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September 2012 COTM My Calabria: Vegetables, The Calabrian Pantry, Desserts

Please post your reports here for these dishes:

Vegetables…..233 - 268

The Calabrian Pantry…..269 - 310

Desserts…..311 - 360

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  1. I originally posted this elsewhere when I made the dish but thought I'd re-post here now:

    Funghi con Pomodoro – p. 254

    Tomatoes and wild mushrooms are abundant at our local market so this dish seemed like the perfect accompaniment to our grilled steak. I used chilli flakes vs the whole dry chilli and a mix of cherry tomatoes and chopped zebras. I also added some chopped garlic. This was a simple dish but the flavours were big and bold. We’ll definitely have this again. High heat cooking ensured the mushrooms stayed dry and caramelized. Delicious! I also grilled some panini that I'd spread with the lovely basil compound butter from FWAD.

    1. "Peaches" with Pastry Cream p. 333

      These were not hard to do, but time will be consumed. I was afraid shaping the cookies would be tricky, but two slightly flattened spheres do the trick.
      The dough is butter, flour, sugar, milk, eggs, baking powder -- and lemon zest makes a nice hint/scent of fruit. The cookie is of course soft when warm, and you excavate a little hollow in each one -- pastry cream will go inside. (This isn't hard to do and goes pretty fast.) They do firm up when cool, but aren't crisp or brittle like shortbread.
      The pastry cream is milk, more lemon zest, egg yolks, sugar, and flour. Lemon-peel-steeped milk is combined with well-whisked sugar and yolks, thickened with flour, cooked 'til thick enough to hold its own. When cool, the pastry cream fills the hollows you've carved and sticks two cookies together.
      Then you paint, with a pastry brush and colored rum, each "peach".
      The book also suggests using maraschino liqueur (which is clear), and peach schnapps.
      It took more food coloring than I thought it would (red and yellow) to color a small amount of rum. But YMMV -- proceed with caution! This painting is messy -- my silicone pastry brush just slopped liquid, it didn't really *brush*. But in no time I had some orangey balls. Let them dry just a minute or so, to soak in the booze, and roll in sugar to mimic peach fuzz.
      Below, a branchlet from my backyard peach tree and a plate of these Pesche con Crema -- can you tell which is which? :)

      7 Replies
      1. re: blue room

        First of all br, the peaches from your yard look stunning! I'm so craving one...picture perfect peaches! Your cookies look amazing and I wish I could reach into the screen and have one right now! Alas, I don't think I'll be making these but I really enjoyed reading your post and wish someone would make these for me!!

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          Thank you, Breadcrumbs and qianning.
          Yes, the peaches are nice like that every year -- they aren't much bigger than golf balls though.
          By the way, if anyone does make these, I'd suggest fine-grained sugar (NOT powdered) for the "peach fuzz" -- it would look more delicate.

          1. re: blue room

            Fresh peaches from your own tree, what a treat that must be!
            Both photos look fantastically tantalizing, great job!

            1. re: blue room

              Really good job blue room! Beautiful. So ... how were they (or did I miss that in being stunned by how pretty they look?)?

              1. re: LulusMom

                They are sweet and gently lemony, even more gently boozy. To eat, you pick one up, twist, then you have one half in each hand. Lick the pastry cream off or just bite into the cookie -- your choice. Actually, I've googled other recipes for the same since making them, and some people mix chopped nuts and chocolate to fill the "pit" hollow. When I was making them I was thinking how almost anything could provide the flavor, inside and out. As they are now though, a mild flavor.

              2. re: blue room

                That is just lovely Blue room! Both your peaches, and the filled cookies. Great idea to phtograph both.

                I am excited to pick up my copy from the library tomorrow. It finally came in.....

              3. Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmigiana with Fresh Ricotta), p. 252

                The author explains in the headnote how this is a much lighter version of this dish than is traditional. The eggplant is cut crosswise into rounds, salted, brushed with oil, and baked for 10 minutes per side. Then it is layered in a baking dish with the quick tomato sauce from p. 53, whole milk ricotta, and grated pecorino or or Parmigiano cheese. In the headnotes, the author states a preference for pecorino here, so that is what I used. It makes the recipe title a misnomer, but so be it.

                This dish is so simple, but absolutely delicious. The simple tomato sauce deserves a post of it's own, so I'll give it one, but for now I'll just say the the bright, pure tomato flavor of that sauce was a perfect foil to the creamy ricotta. The eggplant softened up beautifully without being greasy or soggy. And the pecorino was, I'm convinced, the right choice, being a brighter, tangier flavor than Parmigiano.

                24 Replies
                1. re: MelMM

                  That's so funny Mel, not only did we both cook this on the same day but we must have been posting about it at the EXACT SAME TIME!!! LOL!!

