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

www.ballantinebooks.com

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 84-90841

eISBN: 978-0-345-54060-7

v3.1

Many years ago, my husband was asked by an inquisitive three-year-old to explain the meaning of the word “pal.” Patiently and lovingly he knelt down and explained, “A pal is your closest friend, someone you admire and love.” The child thought for a moment, looked up and beamed, saying, “Then that’s what you are to me—you’re my pal!” To this day my husband, John, is known as Pal to everyone in the family. It is to him, my husband and Pal, that this book is dedicated.

Anne L. Casale

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Preface

Introduction

Glossary: Ingredients

APPETIZERS

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Sicilian Eggplant Relish

Belgian Endive with Prosciutto

Marinated Mushrooms

Roasted Pepper Salad

Clam-Stuffed Mushrooms

Fried Mozzarella

Shrimp with Caper Dressing

Garlic Bread

Sausage Bread

SOUPS

Beef Broth

Chicken Broth

Carrot–Pancetta Soup

Escarole, Rice and Tiny Meatball Soup

Lentil Soup with Pennette

Potato–Parsley Soup

Tuscan Bean Soup

Vegetable Soup

PASTA AND SAUCES

Cooking Pasta

Egg Pasta

Spinach Pasta

Tomato-Based Sauces

Preparing Sauces

Bucatini with Plain Tomato Sauce

Conchiglie with Tomato, Mozzarella and Fresh Herbs

Fedelini with Tomato and Dried Mushroom Sauce

Fusilli with Tomatoes and Olives

Linguine with Tomato–Garlic Sauce

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce, Eggplant and Ricotta

Spaghetti with Tomato and Chicken Sauce

Spaghettini with Olive and Caper Sauce

Ravioli with Tomato–Pancetta Sauce

Vegetable and Cream Sauces

Fettuccine with Artichoke Hearts

Linguine with Broccoli

Margherita with Fried Cauliflower

Conchiglie with Broccoli, Cauliflower and Anchovies

Green Noodles with Carrots and Mushrooms

Ziti with Eggplant and Roasted Peppers

Spaghetti with Lima Beans, Artichoke Hearts and Peas

Penne with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

Tagliatelle with Zucchini and Mushrooms

Linguine with Fried Zucchini and Ricotta

Pasta Primavera

Tagliarini with Basil Pesto Sauce

Farfalle with Spinach Pesto

Linguine with Walnut Sauce

Linguine with Bacon and Prosciutto

Fettuccine with Salami and Mushrooms

Rigatoni with Sausage Cream Sauce

Fusilli with Four Cheeses

Straw and Hay

Seafood Sauces

Conchiglie with White Clam Sauce

Spaghettini with Crabmeat

Fettuccine with Lobster Sauce

Green Tagliatelle with Scallops

Linguine with Shrimp

Orecchiette with Shrimp and Scallops

Pasta Specialties

Baked Ziti

Lasagne

Ravioli

Spinach–Ricotta Dumplings

Five-Layer Pasta Pie

Pasta Roll

POLENTA

Basic Recipe for Polenta

Baked Polenta with Tomato and Dried Mushroom Sauce

Polenta with Fontina Cheese

RICE

Basic Risotto

Risotto with Mushrooms

Risotto with Scallops

Rice with Carrots

Rice with Peas

Rice with Zucchini

Rice with Eggs and Cheese

Baked Rice with Ricotta

Rice Salad

Stuffed Rice Balls

MEATS

Beef

Breaded Steaks

Filet Mignon with Wine and Caper Sauce

Braised Beef with Wine and Mushroom Sauce

Stuffed Flank Steak

Preparing Round Steak for Stuffing

Stuffed Beef Rolls

Beef Rolls with Tomato Sauce

Veal

Veal Scallops with Carrots and Dried Sausage

Veal Scallops with Mushrooms and Marsala

Veal Scallops with Prosciutto and Peas

Veal with Tomato–Lemon Sauce

Veal Birds

Baked Veal Chops with Potatoes

Stuffed Veal Chops

Roast Veal Amadeo

Veal Shanks, Milanese Style

Veal Stew

Pork

Pork Chops with Vinegar

Herb-Stuffed Pork Chops

Rolled Pork Cutlets

Roast Pork with Herbed Butter

Sautéed Sausage with Spinach

Lamb

Pan-Fried Lamb Chops

Stuffed Boned Leg of Lamb

Crusty Rack of Lamb

Lamb Stew

CHICKEN

Boning and Filleting Chicken Breasts: Chicken Suprêmes

Chicken Suprêmes with Piquant Caper Sauce

Chicken with Artichoke Hearts and Mushrooms

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chicken Rolls with Tomato–Mint Sauce

Braised Chicken with Tomato and Olives

Butterflied Herbed Chicken

Stuffed Chicken Legs

Carving Method for Small Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken with Dried Wild Mushrooms

Roast Chicken with Rosemary

FISH AND SEAFOOD

Fillets of Sole Florentine

Poached Fish Rolls in Tomato Sauce

Baked Halibut Steaks

Swordfish with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Baked Swordfish Steaks

Cod Stew

Cleaning Mussels

Mussels with Hot Tomato Sauce

Cleaning Squid

Fish Soup

Seafood Salad

VEGETABLES

Artichoke Hearts with Peas

Fried Artichoke Hearts

Asparagus and Carrots with Sesame Seed

Asparagus and Tomatoes

Sautéed Beet Greens

Broccoli with Chestnuts

Sautéed Broccoli and Mushrooms

Broccoli with Olives

Brussels Sprouts with Fennel

Baked Celery and Mushrooms

Braised Celery, Carrots and Romaine

Fried Celery

Sautéed Cucumbers

Sautéed Eggplant

Eggplant Manicotti

Curly Endive with Prosciutto

Braised Escarole

Stuffed Escarole

Fennel and Mushrooms

Sautéed Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

Green Beans with Tomato Sauce

Sautéed Mushrooms

Parsnips and Carrots

Fluffy Potato Pie

Potatoes with Pancetta and Rosemary

Parsleyed Potatoes

Sautéed Pumpkin

Swiss Chard with Tomatoes

Baked Zucchini

Zucchini with Garlic and Tomato

Zucchini with Roasted Peppers

SALADS

Introduction to Salads

Asparagus Vinaigrette

Beet Salad

Cauliflower–Tomato Salad

Curly Endive–Spinach–Mandarin Salad

Green Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Green Bean and New Potato Salad

Orange–Avocado Salad

Romaine, Watercress and Tomato Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing

Tomato Salad with Ricotta Salata

Zucchini Salad

Food Processor Mayonnaise

DESSERTS

Fruit and Molded Desserts

Glazed Orange Peel

Glazed Poached Apples with Marinated Fruit

Blueberries Flambé

Linda’s Grapes with Cognac

Fresh Orange Compote

Stuffed Peaches

Stuffed Poached Pears

Strawberries all’Anna

Strawberries with Pastry Cream and Sauce

Apple Cream Whip

Apricot Mousse

Grand Marnier Mousse

Cold Mandarin Soufflé

Orange Cream

Ricotta Mousse with Raspberry Sauce

Caramel Custard

Papa’s Rice Pudding

Ricotta Pudding

Frozen Mocha Surprise

Pineapple–Coconut Parfaits

Biscuit Tortoni

Tarts and Tortes

Apple Custard Tart

Apple Cheese Torte

Blueberry Cream Torte

Pumpkin Chiffon Torte

Toasted Coconut Cream Tart

Espresso Cream Tart

Cakes and Cream Puff Pastry

Golden Yellow Cake

Glazed Orange Cake

Ricotta Cheesecake

Sicilian Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Speckled Chocolate Sponge Cake

Eclairs

St. Joseph’s Ricotta Puffs

Menus

About the Author

Acknowledgments

I gratefully acknowledge and thank: My daughter, Amy; my wonderful agent, Amy Berkower, at Writers House; my dear friend, David Wald, who helped put so many of my thoughts into words; and my family and friends for their support, encouragement and patience during the many months of writing.

Preface

I grew up in an Italian household where hospitality and food were a natural part of my heritage, a heritage rich in tradition and gastronomic delight. Being introduced to good food at an early age gave me an inquisitive, demanding palate that has flourished for a lifetime.

Both my parents, Rose and Amadeo Lovi, were excellent cooks. My mother’s side of the family came from the region of Campania and my father’s from Liguria and Tuscany, so we always had a diversity of magnificent dishes at our table.

When I was a child, it was always an exciting experience to go shopping with my father on Saturdays. We would start out early in the morning and visit a string of specialty shops where he would select the finest, freshest ingredients—whether produce, fowl, fish or meats. As he made his selections, he would lean over and tell me, “Learn to use your eyes, Anna, as well as your nose. The best needs no embellishment.” He never sacrificed quality in whatever was to be served. I watched him prepare many of his Tuscan specialties, from a simple risotto to an intricate veal roast which was alive with flavor. “Cooking,” he would say, “is a form of self-expression. Don’t be afraid to explore new gastronomic territories. A good cook must always keep an open mind for new ideas, new tastes and new combinations.”

From Mamma, the first culinary rule I learned was cleanliness and organization before getting started. If Mamma were baking, everything would be pre-measured into little bowls and set out on the counter waiting to be systematically assembled. In this manner, nothing was ever left out of a recipe. The same attention was given to all her food preparation. Each vegetable was meticulously cleaned, then chopped, minced or diced to perfection before being added to any dish. She stressed the idea that cooking and baking were acts of love and passed that love on to me.

