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September 2012 COTM My Calabria: Bread, Cheese, Eggs, Seafood, Meat

blue room Aug 31, 2012 11:50 PM

Please post here for these dishes:

Bread, Cheese, Eggs…..113 - 156

Seafood…..157 - 190

Meat…..191 - 232

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  1. Breadcrumbs RE: blue room Sep 1, 2012 08:32 AM

    Polpette alla Verbicarese - My Mother's Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - p. 209

    I actually made this dish in April of 2011. It was my first use of this recipe and book and results were terrific. An unusual "all pork" meatball mixed w fairly standard ingredients however the breadcrumbs are dry vs fresh soaked in milk. I cooked mine in the oven vs in oil on the stove. 25 mins at 375 did the trick. We liked these... not as much as our usual mb's but they were very good and I would make them again for a change. I had some of my own marinara in the freezer so I didn't make the Quick Tomato Sauce in this book but intend to do so during the COTM. Love that this book has wine suggestions w each recipe as well.

    Forgot to photograph the cooked mb's!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Breadcrumbs
      MelMM RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 2, 2012 09:00 AM

      Polpette alla Verbicarese - My Mother's Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - p. 209

      I also made this some time ago - don't remember exactly when. I love these meatballs. I used homemade breadcrumbs that were probably not as fine or dry as what was called for. The meatballs had a great delicate texture. I think what I really loved about them was the addtition of pecorino cheese. I did use the quick tomato sauce from the book, and it was wonderful. I am a big fan of very simple tomato sauces, and that is exactly what this was.

      1. re: MelMM
        Breadcrumbs RE: MelMM Sep 2, 2012 09:34 AM

        Mel I totally agree w you about the pecorino, in fact I purchased some especially for this recipe and we've been using it as frequently as our previous go-to Parmesan ever since. Also good to hear your thoughts on that sauce. Time permitting, I hope to make some this weekend.

      2. re: Breadcrumbs
        L.Nightshade RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 9, 2012 12:10 PM

        Polpette alla Verbicarese (My Mother's Pork Meatballs in Tomato Sauce), page 209.

        Since a couple people have reviewed it on this thread, I reported on this dish in the meatball thread here:

        Hats off to Breadcrumbs for teaching me the oven method of cooking meatballs. I really dislike frying. It worked great, and I'm never going back!

        1. re: Breadcrumbs
          JaneEYB RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 19, 2012 07:51 PM

          Polpette alla Verbicarese (My Mother's Meatballs in Tomato Sauce) p.209

          There are full reports from others above so I'll just add that I liked these - they are quick and easy to make. I liked the all-pork meat for a change - the mixture was like a pork sausage, which is not a drawback for me. Like Breadcrumbs I baked them rather than frying them. I served them with the Quick tomato sauce over pasta.

          1. re: Breadcrumbs
            cheesemaestro RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 25, 2012 03:46 PM

            Polpette alla Verbicarese, p. 209

            Very good, a nice change from beef meatballs. I didn't have enough tomatoes to make a double recipe of the Sugo di Pomodoro (7 cups of sauce), so I only made a single recipe. I served the meatballs with penne rigate pasta. I used the sauce for the pasta, and had a little extra for the meatballs. I fried the meatballs, since I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter the first time around, but I'll be putting them in the oven the next time. Thanks for suggesting baking them.

            1. re: cheesemaestro
              Breadcrumbs RE: cheesemaestro Sep 25, 2012 04:11 PM

              Looking forward to hearing how you liked the baked version cheesemaestro. I've never looked back!!

          2. Breadcrumbs RE: blue room Sep 2, 2012 09:34 AM

            Breadcrumbs – p. 127

            So I totally recognize we don’t need a recipe for these but for the benefit of those who many not yet have had the opportunity to take a good look through this book, the author does call for the use of fresh breadcrumbs in a number of recipes so I thought I'd post this as a reminder.

            Having seen that, I decided to whip up a batch and freeze them so I have them on hand for the month ahead. I picked up a day-old loaf of Italian country-style bread at a local bakery and, as the author suggests, cut it into 1 inch cubes without removing the crusts (oh joy!!). Bread is pulsed until crumbs are fine and tada…you’re done.

            On p. 59 the author also provides a recipe for toasted breadcrumbs and of course, you can use these to make that recipe. I expect I’ll be happy to have these on hand throughout the month and, especially on a weeknight where an extra step can make or break my decision to prepare a dish!!

            9 Replies
            1. re: Breadcrumbs
              Karen_Schaffer RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 4, 2012 09:39 AM

              I too often keep a jar of 'fresh' breadcrumbs in the freezer, and I also leave the crusts on. Seems so wasteful to cut off that tasty bit. A worthy 'recipe' to have reviewed (especially since it's your namesake!).

              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                blue room RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 4, 2012 09:50 AM

                Hardest thing for me to keep a supply of: breadcrumbs! Fresh, toasted, seasoned, plain, or otherwise, I always promise myself I'll "make" a new batch for the freezer but haha...

                1. re: Breadcrumbs
                  smtucker RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 22, 2012 04:58 PM

                  Breadcrumbs, page 127

                  I made 2lbs of her everyday bread specifically so that I could make breadcrumbs. The bread was so delicious, that only 1 1/2 lbs of the bread was left for this task. To amuse myself, I started with a grater, sawing the bread back and forth. My arm was tired before I had even 1/4 cup of the crumbs, so I moved onto 20th century technology.

                  In small batches, I added the cubed bread to the blender. I tossed the crumbled bread in a very fine sieve, and then a bigger sieve over a second bowl. It is astonishing how few breadcrumbs I have! My final results were about 2 cups of the extremely fine crumbs and 4 cups of the larger.

                  Finally ready to try some of the recipes that I have marked.

                  1. re: smtucker
                    Breadcrumbs RE: smtucker Sep 22, 2012 05:02 PM

                    <<"To amuse myself, I started with a grater...">>

                    smtucker you almost made me cough up my wine!! You made your own bread just for the crumbs. I could barely drag my tired butt down to the freezer this morning to dig out some English muffins so we had some form of bread at breakfast.

                    Step aside Martha, there's a new kid in town!!!

                    Loved this post smtucker, you "are" a Chowhound!!!

                  2. re: Breadcrumbs
                    smtucker RE: Breadcrumbs Nov 17, 2012 02:47 PM

                    I have started a new starter for this bread. [Long story but the last starter isn't useable.] I have decided that this is the perfect bread for my Thanksgiving stuffing. It is tasty fresh, and gets stale nicely. This time I will do a better job of keeping my starter healthy. Three days is a lot of days to wait for bread.

                    I am thinking of adding some fresh and dried sage. I think that will work. Anyone think this will be a disaster?

                    1. re: smtucker
                      blue room RE: smtucker Nov 17, 2012 03:04 PM

                      smtucker, you're putting fresh and dried sage into the starter -- or the breadcrumbs -- or the bread?
                      Also, what do you mean it "gets stale nicely"?

                      1. re: blue room
                        smtucker RE: blue room Nov 17, 2012 06:25 PM

                        I am planning to put sage in the final bread dough, not the starter. Some breads don't get stale well. They mold, or become chalky. This bread doesn't collapse or have an off taste as it dries.

                        Last year I made a bread that had some milk and butter and it just didn't age gracefully and it was too rich or dense. I don't want to make this mistake again.

                        1. re: smtucker
                          blue room RE: smtucker Nov 18, 2012 09:13 AM

                          I realize now I asked a dumb question, smtucker. Of course you're not adding sage leaves to the starter!
                          If you'll ever answer another of my questions -- have you made the famous "no knead" Lahey bread? And would this from "My Calabria" be better for taste and drying-for-stuffing, in your opinion?

                          1. re: blue room
                            smtucker RE: blue room Nov 18, 2012 01:11 PM

                            I actually think that the no-knead bread is excellent for this purpose. I did that one year and it was very successful.

