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Mar 25, 2011 09:53 AM

Anyone else cooking from "Marcella's Italian Kitchen"?

I know I've gone on and on about this book. It's in my top 10 favorites, even above the Classic books - it is apparently her favorite as well. Everything I've ever made from it has been wonderful.

Favorites include: the baked eggplant risotto (adapted recipe follows); the scallops with mushrooms - I would never think of pairing them but the dish is terrific; the scallops with lemon and rosemary (and I'm not all that keen on rosemary); the ground veal with cream and saffron sauce for pasta, the easiest most elegant pasta dish ever; the pork scallopine with onions, raisins, and vinegar, perfect for fall; the Savoy cabbage rolls stuffed with beef and prosciutto, so savory...there are more but I've made each of these many times.

Aspiration: the pasta rosettes with cream and ham - the most beautiful pasta dish I've ever seen, a friend made it for a buffet entirely by hand and it was glorious.

There are other gems I haven't yet broached but intend to. Anyone with me on this? Would love to be pointed to other recipes.

Here's a taste - very useful dish for buffets and potlucks, can be made lacto-veg with vegetable broth...I like the one in the Greens cookbook if doing that.

Baked Eggplant Risotto

2 to 2 1/2 lb eggplant (pref the skinny ones)
Cut into 1/4 in slices (she says to peel them but I don't). Brush with veg oil and bake in hot oven on baking sheets until browned on both sides, salt lightly. (She has you salt them, dry them, and fry them in abundant oil, this way madness lies.) Set aside.

2 tb butter, 2 tb veg oil, 3-4 tb onion finely chopped, medium high heat, let onion color gold, add
1 1/2 c canned Italian plum tomatoes with their juice, turn heat low, cook 10 mins stirring from time to time.
Add 2 tb each chopped basil and parsley. Put 3/4 (or "just over 2/3" per the recipe) of this in a bowl.

Bring 1 1/2 c meat broth to simmer. (I think it needs more like 2 1/2 c.)
Put 1 1/3 c Arborio rice (I've used Kokuho Rose sushi rice when I didn't have/coudn't get arborio) in pan with the rest of the tomato mixture, stir about, add 2/3 c white wine.
Let simmer over medium-low heat until absorbed.
Add the broth gradually, stirring constantly, until risotto is done to al dente stage. You may need some water as well. This should take about 25 mins or so.
Add pepper and some salt (the cheeses added later are salty so don't go crazy here).
Spread on a platter to cool.

Oven at 400 deg F.

Butter deep oven to table baking dish (oval le Creuset gratin pan type of thing or my super-nice Royal Worcester Evesham deep rectangular dish that I got with wedding money if you're me).
Spread 1 in layer of risotto on the bottom.
Cover with a layer of eggplant slices.
Pour some of the sauce over the eggplant, then some grated Pecorino Romano (of 1/3 cup total) and Parmesan (of 2/3 cup total), then cubed mozzarella (1/4 in cubes, of 1/2 lb total - fresh or regular old, I've used both).
Make another layer of risotto and proceed as above until used up. Top layer can be either rice or eggplant but should be sprinkled with grated Parmesan and dotted with 2 tb butter.
Bake 10-12 minutes in the uppermost part of the oven, until cheese melts and forms a light crust (it may need a bit more time if ingredients cool off while you're assembling the dish).
Serve from dish after letting settle for 5 mins.

"It is exceptionally suited to a hot buffet" - per the book, and it is.
I want some right now!

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  1. Sounds yum, and I will definitely try to make some of these in the near future. I have mentioned before my love of the pasta with sausage, and in anticipation of doing this again, I bought some sausage at Arthur Avenue, as well as the wagon wheel pasta she calls for.

    The DH is not a huge fan of eggplant, though he did make a delicious moussaka this week, and he had a very good technique for 'frying' the eggplant: slice the eggplant, and drizzle with some olive oil. Get a cast iron skillet really hot (gotta turn the exhaust on high for this), and pan fry on each side until browned with a lid on the skillet. I love eggplant, and I snagged a slice before the moussaka was assembled. Delicious.

    1. Coincidentally I made Parmigiana di Zucchine last night from that book. It was very good.

      1 1/2 lbs zucchini - soaked in water 20 min - with skins. - after soaking cut thin lengthwise slices.
      Fry in veg oil till light brown and drain on paper towels.

      Discard oil. In same frying pan, saute 3 TBS finely chopped onion in 4 TBS EVOO till pale gold.
      Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, along with can of Italian plum tomatoes (I cut them while still in the can with a knife) and S+P(I only use fresh ground - and lots of it!). Cook for about 20-25 minutes.

      Preheat oven 400.
      Beat 2 eggs with 1/2 cup (less 1 1/2 TBS - saved for top) fresh grated parm-reg cheese.

      Start layering in oven-to-table dish (I used square pyrex) - sauce, zucchini, some of 10 0z of mozz -( recipe calls for sliced - I had shredded on hand) some of egg/parm mix, then repeat layers. Top wih zucchini lightly daubed with tomatoe sauce and top with reserved parm cheese. I had extra mozz and used more sauce as well on top.

      Bake in top of oven for 30 minutes and allow to settle for a good 15 minutes.

      She also suggests this one can be served at room temperature as well! And can make ahead one day and reheat in 300 oven till warm but not piping hot.

      We really enjoyed it.

      6 Replies
      1. re: smilingal

        That's interesting that you soak the zucchini in water before you slice them. I'm going to have to look to see what she say the purpose of that would be.

        This sounds just fantastic!