Her food was beautifully arranged on handsome serving platters. “Always remember, Anna,” she would advise me, “when food looks good, it tastes even better.”

My father-in-law, Vincenzo Casale, owned and operated La Bella Palermo, an Italian pastry shop in lower Manhattan, for over forty years. He was respected by his fellow pasticceri (pastry men) as one of the finest bakers of his time. He was also an excellent Sicilian cook. We lived with him for fourteen years after his retirement. I can remember spending hours in the kitchen to please this man of impeccable taste. Most of the time I was rewarded with unstinting compliments, but once in a while his “compliment” after a meal was, “Anna, this is good, but don’t make it any more.” Needless to say, I wanted to die right on the spot. I learned much in the years he lived with us and am grateful for the many techniques and methods he taught me. He always used an Italian expression, Quello che ci mette, ci trova, meaning, “What one puts into a dish one will find.” Papa Casale was right—and in complete accord with my parents’ philosophies. Love is a basic and the best ingredient in every recipe I offer. I have shared this love with my family, friends and students for many years and now I am happy to share this heritage with others. What one puts into a dish one will find!

Introduction

Prized family recipes are creations that not only satisfy the palate, but warm the heart with the memories they generate. Every family-inspired recipe created for this book has been developed to capture the original magic I recall. Italian Family Cooking has been designed to share my culinary heritage with today’s cook in today’s kitchen.

The recipes in this collection are presented in a clear, precise manner. The procedures are written in simple steps as they are needed. Incorporated in the procedures are specific cooking techniques that will instruct the beginning cook or reinforce, refine and expand the skills of the more experienced one. Ingredients are listed in the order in which they are used. Each measurement is standard and allows the reader to reproduce the selections without guesswork and with confidence. I recommend that you read the chapter on ingredients before starting any of the recipes. An understanding of the ingredients being used can only add to a cook’s security and confidence.

Planning is the key to carefree cooking. It is extremely important to have all your ingredients and utensils readily at hand before you start to cook. Consult your recipes in advance and jot down all the ingredients you’ll need, even the most obvious. Without your list you may find yourself up a creek minus the salt and pepper, or waiting for an oven to preheat. Note when the same ingredients—such as chopped onion or minced parsley—must be readied for several recipes: do all the preparation, then divide the ingredients and place required amounts in separate bowls. Clean up as you go along. Read through each recipe again before starting. If you are properly prepared, cooking can be easy and fun.

One of the most versatile kitchen appliances available to today’s cook is the food processor. This time-saving device opens up a world of culinary possibilities, for it is capable of performing a large percentage of the tedious work in the kitchen. Many recipes found in this book incorporate the food processor. However, specific directions are always included for those who may not yet have a processor. My strong suggestion to you is—buy one; you won’t be sorry.

If you find yourself torn between enthusiasm for entertaining and dread of spending long hours in the kitchen, stop. Remember that an elegant menu needn’t mean a lot of last-minute fussing. Once again, planning is essential. Read through the recipes carefully to select ones that don’t require last-minute preparation. Many desserts can be made a day or two in advance. You can also find any number of pasta sauces that can be done ahead of time and reheated. While suggestions for menus and pointers for successful menu planning appear in a later chapter, hints for variations on recipes as well as additional menu suggestions are listed before many recipes.

If you are a novice at cooking, I would not advise your starting off with Rotolo di Pasta. Buy some good imported or fresh pasta and begin with one of the simple sauces. You can have dinner in no time flat. Remember, confidence is gained through experience.

I hope this cookbook will send you directly into the kitchen, charged with excitement over new methods, ingredients and taste combinations.

Glossary: Ingredients

When it comes to selecting the ingredients for the recipes you have chosen, I implore you to follow the words of Papa Casale: “What one puts into a dish, one will find.” Since you want your guests to be served food that’s nothing short of wonderful, insist on starting with nothing less.

Many of my students have little cooking experience. While they learn recipes, techniques and procedures in class, they also come to appreciate the range of top-quality ingredients that are essential for all dishes.

ARROWROOT

This is obtained by drying and grinding the rootstalks of a tropical plant of the same name. It is used as a thickening agent which leaves no floury aftertaste. Arrowroot gives a clearer sauce than other thickening agents such as cornstarch or flour. Always dissolve arrowroot in a little broth, wine or water before adding to any sauce or gravy. Remove pan from heat before adding dissolved mixture.

BREADCRUMBS, DRY AND FRESH

Dry—Arrange slices of bread in a single layer on cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 250° and toast bread until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes. Break into 1-inch chunks and whirl in food processor fitted with metal blade until finely ground. Place crumbs in fine mesh strainer and sift into large bowl. Discard any large crumbs or whirl again in food processor. Pack into jars and keep in cool dry place until needed. Should be stored in refrigerator during summer months.

Fresh—Cut up fresh or day-old bread, including crust, or tear it gently with fingers. Place in food processor fitted with metal blade. Run machine until bread is reduced to coarse crumb consistency.

BUTTER

For the finest flavor use unsalted (sweet) butter for cooking and baking. Purchase only U.S. Grade AA butter, which is made from the highest quality fresh sweet cream.

CAPERS

These are the flower buds from a low, trailing shrub called a caper bush. The unopened buds are packed in vinegar or salt and must be thoroughly rinsed and drained before being added to any dish. Buy either the Spanish or Italian varieties.

CREAM

Heavy or whipping cream should be whipped in a well chilled bowl for best results. Cream can be whipped, covered and refrigerated up to two hours before serving. Always check before serving, as whipped cream may separate slightly. This can be corrected by mixing again very briefly with a wire whisk.

EGGS

Sizes will be specified with each recipe. If they are to be separated, use eggs taken directly from refrigerator. A cold egg breaks cleanly and the yolk is less likely to rupture than in one at room temperature. It is critical that no egg yolk find its way into the whites, for even a trace of yolk will prevent them from reaching full volume. If part of the yolk should fall into the white, use the shell to scoop it out. If egg whites are used in dessert, cream of tartar is added to stabilize them.

FLOUR

Recipes in this book call for different varieties of flour. Read labels and recipes carefully.

Unbleached flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat. It is recommended for bread, pasta (if semolina flour is unavailable) and some pastry doughs.

All purpose enriched flour is a bleached variety and will produce a more delicate pastry dough (especially if the dough is to be rolled). It is also suitable for all cakes in this book. For recipes calling for this type of flour, the term all purpose will be used.

Cake flour has a silky consistency and is particularly good for sponge cake. If unavailable, all purpose flour can be substituted but the texture will be a little heavier.

To measure, use cups designed for dry measurement. Spoon the flour lightly into cup; do not shake the cup or pack or press the flour. Level lightly with the back of a knife.

Semolina flour is used in making pasta. It is weighed rather than measured into cups. See introduction to pasta for details.

For coating, I recommend Gold Medal Wondra, an instantized all purpose flour that pours like salt. It will give a much lighter coating for sautéing.

GARLIC

Buy bulbs that are tightly closed, with unwrinkled skins of white, pink to purple, or white with purple streaks. Store in cool, dark place. For easy peeling, place a clove under the side of a large knife blade. Thump the blade to split the garlic’s clinging skin; it will slip off easily. It is better to chop garlic finely with a knife than to mash through a press.

LEEKS

Buy leeks with crisp, green, unwithered tops and clean white bottoms. Leeks should be straight and cylindrical. If the ends are very bulbous, they will probably be tough and woody inside. To clean, trim roots and a portion of the fibrous leaf tops. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water, while holding the layers apart, until no sand appears.

LEMONS

An indispensable flavoring in many of my dishes. Try to pick smooth-skinned lemons, which have more juice. The juice can be substituted for vinegar in salad dressing. Use only fresh, never the reconstituted juice, which leaves a bitter aftertaste. Make sure you scrub the outer skin well to remove any coating before using the rind in any dish.

MUSHROOMS, DRIED

Look for the large, light brown type imported from Italy and labeled Porcini. They are rather expensive, but a little goes a long way. Store in jar with tight-fitting lid and they will keep indefinitely.

OLIVE OIL

Only purchase the imported oil. For cooking, I prefer a lighter olive oil from Tuscany, such as Bertolli or Berio. Olive oil does not have to be kept in the refrigerator, but it should be kept sealed in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate on lower shelf only in extraordinarily hot weather. (Refrigerated oil turns cloudy but will not lose flavor.) A sealed oil can may be kept for several years, but do not leave oil in an open can; decant into a capped bottle. For a special treat on salads and plain boiled vegetables try one of the extra virgin olive oils. The best extra virgin oils are made entirely by hand and use only the finest olives, which are picked by hand and pressed in a manually operated cold-stone press; the resulting oil is then filtered through cheesecloth. This is the primary reason for the oils’ high cost. My personal favorites are Raineri from Liguria and Badia a Coltibuono from Tuscany. Once sampled, you will never forget their fruity taste.

SCALLIONS

Select those with crisp, green, unwithered tops and clean white bottoms. Try to pick scallions with large, bulbous ends. Trim roots and any brown or limp tops. Wash thoroughly and blot dry with paper towel. Wrap in paper towel and store in plastic bag in refrigerator. Use within four to five days.

