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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 night.....to 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 dressing...no 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!

                        3. I've made the pasta roses, though looking back at my post, I'm embarrassed of my picture! :-) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/376426 They were great, regardless of the pic!

                          I'll have to look back through it, I know I've made more, but I get mixed up on which recipes are in which books, since I have 4 of hers.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            I remember you posting about that and being tickled. Not a flattering photo, no.

                            1. re: Katie Nell

                              I've made them too. They are exquisite. Mine come out more looking like pinwheels than flowers, but they taste sensational. I double or triple the recipe, because it is so good I cannot stop eating it!

                              1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                Splendid - do you make your own pasta?

                            2. Thanks for reminding us, Buttertart. I am going to try the Pork scallopine in saor. I make that with fish and with chicken, and it is one of my favorite things.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: Jay F

                                I made it for my mother-in-law's birthday one year and it went down a treat.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Substituting Pork for Veal cutlets is a common practice in many Italian restaurants in the U.S.. Being that it is similiar in taste; after it is seasoned, cooked and flavored, most diners cannot tell it from Veal. The price difference is the motivation for the restaurant owners to do the old switcheroo!!

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      buttertart, I saw that, Marcella and Victor's Arrosto di Maile Ubraico is a favorite go to dish of ours for informal dinners . All I was saying is that is a well known cost controlling device among Italian restaurateurs.One of Marcella's restaurants of choice, when she goes out, is Il Mediterraneo, Sarasota; and I can say that Alessandro and Giovanni absolutely do not play the "switcheroo" game. BTW il Mediterraneo is an excellent place for dinner as well as lunch.

                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                        Good to know. I've also seen turkey passed off as veal.

                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            Nothing wrong with it at all, as long as it's not a subterfuge.

                                      2. re: buttertart

                                        And saor was originally used to marinate fried fish. It's from the Jewish Ghetto in Venice.

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            Yeah, kind of. I think of saor as being sweet and sour, and escabeche just sour. But they are similar.

                                2. I found the book in a "has been" bin at a discount store and snapped it up! Made the Sauteed Veal Chops with Mushrooms and White Wine last night. WOW!

                                  Made a substitution. Didn't have dried porcini mushrooms on hand. Had dried shitakes but had ground the last of them to a powder recently. The recipe calls for 1/2 oz dried porcini reconstituted in 1 cup of water. So figuring that there'd be a half cup of water left after reconstituting, I stirred 2 tablespoons of the powdered shitake into a half cup of water, and sliced a pound of button mushrooms instead of the 3/4 pound called for.

                                  I really, really liked this recipe. Served it with barely steamed asparagus and a crispy bollilo roll. My husband, unfortunately, was unavoidably late and by the time he got to eat the sauce had broken. But after eating a full plate, he went back for more, and then I found him with a roll sopping out the pan so I'm guessing he liked it too!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: morwen

                                    You know what? I forgot about that recipe and I made it for a dinner party a million years ago - when i made the eggplant lacto-veg for one of the guests. They go really well together. Must do again soon (the veal).
                                    The shiitake powder is a great idea - they taste wonderful but I'm not that keen on their texture (bad Chinese food appreciator me).

                                    1. re: morwen

                                      I found it in the remainder bin as well.

                                      Our favorite is the fettucini with tuna, garlic, and cream sauce (perhaps a little too favorite -- my kids would prefer I serve it once a week, but it's a calorie bomb). It's delicious even with inferior supermarket tuna. Good, imported tuna lifts it into the stratosphere.

                                      1. re: sablemerle

                                        LOL. Yes, it is also known as "tuna noodle casserole". You can just double it for the kids and keep it in the fridge. My kids liked it reheated. When my daughter comes home from college she asks for it. I make a large batch and she heats it up for three days.

                                    2. I am making the pasta with sausage again tonight except this time I have the right pasta shape as well as fabulous sausage from Arthur Avenue. Just waiting for the water to boil.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: roxlet

                                        A note about this recipe, for anyone inclined to make it: Don't add the chopped garlic when you saute the sausage. It will burn that way. I added the garlic just before the tomatoes, and gave them a very quick turn in the pan. This was very delicious and a quick Friday night pasta.

                                      2. Last night I made the Melanzane al Forno on page 264. It's a departure from the cheesy saucy parmagiana that I absolutely Love, but equally as satisfying IMNSHO. The only thing I didn't like was that the slices are way too thick at 1 1/2". I'll make this again and will slice the eggplant thinner. I used 1 large Italian one but "small skinny" ones can be used too.