                  Glad you had the same reaction to it that we did...absolutely delicious!!

                  ETA: I'm deleting my original post and re-posting under your review.

                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Apparently great minds not only think alike, but get up at the same time in the morning!

                    I too, see a grilled version in my future. I think it would be sublime.

                    1. re: MelMM

                      Very funny isn't it Mel? I've asked the mods to delete what's left of my original post...for some reason it's not letting me delete the photos.

                      I was eyeing the zucchini parm recipe in the book but I feel like I'd prefer to roast or grill the zucchini vs fry it since this technique worked so well. We'll see.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        I was eying that same recipe. I even picked up some zucchini yesterday with it in mind.

                  2. re: MelMM

                    Parmigiana di Melanzane – Eggplant Parmigiana with Fresh Ricotta – p. 252

                    This is a wonderful version of one of my absolute favourite Italian dishes. The author is quick to point out that this recipe is not a traditional Calabrese preparation in that the sliced soppressata and hard boiled eggs are omitted and the Caciocavallo cheese is replaced w fresh ricotta. Feeling the traditional dish was too rich for her palate, the author adapted a recipe for a dish she enjoyed at a restaurant in Scalea. Though she notes that the Calabrese normally fry the eggplant slices (as did I up until now), in her version the eggplant is roasted or grilled.

                    Preparation is very straightforward and, if you have the Quick Tomato Sauce on hand (recipe p. 53) then you’ll have very few ingredients to work with as you pull this together. Eggplants are sliced and placed on a parchment lined baking sheet then brushed w evoo and dusted w kosher salt before roasting @ 400° until lightly browned and tender. Though the author suggests this will take approx 20 mins, it took 30 in my case. While my eggplant were getting soft, they weren’t browning and next time I make this I may use convection to see if that helps dissipate some of the steam and shortens the process.

                    Slices of cooked eggplant are placed atop a thin layer of tomato sauce in a baking dish. Eggplant is then topped w more tomato sauce, grated pecorino and dollops of fresh ricotta. This process is repeated and if all goes well you’ll end w a layer of eggplant which you’ll top w a final layer of sauce. In my case, things didn’t quite work out that way. I would have needed to use a smaller pan to have more layers however, if that were the case, the recommended 2.5” deep pan would have been inadequate as my rectangular pan was that depth and my ingredients almost filled the pan. I ended up spreading the final (small amount) of sauce atop a cheese layer and popped the dish in the oven to bake. RC recommends 30 mins @ 400° however mine took about 45 mins.

                    I did make one slight adaptation on the recommended ingredients. I had approx ¾ cup of grated mozzarella on hand so I sprinkled it in with the cheese layers to use it up.

                    This was exceptional and one of the best eggplant Parmesan dishes I can recall making. mr bc, a confirmed eggplant-hater said he “loved” this dish and felt it was just as good as his favourite lasagna. I couldn’t have been happier!! I can’t wait to make this again w grilled eggplant, I’ll bet that will be spectacular.

                    Quick Tomato Sauce review & photo posted here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8661...

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      It is so heartening to hear you say Mr. Breadcrumbs hates eggplant, loves this. Every time I cook eggplant I'm appalled at the oil -- but this way maybe will work. And of course the rest of it looks delicious. I now have rennet and (plastic) basket molds at the ready for my homemade ricotta too. Probably next week.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Parmigiana di Melanzane, p. 252

                        If not for all the raves here, I'd likely not have tried this: I got my husband to eat (and learn to love) eggplant with eggplant parmigiana--the one that involves breading and frying slices (that absorb tons of OO) and lots of mozzarella (not to mention a fair amount of work). In fact, he always asks for it (AND Veal Parm!) for his birthday, so I was a little afraid to mess with one of his favorites. Add to that that he's not overly fond of ricotta in baked dishes and that I'd once tried baking eggplant EP and ended up with chewy, dried out slices.

                        Clearly, my technique had been all wrong. I loved the way these slices worked in the finished dish. They were creamy, and my husband didn't even realize they weren't fried. I doubt I'll go back to frying (though I did miss--just a tad--the breadcrumbs).

                        I made about 1/3 the recipe, using the Quick Tomato Sauce (p. 53), and 1 lb of eggplant; because of the size of my baking dish, I ended up with only three layers. I used a goat milk ricotta from one of my favorite FM vendors, as it was all he had, but he assured me that it was mild tasting (and it was), and a good pecorino romano. Although the initial eggplant baking/browning took longer than the recipe suggests (30-35 minutes in my case), I baked the completed dish for the recommeneded 30 minutes, and it was perfect. We ate this with some grilled sweet Italian sausage, asparagus, and a little cucumber, grape tomato, and onion salad..