SHALLOTS

Halfway between onion and garlic. Store in cool, dark place. To use, divide the cloves. Cut off tops and tails of the shallots. Peel with a small paring knife, pulling away the first layer of flesh with the skin that is usually firmly attached to it.

SPANISH ONION

I prefer using this large yellow onion because of its sweet taste. Store in a cool, dark place. If only using a portion for a recipe, the unused part can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

VINEGAR

Recipes call for either red or white wine vinegar. Use a good imported brand of vinegar for best results, especially in salads. The three brands I use are Badia a Coltibuono and Bertolli for red and Sasso for white.

Herbs

I have always enjoyed cooking with herbs. They are so important to my cuisine that I grow them in my garden in the summer, but during the winter months we have to use the dried variety. In this book, both fresh and dry measurements are provided. A general rule of thumb: one tablespoon of minced or chopped fresh herbs is equivalent to one teaspoon dried. When buying dried herbs, always look for those that are green rather than pale or powdered, which usually have less flavor. Buy herbs in see-through packages or glass jars so that you can see the color and judge the freshness. Store in jars with tight screw-top lids away from sunlight and heat. When using the dried variety, rub the herb between your palms to bring out its full aroma and flavor.

BASIL

Best when fresh leaf is available in summer. Pluck off the leaves just before you use them, so they won’t go limp. Wash in cold water, drain well and blot dry with paper towel. The fresh leaves can be stored for winter in a jar with sea salt or kosher salt. Place about five layers of leaves in a jar and sprinkle with one teaspoon salt. Continue to layer, pressing down leaves and salting until jar is filled. Seal with lid and store in refrigerator. When ready to use, wipe off salt with damp cloth. The leaves will definitely darken in refrigerator, but will still have full, aromatic flavor. This herb marries perfectly with tomato, whether in salads or sauces.

BAY LEAF

Always buy whole leaf, never crumbled or powdered. Look for those that are still tinged with green; if they are more than a year old, they will have lost their flavor as well as their color. Wonderful flavoring for roast pork, beef soup and stews.

FENNEL

Fresh fennel, better known among Italians as finocchio, is usually available from late October to January. It looks somewhat like a large head of celery with a large bulb at the bottom. Trim off the green fronds (the tender leaflike part of the top of the bulb), rinse and dry with paper towel. Freeze in plastic bags. Finely chop and add to sautéed peas, artichokes or broiled fish for a faint licorice flavor. Most produce people throw the tops away, so just ask for them. The lower portion or bulb is usually served thinly sliced after dinner to cleanse the palate, or in recipes such as Fennel and Mushrooms. If fresh fennel is unavailable, dried fennel seed can be substituted. Fennel seed is usually found in Italian sausage. If it is unavailable in your area, just add about ½ teaspoon of the dried seeds to the water when steaming sausage for added seasoning.

MINT

Sometimes the dried variety is sold under the name of peppermint. Very easy to grow and dry. Collect the leaves on a hot, sunny day, preferably just before flowering time. Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth and dry on paper towel for a couple of days. A wonderful flavoring with roast lamb, broiled fish or cold seafood salads, and of course used fresh in cold summer drinks.

OREGANO

Always use sparingly because of the herb’s strong, spicy flavor. Try to buy whole bunches of the dried plant, which hold their flavor longer in storage. The best quality comes from Italy, Greece and Mexico. Oregano has a great affinity for marinara sauce, and is a must on roasted peppers and on tomato salad simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper.

PARSLEY

The Sicilians often refer to a busybody as putrusino because, like parsley, he is found in everything. It can be used in almost any meat, fowl, fish or vegetable, and finely minced it will dress up any dreary-looking dish. The flat leafed variety known as Italian parsley is more pungent in taste than the curly leaf; use curly leaf for garnishing. Use leaves for flavoring. Stems can be wrapped in bundles, frozen and saved for soups. To store parsley leaves, wash and air dry on paper towel or spin dry in a salad spinner. Pack in jar and place a folded piece of paper towel on top to absorb additional moisture. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Parsley stored in this manner will stay green and fresh up to one week in refrigerator.

ROSEMARY

Here again, fresh is best. When this herb is dried it has needle-like leaves and must be crumbled with a mortar and pestle. This is one herb that I do use powdered; ½ teaspoon powdered is equivalent to one teaspoon dried. Excellent flavoring on baked or broiled chicken, roast loin of pork or leg of lamb.

SAGE

Slightly musky taste; must be used sparingly. Fresh sage can be packed and stored with salt like basil in refrigerator for winter. Adds zesty flavoring to stuffings for roast chicken or pork.

TARRAGON

A slight anise taste. Fresh tarragon, available through the summer months, harmonizes beautifully with all egg dishes and broiled chicken. You might also want to try some snipped into your tossed green salad.

THYME

A hardy plant and easy to grow. Leaf thyme or common thyme is used for the recipes in this book. To dry, just hang in bunches in a warm, dry place, then rub the leaves off and store in a jar. A pungent flavoring for stews and beef soup; a must for bouquet garni. If available, use lemon thyme, which has a faint citrus flavor and is excellent on broiled chicken and sautéed eggplant or zucchini.

Spices

Store in jars with tight-fitting screw-top lids, away from sunlight and heat.

CINNAMON

Whole stick and good imported ground should be kept on hand. Whole stick can be ground with a mortar and pestle.

NUTMEG

Select whole nutmeg and grate with a small grater whenever needed. Much better flavor than the powdered variety.

PEPPER

Only use the finest quality whole black pepper. I buy the type known as Tellicherry Black, which comes from India. Freshly grind the pepper each time you use it. White pepper is black pepper with the outer black skin removed. I recommend it for white sauces and mayonnaise.

SAFFRON

Buy in thread form, not powdered. The threads are the dried stigmas from the flower of a crocus plant that grows around the Mediterranean. The stigmas are all removed by hand, which explains why the spice is so costly. It provides a brilliant orange-red tint and unique flavor to risotto.

Cheeses

To store all of these cheeses, wrap in foil, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate until needed (see note for storing Parmigiano Reggiano).

ASIAGO

Very similar to Provolone, but not as sharp. A good table cheese that can also be freshly grated for many pasta dishes. Made from cow’s milk. Both domestic and imported varieties are excellent.

FONTINA

The real Fontina comes from only one place, the Valley of Aosta in the province of Piedmont. Before buying, ask to see the wheel and make sure the name Fontina is imprinted on top of the cheese. It is still prepared as it was many centuries ago, with unskimmed and unpasteurized milk. A very sweet and delicate semi-soft cheese and one of the greatest Italian culinary treasures. Can you tell it’s one of my favorites?

FONTINELLA

Do not confuse this with Fontina. This cheese has a sharper flavor and is more like a very young Provolone in texture. A light-tasting table cheese from goat and cow’s milk. Try it for a grilled cheese sandwich.

GORGONZOLA

Mold-ripened blue cheese—gray-green in color rather than blue—which tastes like blue but has a light, spicy flavor and buttery texture. For a truly special treat try Torta di Gorgonzola, which is made of layers of Mascarpone (solidified cream) and Gorgonzola. It is excellent served with crusty Italian bread and pears.

MOZZARELLA

If you must buy the packaged kind, make sure you purchase the one labeled “whole milk.” I prefer the fresh variety, which is usually found soaking in water in Italian specialty shops. To store, rinse several times in cold water. Place in jar filled with water and a little salt. Cover securely with lid. Mozzarella is very perishable, and must be kept refrigerated and used within one week of purchase.

PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

This rich, nutty flavor is essential to many dishes. Parmigiano should be grated just before using so that flavor is at its best. The production of Parmigiano is very strictly controlled. Ask to see the wheel before purchasing and make sure it is stamped Reggiano. To store, wrap in a thin layer of dampened cheesecloth, then plastic wrap and an outer layer of foil before refrigerating. It must be stored in this manner because it dries out much more quickly than other cheeses. When freshly cut and moist it is also an excellent table cheese.

PECORINO ROMANO

Pecorino is the family name given to a group of cheeses made from ewe’s milk. There are several different grades of Pecorino. This sharp cheese is used for robust flavoring in pastas and other dishes. It should be freshly grated just before using. For recipes in this book, I have dropped the Pecorino and just call it Romano.

PROVOLONE

You will usually find this cheese, in many different shapes, hung from the ceiling in Italian specialty stores. Made from cow’s milk, Provolone comes in many varieties from very mild to very piquant. The mild type is usually packed in a thin, smooth, waxed rind and has only been aged for about two to three months. The more piquant type is matured from six months to two years, and has a dark honey color with a spicy, sharp taste.

RICOTTA SALATA

There are two different types; one is semi-soft, and the other is matured to a dry, hard consistency. Both are pressed and salted ricotta cheeses. For recipes in this book, I use the semi-soft variety. For a quick snack with a truly different flavor, try a thin slice of the semi-soft variety on a piece of banana. The hard type is excellent grated on pasta that has been tossed just with butter.

SARDO

Made from ewe’s milk, this is another member of the Pecorino family. Dark yellow in color, it is often mistaken for Parmigiano but has a much sharper taste. Excellent in all pesto sauces and must be grated right from the refrigerator or it will crumble. Also a wonderful table cheese, thinly sliced. It is usually imported from Sardinia or South America; both are excellent.

Pork Products

CAPOCOLLA

Italian cured ham, hot or sweet. Either can be used for recipes in this book. Wonderful with a thin slice of melon as an appetizer.