                                        It's a very simple recipe. After the eggplant is sliced crosshatch one side being careful not to slice through. I didn't bother salting the slices... I've never done it. Chop some garlic and parsley and oil a baking pan. Place the eggplant slices on the pan crosshatched side up and smear the garlic & parsley all over each slice. Drizzle with EVOO. Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle a bit more oil over top and return pan to the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes or so, till the eggplant is creamy. We loved the creaminess and flavor of the eggplant. It went well as a side dish for a pasta risotto from Around My French Table, the COTM for April.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. Is this the book with the pork and juniper berries and porcini stew? That is a killer recipe. I made it for Christmans, and converted my formerly-vegetarian mother-in-law back to omnivore status!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                            There is a recipe for Roast Pork Loin w Juniper and Rosemary (pg. 235) but I don't see a recipe for porcini stew...

                                          2. If you were going to have one Macella cookbook, is this the one you'd have?

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: NanH

                                              Me? Yes. But others don't agree.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                I've made more out of MARCELLA'S ITALIAN KITCHEN this past year than I did for the entire 20+ years I've owned it. It has a lovely recipe for sole in saor that alone is worth the price of admission. But it wasn't my first of her books. The first two, now published as ESSENTIALS OF CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKING, are the books from which I learned Italian cooking, so to me, those are, well, essential. And ESSENTIALS has the recipe for Bolognese.



                                                I think they're both worth owning. And so are Giuliano Bugialli's books. I like his method of making pasta better. Get this one: http://www.amazon.com/Fine-Italian-Co...

                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                  I love Giuliano Bugialli's books too, and I am surprised that they don't find more love on CH. I remember watching him do an Italian cooking TV show in Italian some 25 years ago. Subsequently, he did a show in English, that was so wonderful, particularly for his tips on making fresh pasta. I wish those shows would be shown again. I would watch them.

                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                    They are great - he is/was a big gun in Bay Area Italian cooking.
                                                    I've had the Marcella Classics since they came out too, but there's something about Kitchen I just love.

                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      You guys got me going. I jumped on Netflix and Amazon to see if there was something of Bugialli's that I didn't have. I splurged for the 4 DVD cooking lessons, after seeing a few of the 1-2 minute teasers on youtube. They are probably not equal to or the same as the cooking shows, but I never saw them. Wish I had.
                                                      P.S. I lived in the Bay Area 1970 thru 1985, but I can't remember seeing him on the cooking (Saturday/Sunday) shows then. No doubt I was probably too busy - a shame.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        Because of this thread, just bought a perfect 1986 'Kitchen' on eBay.

                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                          Great. That's what I have, but it's far from pristine.

                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                          Some of the TV shows were hysterical. Bugialli is very precise, and I remember his instructions for making fresh pasta where he basically concluded the lesson by saying that if you didn't follow these instructions, you'd wind up with "lousy, horrible, homemade-a fresh pasta."

                                                          He also always used tiny little knives to cut things and he would keep his ingredients in tiny cut glass bowls that looked like they came straight from granny's house. Very idiosyncratic!

                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                            On the few clips I saw on youtube, I noticed the use of 4" to 5" knives to cut things and wondered where he learned that skill :-))

                                                2. And now for something completely different: Filetti di Pesce al Vino Rosso, fish filllets in red wine on page 171. Quite an exciting somewhat fussy recipe, not exactly a five star finished dish though. Talk about a 12-Step Program:

                                                  fry sofritto
                                                  take out
                                                  flour & fry fish
                                                  take out
                                                  put back sofritto
                                                  add red wine
                                                  put back fish
                                                  finish cooking fish
                                                  take out fish and sofritto
                                                  reduce sauce

                                                  At the end of all that the fish takes on a rosy red color as do the veggies. The taste of the fish (I used haddock) was overcome by the wine and cippolini, I thought. DH gives it a 6 out of a possible 10 and I don't know if I like it or not...Looked nice on a white plate with cauliflower gratin, though.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    That recipe didn't appeal to me just reading it, good to know it's underimpressive and thanks for trying it/posting about it!

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Red wine and fish turned me away. One of my first cooking "disasters" was making Coquilles St. Jacques with red wine. I had only been cooking for a couple of years, and was still too young to drink, and it never occurred to me how unappetizing a purplish-gray sauce would look. And then later I looked, and the recipe said *white* wine.

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        Bad experience with oeufs meurette here, poached eggs were never meant to be around red wine either.

                                                    2. We are going to an event for The Asolo Theatre where Giuliano Hazan is the host Chef, "Men That Cook", next Sunday ;so Marcella and Victor will likely be there, since it is just across the street from where they/we live. Any questions for "Mom or Pops".....LOL

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                        Give them our love! Giuliano's first book was fun.

                                                      2. Our first dinner club dinner is on Saturday; we are cooking from Marcella's Kitchen and I am making appetisers. Wonder if any of you made some or all of these%3

                                                        L'Aperitivo di Victor, p.29

                                                        Tonno sott'Olio Mantecato, p. 38

                                                        Melanzane sott'Olio. p. 52

                                                        La Turta di Spinaci e Riso, p. 56

                                                        Looking forward to your comments and suggestions!