                        Once again, COTM reports force me out of my comfort zone. We both loved this lighter, less labor-intensive version; DH said he'd gladly settle for it any time--but also said he wouldn't mind if I added a little mozzarella next time.

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          ncw I love that this worked so well for you and know exactly what you mean about the impact of the COTM on your cooking. Tonight I made a COTM dish I'd never have noticed had it not been for the buzz here. Also, what a beautiful baking dish...will you tell us more about it? (aside from cookbooks, I also have a bit of a thing for kitchenware...go figure!!)


                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Yes, it's funny about COTM--I've had this cookbook a while, and not much in it interested me until this month. Although I haven't had as much time for cooking, I've got several recipes marked after reading all the reports.

                            And I may as well 'fess up--kitchenware is my other addiction too. This particular dish is something I picked up on the clearance shelf at TJMaxx a few years ago (a place I try to stay out of as I can always find something for the kitchen that is such a bargain, you know?). I love the color and the scalloped edges, but what I really love is the size--perfect when I'm cooking for two.

                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              Here in Canada we have Winners which is a TJX Company and the TJMaxx counterpart here. We also have HomeSense vs HomeGoods and like you, I try to avoid them as inevitably I end up coming home w some item I just can't pass up and don't have any space for! I love that dish, it's beautiful!

                      2. re: MelMM

                        I am attempting this dish as I type, sauce is on the stove and eggplant is in the oven.
                        I do not, unfortunately, have the book yet!
                        You and breadcrumbs gave such great descriptions earlier that I felt compelled to wing it.
                        Any advice or proportions you think I need would be most appreciative.
                        It smells good in here already, even though it's hot as heck. Oh well, laboring on labor days to make up for all those days of vacation!

                        1. re: rabaja

                          rabaja kudos to you! 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of your 2 - 2.5 L. baking pan (at least 2.5" deep). eggplant layer next, don't overlap (according to the book) top w 1/2 c. sauce then 2 tbsp pecorino then approx 2/3c ricotta in small evenly spaced dollops. Repeat 2 more times but don't sweat it if you can't...see my post. finish w 2tbsp pecorino. Bake until bubbly hot and the author says to rest for 30 mins...which I did. We just had leftovers tonight and it was even better than day 1...buon appetito rabaja...let us know how it turns out.

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Thank you so very much breadcrumbs!
                            You are my life saver!

                            1. re: rabaja

                              Can't wait to hear how you like it. mr bc loves it and even preferred it to his chicken tonight...high praise from a confirmed meat-eater!

                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Parmigiana di Melanzane

                              Ok, we loved this dish. It was so simple and delicious, and it just sang out End of Summer. Using produce from our own garden was icing on the cake.

                              I'd harvested almost 11 lbs. of tomatoes yesterday morning, so I made a triple batch of sauce. It was a mixture of Early Girls and Heirlooms, which yielded a slightly watery sauce, but I cooked it down a little more at the end and it had a nice body when all was said and done. Loved how simple the ingredients were, and I used great restraint with my garlic and basil leaves, although I decided to put the sauce through my food mill when it had cooled some, so the garlic was pureed in.
                              -I just couldn't throw away the juice from my tomatoes after peeling them, but I wanted to get rid of the seeds, so this was my compromise. I now have almost 4quarts of tomato sauce in my fridge and freezer, with really very little effort.

                              I guessed on the amount of eggplant to roast, and didn't really end up with quite enough to make three even layers in the parmigiana, but almost. I sliced up a rosa bianca and a traditional globe and oiled them on one side and roasted at 400 on a rack, so no turning. They got nice and tender and brown. Love the no-frying required in this recipe.

                              Once I had my sauce and eggplant it was smooth sailing, thanks to Breadcrumbs quick response. I ladled and layered and dolloped and sprinkled, filling my almost 2 qt. gratin easily. I used a sheeps milk ricotta and the suggested pecorino.
                              Into the oven for 40 minutes, gave it an extra long rest while we cleaned up a painting project. -that is a testimony to how easy this dish was to put together. I made the sauce and the completed dish after painting my living room. Take-out was not ordered. Woot!

                              It was very well received, but I don't think it would have been a replacement for a meat dish with my husband. We grilled pork chops and had those with the parmigiana and sautéed spinach. Maybe one generous serving leftover, but that's only because I started with only two eggplant. Next time I'd double that, though they were home grown so probably smaller than what you may find in the market.
                              Looking forward to getting this book from the library soon, and again, a great big Thank You to Breadcrumbs!

                              1. re: rabaja

                                You are so welcome rabaja and I'm glad you enjoyed this. It really is a quick and delicious dish isn't it? The roasting of the eggplant is revolutionary for me...I'll never look back!! Of course I will try grilling before the summer's out though. Glad this worked out for you!