PROSCIUTTO

The finest you can buy is from Parma, but there are many domestic prosciuttos that are of very good quality. It is air cured and when properly matured is a pale red. Prosciutto is added to many of my dishes for a wonderfully different flavor.

MORTADELLA

Italian style bologna, this is a very large, tasty sausage which has been boiled. Mouthwatering for an appetizer or in a sandwich. For full flavor, do not have it sliced too thin.

PANCETTA

Italian cured bacon, not smoked. Looks like a jelly roll and should be purchased very lean. I usually have it sliced and freeze it in 4-ounce packages. Can be frozen up to 2 months. When ready to use, take right from freezer and chop (it will also be easier to chop or dice when frozen). Pancetta is available in many gourmet shops and Italian specialty shops.

SOPRASSATA

Sometimes spelled sopressata—an Italian salami or dried sausage made with spices. It will be much easier to chop for the several recipes in this book if the casing is removed. To do this, run about 4 inches of the dried sausage under hot water until the casing feels soft, about 5 minutes. Pull casing off part of the sausage, then slice and chop. This is a good tip to remember when slicing pepperoni as well.

APPETIZERS

(Antipasti)

MARINATED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

SICILIAN EGGPLANT RELISH

BELGIAN ENDIVE WITH PROSCIUTTO

MARINATED MUSHROOMS

ROASTED PEPPER SALAD

CLAM-STUFFED MUSHROOMS

FRIED MOZZARELLA

SHRIMP WITH CAPER DRESSING

GARLIC BREAD

SAUSAGE BREAD

Whenever I mentioned the word “antipasto,” Papa Casale would tease me and tell me that I was going to ruin everyone’s appetite. “Anna,” he would say, “everyone must come to the table so that they can enjoy the entire meal. Forget the cocktails and the appetizers—no one will have room for the pasta!”

If I am entertaining a small group, I prefer serving something such as marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms or eggplant caponata. Anything with a vinegar base is said to open the appetite. I may select a small wedge of Asiago or Provolone cheese to accompany the vegetables.

For a large party, I serve more involved appetizers such as sausage bread, marinated shrimp or stuffed mushrooms, or a platter made up of one or two Italian cold pork products such as prosciutto, soprassata salami, capocolla or mortadella which I arrange in an outer border with marinated mushrooms or roasted peppers in the center.

The appetizers that I suggest in the following chapter can also be served as a luncheon or as a salad to accompany your entrée.

ARRANGING ANTIPASTI PLATTER

Roll or fold cold cuts into triangles and arrange

as outer border of the antipasti platter.

MARINATED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Carciofi Marinati

Artichoke hearts can be prepared up to 4 days before serving. Make sure you turn jar at least once a day to keep artichoke hearts completely coated with marinade.

SERVES 8 TO 10—APPETIZER

2 packages (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons finely minced shallots

¼ cup imported white wine vinegar

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

½ teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons minced Italian parsley leaves (garnish)

1. Rinse frozen artichoke hearts in a strainer under warm running water to defrost.

2. In a 12-inch skillet, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Arrange artichokes in a single layer in pan and cook, covered, over medium heat until barely tender when tested with a fork, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a strainer and refresh under cold water. Place strainer over a bowl. With your hands, gently squeeze artichokes to get rid of excess liquid.

3. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients except parsley. Beat dressing thoroughly with a fork. Add artichoke hearts to bowl and toss well in marinade. Transfer mixture to a 1½-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid and marinate overnight, turning jar once or twice so that artichokes are completely covered with marinade.

4. Remove artichoke hearts from refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving. Drain off some of the marinade. Transfer artichoke hearts to small bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with fancy frill picks and unsalted crackers.

SICILIAN EGGPLANT RELISH

Caponata

The zesty flavors of capers, olives and vinegar make this wonderful dish come alive. Caponata can be served with unsalted crackers as an appetizer. It can also be served as a vegetable or as an excellent topping for omelets. It is equally delicious with cold meats or poached chicken. Caponata can be made 3 days before serving, stored in jars and refrigerated until needed. It can also be packed into small plastic containers and frozen up to 3 months. Allow 4 hours to defrost before serving.

SERVES 12—APPETIZER

SERVES 8—VEGETABLE

½ cup olive oil

2 cups diced celery (strings removed), cut into ¼-inch cubes

2 cups finely chopped yellow onion

2 medium-size red or green bell peppers (10 ounces), washed, halved, cored and diced into ¼-inch cubes

2 medium-size firm eggplants (2½ pounds), washed, ends trimmed, diced into ½ inch cubes

1 cup medium-size black pitted olives (about 24), well drained and thinly sliced

½ cup medium-size pimiento-stuffed green olives (about 12), well drained and thinly sliced

3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and well drained

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste

¼ cup imported red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons crumbled dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

½ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped (optional garnish)

1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat until haze forms. Add celery and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until barely tender, about 3 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until tender when tested with fork, about 4 minutes. Stir in eggplant and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until barely tender when tested with fork, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat and stir in olives and capers; mix well with wooden spoon to incorporate.

3. In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, vinegar, water and sugar. Add to vegetable mixture and blend thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.

4. Turn heat to low and cook caponata partially covered, stirring frequently with wooden spoon, for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving.

5. To serve as an appetizer, transfer to small bowls and garnish with chopped almonds. Serve with crackers on the side.

6. To serve as a vegetable, transfer to a large platter and garnish with chopped almonds.

BELGIAN ENDIVE WITH PROSCIUTTO

Endivia con Prosciutto

This makes a very light appetizer before a pasta course. You may want to accent the platter with a few marinated artichoke hearts.

SERVES 6—APPETIZER

2 medium heads Belgian endive (5 ounces)

8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

1. Very carefully remove outer leaves of Belgian endive and wipe with a damp cloth. (Save center section for salad.)

2. Tightly roll each slice of prosciutto jelly roll fashion; slice each roll in half.

3. Open each leaf of Belgian endive and place ½ roll of prosciutto in center.

4. To serve, arrange in a slightly overlapping pattern on a small platter.

MARINATED MUSHROOMS

Funghi Marinati

Make this appetizer when you can find small white button mushrooms no larger than 1 inch in diameter with tight-fitting stems. The mushroom caps can be prepared up to 3 days before serving; just remember to turn jar at least once a day to keep caps completely coated with marinade.

SERVES 8—APPETIZER

SERVES 6—SALAD

2 pounds small white mushrooms

3 cups water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 Tablespoon salt

¾ cup olive oil

¼ cup imported white wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, split in half

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly milled white pepper

2 Tablespoons minced Italian parsley leaves (garnish)

1. Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth. Cut off stems and save for another purpose. Divide mushrooms into three batches.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring water and distilled vinegar to a boil and then add 1 Tablespoon salt.

3. Drop one batch of mushrooms into boiling vinegar-water mixture. When water returns to a boil, cook mushrooms for about 45 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a strainer. Repeat with remaining two batches of mushrooms. Place strainer over a bowl. Put a flat plate on top of strainer with a weight on top to expel all the liquid. Let mushrooms drain for at least 30 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper; thoroughly blend with a fork. Toss mushrooms with marinade and mix to incorporate. Transfer mixture to a 1½-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid and marinate overnight, turning jar once or twice so that mushroom caps are completely covered with marinade.

5. Remove mushroom caps from refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Transfer to a bowl, remove garlic, garnish with parsley and serve with fancy frill picks. Note: To serve as a salad, add 1 cup finely chopped celery to mushroom caps upon removing from refrigerator. Arrange on individual salad plates and garnish with chopped parsley.

ROASTED PEPPER SALAD

Insalata di Peperoni

Every Italian cook has his or her own technique for roasting peppers. Several years ago my Aunt Lucy taught me her method, which insures crispness and makes the peppers a lot easier to clean. When red bell peppers are in season, buy several pounds of them. Roast the peppers, peel, place in plastic containers and freeze until needed. Defrost peppers 1 day before serving, blot dry with paper towel and marinate overnight in dressing.

SERVES 8—APPETIZER

SERVES 6—SALAD

6 large firm red bell peppers (3 pounds)

2 large cloves garlic, split in half

½ cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler and preheat to broil setting.

2. Wash peppers in cold water, blot dry with paper towel and slice in half lengthwise. Remove core and seeds.

3. Place peppers cut side down on a baking sheet. Broil peppers until partially charred, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, wrap in paper towels and place in a plastic bag. Secure the end with a twist tie or twine and let stand for at least one hour to cool. Remove from bag and peel peppers with a small paring knife. Pat dry with paper towel and cut lengthwise into ½-inch strips.

4. In a medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add peppers and toss well. Transfer mixture to a 1-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate overnight, turning jar once or twice so that peppers are completely covered with dressing.

5. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Transfer to a platter, remove garlic and serve with a basket of crusty garlic bread.

CLAM-STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Funghi Imbottiti Vongole

For the loveliest presentation, hand pick pure white mushrooms all the same size.

SERVES 8 TO 10

24 medium to large mushrooms (about 1 pound)

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1 can (6½ ounces) minced clams, well drained

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

2 Tablespoons minced Italian parsley leaves

1 Tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch curly parsley (garnish)

1. Adjust oven rack to upper portion of oven and preheat to 450°F.

2. Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth. Snap out stems, trim ends and chop finely. (Can be chopped in food processor fitted with metal blade.)

3. Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add chopped mushroom stems and cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl and add remaining ingredients, except olive oil; mix well.