                  3. BigSal RE: blue room Sep 6, 2012 07:37 PM

                    Pollo alla Calabrese (Baked chicken with potatoes, tomatoes and hot peppers) – half recipe p. 218


                    This couldn’t be easier. One dish. Pantry staples. Toss in the oven. After a long work day, the Mr. and I split-up the kitchen prep and put chopped tomatoes, Yukon gold potatoes , garlic and sliced onions that were seasoned with salt in a pan (we used a lasagna pan). Chicken (we used bone-in skin on chicken thighs) is seasoned with salt and pepper and placed on the vegetables. Season everything with oregano (we used wild, dried oregano). Drizzle with olive oil, mix and then place the bed of vegetables and add the chicken (skin-side up), add ground hot red pepper.

                    Cook until the skin is crisp and golden then turn the chicken and bake until the chicken is cooked through. Because we used too big of a pan and only made half a recipe, by the time the skin was golden – the chicken and potatoes were cooked through and the tomatoes had disintegrated and gotten a little charred without even a hint of pan juice. Even so, it was a nice after work meal. It wasn’t a knock your socks off dish, but homey and hearty.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: BigSal
                      Gio RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 07:06 AM

                      That's exactly how I remember feeling about the dish when I first made it last year. It's on the agenda for tonight's dinner because I couldn't trust my memory for the reporting details. Everything is at the ready... I'm using chicken quarters jointed into thighs and drums. I can't decide what to serve as a contorno though. Perhaps just a salad.

                      1. re: Gio
                        BigSal RE: Gio Sep 9, 2012 07:38 AM

                        Chicken quarters sound great. I may try using those next. I think a salad sounds perfect with this.

                      2. re: BigSal
                        bkieras RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 05:31 PM

                        I also chose this recipe - my first attempt from the book, which I got from the library after finding this forum. Overall, we enjoyed it. I thought I was following the instructions pretty well, but my potatoes still were not done after the chicken was, so next time I will cut them smaller. I may also add a little more tomato and garlic, because they tasted so wonderful combined with everything else.

                        The best part was the skin on the chicken - it was crispy and delicious. We cut up a whole chicken and just removed the breasts a little before the rest. The recipe is deceptively simple and, like BigSal said, it couldn't be easier. We will certainly make this again. We also browsed the other recipes while we ate, so I am fairly certain this book will become part of our permanent collection.

                        1. re: bkieras
                          bkieras RE: bkieras Sep 9, 2012 05:37 PM

                          And here is the picture!

                        2. re: BigSal
                          JulesLP RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 06:36 PM

                          I made this for dinner tonight as well. I made the full recipe as written except I left out the hot red pepper for two reasons. 1. Wasn't sure what type of hot pepper to use, and 2. My husband isn't a huge fan of heat, so thought it would be better to leave it out. I thought the flavors were good, but not all my potatoes were fully cooked. The potatoes under the chicken were good, but those on top seemed a bit crunchy. On the side I served a fig and goat cheese salad as I found figs at the store and some crusy Italian bread. Would definetly make again as it was simple and tasty.


                          1. re: JulesLP
                            smtucker RE: JulesLP Sep 9, 2012 06:36 PM


                            1. re: JulesLP
                              bkieras RE: JulesLP Sep 9, 2012 06:55 PM

                              Jules, we used ground cayenne pepper - just sprinkled it on. It did add some spice to the skin, but not to the rest of the chicken.

                            2. re: BigSal
                              Gio RE: BigSal Sep 10, 2012 05:52 AM

                              Pollo alla Calabrese, Pg. 218
                              Baked Chicken with Potatoes, Tomatoes and Hot Peppers

                              The last time I made this recipe was 1.9.11 and for us it was like Italian comfort food: all the ingredients we like, plus easy to make, easy to eat, nutritious and nostalgic. Last night we made it for dinner and, after seasoning everything more aggressively, we decided that we have to keep this in rotation through the winter.

                              I used chicken leg quarters dis-jointed, 2 hot Serrano chilies chopped keeping the seeds and ribs, after sprinkling the S & P plus cayenne pepper and lots of dried Greek oregano over both the chicken pieces and vegetables and mixing all together I also sprinkled hot sweet paprika (Pimenton de La Vera picante) over all. Baked the first time for 25 minutes @ 450F skin side up, turned the chicken skin side down and baked for the additional 20 minutes.

                              Chicken skin was crisp and golden, potatoes (YGs) were cooked through and mashed easily into the pan sauce, tomato chunks had collapsed creating a lovely unctuous sauce with the onion slices, G pan-grilled slices of a large crusty Italian loaf and these were used to mop up the plentiful juices. This well seasoned and delectable meal was transformed into satisfying comfort food of a higher order.

                            3. BigSal RE: blue room Sep 8, 2012 04:42 PM

                              Friselle (Calabrian Rusks) p. 128

                              I had never had friselle before and was curious to try this twice-cooked bread that looks like a bagel on steroids that is reconstituted in water and eaten as a snack with some type of topping.
                              This is definitely a weekend project (assuming that you already have made your bread starter which takes 3 days and the bread sponge that needs to sit overnight).

                              One starts by making My Family’s Everyday Bread up to the first rise and then separates the dough into 6 pieces which are formed into 8” rounds with a 2” hole in the center (like a very large bagel). Cover the rings with a kitchen towel and a blanket (you are aiming to keep them at a 80F temperature) for 2 hours. Bake at 475F for 15 minutes in the bottom rack of the oven and then bake at 400F and bake 15 minutes and cool completely on a rack.

                              Slice each one in half horizontally and bake at 300F for 1-1.5 hours. Lastly, bake at 175F for 2 more hours. The bread is completely dry to the touch and crisp and brittle. Whew! This took quite a while to do, but it does make a lot of friselle which will last a long time.

                              Because it is so laborious to make, it is not something I would make regularly, but glad to have had the experience and very pleased with the results.

                              Friselle con Pomodoro Crudo (Calabrian Rusks with Fresh Tomato and Garlic Topping) p. 35

                              Once you have the friselle made this a breeze. You make a topping of cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, fresh hot red pepper, salt and olive oil. This topping is placed on a moistened frisella. Similar to bruschetta, but the texture of the bread is different.

                              It took me a couple tries to get the friselle the right texture. Soak too long and it falls apart. Not enough water and it’s too crunchy.

                              Calabrian Rusks with Olive Oil, Oregano and Garlic Variation p. 36

                              Rub the moistened frisella with garlic, then drizzle with olive oil, salt and dried, crumbled oregano (we used wild oregano). This was our preferred way to enjoy friselle. Simple and delicious.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: BigSal
                                Breadcrumbs RE: BigSal Sep 8, 2012 05:13 PM

                                Big Sal I'm so impressed, this was quite an undertaking and it sounds like it produces terrific results. You said that the dough produces a lot of friselle. Are you freezing some of the dough or did you bake all of it? The Italian Bakery here sells the split loaves sealed in plastic and it does seem that they keep in that state for some time.

                                There's an Italian restaurant in Chicago that serves this as part of their antipasti menu and that's where we tried it for the first time. Interestingly they don't soak their bread and instead they let the juices of the tomato, onion, evoo mixture moisten the bread (to the point that it becomes too soggy for our tastes after a little time on the table). The notion of soaking the bread first is very interesting. Though I'm not as brave or ambitious as you in baking my own, I think I'll pick up one from the bakery and give that technique a try. Thanks so much for posting.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                  BigSal RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 8, 2012 05:32 PM

                                  The whole recipe makes 12 friselle. I baked them all at once which I am glad that I did now that it is done, but I was baking into the wee hours of the night to finish the batch. The baked friselle are said to keep for months, but I don't see them lasting that long the way we have been snacking on them.

                                  Reconstituting them in tomato juice and olive oil sounds delicious too. I can relate to the friselle becoming too soggy for your tastes after a little time on the table. There's a narrow window between good texture and soggy mess. After a couple trials, I prefer to quickly moisten the friselle under running water rather than soak.

                                2. re: BigSal
                                  angelsmom RE: BigSal Sep 8, 2012 06:34 PM

                                  Wow, you are energetic and dedicated. I think I could make the complimentary recipe suggestions, but I can but great friselle.

                                  1. re: BigSal
                                    qianning RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 08:55 AM

                                    Wow! That is real project management. So glad you liked the results. Just reading your posts on the bread & rusks left me both tired & hungry.