                                1. re: rabaja

                                  I think using a food mill instead of seeding tomatoes is a very classic Italian technique... at my friend Sly's cooking school in Puglia, this week is 'tomato sauce week', when they put up all the tomatoes for a YEARS worth of sauce.

                                  They do it like that, cauldron's and cauldrons of roma tomatoes cooked with just a bit of bay leaf, garlic and one sprig of thyme and oregano per giant pot. All goes through a food mill (big industrial version that travels on a truck from house to house doing this for all the Italian ladies in the area), then put up in bottles saved all year... usually they do over 600 bottles during this week at his school!

                                  Glad you like this way of making eggplant parm. I do it this way always - but usually grill my eggplant. So light, easy to digest, and as good as lasagna with less calories and carbs.

                            3. re: MelMM

                              Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmigiana with Fresh Ricotta) p. 252

                              I have not had this dish since I was in my teens. In the version I knew, the eggplant was deep-fried in breadcrumbs and then layered with a heavy tomato sauce with lots of mozzarella cheese. I've always loved eggplant (especially tempura), but eggplant parmesan (the way I knew it) was never a favorite. Based on the reviews and having a lonely eggplant in the fridge, I decided to give it a try and am glad I did. Tender eggplant, bright tomato sauce, and creamy ricotta make for a delightful combination of flavors. Uncomplicated and tasty. I hope to try the zucchini version, but plan to oven roast the zucchini instead of fry.

                              1. re: BigSal

                                I made this too, and this was much the best eggplant parm I've had!

                              2. re: MelMM

                                Another rave for the eggplant parm. I didn't have a good sized casserole dish so I made two small ones, but I was able to achieve the correct number of layers in both. I also had to Bake the dish for longer than 30 minutes as my oven is slow, and so the top dried up a bit. I was wishing for a bit more sauce. Still it was absolutely delicious. I used her quick tomato sauce and fresh ricotta from joes dairy in NYC and pecorino Romano for the hard cheese, and the flavors went incredibly well with the eggplant. My favorite thing about this dish was the roasted eggplant. Usually this dish is so heavy with fried eggplant or, worse, breaded and fried eggplant. Ioved the lightness that roasting imparted, and I think grilled would be even better, but I don't have a grill.

                                1. re: Westminstress

                                  Yet another rave for the eggplant parm! I made the quick tomato sauce following the recipe exactly but had to cheat a little on this one.

                                  I decided to make this spur of the moment after dinner. I had the tomato sauce, pecorino and eggplant, but no ricotta. Since I was home alone with my 3 little kiddies (already bathed and in jammies) so going to the store is out of the question. So substitution was a necessity. I subbed full fat cottage cheese. I am slightly embarrassed to say I don't think I've ever had fresh ricotta so not sure how far off this sub is. Happy to say the eggplant was great!

                                  I must say, I was not too excited by the idea of My Calabria. Library didn't have it and I didn't buy the book because it just didn't grab me. But if the Sugo di pomodoro and this recipe are any indication, I just might have to buy this book.

                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                    I think that sounds like a great sub, as I almost always have cottage cheese, but ricotta, not so much (the one I buy spoils so quickly!).

                                    Did it curdle at all, or just melt like the ricotta would? I can see how this would be lighter on the waistline, as well.
                                    Very impressed you had the energy to do this in the evening, after the three kiddies were bathed and in jammies...tires me out just thinking about it!

                                    1. re: rabaja

                                      It mainly melted although, if looking for them, you could see a few individual "curds." It mainly integrated into the dish and just added a little creaminess without standing out as an individual element on its own.

                                      Yes, the fact that I could do it after bath is a testament to how easy the dish is once you have the sauce made!

                                2. re: MelMM

                                  Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmigiana with Fresh Ricotta), p. 252

                                  Except I made it with zucchini, because I had that from the farmers' market. I made a half recipe, roasting the zucchini. It ended up being a small dish, though I did make four layers of zucchini - roasted it until browned and tender, it loses a lot of volume! I prepared the various components - sauce (for which I used Pomi tomatoes), zucchini, ricotta (which I made) - the day before, so all I had to do yesterday was grate the pecorino and assemble the dish before putting it in the oven.

                                  I thought the dish was good, but I wasn't blown away by it. I offer this with a grain of salt (and am taking it that way for myself!) because, obviously I didn't quite do it as intended. I definitely will try it with eggplant (which I love) sometime.

                                3. Sun dried zucchini - Calabrian Pantry

                                  As I mentioned earlier, I am having trouble being motivated by this book. Having said this, I really like the pantry section. I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday and I am going to attempt the sun dried zucchini this week. If all goes well, I will use it as a topping on crostini and report back on both this weekend. Wish me luck!