4. Fill mushroom caps with mixture, mounding slightly in center.

5. Arrange on a cookie sheet and drizzle ¼ teaspoon olive oil over each. Bake until lightly golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.

6. Arrange parsley on a flat platter and place stuffed mushrooms on top; serve immediately.

FRIED MOZZARELLA

Mozzarella Fritta

Nothing more is needed with this filling appetizer than a glass of chilled white wine.

SERVES 6 TO 8

8 ounces whole milk Mozzarella cheese

¼ cup Wondra flour

2 extra large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1½ cups fine dry breadcrumbs

1½ cups vegetable oil, preferably corn

1. Cut Mozzarella into ½-inch slices and then into ½-inch strips.

2. Place flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat eggs, salt and pepper thoroughly with a fork. Place bread crumbs in third bowl.

3. Dip Mozzarella strips in flour, then in beaten eggs. Dredge thoroughly in breadcrumbs, making sure cheese is thoroughly coated with crumbs so that it does not ooze in frying. Arrange strips in a single layer on a large platter lined with waxed paper. Chill for at least 1 hour (chilling will prevent breadcrumb coating from falling off when frying).

4. In a 12-inch skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until haze forms. Fry Mozzarella in two batches, turning once, until lightly golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

5. To serve, arrange on platter and serve immediately.

SHRIMP WITH CAPER DRESSING

Insalata di Gamberetti

A great do-ahead appetizer that will tantalize your guests! Soaking the shrimp in ice water and lemon will keep it tender and moist.

SERVES 10 TO 12

1 teaspoon salt

2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

½ lemon, seeded and sliced into 4 wedges

1. In a 5-quart pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Place shrimp in pot and cover. As soon as water returns to a boil, uncover and cook shrimp just until they turn pink, about 2 minutes; do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.

2. Place shrimp in a 3½-quart jar, layering lemon wedges in between. Fill jar with cold water, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

DRESSING

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup Italian parsley leaves, well packed

¾ cup celery, cut into ½-inch pieces, strings removed

¾ cup scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

¼ cup capers, rinsed and well drained

1 medium head romaine lettuce (about 1 pound), garnish

1. Place all ingredients except capers in food processor fitted with metal blade. Run machine nonstop until the dressing is creamy and vegetables and parsley are finely minced. Transfer to a bowl and mix in capers. (Dressing can be made one day ahead, covered and refrigerated.)

2. Discard any bruised outer leaves from romaine. Trim tough bottom ends and wash several times in cold water to remove grit. Spin dry in a salad spinner or blot with paper towel.

3. Two hours before serving, drain shrimp, discard lemon and blot shrimp thoroughly dry with paper towel.

4. In a large bowl, combine shrimp with dressing, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours (do not marinate any longer or shrimp will become soggy).

5. To serve, arrange a border of romaine on a platter. Toss shrimp in marinade again and pile in center of platter. Serve with toothpicks.

GARLIC BREAD

Pane Untata

This garlic bread can be made with regular olive oil, but if extra virgin oil is available, by all means use it. The fragrance and taste are truly unforgettable.

SERVES 8

1 large loaf French or Italian bread, split in half lengthwise

1 large clove garlic, split in half

¼ cup (approximately) extra virgin olive oil Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from boiler and preheat oven to broil setting.

2. Place bread cut side down on a baking sheet and toast on both sides until lightly golden. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board with split side up.

3. Immediately rub garlic over cut side of bread. (It does not take much rubbing to give the bread a strong flavor of garlic; the more you rub, the stronger the flavor.) Generously brush olive oil on top; sprinkle with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Slice into 1½-inch wedges, transfer to platter or basket and serve immediately.

SAUSAGE BREAD

Pane di Salsicce

If you are looking for a finger food with a savory filling that is just a little different, this appetizer is always a crowd pleaser.

YIELDS 3 LOAVES

SERVES 12

DOUGH

¼ cup warm water (105 to 115°F)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 package active dry yeast

3½ cups unbleached flour

1½ teaspoons salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder

2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten

6 Tablespoons warm water

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine ¼ cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and stir until completely dissolved. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. Fit processor with metal blade. Measure flour, salt, 2 Tablespoons sugar and dry milk into work bowl. Process until mixed, about 10 seconds.

3. Add yeast mixture to work bowl and process until blended, about 20 seconds.

4. Remove cover and pour lightly beaten egg over flour mixture. Process again until blended, about 20 seconds. Remove cover and scrape down sides of work bowl with rubber spatula. Spoon half of the water onto dough. Cover and process for 20 seconds. Remove cover and scrape down sides of work bowl with spatula. Drizzle remaining water onto dough and process until dough forms a ball that cleans sides of the bowl. Process until dough turns around bowl about 25 times. Turn off processor and let dough rest 1 to 2 minutes. Turn machine on and process until dough turns around bowl about 15 times. At this point, the dough should be soft, smooth and satiny, but not sticky; if it is sticky, add 2 more Tablespoons flour and process until satiny.

5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead until extremely smooth, about 3 minutes. Shape dough into a ball.

6. Grease sides and bottom of a 3-quart bowl with softened butter. Place ball of dough in greased bowl, turning once to bring greased side up. Cover with plastic wrap and then a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place (80 to 85°F) until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

HAND METHOD

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine ¼ cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add yeast and stir until completely dissolved. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift 1 cup flour, salt, 2 Tablespoons sugar and dry milk.

3. Add yeast mixture and beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add lightly beaten eggs and remaining water; beat with wooden spoon to incorporate. Add another cup of flour and beat again with wooden spoon until completely incorporated. At this point the dough should be soft and sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Gradually add remaining flour ½ cup at a time, kneading with your hands until the dough is smooth and satiny, but not sticky. If dough is sticky, add about 2 more Tablespoons flour and knead until smooth and satiny. Total kneading time will be approximately 20 minutes. Shape dough into a ball.

4. Grease sides and bottom of 3-quart bowl with softened butter. Place ball of dough in greased bowl, turning once to bring greased side up. Cover with plastic wrap and then a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place (80 to 85°F) until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

FILLING

1¼ pounds Italian sweet sausage with fennel

8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, grated (2 cups)

8 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into ½-inch strips

6 ounces Asiago or Provolone cheese, grated (1½ cups)

1 cup finely minced Italian parsley leaves, well packed

1. In a 1½-quart saucepan, combine sausage and 1½ cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Let sausage cool in cooking liquid. Remove casing and chop coarsely (can be chopped in food processor fitted with metal blade). Set aside with remaining ingredients.

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE

1 large egg

1 Tablespoon water

1. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Remove 1 piece and keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap so that it will not dry out.

2. Line bottom of a 10 × 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

3. Adjust oven rack to center of oven and preheat to 375°F.

4. On a lightly floured work surface, stretch dough into a rectangular shape with fingers. Roll out dough evenly into a 14 × 10-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a cutting board with long end facing you.

5. Leaving a ½-inch border on all four sides, sprinkle dough with ⅓ of each of the filling ingredients in this order: sausage, Mozzarella cheese, salami, Asiago or Provolone and parsley. Tightly roll up dough jelly roll fashion. Pinch seam down center and ends to seal. Place in pan with seam side down. Cover with dishtowel while assembling the other 2 loaves. Make remaining loaves and arrange in pan 2½ inches apart.

6. In a small bowl, combine egg with water and beat with a fork. Brush top and sides of each loaf with egg wash.

7. Bake breads until tops are lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

8. To serve, slice loaves at a 20° angle. Arrange in an overlapping pattern on large platter.

Note: To freeze, let sausage bread cool completely on wire rack. Wrap in plastic and then in aluminum foil. Loaves can be kept frozen up to 2 months. Defrost, unwrapped, for 3 hours. Place on cookie sheet and warm in preheated 325°F oven for 20 minutes.

SOUPS

(Zuppe)

BEEF BROTH

CHICKEN BROTH

CARROT–PANCETTA SOUP

ESCAROLE, RICE AND TINY MEATBALL SOUP

LENTIL SOUP WITH PENNETTE

POTATO–PARSLEY SOUP

TUSCAN BEAN SOUP

VEGETABLE SOUP

As a child I can remember the weekly ritual that started each Monday morning. As I would come into the kitchen for breakfast before leaving for school, there would always be a large pot of chicken or beef broth simmering on the stove. While Monday was traditionally Mamma’s wash day, it was also her day to make broth. Kissing Mamma goodbye, I’d catch a final glimpse of the broth pot. The sight signified more than merely letting me know I’d be having soup that night; it assured me that Mamma would be replenishing her supply of the magically clear liquid she seemed to add to so many of her wonderful creations.

As I grew older and more inquisitive, Mamma shared with me many of her secrets for making a variety of soups. In recalling these pointers, I realize her soup suggestions are all broth-based.

Broth should always be clear. To insure clear broth, always bring it to a slow boil; rapid boiling makes for cloudy broth. It can take almost an hour to bring a large pot of broth to a slow boil.

Froth must be skimmed from the broth several times, depending on the type and amount being made.

Garlic should be unpeeled when it is added to broth. Peeled garlic will fall apart as it cooks and tends to make broth cloudy.

The ribcages left over from boning chicken breasts have enough meat on the bones to produce an excellent broth.

Simmer broth slowly to bring out its full flavor. To extract the most flavor from the meat and vegetables, be sure to allow broth to rest for at least an hour before straining.

