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October 2011 COTM Companion Thread: The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper 

 Use this thread to discuss recipes from The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.


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  1. Adriatic Grilled Shrimp p. 266


    Another quick and healthy dish. One starts by brining the jumbo shrimp in ice water and salt for 30 minutes . The shrimp (we had U12s- a little smaller than suggested) is dried and tossed in a mixture of minced dried tomatoes (not in oil), garlic, parsley, olive oil and hot red pepper flakes. I minced this on a cutting board, but I could have easily used the mini-food processor. Cook the shrimp on a grill, season with salt and pepper. Add the extra tomato mixture atop the shrimp after turning. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. Tonight both my husband and I agreed that we should make this again. It was quick and the shrimp had a nice flavor from the garlic and the sweet, concentrated dried tomatoes with a touch of heat. The squeeze of lemon adds a welcome touch.

    1. Brescia Garlic Bread and Green Bean Salad (Insalata Bresciana di Fagiolini), Pg. 45

      A very nice salad to be served as a first course or as a main as we did. Stem and tip fresh green beans and slice in 2" lengths. Instead of boiling the beans for 5 minutes, we steamed them till crisp tender.
      Rub a serving bowl with 1/2 a garlic clove and when the beans are done drain and tip them into the bowl then sprinkle with salt. Toast slices of thickly sliced country bread and rub each slice with the other half of garlic then tear into bite sized pieces. Add these to the bowl along with chopped tomatoes. Toss with olive oil and red wine vinegar, sprinkle S & P to taste and serve. I composed the dressing first in a small bowl then drizzled the salad with the dressing. Also, I added a few torn romaine and chicory leaves and served the salad with slices of leftover roast chicken on top.

      This could easily be a remake recipe for us. The tomatoes were very ripe and juicy which added to the overall flavor. All in all a successful final dish.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Yay! As I mentioned on another thread, I'll be making this next week. Plan on making it as a side to go with fish. My husband loves green beans, I find them a bit boring except when roasted, so I'm always excited to find a new recipe that actually appeals to me and has green beans. So glad it was a hit.

        1. re: Gio

          Made this (the garlic bread and green bean salad) just as written and we all absolutely loved it. The beans had a nice crispness, the tomatoes added a bit of juiciness, and the toast (I used sourdough) brought some chew and heft. What with the vinegar and the olive oil, you don't need much more. It really was a huge hit. When you're making something that it sitting in the oven roasting, and have the time for last minute work, this is a great side. I'll make it again.

          1. re: Gio

            Made this Brescia garlic bread and bean salad last night (as a side with swordfish steaks) and it was a hit, both with my diners--for its bright flavors and invitingly colorful aspect--and with me, for its ease! The only part that takes any time at all is trimming and cooking the beans, which I did ahead. I loved the fact that I could just put them and some chopped tomatoes in a bowl, then quickly toast some thick slices of whole-grain artisinal bread, rub same with garlic, tear them up and then toss everything together with evoo, red-wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. For something with relatively few ingredients, the salad packed a lot of flavor and contrasting textures. The bread adds a nice satisfying touch, too.
            I've made other panzanella-type salads that have taken longer to prepare and not been as ultimately satisfying. This one goes into the rotation.

          2. Home - Style Cauliflower and Red Onions (Cavolfiore alla Casereccia), Pg. 279

            Considering the fact that we didn't let the finished dish sit at room temperature for an hour to meld the flavors, this was a homey addition to the simple meal of green bean salad and leftover roast chicken we had prepared for dinner. In this case fresh ingredients really do make a difference. Careful preparation of the ingredients and diligence cooking each element brings out the individual flavors of each of the vegetables perfectly.

            Rinse and cut into florets a head of cauliflower. Steam the florets till crisp tender then drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add thinly sliced garlic and when they are almost colored remove them and set aside. Into the same skillet put a thinly sliced red onion, sauté till barely colored then tip in the drained steamed cauliflower, season with S & P. Cook for a couple of minutes turning so each floret is mixed with the seasoning and the onions. Mound on a platter, sprinkle with the reserve garlic and freshly ground black pepper. Strew torn basil leaves over and rest for at least an hour. G who does not particularly like cauliflower loved this.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gio

              This book has my go to version of bucatini all'amatriciana (p 144). I really like how she suggests cooking half the whole tomatoes on high so they brown and concentrate a bit and then adding the rest of the whole tomatoes for a fresher tomato taste. You can find the recipe on google books. Heck most of the book is there! http://books.google.com/books?id=Z5Mc...

            2. Leftovers - Pasta, Pg. 68

              While this is not exactly a revelation for me, I was pleased to see the suggestion for a pasta frittata in print. I've made this twice so far this month. Once with our own arrabbiatta sauced spaghetti and last night with Monday night's linguine in the winter tomato sauce. The first time I used a skillet and cooked it on top of the stove, last night I used a round baking tin, 9" x 1 1/2", and baked it in the oven per the suggestion in the book. Love this method and will use it again.