                                  Blue Room, I am so glad to see you made the peaches with pastry cream. They looked so pretty I tabbed them myself. I don't think I'll get around to making them, but they are quite beautiful and I really wanted to see how they came out. Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through your post.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                    I'm really curious about this recipe. Can't wait to hear how it comes out.

                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                      You know, when I saw that pantry chapter in the book I thought to myself, "well if you don't like the Italian food you'd still be able to use this section".

                                    2. Ciambotta (Southern Italy's Summer Vegetable Stew) half recipe p. 244

                                      This was a great way to enjoy the summer’s bounty. Eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and Yukon Gold potatoes are cut into similar size pieces and cooked separately. The eggplant is fried (this is the one thing I would change. Although it turned out delicious, I think sautéing them like the other vegetables would be better). Once all of the vegetables are sautéed and set aside, one cooks the onions and garlic until soft, then adds basil and peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes and cooks until softened. Then all of the cooked vegetables are added and simmered for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Rest 30 minutes before serving.

                                      The addition of the potatoes makes it a hearty dish. Even though it takes longer to cook the vegetables separately, I think the results are worth it- each vegetable is perfectly cooked. The ciambotta tastes better the longer it rests- to test the theory, I’ve eaten a forkful every time I walked by the kitchen. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: BigSal

                                        "to test the theory, I’ve eaten a forkful every time I walked by the kitchen"...that got a good laugh here.

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          I sometimes purposely walk by the kitchen, so I have an excuse to take another taste test!

                                        2. re: BigSal

                                          Ciambotta, p. 244

                                          Gave this a try too, and enjoyed it very much! My potatoes were the thin-skinned red ones, but everything else by the book. I agree with Big Sal that separate cooking for the various vegetables is a must. I could tell as I did this that it was a good idea. The end result is a fine dish. Eggplant took in a little too much olive oil, but that's due to my lack of eggplant expertise.
                                          I'd make this again, and more of it, any summertime!

                                          1. re: blue room

                                            Can't wait to check out this recipe tomorrow when I pick up my book, Blue room; it looks like 50% potatoes, 50% everything else from your lovely photo (nice quality pic!)..... curious.

                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                              No, the potatoes don't dominate, it must just be what I scooped up for the picture.
                                              Sure is good!

                                          2. re: BigSal

                                            Ciambotta, Southern Italy's Summer Vegetable Stew, Pg. 244

                                            Of all the ways to cook and enjoy Summer's bounty Ciambotta, or Giambotta, has been one my favorites over the years. Originally I planned to halve the recipe but when I found out there would be yet more zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant in today's CSA I knew I had better use up those that were in the fridge before adding more. To make way for the CSA I included a few vegetables not in the recipe: 1 large green bell and half an unidentified long slim, green, HOT pepper thus eliminating the need for red pepper flakes or so I thought); 2 almost over the hill carrots peeled and chopped, 2 small patty pan squash, and 1 small Summer squash. Since there were no YG potatoes in the pantry I used a couple of scoops of cooked orecchetti. I sauted the eggplant chunks like the other vegetables (saved time tho I did have a thought about roasting them). As you can imagine this made an enormous pot of ciambotta.... I used a 4 qt. Dutch oven instead of the recommended non-stick skillet.

                                            Each spoonful held perfectly cooked vegetables, well flavored with piquant sauce. After tasting G added a pinch more RPF, salt and black pepper. Sometimes I grate either Parmigiano or Romano over top but didn't do it this time. The dish was served with grilled crusty Italian bread. I'll be making variations of this theme all Autumn and Winter long adding various beans and such.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              You all have me craving this in a big way!! Gio I like your idea of the grated cheese on top and blue room, stunning photos as always.

                                            2. re: BigSal

                                              I like your testing theory BigSal... that's the 'scientific method', and the right way to roll (through the kitchen) :)

                                            3. Parmigiana di Zucchine (Baked Zucchini Layered with Tomato, Mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano), p. 250

                                              The vegetable dishes in this book really appeal to me. Last night, I did this zucchini. For this dish, lengthwise strips of zucchini are fried in olive oil, then layed in a baking dish with the already-lauded tomato sauce from p. 52, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella or caciocavalo (mozzarella in my case), and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Frying the zucchini in a generous amount of olive oil did not result in a greasy dish at all, so don't hesitate to go for it with the oil. That said, I'm pretty sure a grilled version would be great as well. This was really good. If this were a recipe competition, which it thankfully is not, I might give the edge to the delicious eggplant dish, which is surprising, since I like zucchini better than eggplant. But this is really, very good. So far everything from this book is a winner. The author's palate seems to mesh with mine, and I really like her recipe writing style.