        1. re: roxlet

          roxlet, in M. Hazan's "Essentials of..." she says zucchini skin is very thin, and grit gets embedded in it that you can't detect until eating. So just to be sure, soak to loosen it.

          1. re: blue room

            That's interesting. I have never soaked zucchini! I guess a little dirt didn't hurt me, lol.

        2. re: smilingal

          What size pan did you use, please.
          Thanks for the help.

            1. re: smilingal

              Thanks so much....I made the penne with rosemary and bacon last die for.

        3. Buttertart, just because you went on and on about the book, I suggested it to my dinner club for our June dinner. So far everyone is liking the recipes and I hope that we choose well. Will report back once I cooked more from it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: herby

            I had no idea I was that persuasive. I hope you all love it as much as I do.

          2. As in my top 10 as well, culled from moving books too many times, what are your other favs ? Perhaps we share others as well.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              The BBC-tied Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, The American Table (and the two "Fares" by Ronald Johnson, The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, Beard on Bread, The French Chef (JC)...let me think about the others.

              1. re: buttertart

                Some of mine-Claiborne's NYTimes, NYTimes menu, All Maida Haetter's, James Villas Southern recipes from his Mother, All Roy Andries De Groot; Barbara Kafka Roasting and , yikes, Microwave Gourmet ( never make polenta or farro any other way ); Paul Prudhomme; Alton Brown first one, best onion soup have ever had, nothing even close. We do agree on having French Chef.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Have the NYTs, all Maida's (yes yes a thousand times yes, she's in the top 3), liked the JV but haven't cooked from it, didn't like the de Groot (Auberge) but it was ages ago I read it, used BK's books more a while back, need to pick up again, PP Louisiana Kitchen yes, never looked at Alton Brown although a SIL is very fond of them.
                  Time-Life Food of the World series on your horizons too? Quintet of Cuisines, American Melting Pot, Vienna, Scandinavian...

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I have Kafka's Microwave Gourmet too! It certainly opened my eyes about many microwave techniques and especially the microwave's affinity with sugar.

                    1. re: morwen

                      The tapioca pudding is a great example.

              2. Guess what... last night, having 1.5 lbs roast pork left over from Sunday dinner, I made the tonno sauce from Marcella's Maiale Tonno recipe and followed her instructions for serving it. IIRC it's on page 44. And... it was absolutely delicious. (Now, don't say I told you so, cuz I already told myself.) I halved the recipe.

                According to the recipe a pork roast is larded with anchovies then stewed with soffrito, but since my roast was already cooked, I simply added them to the sauce mixture which included, 2 tins of Italian tuna in oil, small capers, lemon juice, FGBP, and EVOO. This is blitzed in a mini-FP. The cooked, cold pork is sliced paper thin. A bit of the sauce is spread onto a platter then layers of pork slices and sauce are created ending with sauce. The platter is wrapped and refrigerated for 24 hours, but this was to be our dinner so into the fridge it went while I made an escarole salad with a simple red wine and EVOO mustard. Also, G grilled slices of an artisan whole wheat Italian loaf which I used as a base for a serving of the pork with tuna sauce. It was Wonderful. All the essential flavors combined to make a lemony/tangy condiment for the meat. I can't wait to have it again...from the beginning.

                15 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  Yum, yum. Doing this next time with left over pork roast. Great idea, Gio!

                  1. re: roxlet

                    That is the only thing I've ever eaten that justifies the existence of canned tuna, to my way of thinking.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      Well, you didn't grow up in NYC! A good tuna sandwich (on white toast, please) is one of the singular delicious things that I would have for lunch at a lunch counter when I was little. It was something we rarely had at home, and to this day, I judge a diner by its tuna salad sandwich on white toast! (BTW, the DH, who grew up in Atlanta, never touches the stuff.)

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Whatev good! :-). I can still smell the aroma of tuna fish sandwiches packed with ripe bananas in a lunch bag in the lunchroom of my elementary school on a rainy day. Hey Proust! Over here!!!

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Help! In Ontario it was salmon sandwiches, ditto. Proust indeed.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              So true: there were sublt divisions between those whose Mom's made them with and without mayo...mine was a without household...

                              1. re: LJS

                                Butter not mayo. Never mayo on a sandwich.

                        2. re: roxlet

                          Since I found Ortiz tuna IN A JAR, I will never buy another CAN of tuna, even the Ortiz brand in a can, though mighty good. Geez, the only problem with this particular tuna is that it is so grandly expensive and impossible to find at a decent price without paying high shipping costs.

                          1. re: Rella

                            Funny, I read about Ortiz tuna when I was in Egypt, and managed to find it there. It was mushy and truly mediocre. They must send the bad batches to Egypt! And it wasn't expensive, and now I know why!

                            1. re: Rella

                              l feel badly for you,after reading this post, it may change your tuna eating forever if you ever find Ortiz ventresca tuna, which is the toro or fatty belly. l used to sell it for @ $ 15 for 3 ozs and still always keep a spare in my glove compartment, it is impossible to return to anything else.

                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                I love the ventresca Ortiz, too. I certainly back up what you are saying. Doesn't get any better. Wish it weren't in a can.

                            2. re: roxlet

                              "Whiskey tuna down" is what I'd order for lunch when I first started working in advertising, in a coffee shop on Madison Avenue at 50th. I loved it.

                          2. re: roxlet

                            Well, you know the original recipe is for veal, and in her head notes she states that she berated a chef/owner of a restaurant, I forget where...Bologna?, for having "Vitello Tonno" on the menu but actually serving pork. He said, but of course...pork is tastier. She went home and revised the recipe to her liking and I'm glad she did. I tend to buy pork rather than veal.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Yes, I remember reading that!