              Take any left over pasta, in whatever sauce it was originally made, and mix it with some eggs. I used 4 large eggs. Next I lightly oiled the baking tin and dumped the linguine in. G added a light layer of freshly grated Parmagiano and spread that over evenly. The tin was placed into a pre-heated 350F oven for 35 minutes till set. Absolutely delicious and quite filling. The side dish was Herb and Garlic Grilled Eggplant page 328 in The Splendid Table.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Gio

                I've always done this--usually for a Sunday breakfast--w/plain pasta, mixing in eggs, parmesan, and pancetta or prosciutto, maybe some caramelized onion or leftover asparagus or peas (my sister goes crazy for this; my mom used to do the same thing), but I'd never thought to do it w/sauced pasta. Now I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for the tip.

                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  nomad, you're making me salivate... did you ever think of adding a bit of half and half or cream so the eggs would be a bit softer?

                  1. re: crowsonguy

                    LOL--I have to be restrained from adding cream to almost everything. But, yes, I 'often add cream to this dish, to eggs in general.

                2. re: Gio

                  I did this to use up the single leftover main-dish-sized serving of Tomato Sauce III with fettucine. Made a hearty breakfast for two when combined with four eggs. We didn't add any extra seasoning, the sauced pasta was sufficient to flavor the eggs. Nothing earth-shaking here, but it is a nice way to use up leftover sauced pasta, and get a nice breakfast or brunch dish out of it (or dinner, what the heck).

                3. Classic Poached Fish (Pesce in Bianco), Pg. 270

                  One and one half pounds of firm fleshed fish fillets or steaks for 3 - 4 people are called for in this recipe. The choice of fish is enormous so I just left it up to the fish monger to give me the best she had and that turned out to be local day boat Haddock. You need a large skillet with a cover for this, or fish poacher.

                  Into the skillet go chopped garlic, whole parsley stems and leaves , S & P and enough water to cover the fish. Cover the pan and simmer the seasoned water for 5 minutes. It's really important at this point to know just how thick your fish is because that will govern the poaching time. Put the fish into the water and keep the heat at an even height to let the water simply "shudder", as LRK says, but not "bubble." The fish is supposed to cook 8 - 10 min per inch or till everywhere but the center is opaque. Even though G watched the heat and timing like a hawk I felt the fish was slightly overcooked... so be very careful of that.

                  To serve drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil over plus a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Garnish with chopped parsley leaves. The flavor of the fish was very nice indeed. Softly seasoned and beautifully opaque. Not a show stopper but comforting. I took her advice about mangiare in bianco and served two dishes from The Splendid Table: Garlic Sautéed Cabbage, page 331, and Paola Bibi's Potato Salad, page 19. More about those on TST threads.

                  1. I need to get this book! All your reports are making me feel deprived, all because I'd made a solemn (silly?) vow to myself not to buy another Italian cookbook.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Cheap, cheap, cheap from the resellers at Amazon...

                      I paid all of $5.63 USD total for my "used but very good" copy. Perfect condition except for 1 crumpled page. I flattened it out and it's no problem at all.

                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        I've made that vow too Nomadchowwoman, but I seem to be ok with breaking it. My copy of Mozza just arrived and I am oh so glad. Very different from The Splendid Table or really any of the Italians in my collection. Won't allow myself to cook from it yet. Have to concentrate on TST.

                      2. This book sounds much more appealing to me than The Splendid Table. Thoughts anyone?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Indeed, the recipes in TICT seem less complicated than those in The Splendid Table and seem more "home-style" or like the everyday at home kind of cooking. They make use of leftovers or the same ingredients in a number of dishes. What I found surprising is that after cooking from the Nigel Slater books I was much less nervous to logically swap out and substitute various ingredients. Well, I guess I did that in the past but somehow this book confirms that aspect of my cooking.

                          Another thing about this book is that the ingredient list is minimal. That is to say most if not all of the ingredients required are sure to be in most home cooks larder already. I love the fact that not only does Rossetto Kasper give great cooking tips but suggests complete menu dishes for each recipe and also wine suggestions. I love the brand names she suggests for wine, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

                          I was hoping there would be others who would be cooking from TICT and am surprised to see that no one, so far, is able to do that except BigSal...

                          1. re: Gio

                            I've got two dishes planned in the next week from it, I promise!

                          2. re: greedygirl

                            Splendid table is a purely regional book wiht "high cuisine" and historic recipes as well as bourgeois, so is very specific in its focus whereas the Ital Country Table is a colletion of recipes from many regions of the country from mostly Id say humbler origins. So it has a very different feel.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              I have both and I agree with jen. TICT is newer to my library and I have only made a handful of recipes from it but if I had to choose, I would buy TST.

                              I think of TICT for week night get on the table dishes (though many require prior planning) while I think of TST for entertaining.