Once broth is chilled or frozen, the fat will rise to the surface. This fat acts as a seal for preserving freshness. Do not remove it until ready to use for soups or sauces. Beef broth should not be used until it has had time to be sufficiently chilled and its surface fat removed.

Perhaps her best secret, and the lesson I wish to share with you, is the knowledge that a good broth is more than just a simple soup. It is an essential ingredient in any number of wonderful culinary creations.

The reaction of many of the students at one of my hearty soup courses is, “This isn’t soup—it’s a meal!” I think you’ll agree with them as you sample some of the robust soups that follow.

Remember: the heartiest, most robust soup has as its base the same clear, golden chicken or richly amber beef broth I trust will soon be simmering on your kitchen stove.

BEEF BROTH

Brodo di Manzo

This rich, amber broth forms the base not only for soups, but for many of the sauces used throughout this book. When shin sold for less than a dollar a pound, one wouldn’t hesitate discarding it. At today’s prices, however, I recommend reserving it, removing any fat or sinew and thinly slicing it for sandwiches. If beef soup is desired, cut shin into ½-inch cubes and return with chopped vegetables to the strained broth.

YIELDS ABOUT 3½ QUARTS

3 pounds beef bones (including marrow)

1 beef shin, 2½ to 3 pounds

4½ quarts cold water

2 Tablespoons salt

1 large yellow onion (8 ounces), peeled and halved

3 medium carrots (8 ounces), trimmed and peeled

3 large celery ribs (9 ounces), trimmed and halved, including leaves

1 large parsnip (3 ounces), trimmed and peeled

5 canned Italian plum tomatoes, well drained

1 large bay leaf

6 parsley stems or sprigs, tied together with kitchen twine

2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled

10 peppercorns

1. Place bones and beef shin in an 8-quart pot. Add water and salt, cover and very slowly bring to a boil over low heat. Skim off all the foam that rises to the surface with a skimmer or small strainer (you may have to skim 4 to 5 times). Simmer partially covered for 2 hours. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking, partially covered, over low heat for 1 hour. Turn heat off and let broth rest for 1 hour.

2. Remove shin and set aside to cool. Discard bones from broth with tongs.

3. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer lined with a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth into a large bowl. Remove carrots, celery, parsnip and pieces of tomato. Finely dice vegetables and save for soup, or discard. Discard remaining solids.

4. Cool broth to room temperature and pour into jars with tight-fitting lids; do not use broth the same day you make it, because it will be too greasy. Broth can be kept in refrigerator for 1 week. It can also be frozen in plastic containers up to 5 months. When ready to use, discard fat from surface.

CHICKEN BROTH

Brodo di Pollo

Many of the sauces and hearty soups found in this book begin with this richly golden broth. If a chicken soup is desired, return boned, skinned chicken pieces and chopped vegetables to the strained broth.

YIELDS 4 QUARTS

1 5-pound roasting chicken or 5 pounds chicken parts, such as necks, backs, wings and ribcages from boned breasts

5 quarts cold water

2 Tablespoons salt

1 large yellow onion (8 ounces), peeled and halved

3 medium carrots (8 ounces), trimmed and peeled

3 large celery ribs (8 ounces), trimmed and halved, including leaves

1 large or 2 small parsnips (3 ounces), trimmed and peeled

10 parsley stems, tied together with kitchen twine

2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled

6 peppercorns

1. Rinse chicken or parts well in cold water and place in a 10-quart pot. If using whole chicken, place in pot breast down. Add water and salt, cover and slowly bring to a boil over low heat. Skim all the foam that rises to the surface with a skimmer or small strainer (you may have to skim 2 or 3 times). Simmer partially covered for 2 hours. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking, partially covered, over low heat for another 45 minutes. Turn heat off and let broth rest for 1 hour.

2. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken carcass or parts. Reserve chicken for soup. If using parts, discard.

3. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer lined with a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth into another pot. Remove carrots, celery and parsnip. Finely dice vegetables and save for soup, or discard. Discard remaining solids.

4. Cool broth to room temperature and pour into jars with tight-fitting lids. Broth can be kept in refrigerator for 1 week. Broth can also be frozen in plastic containers up to 3 months. When ready to use, discard fat from surface.

CARROT–PANCETTA SOUP

Zuppa di Carote e Pancetta

A colorful, fresh-tasting soup that can be the mainstay of a luncheon or supper and can double as a first course. If you have a food processor, use it! All the vegetables can be finely chopped in processor fitted with metal blade, which makes this soup a breeze to prepare. Cut vegetables into 1-inch chunks before placing in processor.

YIELDS 3 QUARTS

SERVES 12

4 sprigs Italian parsley

1 large bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

4 ounces pancetta or very lean bacon, finely diced

½ large yellow onion (4 ounces), finely chopped

2 pounds carrots, peeled and finely chopped

4 large celery ribs (8 ounces), strings removed, finely chopped

2 large Russet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and finely chopped

½ cup flour

2½ quarts chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

½ cup sour cream (garnish)

1 Tablespoon minced Italian parsley leaves (garnish)

1. To make bouquet garni, place parsley sprigs, bay leaf and thyme in the center of a 6-inch square of cheesecloth. Tie securely into a bundle with kitchen twine and set aside.

2. In a heavy 6-quart pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add onion, carrots, celery and potatoes. Sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until well incorporated into vegetable mixture, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Add bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Turn heat to low, cover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let soup cool to almost room temperature. Remove bouquet garni.

3. Ladle 3 cups of soup at a time into food processor fitted with metal blade. Run machine nonstop until you have a creamy puree. Transfer soup to a clean pot and repeat until all the soup is pureed. If you do not have a food processor, puree soup in batches through the fine disc of a food mill set over a bowl.

4. When ready to serve, reheat over low heat. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of minced parsley.

Note: Soup freezes very well and can be kept frozen up to 2 months.

ESCAROLE, RICE AND TINY MEATBALL SOUP

Zuppa di Scarola e Riso con Polpettine

Mamma always made this soup when anyone in the family had a cold. This makes an excellent first course or, again, it can be a whole meal!

SERVES 6

8 ounces very lean chopped sirloin or top round steak

2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano cheese

2 Tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley leaves

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1 extra large egg, lightly beaten

1 medium head escarole (¾ to 1 pound)

½ cup Arborio or converted long-grain rice, picked over and any dark grains removed

½ teaspoon salt

1½ quarts chicken broth

Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese (for serving)

1. In a shallow bowl, combine chopped meat, Parmigiano cheese, parsley, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper; blend together with a fork. Add lightly beaten egg and mix with your hands until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Shape into meatballs the size of marbles (about ½ inch in diameter). Arrange in a single layer on a platter lined with waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (chilling will prevent meatballs from falling apart when added to soup).

2. Discard any bruised or wilted leaves from escarole. Cut off tough bottom ends of greens. Wash leaves several times in cold water. Place escarole in a 3-quart saucepan (do not add water; the final rinse water clinging to leaves will be sufficient to steam them). Cook, covered, over medium heat until tender when tested with a fork, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a colander and refresh under cold water. Squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. Transfer to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

3. Cook rice in 1 quart boiling water with ½ teaspoon salt until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a strainer and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.

4. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Turn heat to medium and add meatballs a few at a time. Cover pan and cook for 6 minutes. Add escarole and rice to soup. Continue to cook, covered, until heated through, about 3 minutes.

5. Ladle soup into individual bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.

LENTIL SOUP WITH PENNETTE

Zuppa di Lenticchie

This soup can be the main event of a hearty one-dish meal. A large bowl with good bread and a salad is a good reminder that simple is best! You may want to double this recipe and use the whole bag of lentils (1 pound); eat half and freeze half (do not add pasta if you are going to freeze). Soup can be kept frozen up to 3 months.

SERVES 6 TO 8

8 ounces dried lentils

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces pancetta or very lean bacon, finely diced

1 large leek (4 ounces), trimmed, split in half, thoroughly washed and thinly sliced

3 large celery ribs (6 ounces), strings removed, cut into ¼-inch cubes

2 large carrots (6 ounces), peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 small parsnip (2 ounces), peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice included

4½ cups beef broth, heated

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1 cup pennette or any short tubular pasta

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly grated Romano cheese (for serving)

1. Spread lentils in a single layer on a large plate and discard any bits of foreign matter. Rinse lentils in a strainer with cold water and soak in 3 quarts of cold water for at least 3 hours.

2. In a 6-quart pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until haze forms, then add butter. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add leek, celery, carrots and parsnips. Sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Drain lentils. Add to pot with heated broth, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Cover pot, turn heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until lentils are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and let soup rest for at least 1 hour.

4. Cook pasta in 2 quarts boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt until al dente. Drain well in a colander and add to soup.

5. When ready to serve, reheat soup over low heat. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with freshly grated Romano cheese.

Note: If you do not have beef broth on hand, you can substitute water. After cooking, the soup must rest for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving so that all the flavors meld together.

POTATO–PARSLEY SOUP

Zuppa di Patate e Prezzemolo

A very creamy, smooth soup—unlike anything you’ll find in a can! Excellent served hot or cold.