                                    1. re: BigSal
                                      LulusMom RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 09:35 AM

                                      I echo the others - I'm incredibly impressed.

                                    2. BigSal RE: blue room Sep 8, 2012 05:17 PM

                                      Pane Calabrese (My Family’s Every Day Bread) p. 119

                                      This bread takes some time to make. One starts by making the bread starter, a 3 day process. Mix flour, yeast and water and cover in a warm spot for 24 hours. Divide the dough in half (discarding half) and add flour and water and rest 24 hours. Divide dough in half again (discarding the half) and add flour and water and rest 24 hours.

                                      Add flour and water to the starter, cover and rest overnight to make the sponge. The sponge is put into 3 lbs of flour (formed into a well with the sponge in the middle). Warm salted water is gradually added to the sponge until blended and then mix in the flour until the sides of the bowl are clean. Knead until the dough is firm and smooth. This is a moist dough and Rosetta recommends kneading the dough in the bowl, but I was not used to kneading so much dough at once, I found it easier to knead it on my countertop. This was quite a workout .
                                      The dough is covered with a kitchen towel and blanket to keep the temperature around 80F and leave to rise 2.5-3 hours. Shape the loaves into your shape of choice (makes 3 loaves). Cover and rise 2 hours then bake.

                                      The result is a hearty, dense loaf. I don’t make a lot of bread, but each time I do, I find it so rewarding.

                                      18 Replies
                                      1. re: BigSal
                                        Allegra_K RE: BigSal Sep 8, 2012 06:06 PM

                                        That sounds so great. I've always wanted to try making bread with a starter but never get around to it. Would you say that the outcome is worth the effort/time?

                                        1. re: Allegra_K
                                          BigSal RE: Allegra_K Sep 8, 2012 07:46 PM

                                          Yes, for me it was, although I do not mind working on extended projects. This was also my first time making bread with a starter too. The nice thing about the starter is that you can make it in advance and put it in the fridge for up to three weeks.

                                        2. re: BigSal
                                          blue room RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 06:57 AM

                                          Thank you BigSal, I enjoyed both posts! You've earned your daily bread, that's for sure.
                                          (The background in the book about bread paints a picture, doesn't it? Hardscrabble, but healthy I suppose.)

                                          1. re: blue room
                                            BigSal RE: blue room Sep 9, 2012 07:35 AM

                                            Hardscrabble indeed. It makes us appreciate the food we have and the ease and afforability of it. Making this bread was a fun project, but I can't imagine having to make it weekly for sustenance.

                                          2. re: BigSal
                                            smtucker RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 02:49 PM

                                            Thank you so much for reporting. I have just marked this recipe and plan to start the starter tonight. I love when I make our own bread, and as the temperature drops, I am willing to turn the oven back on. Not sure that my stand mixer can handle 3 lbs of flour, but I want to make a full recipe so we will have lots of breadcrumbs for so many of the other recipes I want to try.

                                            1. re: smtucker
                                              BigSal RE: smtucker Sep 9, 2012 05:09 PM

                                              If you make this recipe, you will have LOTS of breadcrumbs! It makes three large loaves of bread. The kneading was the toughest part, since it makes such a large amount of dough.

                                              1. re: BigSal
                                                smtucker RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 06:39 PM

                                                Did you make a partial recipe? Freeze some of the dough? Or just go for it?

                                                1. re: smtucker
                                                  BigSal RE: smtucker Sep 9, 2012 07:21 PM

                                                  I made the whole recipe.

                                            2. re: BigSal
                                              smtucker RE: BigSal Sep 15, 2012 02:16 PM

                                              Pane Calabrese (My Family’s Every Day Bread) p. 119

                                              Let me start by stating that I am impatiently waiting for this bread to cool off enough to eat. The house smells wonderful!

                                              BigSal has already outlined the big picture so I will restrain my comments to the changes that I made. Though I made the full amount of the starter and the sponge, I only made 2/3 of the recipe adjusting the amount of sponge accordingly. I wasn't sure that my 600 series stand mixer was up to 3 lbs [in the future, I now know that it could.] I chose to make the loaves in the batard shape.

                                              So I blindly followed her instructions to complete the second rise on towels. Getting the dough onto the peel was more difficult that I would have liked, but I managed it. She doesn't suggest slashing the dough before placing it in the oven. As you can see, one of my loaves split and the other just puffed up like a blowfish. In the future, I think I will do two things differently- slash the dough and create a steam oven a la Reinhardt just to get a more even puff.

                                              Will have to report back on the flavor. If it is half as good as the smell, we will enjoy this for MANY days to come.

                                              1. re: smtucker
                                                Gio RE: smtucker Sep 16, 2012 05:40 AM

                                                The bread looks wonderful, SMT. Couldn't help noticing your knife storage in the background, though. Now I have serious knife storage envy...

                                                1. re: Gio
                                                  smtucker RE: Gio Sep 16, 2012 05:40 AM

                                                  Isn't that work surface wonderful? That piece was a wedding gift to us 30 years ago! It has been a kitchen tool, been used as a violin repair bench, to store wine. It is perhaps one of the most versatile wedding gifts that we received.

                                                  My greatest fear, as a violinist, is to cut my hands reaching for a knife, so I always make sure that the knives are tucked away and accessible.

                                                  The bread was delicious. The crumb was dense with large open holes. We found it more chewy than a standard French loaf. I had forgotten to mention that I did a slow refrigerator rise to encourage as much flavor as possible. We liked this bread in part because it isn't really sour, just flavorful.

                                                  1. re: smtucker
                                                    blue room RE: smtucker Sep 16, 2012 05:59 AM

                                                    Beautiful bread (and kitchen furniture!) I'd like to someday have a truly "everyday" bread-- that I can make without thinking and have it come out the same every time.
                                                    About how long did it rise in the fridge?

                                                    1. re: blue room
                                                      smtucker RE: blue room Sep 16, 2012 06:11 AM

                                                      I put the dough in the fridge at about 3pm and then pulled it out the next day at 9am.

                                                    2. re: smtucker
                                                      Gio RE: smtucker Sep 16, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                      In another life, when I was working my way through my Earth Mother phase during the '60s & '70s, every week I made our daily bread, butter, and yogurt so I can just imagine the aroma of freshly made bread in your kitchen. Ah, those were the dayz. Peace, love and happiness,. man. (Classical piano and an F-Alto baroque recorder were my instruments of choice then.)

                                                      1. re: smtucker
                                                        BigSal RE: smtucker Sep 16, 2012 09:08 AM

                                                        "Puffed up like a blowfish" is a perfect description. I'm glad you liked the bread. How long did you knead it in the mixer? I may try the slow refrigerator rise too.

                                                        1. re: smtucker
                                                          nomadchowwoman RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 02:44 PM

                                                          Beautiful bread; beautiful work surface.

                                                          I'm just reading this--so impressed with all these bread-making efforts.

                                                      2. re: smtucker
                                                        Breadcrumbs RE: smtucker Sep 16, 2012 06:27 AM

                                                        I'm so impressed with your bread-making skills smt....picture perfect! Also love your wedding bench...as Gio said, the knife storage is enviable. What a great idea and a treasured gift.

                                                        1. re: smtucker
                                                          qianning RE: smtucker Sep 16, 2012 07:27 AM


                                                      3. BigSal RE: blue room Sep 8, 2012 08:09 PM

                                                        Pollo con Melanzane (Braised Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Pancetta) p. 220


                                                        Needing to use up tomatoes and eggplant from the farmers market, this dish called out to us. The recipe starts with frying eggplant chunks, but instead I sauteed the chunks (briefly put in a bowl of water to minimize the amount of oil they absorbed- an idea sparked by Sam Fujisaka) until just cooked, but still firm and set aside.

                                                        Pancetta and garlic halves are sauteed in olive oil until golden and then chicken thighs are cooked skin side down until the skin is brown, then cook on the other side for 5 minutes. When the pancetta and garlic were in danger of burning, I removed them from the pan. Remove the fat from the pan, add wine and simmer until evaporated. Add chopped, fresh tomatoes and hot pepper and cook until the tomatoes become a sauce. Add the eggplant and simmer until it becomes a glaze. Finish with chopped parsley.