                          3. Braised Pork with Three Peppers (Brasato di Maiale ai Tre Peperoni), Pg. 240

                            This dish is a festive Roman countryside party favorite. Although it's made with pork here alternatively chicken or lamb can be used as well. 2 1/2 - 3 lbs meat are called for but I had the requisite hormone and antibiotic free 4 1/2 lbs. loin of pork so used that and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. I omitted the second salt addition because anchovies are included in the braise and used a 6 1/2 quart DO.

                            Slice into 2" pieces a combination of red, yellow and green bell peppers, (I used red/orange/yellow), plus some hot chilies (jalapeños & cayennes) that have been cored and seeded. Heat oil in a pan add the peppers and S & P and sear them 2 minutes. Remove them and set aside. Add the pork that has been cut in 2" pieces and chopped rosemary, anchovies, onion and garlic, S & P. Half way through the browning add a couple of bay leaves and continue browning all the pork scraping up the fond as you go. When the onion is golden pour in red wine vinegar and simmer till evaporated. Next add water, chopped tinned tomatoes, the seared peppers. Simmer covered 50 minutes or so till the meat is tender. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

                            Ideally, polenta would be the accompaniment of choice but I discovered too late that we didn't have enough cornmeal. Instead I made a hasty garlic bread with sliced Italian Scali and served the meat with the luscious sauce over top. Also, kale sautéed with chopped garlic and anchovies, was served as a side dish.

                            The recipe is a bit fiddly at the beginning stirring and scraping the various elements but it all goes rather quickly. The aroma is drool worthy as it simmers to completion. We both liked this very much. The meat was definitely tender, the sauce slightly spicy unctuous. I look forward to making this again with both lamb and chicken... boneless thighs I think would be particularly tasty.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              Braised Pork (or Chicken) with Three Peppers, p. 240

                              Made this last night with chicken thighs instead of pork, and it was delicious! A flavorful, family-style braise that can be made ahead and reheated if desired. What I liked about this dish was that it tasted savory and satisfying, especially on a cold fall evening, yet it was not "heavy." The peppers added a hint of summer's lightness to it.

                              Gio's thorough review explains it all perfectly. My only changes were the afore-mentioned substitution of chicken thighs for the pork. I skinned and trimmed the thighs but left them bone-in, thinking that the bones would add flavor and texture to the sauce, and I did not cut the chicken thighs into smaller pieces, but left them whole. Worked just fine--took a little less time to become tender in the final simmering: 35 minutes. I also didn't have any large medium-hot chilies so I dived into my Thai-cooking pantry and substituted one dried small hot red chili for the three suggested larger ones. I used another large red bell pepper to compensate for the missing 2-inch peices of Hungarian wax or Cubanelle peppers. The flavor seemed OK, at least to me--I liked the subtle hint of heat from 1 hot Thai chili. We have small children at the table so I'm careful with these little devils! ;-)

                              Served it with "Melting Tuscan Kale" (p. 277) "Roasted Beets and Onions" and "Oven-Roasted Potatoes " (the latter recipes both from TST). I agree that polenta would be especially good with it and that's what I'll do next time.

                              1. re: Goblin

                                So glad you liked this diah, Goblin, and good to read about the chicken too. We had left overs so 2 nights later I simply grilled long "sub" rolls and stuffed the meat and peppers into them along with roasted sliced onions from another night. As you can imagine the flavors had matured and the sandwich was terrific...

                            2. Seafood Saute with Stubby Pasta (p.84) 9copied from my post in an August nomination thread)

                              This oddly labeled dish from Siracusa. was a winner last summer - diced onions, cut up black olives,zucchini and celery are sauteed with a garlic clove until the onions are golden - then squares of fresh tuna, currants and roasted pine nuts are added, finally some water with a little tomato paste. This blend (Id hardly call it a sauce) is mixed with ditali, small stubby pasta -I did it in the sautee pan - then some fresh mozzarella cubes (optional) are blended in and the whole is sprinkled with chopped mint. It was suprisingly delicious, easy and unusual in the blending of flavors .Like many of these recipes there were copious leftovers.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jen kalb

                                I have this on my list, so happy to hear that it was a hit. Is ditali easy to find where you are (NYC, I think?) because I don't see it often down here in the south.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  This is on my list . Did you make this with the mozzarella?

                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    yes I made it with mozzarella. LLM, ditaliis not neccessary - some other smalltube pasta shape would be fine, I think.