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                I'm glad to hear this is a winner. I was hoping to make a half-batch of it today for a side dish. Now I can proceed with confidence!

                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                  Mmm Mel, great to learn this was a hit. I bought the zucchini but thought the dish was too similar to the eggplant to serve the following night so I'm saving this for the weekend. So great to know it was a hit and I agree w you about the book and the author, I'm loving this COTM.

                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                    Oh, many thanks. I was going to serve to guests this weekend and now I will not hesitate

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      Parmigiana di Zucchine

                                                      I chose to make this dish for lunch today, as I had some leftover tomato sauce hanging around in the fridge, just enough for a half recipe. I also used up what was probably the last zucchini of the season from my garden (sob!). I don't think I could have found a better recipe for its sendoff. This dish really just blew me away. Such simple, pure flavours. If I were to cave and buy this book, it would be because of the parmigiana di zucchine. I will eagerly await next years zucchini haul instead of fearing it, because this will be in my repertoire.

                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                        Parmigiana di Zucchine – Baked Zucchini Layered with Tomato, Mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano – p. 250

                                                        We really enjoyed this dish. Big thanks to Mel for doing such a good job of reporting how this all comes together. All that’s left for me to share are our impressions and, modifications.

                                                        As I mentioned when Mel posted, I picked up zucchini for this dish last weekend but after making the eggplant parmigiana, I thought this would be too similar so I postponed making it until this weekend. Unfortunately my zucchini didn’t read my post and one of them didn’t make it through the week. Since neither mr bc or I wanted to make a trip to a farm stand, I decided to make this dish w 2/3 zucchini and 1/3 eggplant. Since we were so delighted with the roasting method of cooking eggplant last week, I decided to roast these veggies as well vs frying. This was quick, easy and virtually mess free (I used parchment too).

                                                        As was the case w the eggplant dish, I wasn’t able to add as many layers of vegetables as the book suggests so I finished w veggies topped w a little cheese, basil and what was left of the sauce.

                                                        This was another hit and once again, my vegetable-averse mr bc proclaimed that he loved the dinner. He said he’d have this anytime. I’d highly recommend this dish.

                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          Delighted to hear that this works with grilled zucchini.

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            This was a huge hit for our company and DH and I. I actually could have used a bit more zucchini . For such simple ingredients, it yields big taste.....a real keeer. I did use the Simple TomatoSauce also. I did add a lot more basil to the dish.

                                                            1. re: angelsmom

                                                              Simple ingredients - big taste. Great summation. I just reported something similar on the pasta discussion for something I made tonight. We've loved everything we've made so far and I can't believe how they are all from just a few simple ingredients.

                                                          2. re: MelMM

                                                            Parmigiana di Zucchini made like the eggplant dish... well I really bastardized these two dishes, but the end result was delicious. I had a giant zuchetta (tromboncino) from my mother's garden to cook, and some lovely fresh ricotta, so I dove right in on this without opening the cookbook first. salted, washed and dried the sliced zucchini then diverged - I brushed it with oil and baked it in the oven until tender and starting to turn golden. Then layered it with some simple tomato sauce I had made last weekend - pureed tomatoes from s. jersey cooked until thickened with a little olive oil and a piece of garlic clove. layering also included the fresh ricotta, a bit of fresh mozzarella and the parmesan. Baked for about 40 min and it was delicous. Cant beat these combinations even if they are mixed up a bit. I liked the lightness of this dish without the heavy breading (of course I love that too)

                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                              Made this one tonight, along with one of the swordfish recipes. Loved, loved, loved it. Of course, I'm a sucker for anything with that much cheese! My zucchini didn't do well this summer - too hot, I think. But I got some great ingredients from the market.

                                                              I don't think I'll fry the zucchini next time - they weren't oily, but I'd still like to try it baked. I did make the tomato sauce from the book as well. I put just a little bit of dried red pepper flakes that gave it a nice kick. This was fresh and delicious.

                                                              I thought this might be my last recipe from the book, but the old man is OBSESSED with her Sagne Chine - Calabrian style Lasagne - so that might make the dinner menu for tomorrow. Santa better put this book in my stocking, because there are so many recipes I still want to try...

                                                              1. re: bkieras

                                                                Loved both of your reports tonight. The Old Man is a very lucky man! Swordfish is one of my most favorite foods, and your pictures are just lovely.

                                                                And yes, I think Santa should be bringing you this book.

                                                            2. Candied orange peels
                                                              p. 308 or here http://www.calabriafromscratch.com/?p...

                                                              I had a go at making these, the recipe is quite straightforward and easy. It took me ages to neatly cut the pith off the orange peels, but I would probably get faster with practice. I tasted a piece of orange peel that I'd cut off with the pith and it didn't seem bitter to me, so I think next time I might stop after blanching the peels three times. My oven has a "defrost" function, which just circulates air with no heat and I used that to dry them overnight.