                                                        This was another nice rustic dish. We served this with some brown rice (not very Italian, but it was quick and easy) which sopped up the delicious, gently spicy tomato flavor. The pancetta, once crispy, lost its texture while cooking down the tomatoes and would do without them next time.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: BigSal
                                                          Gio RE: BigSal Sep 12, 2012 05:36 AM

                                                          Pollo con Melanzane, Pg. 220
                                                          Braised Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Pancetta

                                                          This was a case of premeditated substitution for me. I knew instinctively when reading through this recipe then Sal's report that I wanted to use sausages instead of chicken. So I did, 4 large spicy chicken sausages from our local salumaria. Additionally, 1 1/4 pints grape tomatoes instead of a large tomato, and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes instead of a fresh red chili. Other than these substitutions all the ingredients listed in the original recipe were used. I fried the eggplant chunks in a small amount of olive oil and chicken stock till golden and caramelized then proceeded per the recipe, cooking the halved sausages as the chicken would have been.

                                                          The result was wonderful. Everything well cooked, full of flavor and very satisfying, the pancetts adding a salty rich flavor and texture. Steamed small red-skinned potatoes simply seasoned with S & P. minced parsley and EVOO were served with the sausages and vegetables.

                                                          1. re: BigSal
                                                            JaneEYB RE: BigSal Sep 18, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                            Pollo con Melanzane (Braised Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Pancetta) p. 220

                                                            This was a decent every-night dinner but I didn't feel passionate about it.. Not that one needs to feel passionate about every-night dinners but I don't think I will be repeating it. I should have dunked the eggplant chunks in water as BS recommended as they soaked up a lot of oil. One thing I found was that it took quite a while for the cup of white wine to evaporate and by then the thighs were cooked (though that may be because I used boneless thighs), So another 10 minutes for the tomatoes to cook down was a bit too long for the chicken.

                                                            My pancetta stayed quite firm though my cubes may have been larger than BS's. I would say keep it in as it added a good flavor.

                                                            1. re: BigSal
                                                              nomadchowwoman RE: BigSal Sep 25, 2012 02:47 PM

                                                              Wow--BigSal, you are taking this COTM seriously. All these posts are so inspiring.

                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                BigSal RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 25, 2012 06:36 PM

                                                                This has been a fun month and the timing has worked out. Next month I'll be looking for inspiration from others. Indian cuisine is outside of my comfort zone. I would have been more comfortable with the Bistro Cooking or the Union Square book, so glad to have others to stretch me a little.

                                                            2. q
                                                              qianning RE: blue room Sep 9, 2012 08:35 AM

                                                              Vrasciole alla Verbicarese (Stuffed Pork Rolls in Tomato Sauce), pg. 197

                                                              I made a mini batch of this a few nights ago, using about 1/2 lb of pork and 3 C of tomatoes, and was very pleased with the results. We both liked it better than any beef braciole we've had (not that we've had that many), and a few days later asking Mr. QN what he'd like for dinner the instant answer was "How about some more braciole?". No I haven't made another batch yet, but you get the drift.

                                                              The recipe is pretty straightforward, cut pork butt in to scallopine slices, pound them out. Meanwhile chop up a filling with pork fat ( i used the scraps from trimming the pork), parsley garlic, s&p. Stuff the scallopine with the filling and roll jellyroll fashion and tie w/ twine to secure. My slices were a bit smaller than called for, and I'd guesstimate that I used about a teaspoon of filling per roll. Brown the rolls in a heavy pot, once brown add whole garlic clove, as soon as it gives off fragrance, add chopped tomatoes and fresh basil, bring to a boil reduce and simmer for an hour or more. Before serving remove the string from the rolls and return them to the sauce to warm.

                                                              To serve, use some of the sauce to dress pasta for a first course; and then serve the braciole as a second course. In truth we had our pasta sauced on the plate next to the braciole, and that plus some nice sauteed spinach was dinner.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: qianning
                                                                JerryMe RE: qianning Sep 9, 2012 09:23 AM

                                                                I've been eying that recipe - it sounds so good. Thanks for the review and pics!

                                                              2. q
                                                                qianning RE: blue room Sep 9, 2012 08:51 AM

                                                                Trippa con Peperoni (Tripe w/ Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper), pg. 230

                                                                My conception of this dish before I made it was completely different than the results. I had thought it would be more like a rich sauce/ragu when in fact it is more of a soft saute. There was the rub, since my meal plan included fresh pasta, and this is definitely not a dish to eat with pasta, and Mr. QN was looking forward to a tomato-y tripe sauce, which he loves, whereas this dish is really all about the flavor of the sweet peppers.

                                                                Anyway, I made a half recipe but otherwise followed the directions. Honeycomb tripe is boiled until soft, then drained, cut into bite sized pieces, set aside. Fry peppers in oil until soft, set aside. Saute garlic in oil until light brown, add tomatoes, cook until just softened, add back the tripe, simmer five minutes, add back the peppers and a touch of hot pepper flakes, once warmed through, serve.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: qianning
                                                                  BigSal RE: qianning Sep 9, 2012 09:20 AM

                                                                  I am so glad that someone made this dish. I have tripe envy! I do not see my husband trying tripe, so I will enjoy your dish vicariously for now.

                                                                  1. re: BigSal
                                                                    qianning RE: BigSal Sep 9, 2012 09:23 AM

                                                                    "tripe envy", that's a new one! Funny thing is I made this dish because Mr. QN loves tripe in red sauce so much, but I ended up liking this way better than he did. Guess you never know.

                                                                2. blue room RE: blue room Sep 9, 2012 09:08 AM

                                                                  Ricotta Fresca - Homemade Ricotta (p. 144)

                                                                  I had fun making this, and it surpasses storebought. With every intention of using it to stuff zucchini I oops made dessert instead.
                                                                  It's fresh cheese made from milk, cream, and salt. Rennet (I ordered vegetable rennet from the author's recommended source) causes the mix to separate into curds and whey. The process is very easy and logical (except for the chemistry/magic part :) It takes a little time and patience -- the *opposite* of "stir vigorously" is what's called for here. I followed directions and it worked well. I've posted a picture of the milk mix just before rennet was added, and the unmolded cheese. It would be fun to put leaves and ferns on the cheese to leave impressions, but this is just plastic basket design, of course. The curds are spooned into a porous container, drained for about two hours, and you've got lovely fresh ricotta. I made a half recipe and wish I'd made more.
                                                                  Note that Ms. Costantino has made this successfully with low-fat milk (2 percent) too.
                                                                  And then I made a Ricotta-Pineapple Pie, Carmela Soprano's recipe!
                                                                  Quite interesting to me, but for another day, are the variations -- ricotta salata and ricotta affumicata. Salted and smoked ricotta, drier and firmer.

                                                                  The pie is from "The Soprano's Family Cookbook".

                                                                  41 Replies
                                                                  1. re: blue room
                                                                    qianning RE: blue room Sep 9, 2012 09:19 AM

                                                                    Lovely! I have rennet ordered, and am duly noting your "*opposite* of "stir vigorously" is what's called for here."

                                                                    1. re: blue room
                                                                      BigSal RE: blue room Sep 9, 2012 09:24 AM

                                                                      Beautiful job! I'm tempted to get a cheese mold to try this.

                                                                      1. re: blue room
                                                                        qianning RE: blue room Sep 19, 2012 08:07 AM

                                                                        So, I finally got my rennet and am hoping to make a batch of ricotta this working. However, I didn't get draining baskets. and am wondering if I can use the metal containers that my store bought brand of ricotta comes in....picture follows, not sure how clear it is but there are drainage holes, although not so many as in the plastic baskets.

                                                                        1. re: qianning
                                                                          smtucker RE: qianning Sep 19, 2012 09:03 AM

                                                                          Probably, but you might consider starting with the cheesecloth in a colander, and then move to the bucket when the amount of liquid being expelled is smaller.

                                                                          1. re: smtucker
                                                                            qianning RE: smtucker Sep 19, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                                            that sounds like good advice.

                                                                            1. re: qianning
                                                                              blue room RE: qianning Sep 19, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                              I agree with smtucker, cheesecloth in colander, then a mold with some drainage. I think those plastic molds are meant to mimic real baskets -- all the holes aren't really neccessary.
                                                                              Please let us know how it goes, and what you plan to do with the ricotta.