                                2. Friday Night Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives (p. 88)

                                  We really enjoyed this. My husband even said that it was better than his tuna pasta, which is high praise (he got the recipe from his grad school friend who is from the south of Italy). It is very simple and easy, but you do have to spend the time you're making it baby sitting it. First you chop garlic, parsley and salt together (either in the processor or on the cutting board). Cook the spaghetti (I used spaghettini - just a preference of mine) and save at least 1 1/4 cups of the cooking water (you use this a lot). Heat olive oil in pan, and add the garlic/parsley mixture and half a chopped red onion (save the other half for later). Saute about 3 minutes, then add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook down. Add 2 chopped anchovies and a tablespoon of tomato paste (I used 2 tablespoons), along with 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Heat this and stir for about a minute. Add the tuna (recipe calls for one can in oil; I used 2) along with salt and pepper. Add a bit more pasta water. Then, if the pan is dry, add a bit more of the pasta water, along with the rest of the chopped red onion, some chopped black olives and some capers - combine. Then add the pasta and stir over the heat until warmed and combined. I loved that bit of still slightly crunchy red onion. This was one of those dinners that just makes you happy. Nice carbs with some strong flavors on top. Plenty of leftovers for Lulu and her dad to fight over (but she's for sure getting some of them one day for lunch).

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    Quick and tasty pasta dishes seem to be just my speed these days. Thanks for sharing. I missed this one the first go round.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Friday Night Spaghetti with Tuna and Black Olives (p. 88)

                                      This was our dinner tonight. We made this following LLM's changes (doubled the amount of tomato paste and tuna). I wasn't sure how my husband would like this given the oil cured olives and capers, but there was no need for concern. He loved it. Quick, pantry staples and nice flavors. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

                                      1. re: BigSal

                                        Oh, I'm so glad it was a hit for you too. Very good to have one of these "lets see what I can pull together with what I have" recipes.

                                    2. Penne with Sicilian Shepherd's Sauce p.136

                                      A hearty, quick meal with many kitchen staple ingredients; perfect for one who has not made it to the grocery store in a while. This thick and robust sauce is assertively flavoured with tomatoes, celery, and salami, with a nice kick of heat in the background.
                                      The most time consuming part of this recipe was probably the mincing of carrots and celery. Salami (I used Genoa) is sauteed in some oil, then the minced veggies are added along with onions and chopped parsely and fresh sage (which I just happened to discover, tightly wrapped up, in my freezer! Sometimes I amaze myself.) The soffrito is nicely browned with garlic and hot pepper flakes added, and I made sure to obtain a nice layer of crusty veg on the bottom of my pan, which was then deglazed with red wine. Once that was evaporated, tomato paste went in and was stirred for a minute, then drained canned tomatoes were added, crushing them as they were added to the pan. Is there anything better than having an excuse to crush your food with your hands? I think not. My inner child sated, the sauce is then simmered for a mere 10 minutes. At this point, the freshest ricotta is supposed to be added, but my bare fridge dictated that I use asiago instead, which the author suggests as a variation. Tossed with penne.
                                      I really enjoyed this! There were many layers of flavours in the dish, and although I used a small can of fire roasted tomatoes as well as plain, they added a nice smokey undertone that went well with the nuttiness of the asiago. I would make this again.

                                      1. Panna cotta p. 366

                                        This is the easiest dessert--well under 30 minutes. The combination of heavy cream and sour cream really approximates the texture of the wonderful, thick cream you find in Italy. I don't usually unmold the panna cotta, instead chilling individual portions in small ramekins with a swirl of saba over the top. I suspect a bit more gelatin might be required if you want to unmold each serving, but if you increase the gelatin, you start to sacrifice the wonderfully creamy texture. As Jen Kalb remarked, this is a home cooking book, whereas TST is a more scholarly volume, so go for simplicity here and skip the unmolding.

                                        The Supper Soup of Sweet Squash, Farro and Beans (p. 218) is also excellent, and we regularly make the Skillet Carrots with Fresh Sage (p. 278).

                                        1. SIGNORA BIMBI'S PEPPERS, page 26

                                          Ive made this Puglian riff on roasted peppers, which are mixed with toasted crumbs, olives and herbs two times now and we really enjoy it.

                                          4 large sweet peppers (yellow and red, or in my case just red) are roasted until they blister, seeded, cored and torn up into strips.These are tossed with olive oil and some vinegar, salt and pepper (note, we make roasted peppers frequently so I made my usual batch, putting them down in oil and sliced garlic. - I then pulled some out for this recipe adding a bit of vinegar, some seeded and cut up gaeta olives, and a spoonful of salted capers (which I had soaked for 10 min - not in the recipe.

                                          The second step of the recipe is to roast fresh bread crumbs with garlic. I lightly toasted/thawed a couple of slices of country italian bread from my freezer and pulverized it in the food processer with a small garlic clove. this is fried in olive oil until golden,salting lightly.

                                          When its serving time, the fried crumbs and a tsp each of chopped parsley and basil are folded into the peppers. It makes a very satisfying and savory antipasto or veg side, and could certainly be served over pasta with a little extra oil.

                                          1. Melting Tuscan Kale, p 277

                                            Just a simple prep, and one that I am sure many if not most of you are used to, though I myself had never really followed these precise instructions. First a medium onion is minced and sauteed "till golden" in 2 TBS of EVOO (plus a sprinkling of S & P). Then 2 cloves of minced garlic and the leaves from 1 pound of Tuscan Kale or Swiss chard (stems removed) are cooked until wilted. At this point 1/2 cup water is added to the pan, reduced over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until almost dry, and then this process is repeated with more half-cups of water as necessary until the greens are very tender: moist but not soupy. This takes a bit of attention but rewards with a "melting tenderness."