SERVES 8

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large leeks (8 ounces), trimmed, split in half, thoroughly washed and thinly sliced

4 large celery ribs (8 ounces), strings removed, finely chopped

2 large baking potatoes (1½ pounds), peeled and coarsely shredded

4½ cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly milled white pepper

2 cups light cream or half and half

½ cup finely minced Italian parsley leaves

1. In a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks and celery and sauté until soft but not brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

2. Add potatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cook partially covered over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes. (Frequently stirring will prevent potatoes from sticking to bottom of pot). Remove from heat and let soup rest for 1 hour. Discard bay leaf.

3. Ladle 3 cups of soup at a time into food processor fitted with metal blade. Run machine nonstop until you have a smooth puree. Transfer soup to a clean pot and repeat until all the soup is pureed. If you do not have a food processor, puree the soup in batches through the fine disc of a food mill set over a bowl.

4. Stir minced parsley into soup and add light cream. Reheat over low heat, stirring constantly.

Note: This soup is also excellent served cold. After you have pureed all the soup, dilute with light cream. Add parsley and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

TUSCAN BEAN SOUP

Zuppa di Cannellini

My grandfather, Donato, often made this Tuscan soup but did not add pasta. You may want to try his version: After the soup had finished cooking, he would remove about 4 cups, puree it in a food mill and return it to the pot (it can also be pureed in a food processor fitted with the metal blade). He would then toast day-old Italian bread, line the bottoms of the soup plates with it, ladle the hot soup over and top it off with plenty of freshly grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese. This soup freezes very well; do not add pasta if you are going to freeze it. Can be kept frozen up to 3 months.

YIELDS 4 QUARTS

1 pound dried white kidney beans (cannellini) or 4 cans (20 ounces each) cannellini beans, well drained

¼ cup olive oil

6 ounces pancetta or very lean bacon, finely diced

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 Tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1½ quarts (6 cups) chicken broth

8 ounces (2 cups) ditalini or any short tubular pasta

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons minced Italian parsley leaves

Freshly grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese (for serving)

1. If using dried beans, spread in a single layer on a large plate and discard any bits of foreign matter. Place beans in a large bowl, cover with 5 cups cold water and soak overnight.

2. Drain beans and place in a 6-quart pot. Add 10 cups cold water, cover pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until beans are tender, about 1 hour. (Beans can be cooked up to 2 days in advance, transferred to a bowl or jars along with cooking liquid and refrigerated until needed.)

3. In an 8-quart pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until haze forms. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add onion and celery and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add basil, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

4. Add chicken broth, cover pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.

5. Drain beans in strainer, add to soup, cover pot and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in 4 quarts boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt until al dente. Drain well in colander and add to soup.

7. Stir in minced parsley just before serving. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with freshly grated cheese.

VEGETABLE SOUP

Minestrone

Every Italian family has its own recipe for minestrone. Our version is very substantial, richly satisfying and an ideal one-dish meal. Make this whole recipe—eat some and freeze some. Can be placed in containers and kept frozen up to 3 months.

YIELDS 5 QUARTS

1 large head cabbage (2 pounds), preferably Savoy

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound very lean Italian sweet sausage, casing removed, crumbled

1 large yellow onion (8 ounces), finely chopped

1 can (35 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice included (can be chopped in food processor fitted with metal blade)

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons crumbled dried basil

6 large carrots (1 pound), peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes

8 large celery ribs (1 pound), strings removed, diced into ¼-inch cubes

2½ quarts chicken broth

½ cup Arborio or converted long-grain rice, picked over and any dark grains removed

1 can (20 ounces) white cannellini beans, well drained

1 can (20 ounces) kidney beans, well drained

Freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese (for serving)

1. Discard any bruised outer leaves from cabbage. Wash cabbage and blot dry with paper towel. Quarter cabbage and remove center core. Shred each quarter on the large holes of a grater or in food processor fitted with shredding disc. Set aside.

2. In an 8-quart stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat until haze forms. Add crumbled sausage, turn heat to low and sauté just until it loses its pinkness, about 3 minutes. Add onion and sauté until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil. Cook sauce uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring frequently, until limp, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and bring to boil over high heat. As soon as soup reaches a boil, turn heat to low, cover pot and simmer, stirring frequently, until vegetables are cooked, about 45 minutes.

3. Stir in rice, cover pot and cook undisturbed over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in both beans; cook, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let soup rest for 2 hours before serving so that all the flavors meld together.

4. If sausage is not lean, you will have to skim off any surface grease with a large spoon.

5. When ready to serve, reheat over low heat. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese.

PASTA AND SAUCES

PASTA

TOMATO-BASED SAUCES

VEGETABLE AND CREAM SAUCES

SEAFOOD SAUCES

PASTA SPECIALTIES

Pasta

COOKING PASTA

EGG PASTA

Food Processor Method and Hand Method

Pasta Machine and Hand Method

SPINACH PASTA

Food Processor Method and Hand Method

Today everyone’s eyes seem to light up whenever the words “fresh pasta” are mentioned. There is nothing better tasting than a dish of homemade pasta. Once sampled, it is hard to be satisfied with anything else.

Some traditionalists believe that the very best pasta is hand rolled and hand cut. I can still remember sitting in my Nonna Louisa’s kitchen and watching her skillfully make pasta with what seemed to me, at the time, no effort at all. She would begin by placing a mound of flour on her kitchen table. Using three fingers, she would make a well in the center, add lightly beaten eggs, a little salt, a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkling of water. Gradually, using the same three fingers, she would incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. Everything seemed to blend neatly into a mass in a matter of seconds. She would scrape away any caked dough with a large knife, sprinkle a little more flour on the table and start to knead with the heels of her palms until it was smooth. Nothing was ever measured; everything was done by eye, touch and feel. I can remember her telling me, “Anna, you must always rub the dough with a little olive oil to make it relax so that it rolls out easier.” The dough would then be placed in a bowl and covered with a damp cloth for about forty minutes. At this point, I would be sent out to play until she called me back to help. Watching her roll out the dough was always an exciting experience for me. She used a dowel about three inches thick and three feet long that Nonno Chico had made for her.

Nonna Louisa was a rather large woman who could work the dough into a paper-thin sheet in a matter of seconds. She would lightly flour the sheet of dough, wrap it loosely around the rolling pin, slip it off and cut it into thin strips. My job was to separate the strands and place them on a lightly floured, large white linen tablecloth to dry out for a few minutes before cooking.

Several years after she died, I tried making the dough by myself—only to find that it was not as easy as it had seemed while watching Nonna Louisa. After many attempts, I finally arrived at a formula that successfully carries me back to the warmth of my grandmother’s kitchen.

When I purchased my first food processor, I started adapting my version of Nonna’s recipe and was amazed with the results. It is almost miraculous how quickly and easily—in less than a minute—the food processor mixes and kneads fresh pasta dough.

The task is reduced when the dough is rolled out with the aid of a pasta machine. If someone were to blindfold me, I would not be able to tell the difference in texture between the hand-cut and the machine-cut variety.

A word of warning before you start making pasta: Do not try to make it on a hot, humid day, because the dough will take on moisture and will not roll out properly.

Nonna Louisa always used unbleached flour for making pasta, but I prefer semolina. It is available in most Italian specialty or gourmet shops. Semolina is made from durum wheat and produces a firmer type of pasta that holds up better in cooking. There are different textures of semolina. I prefer one that is finely ground and resembles a cake flour to the coarsely ground variety that resembles cornmeal. If semolina is unavailable, use unbleached all purpose flour. The texture will be a little different but it will still produce an exceptionally tender pasta.

After teaching many pasta courses, I find the easiest method of measurement is to weigh the flour. A half pound of semolina flour is about 1¾ cups, while a half pound of unbleached flour is about 1½ cups. A kitchen scale is a worthwhile investment for all cooks.

Eggs vary in size and will absorb flour a little differently, so be sure you weigh the eggs (in the shell) before starting. Be sure the eggs are at room temperature so that the dough will stay soft and easy to handle.

Letting the dough rest for at least 30 minutes will relax it so that the dough will not shrink back to its original shape when you try to roll it out.

Once you have learned the technique of making fresh pasta, don’t stop at one batch. Make at least three, using one and drying or freezing the other two. With practice, you too can be as proficient a pasta maker as Nonna Louisa was.

Cooking Pasta

There are just a few simple rules to remember in cooking perfect pasta, whether homemade or commercial. The first of these is that the pasta must be cooked in a large pot (at least 8 quarts) so that it can swim freely; otherwise it will stick together.

For 1 pound of pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add 1 Tablespoon of salt. If cooking homemade pasta, also add 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil. Add the pasta slowly, so that the water never stops boiling. If the boiling should subside a little, cover the pot briefly to bring the water back to a rolling boil.

Stir the pasta frequently with a wooden fork to separate the pieces. A metal fork will break long strands, especially if the pasta is homemade. Don’t leave the pot once the pasta has been added to the boiling water. The cooking time will vary with the size and shape. Fresh homemade pasta will be ready in about 2 minutes; dried homemade, in about 5 minutes. Frozen pasta, cooked directly from the freezer, will take 4 to 6 minutes. Commercial pasta will take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes of boiling. The only way to tell whether it is done is to lift a piece from the water with the wooden fork and bite into it. The pasta should be cooked al dente, which means it should be slightly resistant to the bite—literally, “to the tooth.”

Begin testing fresh pasta 1 minute after it is in the pot, dried homemade pasta after 2 minutes of cooking time, and frozen pasta after 3 minutes. Commercial pastas should be tested after 4 minutes. Keep tasting every few minutes until al dente. The moment the pasta is done, drain quickly in a large colander, shaking vigorously to remove excess liquid.