                                                              They turned out quite well, they taste nice and look pretty much like her picture. I'm not sure what I'll use them all for though.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                                1. re: ecclescake

                                                                  Also, dip some in melted dark chocolate and let them set up on waxed paper or parchment. This is one of my favorite things, and one I always buy when in a chocolate shop that sells it.

                                                                  1. re: ecclescake

                                                                    Also, very good chopped up and folded into ice cream, or simply sprinkled over.

                                                                    1. re: ecclescake

                                                                      I'm just reporting back to say that I kept the peels in an air tight container in the cupboard. This morning (over a year after making them) there were four strips left. They did not get mouldy or otherwise go bad, however they were very dry and not so great to eat.

                                                                      Were I to want to store the peels for a year or more I would probably freeze them as Rosetta recommends. They were fine for several months just in the pantry though, the last time I remember using them was the end of May (8 months after making them) and they were still fine then.

                                                                    2. Baked Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini (p.246)

                                                                      Had some ricotta cheese left so this recipe stepped up to be tried first. I've done stuffed artichokes with breadcrumbs, etc. but never have tried a ricotta stuffing. This was mild but wonderfully flavored and tender. I ended up taking the remainder for lunch the next day and had to reserve a share for myself before my co-workers almost sampled my lunch to oblivion.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: artichokeenvy

                                                                        Sounds like that was a hit for you & your colleagues!

                                                                        1. re: artichokeenvy

                                                                          Baked Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini, p. 246

                                                                          I agree with artichokeenvy, who made this and found it "...mild but wonderfully..."! It takes smallish squashes and onions and garlic, also parsley and breadcrumbs and ricotta of course. Pecorino and pepper, salt and an egg. Pulp scraped from the zucchini is mixed and cooked (in olive oil) with the vegetables and breadcrumbs. Off heat, add pecorino and and egg and ricotta, season to taste, and stuff into salted zucchini shells. Bake and enjoy. Since it is a mild dish, tomato sauce is a nice addition, and I happened to have some of the page 53 (also wonderfully) sauce.

                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                            Beautiful blue room & what a perfect size your zucchini were. They look to be the size of jalapenos. Lately I'm finding the ones here tend to be the size of daschunds!

                                                                            Great idea to serve the tomato sauce on the side.

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              (Trying to get image of stuffed and baked daschund ala jalapeno out of my head!)
                                                                              A big revelation for me in both this dish and the ricotta dumplings (page 96) I made
                                                                              was the *pecorino cheese* -- wow I love it -- it will be hard to use parmesan now that I've discovered it.

                                                                          2. re: artichokeenvy

                                                                            I have a couple of globe zucchini and a couple of summer squash. I'll have to read through this recipe to see if I can use this stuffing with those. Love breadcrumbs stuffed artichokes...

                                                                            1. re: artichokeenvy

                                                                              Baked Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini, p. 246

                                                                              First of all, artichokeenvy and blueroom thank-you for your posts about this recipe. I have no idea why I missed it on my first pass of the book. This is exactly the type of recipe that appeals here at casa bc yet somehow I missed it. blueroom thanks too for the motivation to search beyond my usual farm market vendors in quest of more attractive zucchini (vs the dachshund-sized ones I’ve been getting of late!!).

                                                                              We loved this dish. I used 3 zucchini that would have been about 1.5lbs combined if I had to guess. I worried that the vegetable mixture would be too moist so I doubled the amount of fresh breadcrumbs. Because I am trying to use up all my fresh basil before frost sets in, I also added about 2 tbsp of julienned opal basil to the mix. I baked these in my toaster oven and they needed an extra 7 mins to brown as described. The “stuffing” is light, airy and creamy and its mild flavours allowed the zucchini to be the star of this dish. Tonight we served it straight-up. Tomorrow I think I’ll take a cue from blueroom and serve some of the book’s tomato sauce on the side. Lovely dish. A big hit here.

                                                                            2. Pure Licorice Ice Cream, p. 349

                                                                              "Come and welcome, pass by and no offense." I know that some people really really don't like licorice. The pure licorice used in this ice cream is intense, I sure don't suck on it for pleasure, but melted in milk and combined with egg, sugar, and cream -- a rich treat.
                                                                              You whack the licorice nuggets with a hammer to make them dissolve easily. (They're *very* dark brown actually, not black.) Dissolve in hot milk. Beat (hand mixer) egg yolks with sugar until light yellow and very thick. Beat in the licorice milk slowly, and cook. Cool a bit, stir in (lots of) cream, and refrigerate 'til completely chilled. Now it's ready for the ice cream maker.
                                                                              Unusual dessert after an adventurous dinner, maybe?