                                                                              1. re: blue room
                                                                                qianning RE: blue room Sep 19, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                thanks...it probably won't happen until the weekend, but i will report back once i make it...hoping to make the ravioli, and maybe one of the "layered" dishes....we'll see.

                                                                          2. re: qianning
                                                                            qianning RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 06:17 AM


                                                                            1. re: qianning
                                                                              blue room RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 06:32 AM

                                                                              Awright!! A beautiful pot of cheese!
                                                                              Did you have any trouble, notable moments?

                                                                              1. re: blue room
                                                                                qianning RE: blue room Sep 25, 2012 06:58 AM

                                                                                LOL! I was being a tease, I confess.

                                                                                My only glitch was a fair amount of scorching on the bottom of the pan....anyone know why she doesn't have one stir the milk while it is coming up to temp?

                                                                                Also, i really wanted to make this with sheep's milk, which I thought would be easy to find around here. Dumb thought. It is late September in NH, no sheep's milk until the next lambing. So, I used a very good, very fresh, dare I say it (?) un-homogenized raw cow's milk and skipped the added cream, the results were plenty buttery, no need for the cream.

                                                                                To strain I started out in a buttercloth lined sieve, and moved the cheese into the tin once I was ready to store it in the fridge. So far I've used half for raviolini filling, not sure if the rest is going in a savory or a sweet dish.....will have to decide soon.

                                                                                1. re: qianning
                                                                                  smtucker RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 07:03 AM

                                                                                  The only goat's milk in my markets around here are ultra-paturized which doesn't make cheese. I had the same idea, and the same disappointment.

                                                                                  1. re: smtucker
                                                                                    qianning RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 07:09 AM

                                                                                    Oddly, goat's milk I can get fresh and pretty much all year (do goat's go dry?), but wasn't sure how strong it would be....and the way my schedule worked out I was closer to the cow dairy than the goat this week, but .next lot I'll try goat's milk. I now have plenty of rennet to use up!

                                                                                  2. re: qianning
                                                                                    Allegra_K RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 07:16 AM

                                                                                    Raw milk, what a find! I don't know about your area, but in my parts the selling of raw milk is illegal....such a shame.
                                                                                    How would sheep's milk compare to goat's milk? Is there such a thing as goat milk ricotta? I'm wanting to try this recipe as well, and raw goat milk I can get. I can't imagine milking a sheep by hand...all that lanolin would make for a tricky and sticky mess.
                                                                                    One more question for you cheese maestros. I have rennet in tablet form only. What ratio would I use to equal the liquid amounts called for in the recipe?

                                                                                    Thank you!

                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                                      qianning RE: Allegra_K Sep 25, 2012 07:27 AM

                                                                                      In the States raw milk is a state by state issue, in New Hampshire any dairy can sell it, and we have a good one fairly close by. For the most part I only use it for yogurts and Indian sweets, i.e. stuff where I'm going cook the milk anyway, but want it un-homogenized.

                                                                                      Sheep's milk is much richer (twice as much fat?) than goat's milk. As far as I'm concerned, anyone with the patience to raise either sheep or goat's is pretty much saintly. Lambs may be cute, but darn they are dumb, and kids are cute, but they are too clever by half!

                                                                                      FWIW, my rennet was tablet form too, the instructions that came with it said 1 tablet=1 tsp liquid rennet, and that's the formula I followed. It worked fine. I dissolved it in the same amount of water that Constantino gave for diluting the liquid rennet.

                                                                                      1. re: qianning
                                                                                        Allegra_K RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 07:50 AM

                                                                                        Yes, sheep are incredibly dense. It is for that reason that I cannot fathom having to milk one, even for the sake of cheese. It's bad enough trying to catch one! There aren't any sheep dairies around here, as far as I know.

                                                                                        For your query above, goats do dry up in milk production, usually 10 months after kidding, though it is easier to stagger breeding than sheep. It is also possible to continue to milk them year-round on occasion, but it depends on the doe and her breed, whereas I believe ewes generally will dry up as the weather cools and the days grow shorter in the fall, regardless of when they lamb. Fun facts learned from The Farm!

                                                                                        Thanks for the rennet tip. Must try now. Too bad the ravioli didn't work out for you...

                                                                                    2. re: qianning
                                                                                      blue room RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 07:30 AM

                                                                                      I'm so jealous that you have (sometimes anyway) access to "real" milk -- driving is a problem for me, so I have to rely on close-in, familiar groceries. I'm sure your cheese is superior, probably altogether different!
                                                                                      Yes, she says "Pour the milk into another pot to leave behind ...scorched milk...bottom of the pot." It surprised me too, but it worked fine. Two pots to clean (one with scorched milk,) or standing there at least 20 minutes stirring -- a choice.
                                                                                      Since making this with the rennet I've seen some other recipes which call for lemon juice, or vinegar. Ina Garten has one with more cream -- might make up for my dehumanized milk :) Her recipe also simplifies technique, ignores the slow stirring.
                                                                                      So I'm thinking that this Calabrian method is one of many.

                                                                                      1. re: blue room
                                                                                        qianning RE: blue room Sep 25, 2012 07:40 AM

                                                                                        Good points, there seem to be a profusion of ways to make ricotta. A friend of mine only makes it from leftover whey when she makes other cheeses. I'd guess all the different methods and milks would lead to slightly different flavors. This is giving me a glimmer into why cheese has so many different varieties/characteristics, which in the past was a pretty much complete mystery to me. Yet another great COTM learning experience for me.

                                                                                        1. re: qianning
                                                                                          Allegra_K RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 08:12 AM

                                                                                          That sounds like a fun side project for a cotm. Cheese making: the cookbook of the year! Having all sorts of cheeses aging in a little cheese cave....comparing recipes and methods. And of course, the eating. Oh, the eating!

                                                                                          1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                                            blue room RE: Allegra_K Sep 25, 2012 08:30 AM

                                                                                            "...little cheese cave..."
                                                                                            Oh dear, that's not in my job description as a chowhounder, is it?
                                                                                            There is a book called "The Cheesemonger's Kitchen," might be of interest as a COTM.

                                                                                            1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                                              qianning RE: Allegra_K Sep 25, 2012 09:28 AM

                                                                                              It has been occurring to me that this ricotta experience could quickly morph into a new obsession for me. Just calling around looking for sheep's milk I learned a lot, and when i started to track down rennet, there was yet another dimension to investigate.....but you're right it is more of a COT"Y" project....we'll see if I'm still intrigued by the time spring lambing comes around.

                                                                                              1. re: qianning
                                                                                                Allegra_K RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                                                                And after cheesemaking comes meat curing, then heck, why not a property outside of town raising a menagerie of critters, tapping maple trees etc. This could easily become a big problem.....

                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                                                  qianning RE: Allegra_K Sep 25, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                                                                  well, fortunately my cousin already taps her maple trees and we get the good stuff for free, so I'm safe on one count anyway.

                                                                                                  1. re: qianning
                                                                                                    smtucker RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 10:08 AM

                                                                                                    My mother "leases" her maple trees so I get the liquid gold for free yearly as well. But the meat curing? I would be in.

                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                      Allegra_K RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 10:44 AM

                                                                                                      That's one of my projects to learn for next spring: maple tapping. We don't have many of the sugar maples here, but the Manitoba Maple (aka Box Elder) is delicious in its own right. I've decided it's about time to make use of those quick-growing monsters.
                                                                                                      Though, there are many items on my ever-growing 'things to try' list...hopefully I don't forget by March.

                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                                                        qianning RE: Allegra_K Sep 25, 2012 12:06 PM

                                                                                                        smt: perhaps not what you ahd in mind, but i've always wanted to see a jane grigson book as cotm, http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Fre...

                                                                                                        a-k: your "hopefully I don't forget by March", pretty much summarizes the whole sheep's milk cheese project, & many other tings....