                                            I made this exactly as the basic recipe suggested, and it does work well. Simmering the kale uncovered keeps it nice and green. I used regular organic kale from my CSA rather than the suggested Tuscan Kale (cavolo nero) and first blanched the kale as suggested. It still took quite a bit longer to become "meltingly" tender in the saute pan--at least 15 more minutes. I'm not an experienced kale-cooker so I didn't realize how tough regular kale leaves are, even nice small organic ones like I had! Next time I will blanch it longer than the suggested 1-2 minutes to tenderize it first. Or I will use more tender greens like the cavolo nero, spinach, or other young greens--Rossetto-Kasper suggests many alternatives.

                                            The resultant dish had a nice basic "pure kale" flavor and texture, which actually married well with the Braised Pork (or Chicken) with Three Peppers sauce (p. 240) that I served with it. Rossetto-Kasperalso also suggests adding some citrus zest, chopped garlic, anchovies, olives and/or herbs to the flavors and I will definitely do something like this next time.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Goblin

                                              Melting Tuscan Kale (Cavolo Nero Brasato), Pg. 277

                                              We made this last night and as Goblin says it's a very nice basic braised greens dish with the kale tasting fresh and full of flavor, although slightly chewy but still tender. I used American kale from the FM and included the suggested additions of red pepper flakes - 1/4 teaspoon, a few anchovies, and black olives - pitted/oil cured 1/4 cup. We had made a wonderful turkey stock over night in the slow cooker and used half that stock and half water for the liquid needed. It was a good pairing with whole baked pumpkin stuffed with brown rice, spicy Italian sausages, chopped onion/garlic/apple.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Gio, you described it well: the American Kale turns out slightly chewy, though still tender. Even after several minutes of reducing with the water. it's good--just not "melting." I'm going to try this method with beet greens next time!

                                              2. re: Goblin

                                                Melting Tuscan Kale (Cavolo Nero Brasato), Pg. 277

                                                We made this tonight with Tuscan Kale. I did leave the stems on so it changed the texture a bit. Even with just the leaves, it was tender, but not melting. Either way, this was a nice a nice side dish and I'd make this again.

                                              3. Spiced Cauliflower with Ziti, Pg. 138

                                                Rossetto Kasper suggests green beans or escarole as substitutes for the cauliflower. Since I had a large Romanesco broccoli, which is actually Roman cauliflower, I used that. Also, instead of ziti, I reheated a bit of pasta and served the Romaneso over that. In sum, I adapted the recipe to what I had in my pantry. It turned very well.

                                                Slice a large cauliflower in florets then blanch them in boiling salted water 1 minute. Set this aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, LRK says not non-stick, and sauté cauliflower 2 minutes, stir in a finely chopped onion, add salt and stir till cauliflower is golden brown. Add crushed red pepper flakes, a pinch each of ground cinnamon and cloves, chopped basil and parsley, 4 oil-packed anchovies and 3 T red wine vinegar. Cook all this about 1 minute then remove from heat. We cooked this about 6 minutes till the Romanesco was crisp tender.

                                                At this point in the original recipe the ziti is cooked and drained. Place the cauliflower pan over heat again, pour in a little less than a cup of pasta water and blend into the glaze at the bottom of the skillet. Stir in 14 oz. chopped tinned whole tomatoes and cook till cauliflower is crisp tender. Season to taste then fold in freshly grated ricotta salata. Pine nuts can be sprinkled over top but I omitted them due to dietary constraints.

                                                In my version we nuked the pasta till heated through and served the Romanesco over that with dollops of fresh ricotta over top. The Romanesco gave the dish a meaty component I hadn't expected but quite liked. I felt the cinnamon and vinegar were too strident but a "generous" pinch of cinnamon is called for. I guess my generous was too generous... Anyway, this is a worthy recipe and I'll make it again with adjustments.

                                                1. Oven-Candied Summer Tomatoes p.27

                                                  I know this isn't really a recipe, but......with an abundance of end-of-season yellow pear tomatoes that were too mealy to eat out of hand, I decided to try the oven roasting method to see if they could be salvaged. I am so glad I tried this! I sliced the little guys in half and tossed with olive oil and salt. Space is definitely needed between the fruits for them to dry out properly, as mine were too crowded at first and just steamed.
                                                  This has all the taste of sun dried tomatoes without the chewiness. They really were so lusciously candy-sweet, we polished the whole batch off in a single indulgent wine and antipasti filled evening. A wonderful way to use up too many tomatoes!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                    Popping in here to say that I made these candied tomatoes again, and they are still fantastic! I have a plethora of small, rather useless grape/cherry tomatoes right now, and they were going off at a rapid rate, and this recipe came to mind.