Transfer to a bowl containing 1 Tablespoon olive oil or dotted with 1 Tablespoon softened unsalted butter, depending on the sauce that will be used. Briefly toss the pasta and oil or butter together to separate the strands.

The next step is to immediately toss the sauce with the pasta. Since pasta cools very rapidly, make sure your sauce is ready before you drain the pasta. As my father always says, “The guests wait for the pasta—the pasta never waits for the guests.”

EGG PASTA

Pasta all’uovo

YIELDS ABOUT 12 OUNCES

8 ounces superfine semolina flour or unbleached flour

½ teaspoon salt

4 ounces eggs, room temperature (2 jumbo)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 to 2 Tablespoons warm water

½ teaspoon olive oil (for coating)

FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD

1. Place flour and salt in work bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Turn machine on/off once.

2. Beat eggs lightly with fork in a glass measuring cup or small pitcher (this makes pouring easier). Turn machine on, pour eggs through the feed tube and let machine run until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds. With machine running, pour 1 Tablespoon olive oil through feed tube in a thin steady stream. Pour 1 Tablespoon water through feed tube a few drops at a time and let machine run nonstop for 30 seconds. Remove cover and scrape down sides of work bowl with a plastic spatula. Cover work bowl and let machine run again nonstop for another minute or until dough forms a ball; if dough is not forming a ball, stop machine, remove cover and scrape bottom of work bowl with plastic spatula to loosen any dough that might be stuck. Run machine again, adding remaining Tablespoon of water through feed tube a few drops at a time. Let machine run again for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until dough forms a ball. Remove metal blade first, then remove dough from machine. Pick up any little pieces of dough left in bottom of work bowl and knead into large pieces of dough. (Usually a ball is formed in a matter of seconds. There may be times, depending on weather and temperature of ingredients, when dough will not form a ball after machine is run nonstop for 2 minutes. If this happens, stop machine, remove metal blade, gather all the dough and knead with your hands to form a ball.)

3. Shape dough into a flat 6-inch disc and rub with ½ teaspoon olive oil. Place dough in bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rest for 30 minutes before rolling through pasta machine or hand rolling.

HAND METHOD

1. Sift flour and salt onto a board or smooth work surface. Pile flour into a mound and make a well in center.

2. In a glass measuring cup or small pitcher, combine eggs with olive oil and beat lightly with a fork.

3. Support the outside of well with the palm of one hand. Pour half of the egg mixture into center of well. Working in a circular motion, incorporate some of the flour from the inside of well with a fork. This must be done very fast so that you do not break the wall of flour with the egg mixture. Add remaining egg mixture to center of well and again mix very quickly in a circular motion, taking more of the flour from inside of well. Work the rest of the flour into the dough with both hands. At this point the dough should feel sticky and crumbly. Add 1 Tablespoon of water and keep working the dough with your fingertips until it starts to adhere into a ball. If the dough feels too dry and crumbly, add a few more drops of water and keep working with your fingertips until it forms a ball. Scrape any dough left on fingers and work into ball. Set dough aside.

4. Scrape off any excess caked flour from work surface. Sprinkle a thin film of flour on work surface.

5. Wash and dry hands. Rub your hands with a little flour and knead the dough with the heels of your palms, pushing it away from you, folding it over and turning it as you knead. You will have to knead the dough for at least 10 to 15 minutes. The consistency will change from sticky to smooth and satiny as you knead.

6. Shape dough into a flat 6-inch disc and rub with ½ teaspoon olive oil. Place dough in bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling through pasta machine or hand rolling.

TO SHAPE NOODLES USING PASTA MACHINE

1. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Remove 1 piece and keep the remaining dough covered to prevent drying.

2. Adjust rollers on pasta machine to widest setting.

3. Flatten dough into a rectangular shape and flour lightly. Run the dough through the rollers once. Fold in thirds and run through rollers again. Repeat folding and rolling, lightly flouring dough only as necessary, until dough is smooth and satiny (may take 4 or 5 times).

4. Reset rollers for next thinner setting. Do not fold dough. Run dough through machine. Repeat on each thinner setting until dough is a long, thin, translucent sheet about 1⁄16 inch thick. Place dough on towels to dry out a little for about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Do not allow dough to over-dry or it will become too brittle to cut.

5. Cut each strip of dough into 15-inch lengths with a sharp knife.

6. Feed the dough into the cutters, keeping the dough even with the rollers; if it goes in crooked it will not cut properly. Remove strands of pasta from machine by looping them over your hand and lifting up. To make tagliarini, feed the dough through the narrow cutting blades of pasta machine. To make tagliatelle, feed dough through the wide blades.

7. Separate strands and arrange on pasta rack or lightly floured dishtowels. At this point, the pasta is ready to cook, dry or freeze.

To dry: Leave pasta on pasta rack or lightly floured dishtowels to thoroughly air-dry, about 3 hours. To store, place pasta in a large box lined with waxed paper. The pasta can be stored in a dry place up to one month.

To freeze: Take about 14 strands of fresh pasta, fold in half and give one twist in center. Lay bundles between lightly floured sheets of waxed paper, place in plastic bag, tie end with twist tie and freeze. When ready to cook, take directly from freezer and drop into boiling water.

TO SHAPE NOODLES BY HAND

1. Divide dough in half and keep the other half covered to prevent drying.

2. Sprinkle a little flour on a board or smooth surface. Shape each piece of dough into a rectangle. Roll dough with a floured rolling pin into a 1⁄16-inch-thick sheet. Cut each piece into 2 even lengths. Brush off any excess flour with a soft pastry brush. Place on a lightly floured towel and allow to dry for about 10 minutes. Do not allow dough to over-dry or it will become too brittle to cut.

3. Starting at short end, roll the sheet of dough jelly roll fashion. Using a sharp knife, cut into the following desired widths:

Fettuccine–¼ inch wide

Tagliatelle–3⁄8 inch wide

Tagliarini-⅛ inch wide

4. Separate strands and arrange on pasta rack or clean towels. At this point, pasta is ready to cook, dry or freeze. See directions for drying and freezing.

SPINACH PASTA

Pasta Verde

YIELDS ABOUT 1 POUND

8 ounces fresh young tender spinach or 1 package (10 ounces) frozen leaf spinach, defrosted

4 ounces eggs, room temperature (2 jumbo)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

12 ounces superfine semolina flour or unbleached flour

½ teaspoon olive oil (for coating)

Stem spinach and wash several times in warm water. Place spinach in 2-quart saucepan; cover. Do not add water; the final rinse water clinging to leaves will be sufficient to steam them. Cook over medium heat until spinach is limp, about 3 minutes. If using defrosted frozen spinach, add 2 Tablespoons water to pan and reduce cooking time to 2 minutes. Transfer to colander, rinse under cold water and drain well. Squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. Place spinach in a double layer of cheesecloth or a tea towel and squeeze again until there is not a drop of moisture left.

FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD

1. Place spinach in work bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Run machine nonstop until spinach is finely chopped, about 1 minute.

2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, 1 Tablespoon olive oil and salt. Add egg mixture to food processor and run machine nonstop until thoroughly incorporated. Add flour to work bowl and let machine run nonstop for 30 seconds. Remove cover and scrape down sides of work bowl with a rubber spatula. Run machine again nonstop for another minute. If dough feels too sticky, add 2 more Tablespoons flour and process for another minute or until dough forms a ball. The dough should be smooth and satiny. Remove metal blade first, then remove dough from machine. Pick up any little pieces of dough left in bottom of work bowl and knead into large piece of dough.

3. Shape dough into a flat 6-inch disc and rub with ½ teaspoon olive oil. Place dough in bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rest for at least 45 minutes.

4. If you are using a pasta machine, divide dough into 6 pieces. If hand rolling, divide dough into 3 pieces. Follow directions for pasta machine rolling, or directions for hand rolling.

 

 

Anne Casale invites you into her kitchen to share the special secrets behind hundreds of home-style recipes that have been part of her family’s heritage for years and years.

A second-generation Italian American and the head of her own cooking school, she takes you by the hand and shows you how to make her father’s succulent veal roast, her Nonna Louisa’s very own homemade pasta, savory soups based on her mother’s perfect broth, sumptuous desserts from her pastry-chef father-in-law, and scores of her own wonderful originals. Best of all, she explains the recipes so carefully and clearly that you are sure to start your own new tradition of delicious

Italian Family Cooking
— Clam-Stuffed Mushrooms
— Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fried Mozzarella
— Linguine with Tomato-Garlic Sauce
— Penne with Mushrooms and Prosciutto
— Delectable Five Layer Pasta Pie
— Pan-Fried Lamb Chops with Lemon Juice
— Chicken Legs Stuffed with Sausage and Scallions
— Fillets of Sole Florentine
— Mussels with Hot Tomato Sauce
— Zucchini with Roasted Peppers
— Fluffy Potato Pie
— Ricotta Mousse with Raspberry Sauce
— Espresso Cream Tart
— Sicilian Cassata with Chocolate Frosting …and many more!

For beginners and experts alike, here’s a cookbook full of old-fashioned warmth, wisdom, and goodness — updated for you and your kitchen.

 Italian Family Cooking: Like Mamma Used to Make by Anne Casale, EPUB, 0449901335

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