                                                                                        2. re: qianning
                                                                                          qianning RE: qianning Mar 30, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                          So, it is March--lambs abound, licensed sheep dairies though are a different matter. But I did manage to get a gallon of ewe's milk from the sole sheep dairy in NH, and have so far used a half gallon to make ricotta. Things went a little differently than they did with the cow's milk I used in the fall; so here's my take (and questions) from this round.

                                                                                          First, I used the same recipe, as I couldn't find a recipe for ewe's milk, I also used the same tablet form veg rennet (freezer stored since Sep 12). I used a heavier bottomed pan than last time, and did stir to prevent scorching. Otherwise, up until the point after the rennet has been added and the mixture allowed to rest, everything went swimmingly.

                                                                                          But when I stirred to break-up the curds, things started to look very different. The curd was much finer grained and much softer than with the cow's milk. No way no how was I going to be able to separate the curd from the whey in the bowl. After a few minutes I gave up and after a brief panic and some serious googling moved on to plan "B". Lined a large colander with butter-cloth muslin and allowed the whey to drain on its own. This worked fine.

                                                                                          The results are a gorgeous soft sweet cheese. Very very delicate. Now my only problem is figuring out what to do with it, this is definitely more of a dessert cheese than one for savories, I think. We'll see. Recipes for a good ricotta pie would be gratefully received!

                                                                                          And does anyone know, should the curd from sheep's milk be softer than from cow's?

                                                                                      2. re: qianning
                                                                                        smtucker RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 06:35 AM

                                                                                        Lovely! I had bought some high quality milk for this recipe, but the rennet hasn't arrived yet, so I made my standard ricotta recipe. Can't wait to compare the two when I get my hot water back.

                                                                                        1. re: qianning
                                                                                          LulusMom RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 07:25 AM

                                                                                          Impressive. You're my new roll model. So, how long can you keep rennet?

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                            qianning RE: LulusMom Sep 25, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                                                            Again, based on the instructions on my rennet tablets, at least 6 months in the freezer. The liquid form has a shorter shelf life, can't remember exactly how long, but the longer shelf life of the tablets was definitely a selling point for me.

                                                                                            This ricotta recipe was really pretty easy, technique-wise the only thing I'd change going forward is the pan I used, to see if I could find one that minimized the scorching.

                                                                                          2. re: qianning
                                                                                            BigSal RE: qianning Sep 25, 2012 06:40 PM

                                                                                            Wow!!! It looks so rich and creamy. I wish I could grab a spoonful to taste it. Inspired by you and blueroom, I have purchased rennet and a basket. I hope to make some ricotta in October.

                                                                                            1. re: BigSal
                                                                                              qianning RE: BigSal Sep 26, 2012 03:45 AM

                                                                                              It really is fun, and as BR pointed out there's a certain "magical" quality to it. Hope you enjoy.

                                                                                        2. re: blue room
                                                                                          nomadchowwoman RE: blue room Sep 25, 2012 02:49 PM

                                                                                          Very nice looking cheese--and a lovely dessert!

                                                                                          1. re: blue room
                                                                                            Caitlin McGrath RE: blue room Sep 29, 2012 08:39 PM

                                                                                            All this ricotta talk inspired me to make some for the first time. I didn't use the recipe in the book, and I didn't use rennet, but I'm posting about it here because all this ricotta talk inspired me to make some - which I then used to make a variation on parmigiana in the book.

                                                                                            I made it based on smtucker's helpful description of her regular process in another thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8667...), which worked great - thank you, smt! Mine wasn't as rich and creamy as the ones spoken of here because I used a quart of 2% milk, plus a little under a cup of half and half, along with 1/4 cup white wine vinegar. Because I used lower-fat milk, my yield wasn't very big, but it was just the amount needed for what I made. I wish I had stopped draining it a little sooner to keep it a little looser, but once the horse is out of the gate, etc. Next time.

                                                                                            Reading the discussion of raw and other milks above has me curious for a later go-round. I know there is raw milk from a couple of producers available at a market near me, and also pasteurized, cream-top (i.e., non-homogenized) milk.

                                                                                            1. re: blue room
                                                                                              BigSal RE: blue room Oct 28, 2012 01:45 PM

                                                                                              Ricotta Fresca - Homemade Ricotta p. 144 (half recipe)

                                                                                              Inspired by those of you who made ricotta fresca, I decided to give it a try myself. It was surprisingly easy and the results are creamy and luscious- worlds apart from store-bought (even the specialty ricotta from a local Italian grocer). If left to my own devices, I could probably eat the whole batch- one spoonful at a time. Although not indicated in the recipe, I did stir the milk to prevent scorching on the bottom. The next time, I think I will add the salt directly into the pan rather than pouring the contents into another pan. I would love to try making this with either sheep’s milk or goat’s milk too.

                                                                                              We ate the ricotta with some recipes from the Mozza cookbook. We made egg yolk ravoli (rich and delicious), gnudi with chanterelles and spinach (I forgot to add nutmeg to the gnudi. This was good, but not the best way to use fresh ricotta), and crostini with fresh ricotta and slow roasted tomatoes (this was very good. The slow roasted tomatoes are addictive, but would use a little less salt and pepper. These are much like Batali’s tomato raisins, but cook at a higher temperature for less time). Mozza’s version of fresh ricotta uses a lot more cream – not sure if I’ll get around to trying that version any time soon.

                                                                                              I’m feeling pretty confident after successfully making paneer and ricotta. Could this be the year I finally try making mozzarella?

                                                                                              1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                qianning RE: BigSal Oct 28, 2012 03:04 PM

                                                                                                Everything looks so scrumptious. I don't have the Mozza book, what's in the gnudi? Just ricotta and egg?

                                                                                                1. re: qianning
                                                                                                  BigSal RE: qianning Oct 28, 2012 04:41 PM

                                                                                                  Here is the recipe.http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ri.... The gnudi is made of ricotta, egg, nutmeg, parmigiano reggiano, melted butter and flour. This is a pretty luxurious dish not only because of the generous amounts of butter in the sauce , but also because of the very expensive chanterelles. Less rich, but still very delicious are Marcella Hazan's spinach and ricotta gnocchi.

                                                                                                  1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                    qianning RE: BigSal Oct 28, 2012 05:09 PM

                                                                                                    Thanks for the link.

                                                                                                    Funny, you mention Marcella's green gnocchi because that's one of my favorite uses for ricotta (sometimes I use spinach, sometimes chard), so I was surprised when you said you thought the gnudi wasn't the best use for the ricotta.

                                                                                                    1. re: qianning
                                                                                                      BigSal RE: qianning Oct 28, 2012 06:03 PM

                                                                                                      It's more that the texture and taste of the fresh ricotta doesn't come through as much in the gnudi as much as it would in ravioli, cannoli or just spread on bruschetta.

                                                                                                2. re: BigSal
                                                                                                  roxlet RE: BigSal Oct 28, 2012 04:04 PM

                                                                                                  Oh, yum! And very inspiring! I must make this!

                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                    BigSal RE: roxlet Oct 28, 2012 04:42 PM

                                                                                                    Let us know what you think when you make it.

                                                                                                  2. re: BigSal
                                                                                                    smtucker RE: BigSal Oct 28, 2012 04:45 PM

                                                                                                    This reminds me that I still have some of my ricotta in the fridge. Hmmm.... maybe ravioli is in my future.

                                                                                                    Your pictures are really lovely.

                                                                                                3. m
                                                                                                  MelMM RE: blue room Sep 10, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                                                  Insalata di Polipo, (Marinated Octupus Salad with Olive Oil and Lemon), p. 161

                                                                                                  I made a half recipe of this, with frozen octopus which was also smaller in size than called for, but still big enough to make decent chunks for a salad.

                                                                                                  The author talks at some length about how to cook the octopus, mentioning the necessity of tenderizing it. The method she offers up is dipping the octopus three time in the boiling water, before finally submerging it for a long simmer. While the author always uses this method, she admits to not having tried others (or just omitting these steps), and I found this lack of investigation a bit disappointing. In my experience, when using frozen octopus, you don't have to do anything to tenderize it, because the freezing itself has accomplished that for you. You can just boil it, straight from frozen if you want, and it will come out fine. That's what I did here. I also reduced the boiling time because I was using smaller octopus than called for.