                                                    I'm not sure why I didn't detail very much in last year's review, but I must have done something different. Perhaps cooked on parchment paper. This time I didn't and the tomatoes scorched rather quickly. I had to watch them closely this time, and even so, had some overly brown, inedible ones. For smaller tomatoes, I'll reduce the heat dramatically next time.

                                                    Even so, I couldn't resist popping these gems into my mouth every time I walked past them. I made 4 trays full of tomatoes, and have nothing left over. After all is said and done, I yielded only about a cup. But they are so worth it! Even if you count the large amount of time spend scrubbing the pans afterwards.....

                                                    I'll do this again and maybe toss in the freezer for keeping, as is suggested.


                                                  2. Cantaloupe with Black Pepper, Oil, and Vinegar p.37

                                                    Embarrassingly, I've never had melon in any other way than just straight up. This was a lovely surprise! Melon balls are tossed with pepper, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and sprinkled with snipped chives, served on a small bed of curly endive leaves. Needless to say, it took mere minutes to prepare. The tartness of the vinegar brings out the sweetness of the melon in a way I never would have thought of. My guests were also happily taken aback by the dish, so it was a success!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                      I think cantaloupe can be a lovely (semi) savory starter. I'm glad this was a hit for you and your guests.

                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        This sounds really delicious! Aside from being wrapped in prosciutto, I'm not sure I've ever had canteloupe in a savory dish. I am going to have to remember this for next summer when cantaloupe is back in season!


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          There is a recipe that I believe is in Gourmet Today that has cantaloupe with fresh tarragon. I just love it. Unexpected, refreshing - really nice. Here it is on epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (and I never bothered with a Y shaped peeler).

                                                      2. Tomato Sauce III, p 126

                                                        "A sauce of sauteed tomatoes and seasoning for fettucine"

                                                        One thing I like about this book, and the actual COTM, is that the author always explains what the authentic dish is about, and the reasons for any changes or substitutions. In this case, she describes "winter tomatoes", left to shrivel up on the vine. The recipe calls for cherry tomatoes along with some regular ones as an approximation of these. I happen to have a fall crop of tomatoes coming in ripe right now from my garden, along with the last of my summer tomatoes hanging on to the dead plants, and getting somewhat shriveled. I figured that my old summer tomatoes, along with my succulent fall ones, would be a pretty good approximation of what this recipe was designed for.

                                                        So what you do is saute some diced onion, a branch of rosemary, some basil leaves, and salt and pepper, in some olive oil, until the onions start to brown. Then you add some minced garlic, and the tomatoes, which have been chopped, but not peeled or seeded. Bring that to a boil and cook 8-10 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Let stand off the heat for another 15 minutes. Boil some fettucine al dente. While the pasta cooks, pass the sauce through a food mill, and adjust seasonings. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

                                                        This is not how I would usually make a sauce starting with raw tomatoes, but the result was very good. I ended up with light, delicate fettucine, with a thin coating of very flavorful tomato sauce. No cheese is suggested for this recipe, and we didn't add any. I made a full recipe of this, and served two as a main, and reserved one serving for "leftovers". I like this a lot and would make it again, but I'd prefer it as a side dish instead of a main. Still, a very nice sauce, worth doing if you have good quality pasta.

                                                        1. Grilled Chicken Pieces (Not) in Sicilian Mint Sauce – p. 48

                                                          My apologies folks, i mistakenly posted my review of this dish in TSP thread. Here's a link to my review and photos if you are interested:


                                                          1. Nonna's Home-Style Lasagne p.148

                                                            I think I was setting myself up for disaster when I decided to make two different lasagnes on a weeknight. Despite doing some of the prep work the day before, I under-estimated the time required to make fresh pasta, and dinner didn't end up on the table until almost 9.

                                                            The recipe calls for either a batch of tomato sauce IV, or the sauce recipe that is given with the lasagne, in that order. I made the one listed with the lasagne. It's a very simple tomato sauce. Minced herbs (basil, oregano, parsley)and onions are sauteed to golden brown. Add garlic, add a can of whole tomatoes (crushing with hands as they go into the pan. What fun!)and a pint basket of cherry tomatoes. I used a mix of the last of my cherry and grape tomaotes. That's pretty much it for the sauce, it is simmered until thick and seasoned with a pinch of hot pepper flakes, which are undetectable in the dish. The sauce is pureed until smooth.
                                                            Next, cheeses and herbs are mixed together. Fresh mozzarella, ricotta(I used the home-made recipe from The Splendid Table), parmesan are tossed with minced scallions, basil, oregano, garlic and parsley.
                                                            Thin strips of seasoned onions are sauteed over high heat until brown but still crisp.
                                                            Layers of pasta (I used homemade, hand rolled out to specified thin-ness of 'seeing print through the sheet') cheese, onions, sauce, etc. Baked for 40 minutes, until just heated through.