                                                                                                  Once you have your octopus cooked, and cut it up, it is marinated for an hour or more in a mixture of parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. That's about all there is to it. While this salad was good, I felt that the marinade was actually a bit much for the octopus. The raw garlic and lemon overpowering just a bit. Many of you would probably disagree with me on this. I really like octopus, and am more and more inclined to serve it very simply, with just olive oil and salt, and a touch of paprika or red pepper. While this salad was good, my more minimalist preparation still remains my favorite.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM
                                                                                                    Gio RE: MelMM Sep 10, 2012 11:33 AM

                                                                                                    Mel, I'm so glad you reported on this recipe as it's been on my To Make list since the beginning. Every once in a while octopus is on offer at our local market and I've been waiting all Summer to no avail. Perhaps I better start looking through the frozen bin case. Also, I'm glad to read your tip about the frozen octopus. If I do get to make the dish I'll be sure to follow your advice.

                                                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                                                      MelMM RE: Gio Sep 10, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                                                      Frozen octopus is a godsend. It is also the only way I can get it where I live right now, so it's a good thing for me it works so well.

                                                                                                  2. LulusMom RE: blue room Sep 14, 2012 07:29 AM

                                                                                                    Ricotta and Roasted Pepper Frittata (from the website: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...


                                                                                                    My husband went crazy over this - said it was the best frittata he'd ever had. For me it was perfectly fine and pleasant, but I wouldn't rave about it. You cut a small waxy potato thinly along with a small onion and saute these in an oven proof pan until lightly browned and soft. Meanwhile mix the eggs with pecorino, salt, oregano, parsley and pepper. Once the potato/onion mix is done you take it off the head, add the egg mixture and stir, then top with roasted red pepper slices (I cheated and used bottled) and dollops of ricotta and bake. Very simple and pleasant (but according to my husband the be all and end all of frittatas). Served with a ceasar salad.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                      Gio RE: LulusMom Sep 14, 2012 08:06 AM

                                                                                                      LOL, LLM. You don't sound very pleased with his assessment.... Sometimes it takes so little to please them.

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                        LulusMom RE: Gio Sep 14, 2012 08:26 AM

                                                                                                        Laughing! You're right, rereading it, I don't sound pleased. I was happy that he was happy, I just didn't get it.

                                                                                                    2. p
                                                                                                      painperdu RE: blue room Sep 16, 2012 02:40 PM

                                                                                                      Pesce Spada Alla Ghiotta P. 175

                                                                                                      This is swordfish "glutton style". Calabrians must have a different sense of what constitutes gluttony, we found this to be an easy, tasty and healthy fish treatment that calls for quickly searing the steaks, and simmering them briefly in a pan sauce of fresh tomatoes, capers and green olives. We needed to clean out the fridge in advance of a trip (to Italy!), so we used mahi mahi instead of swordfish. We were able to use the last of the summer tomatoes in the sauce. The green olives really made the difference for us, loved the texture and the flavour. We didnt have the suggested parsley, I think that would freshen up the taste even further. Served with rice and roasted cauliflower. Would certainly do this again.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: painperdu
                                                                                                        Breadcrumbs RE: painperdu Sep 16, 2012 02:45 PM

                                                                                                        So glad to hear of your success painperdu, I have this dish tabbed for a dinner this week. I plan on using salmon since I have an abundance in the freezer at the moment it seems. I'll let you know how it goes. Congrats on the trip to Italy...how wonderful. You'll have to tell us all about it on your return.

                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                          painperdu RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 16, 2012 05:13 PM

                                                                                                          It would be interesting to know how this would work with a stronger flavored fish like salmon, rather than a more neutral white. Look forward to the report, Breadcrumbs!

                                                                                                        2. re: painperdu
                                                                                                          Caitlin McGrath RE: painperdu Sep 21, 2012 09:16 PM

                                                                                                          Pesce Spada Alla Ghiott (Swordfish "Glutton-Style" with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers), p. 175

                                                                                                          I was finally able to get the book from the library last weekend, just in time for me to come down with a cold. Now that I'm recovering, I hope to be able to make a few things before the end of the month.

                                                                                                          I got a start with this recipe tonight, and it's a winner. Quick and simple, with only a few ingredients, but a ton of flavor. I don't much care for swordfish, but my market had wild Columbia River king salmon on sale for $12.99/lb, so I went with that and it worked very well with the robust flavors of the sauce.

                                                                                                          The fish is seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged lightly with flour, and browned briefly on each side in olive oil before being moved to a plate. Thinly sliced onions are added to the pan and cooked a few minutes until softened, then tomatoes, green olives (mine were large, and I quartered them), and capers are added and cooked until the tomatoes soften and start to give up their juices. While she calls for peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes, I had a box of red cherry and yellow pear tomatoes that were a gift from someone's garden, so I simply quartered them and used them as is. The fish is now returned to the pan; we are instructed to bury it in the sauce, but that wasn't possible with my thicker salmon fillets, so I plopped a lid on the pan and let them go until done. (She calls for 3/8-inch thick swordfish fillets, and I don't think I've ever seen any that thin.)

                                                                                                          As I said, simple, quick dish (at least without starting out by peeling tomatoes), where the fish is complemented by both the sweet flavors of summer tomatoes and sautéed onions and the pungent, umami-rich olives and capers. I'm sure I'll repeat this. I served it with zucchini sautéed with garlic, pine nuts, and golden raisins, a dish from Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

                                                                                                        3. s
                                                                                                          smtucker RE: blue room Sep 24, 2012 05:02 PM

                                                                                                          Salsiccia Calabrese, page 211
                                                                                                          Fresh Homemade Fennel Sausage Calabrian Style

                                                                                                          I really want to make the pasta with ricotta and sausage recipe, and since I had some pork in the freezer, I decided to make her sausage. The pork in my freezer didn't have enough fat so I bought some pork fat at the new meat butcher in my neighborhood. I modified the method just a bit. I cut the pork and fat into cubes and then tossed them with the aromatics and let them sit in the fridge for several hours before grinding. I didn't have fennel pollen so I used fennel seeds that I ground with a pestle.

                                                                                                          I then let the ground meat sit overnight in the fridge to let the flavors do their thing. I make sausage often, but for some reason getting this mixture into the casings was difficult. THe mixture had not be emulsified, and that seemed to happen on the way to the casing. So instead of 1 lb of linked sausage, I had about 3/4 lb.

                                                                                                          For lunch, I rolled the non-cased sausage by hand assisted by some saran wrap, and then sauteed it with some onions and cherry peppers. A very nice meal for the middle of the day.

                                                                                                          I found this sausage to be a bit under seasoned. My mistake since I didn't test a quenelle before finishing the sausage. If I make this again, I will add more salt and hot peppers.

                                                                                                          [My house will not have hot water for the next four days, so I had to cook up almost everything in the fridge so I don't create dirty dishes until Friday night.]

                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                            smtucker RE: smtucker Sep 24, 2012 05:03 PM

                                                                                                            Oh, and the picture.

                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                              L.Nightshade RE: smtucker Sep 24, 2012 11:59 PM

                                                                                                              Truly wonderful! If this was at my disposal, I'd stick one skewer across the diameter, and another perpendicular, toss it on the grill, and be very happy.
                                                                                                              Nicely done smtucker!

                                                                                                              1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                nomadchowwoman RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                Wow, wow, wow . . .

                                                                                                              2. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                Breadcrumbs RE: smtucker Sep 24, 2012 05:21 PM

                                                                                                                omg smtucker, you are such an inspiration! I read your post in awe. Honestly. I tip my apron to you...well done and what an amazing likeness to have achieved for a case-less sausage. Beautiful!

                                                                                                                ...btw I'd highly recommend the fennel pollen if you can get some but I'd never put it in a recipe. It's so expensive and IMHO, it really shines when used to finish a dish, right before serving. I also buy ground fennel for next to nothing at an Indian grocer. It's great in a pinch.

                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                  nomadchowwoman RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 25, 2012 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                  I've looked high and loow for fennel pollen, to no avail, and ordering it online means shipping that is almost as expensive as a small tin of the pollen. Do you order it, bc?

                                                                                                                  I'm going to be in Chicago in a week or so so I will see if I can find it there.

                                                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman
                                                                                                                    Breadcrumbs RE: nomadchowwoman Sep 25, 2012 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                    Hi ncw, I've found mine at Gourmet shop in a market building in Toronto but I've also bought it in Chicago before I found it here. Not sure how familiar you are w Chicago but there's a fabulous spice store in Old Town called "The Spice House" the owner is a Penzey (daughter). They definitely have it along w a number of other wonderful spices. I buy my Cinnamon, porcini powder, tomato powder, chilies, and fennel seeds here. (We love Chicago and visit frequently!). If you get to Old Town, I'd also recommend stopping in at Old Town Oil as well. Their Cab Sauv Vinegar, Sherry Vinegar and Lemon infused olive oils are outstanding...and you can sample everything!! Oh and then there's another stop at the Twisted Baker...home to my all-time favourite Red Velvet Cupcake and some amazing cookies and other goodies!! I'll bet you're sorry you asked about now!!

                                                                                                                    Here's a link to Spice House Fennel Pollen:


                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                      nomadchowwoman RE: Breadcrumbs Sep 25, 2012 08:40 PM

                                                                                                                      I have ordered from The Spice House, but not actually been there--but I will make a point of it, and I'll stop in at Old Town Oil as well. I get to Chicago often--did not even realize The Spice House was so easily accessible!
                                                                                                                      Thank you. (Though I am ignoring your comment about the Twisted Baker. I am.)

                                                                                                                2. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                  BigSal RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                  Impressive!!! It looks gorgeous and makes me want to try making sausage. In my book, the recipe calls for wild fennel seed which I thought was different than fennel pollen. The wild fennel seeds I have are like my regular fennel seeds, but intensified aroma and taste. The fennel pollen I have has a very different fragrance and texture.

                                                                                                                  P.S. Good luck without hot water until Friday.

                                                                                                                  1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                                    smtucker RE: BigSal Sep 25, 2012 07:06 PM

                                                                                                                    You might be right.... I saw the word wild and just filled in. And wild fennel is very "in" right now.

                                                                                                                3. s
                                                                                                                  smtucker RE: blue room Sep 24, 2012 05:20 PM

                                                                                                                  Pitta con Verduna, page 131
                                                                                                                  Stuffed Pizza with Chard and Dill

                                                                                                                  The picture of this bread on page 133 sucked me in. I had to make this!

                                                                                                                  One starts the bread in the morning with flour, yeast, salt and water. The dough rises for about 2 hrs in a bowl coated in olive oil. The second rise is done on a clean dish towel, scatter some flour over the top with a second dish towel. I also covered with the original glass bowl to prevent drying.

                                                                                                                  I substituted spinach for the swiss chard. Just looked better this week at the farm. The greens and scallions are tossed with a lot of salt and left to wilt in a colander for at least 30 minutes. I don't have a colander big enough for over a lb of greens, so I started to wilt in a soup pot, and as the mixture wilted, transferred it to the colander. Then you wash the salt off of the greens, and squeeze out as much water as possible. The mixture is now combined with some paprika, hot peppers, fresh dill, and some oil.

                                                                                                                  Place the dough on a 1/2 sheet pan and spread the dough until it covers the entire pan. Here, I think she could have been a bit more helpful and instructed that when the dough starts to jump back, to let the dough rest. Now spread the greens mixture on half of the dough, and then pull the other half of the dough over to cover the filling.

                                                                                                                  This filled pizza looks great and smelled wonderful as it baked. This will serve as our lunch all week long. If I remember I will try to take a picture once we have taken out a slice.

                                                                                                                  [My house will not have hot water for the next four days, so I had to cook up almost everything in the fridge so I don't create dirty dishes until Friday night. Our filled pizza will be served on paper plates!]

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                    blue room RE: smtucker Sep 24, 2012 11:51 PM

                                                                                                                    Wow --look at that sausage! I have to say, the sausage (to me) is daunting, but the stuffed pizza is inspiring!

                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                      qianning RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                                                                                      That looks fantastic! Not sure I'd even need a plate, paper or otherwise, to dive in....good luck w/ the plumbing.

                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                        smtucker RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 09:56 AM

                                                                                                                        And here is a piece I cut for today's lunch. The bread was delicious but the filling was a bit too one-note for us. A bit of cheese, roasted tomato, or some vinegar would have perked this up a lot. This would be a great dish to bring to a pot-luck or serve when you have tons of people over.

                                                                                                                        1. re: smtucker
                                                                                                                          blue room RE: smtucker Sep 25, 2012 12:28 PM

                                                                                                                          I was wondering if a little of that sausage could find its way into the spinach mix!

                                                                                                                          With bread that is reliable *and* delicious it won't be hard to think up fillings. Would you call the bread chewy?

                                                                                                                      2. b
                                                                                                                        bkieras RE: blue room Sep 29, 2012 07:10 PM

                                                                                                                        Pesce Spada alla Bagnarese - Swordfish in a Garlicky Broth, Bagnara Style.

                                                                                                                        Another simple, tasty dish! I'll be sad for September to close and this book to go back on the shelf, even though I am very excited about the October selection.

                                                                                                                        I got fresh swordfish - expensive! But the old man loves it, so I guess its worth it. This was a fun dish to make. I cut the fish horizontally to get the thickness she recommends. The fish is placed in a baking dish coated with a smidge of olive oil, after being salted and peppered. You sprinkle garlic, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and a little water over the fish. Then you set the baking dish down into a large pot or roasting pan - I used my dutch oven. Put on high heat, and pour boiling water around the baking dish. It cooks for about 8 minutes - I left mine on just a bit longer, because the hubby is weird about fish possibly being undercooked.

                                                                                                                        Even with the few extra minutes, I was really pleased with this. We've tried swordfish before and it seems to overcook pretty easily. The sauce was garlicky, but light and very good. We served with the zucchini parmesan recipe, which I'll review on the appropriate thread. I would certainly make this again, and I'm likely to try this method with other fish and variations on the sauce.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: bkieras
                                                                                                                          blue room RE: bkieras Sep 30, 2012 06:50 AM

                                                                                                                          I'd like to try this method for cooking, but would probably be "weird about ... possibly undercooked" too! Still, a delicate way to cook such delicate "meat".
                                                                                                                          Thank you for showing this.

                                                                                                                        2. BigSal RE: blue room Sep 5, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                                                                                          Grilled Swordfish Rolls with Breadcrumb Stuffing (Braciole de Pesce Spada alla Griglia) p. 172

                                                                                                                          We have been grilling all week trying to take in the last of the summer weather before it becomes a distant memory.

                                                                                                                          Thin slices of seasoned swordfish is topped with a stuffing made of breadcrumbs, garlic, pecorino romano, capers, olive oil and parsley then rolled up and secured with toothpicks. The swordfish rolls are brushed with salmoriglio (olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, sliced hot pepper and olive oil). Grill and serve with additional salmoriglio. This can be served hot or at room temperature. Both of us enjoyed the simple flavors of this dish. With some advanced preparation, this could be an easy dish for entertaining.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                                            Breadcrumbs RE: BigSal Sep 7, 2013 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                            This sounds wonderful BigSal, thanks for your review and alerting us to this recipe. Like you we've been trying to cram as much grilling in as possible before the decent weather slips away. This sounds like a winner.

                                                                                                                            1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                                              e_bone RE: BigSal Sep 17, 2013 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                              I have a similar recipe from Ada Boni's classic book Italian Regional Cooking. By all means find that book if you can.

                                                                                                                              I've made it several times in variations- the VERY best time: I had a friend at a deli slice a mostly-frozen swordfish loin on his deli slicer. VERY thin. Stuffed it with fresh oregano, capers, squid, garlic, breadcrumbs, olive oil, romano.. grilled and served with salmoriglio. It was for a Sopranos party in the mid-90's. It was heavenly.

                                                                                                                              1. re: e_bone
                                                                                                                                BigSal RE: e_bone Sep 17, 2013 06:06 PM

                                                                                                                                I do have Ada Boni's book, but have never cooked from it. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll have to look it up.

                                                                                                                                I am intrigued by the variation with squid you describe. Sounds delicious.

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