                                                            So, if you include the pasta rolling, the ricotta making, the sauce making, and all those delights, it was one very long winded dinner effort. Yes, I could have bought the cheese and the pasta, but in the name of authenticity, I thought I would give it all a whirl. Would I do it again? Definitely not. The lasagne had way too much cheese in it. The recipe calls for 1 3/4-2 lbs of ricotta alone, not to mention 1/2 lb mozza and 1c. parmigiano-reggiano. I even scaled down the ricotta a bit to no avail. Because the cheese was in every layer, it couldn't even be scooped out. I honestly couldn't even finish it. The pasta was too thin for my liking. It didn't stand up to the heaviness of the cheese.
                                                            All in all, this was quite a bust. Perhaps I wouldn't be grumbling about it so much if I didn't put such effort into it, but it still is something I would pass on with ready-made ingredients.
                                                            The only thing I really enjoyed was the tomato sauce. It was light and sweetly tomato-ey with the combination of the fresh and canned, and so fast to make that I would use the sauce again.

                                                            1. Little Handkerchiefs with Portobello Mushrooms – p. 98

                                                              Even though I served a “deconstructed” version of this dish, we absolutely loved it. I’d highly recommend this recipe, it really was delicious!

                                                              The idea is that you make or purchase lasagna noodles then cut them in half and layer them w a mushroom mixture and tomato sauce. Since I didn’t have lasagna noodles, I decided to make a decomposed version w conchiglie.

                                                              Mushrooms are browned along w thin slices of salami and eventually, some garlic. Mushroom mixture is then reserved and more evoo is added to the pan along w parsley, onion, more salami and onion. Broth is then added and finally fresh or, drained canned tomatoes. Mine were fresh.

                                                              Since I wasn’t making the lasagna, I simply tossed the pasta in the tomato sauce and plated this atop the mushroom mixture. The cream and parmesan are intended to be added just prior to serving. I stirred some grated parm into cream that I’d warmed gently then drizzled this over each plate.

                                                              Very, very tasty dish. I’ll happily recommend it. Our friends and family loved it, the warm parmesan cream was a huge hit and I stirred in some fresh, julienned basil just prior to plating. The fresh tomatoes kept this dish light and summery. Just a wonderful dinner.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                This sounds and looks fantastic BC. Thanks for including the pictures. This is not a recipe that would have grabbed my attention straight out of the book but I am now looking forward to making it.

                                                              2. Fresh Cranberry Beans (Borlotti Bolliti), Pg. 185

                                                                Although fresh beans are prepared according to this procedure dried beans are also used and that's what I had. I halved the recipe two days ago preparatory to making the Tuscan Mountain Supper last night. Very simple to do and they can be eaten as is and incorporated in other dishes.

                                                                Instead of soaking the beans for 2 hours I did the 2 minute boil and soak in that liquid for one hour then proceeded with the recipe. The prepared beans are simmered in water with a bit of salt, garlic, and sage leaves for about 20 minutes. They are then left to sit in the water, off heat and covered, for another 20 minutes. The beans can be served either hot or room temperature with a drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. As it turned out my beans were not quite ready to eat after the simmer and rest but since they were going into the fridge for later use it didn't matter. I did sample a few though and liked the flavor the sage gave them. Oh, and save the bean cooking liquid too...

                                                                1. Tuscan Mountain Supper (Fagioli all'Uccelletto e Insalata), Pg. 186

                                                                  It was a dark and stormy night, or as LRK describes it, "Outside, a wild October night of rain and wind, inside a table before the fire..." And that's exactly what happened last night. We have a Waterford stove in our den so we lit the fire and pretended we were in "the old coaching inn practically at the top of the Apennine Mountains in Lucca province." This delicious bean dish was perfect.

                                                                  After heating olive oil in a large skillet a combination of chopped parsley/onion/sage is seasoned with S & P and sautéed till the onion is golden. Minced garlic is stirred in, then 4 whole tomatoes are added with some tomato paste. Since I had an abundance of fresh tomatoes crying to be used I chopped 4 and threw them into the mix. Cook this for 10 minutes.. I cooked the sauce for 20. Two cups of cooked borlotti beans are gently folded into the sauce along with 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes - till the liquid is pretty much absorbed.

                                                                  Serve the beans hot with the Salad of Tart Greens and Red Onion on page 299. The beans and salad are meant to be eaten together. Strange but hearty , filling and comforting. I'm putting this dish into rotation here...

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    This bean lover is salivating.

                                                                  2. Salad of Tart Greens and Red Onions (Insalata Verde), Pg. 299

                                                                    I've made this particular salad several times now and love it.. The combination of various salad greens and thinly sliced red onion is refreshing. It's the kind of salad one can serve along with the Secondo rather than after... even on the same dish. It's reminiscent of the salads I grew up eating at home.

                                                                    Slice a red onion in very thin rounds and submerge in ice water while you make the rest of the salad. Wash and tear the tender inner leaves of several different salad greens plus a small head of any other lettuce you like. Make a dressing of dried basil, S & P, EVOO and red wine vinegar. Drain the onions. toss the greens into a bowl, add the sliced onions. I like to mix everything together without the vinegar first...then sprinkle vinegar over the salad and toss again. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Sometimes I don't even use vinegar if I've used a particularly fruity peppery olive oil.

                                                                    1. Risotto alla Milanese, Pg. 156

                                                                      This was a truly delicious risotto. I've made many different risotto recipes but for some reason this was one of the best. I halved the recipe and wish I hadn't. It's basic with no additional ingredients: olive oil, finely minced onion, S & P, Aborio rice, home made chicken stock, saffron, white wine, Parmigiano. Chopped marrow from either veal or beef bones is optional but since we ate Osso Buco last night there was no marrow to be had... but Next Time. Also, typical directions too. For the side dish we made LRK's riff on her own Early Autumn Vegetable Roast on page 285. Great meal.

                                                                      1. Early Autumn Vegetable Roast, Pg. 286

                                                                        The first time we made this recipe was 24 August 2011. At that time I used all the suggested vegetables for that time of year: eggplant, zucchini, patty pan squash, green beans, and other late summer/early autumn veggies., eleven varieties in all. Fresh herbs are: basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, as well as seasoning and olive oil.

                                                                        In the header notes for this recipe LRK states that seasonal vegetable variations are roasted throughout the year all over Italy. In that spirit, to augment a main dish of Rissotto alla Milanese, we made this wonderful vegetable dish. The winter root vegetables I used were: rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, onions, whole unpeeled cloves of garlic. If we were not having the risotto I would have included potatoes as well. The herbs were dried: basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme. The seasonings were, again, simply S & P & EVOO. All the vegetables are chopped, tossed into a large roasting pan, mixed well with the herbs and seasoning, and roasted in a pre-heated oven... she says 450F for 30 minutes... I roasted them both times at 425F for about 40 minutes or till crusty brown. That's when they are caramelized and taste absolutely stunning. We love this dish.
                                                                        I Love this book.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          So do I, Gio. It's one of my favorite cookbooks ever.

                                                                        2. Grilled Lamb Chops with Onion and Oregano – p. 253

                                                                          I flagged this during the Oct COTM and this recipe immediately came to mind when we picked up some lovely chops at the Italian market and, had the perfect weather for grilling on the weekend. This recipe produces an aromatic marinade that infuses the lamb with complimentary big, bold flavours. We simply loved these chops.

                                                                          A simple prep yields outstanding results w this recipe. Marinade ingredients of garlic, onion, EVOO, lemon zest and juice, white wine, oregano, S&P are blitzed in the food processor. In addition to the dry oregano, I added the leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary to the marinade mix.

                                                                          Though the recipe suggests you marinade for 1 to 2 hours, we let ours marinade all day. Also, while LRK has you drain the marinade prior to grilling, we opted not to. We simply lifted the chops from the marinade, placed them on the grill and basted w the leftover marinade. Loved this dish and we’ll definitely make it again! We served this with some wonderful potatoes from The Olive & The Caper (a COTM recipe that I’ve reviewed) and some scrumptious Sicilian Artichokes from The Talisman Cookbook by Ada Boni.

                                                                          1. The pistachio/mint/almond pesto recipe if terrific. I've always had it with fresh pasta but I'm sure it would be good with dried.

                                                                            I remember making the Chocolate-Polenta pudding cake, trying it, not liking it, and thinking, what am going to DO with this thing? I put it in the fridge and took a nibble the next day. It was fantastic. For whatever reason I didn't like it warm, but loved it on days 2, 3, and 4 right out of the fridge.

                                                                            1. Has anyone viewing this thread tried the "Leg of Lamb Glazed with Balsamic and Red Wine"?
                                                                              I made it several years ago and am thinking of making it again in early December. My recollection was that it took a lot longer than the recipe stated, and I had very rare lamb (and I like rare lamb). It was nearly disastrous as far as my timing was concerned.
                                                                              We now buy whole lamb from some relatives who raise beef and lamb, and I have two boneless legs in my freezer. The recipe calls for bone-in, and I'm wondering what I will need to do to adapt the recipe. The reason I have the butcher give them to me boneless, is that it is easier for me to use for shish-ka-bobs, which is how I usually use this cut.
                                                                              Any thoughts?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: kfhad

                                                                                I haven't made that particular recipe but have cooked many legs of lamb over the years both w & w/o bone. Since your roast is boneless I suggest butterflying it, spreading the seasoning mix over the inside, roll it up and tie with butcher's twine. On the outside before putting it into the oven, rub some olive oil all over. Don't salt it on the outside. I would roast it at 325F for 20 minutes a pound - we like it rare.

                                                                                The following link is to a 2009 thread about cooking lamb and some posters have made the same recipe...