                                                                              1. Melanzane all'Insalata (Eggplant with Garlic, Mint and Hot Peppers), p. 237

                                                                                These are easy to make with the right eggplants. I found white eggplants at the farmers market that were the perfect shape and size. I had 18, which weighed just under 3 1/2 lbs. (The recipe calls for about 15 for three lbs.) You definitely want slender eggplants so the marinade will be absorbed throughout the entire interior. I used spearmint I'm growing outside in a big pot. The mint adds a subtle, but interesting nuance to the dish. I did wind up with some blue-green garlic slices from the action of the vinegar on the garlic. It's not harmful, but it does look rather bizarre. After a day, the eggplants are ready to eat, but they are better after two to three days in the marinade. I turned them over each morning and spooned some of the liquid over them.

                                                                                This is probably not the recipe from My Calabria that will most wow you, but it's still a nice way to enjoy eggplant. I especially like the fact that the pickling is mild enough to let the flavor of the vegetable shine through, unlike pickled vegetables made with many other recipes, where the brine is so overpowering that it's all that one can taste.

                                                                                1. Calabrian-style Tomato and Red Onion Salad (http://www.calabriafromscratch.com/?p...

                                                                                  We all loved this. So simple but really flavorful and good. Slice a red onion into thin strips and soak in cold water. Cut up tomatoes and add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, some dried oregano, 1 small sliced hot pepper, salt and olive oil. Drain and add the onions. Let sit. Wonderful, and we'll surely be making this again.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Insalata di Pomodori e Cipolle Calabrese
                                                                                    Salad of Tomato and Red Onion from Calabria

                                                                                    This was a perfect accompaniment for the Batali turkey meatballs and fried potatoes with sweet peppers from My Calabria that we made last night. Thanks to LLM for reporting it. Easy and simple with super flavors using the tomatoes, onions and garlic from our CSA. Instead of soaking the sliced onions in water though, I used Bragg's apple cider vinegar. Recipe link in LulusMom's title above. .

                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      love the vinegar soak idea....

                                                                                  2. Patate Fritte con Peperoni, Pg. 262
                                                                                    Crisp Fried Potatoes and Sweet Peppers

                                                                                    This is such a homey Italian dish. When frying the peppers the kitchen smelled like my grandmother's kitchen. So many memories. Just two garden vegetables from my CSA farm with seasonings of red pepper flakes, salt, garlic and EVOO. I used 4 sweet and tender cubanelles, an alternative to green bells, and a large unpeeled russet potato. Quite enough for 2 people.

                                                                                    Remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers. Slice in half crosswise then in 3/4" strips. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet and add sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and the peppers. Turn the peppers in the oil then fry, stirring, till the peppers are soft... about 10-ish minutes. Remove from skillet, season with salt, set aside. Put the potatoes in the pan, there should be enough oil left, season with salt and fry till golden and crisp. Some of the slices will clump and that's OK... they will be crisp on the outside but soft and luscious inside. This should take about 10 minutes. Add back the peppers, stir to combine and for the flavors to meld. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary and serve.

                                                                                    Really really nice dish. It went well with turkey meatballs from Molto Italiano and the tomato and onion salad from Rosetta Constantino's website. Yums all around.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                        Yes, blue room. That looks like the recipe. I didn't make the sauce though I will in the future. We had a couple of other dishes to make and had made macaroni with a tomato sauce the night before. The meatballs were delicious...

                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                          ETA: Here's my report from the Meatball Dish of the Month...

                                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                                        Thanks gio this one is on my list this week as well. Just wondering how much oil you used to fry the veggies? I was thinking of cutting back to 1/4 cup or so.

                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                          Hi WM... IIRC I only used 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, maybe a dribble more, and I didn't have to add more when I added the potatoes. Perhaps the very seasoned non-stick skillet helped...

                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                            Great! Im glad to hear it turned out well with less fat. It just kills me to use so much oil in a single dish.

                                                                                      3. Mushrooms Preserved in Oil with Hot Peppers, Wild Fennel [just seeds], and Garlic -- p. 283

                                                                                        I started these about 2 weeks ago. Since I'm not set up to do canning I was glad to see this simpler way to do "preserves". These must be refrigerated, though, and last "up to 6 months," not indefinitely.
                                                                                        The recipe calls for 5 pounds of mushrooms, but I thought one pound would be plenty to try out the recipe. Well one pound shrinks down to practically nothing, and I had to use only 20% of each ingredient, so a very small batch resulted!
                                                                                        After slicing and cleaning, salt (kosher) the mushrooms to draw out water. Then simmer in white wine vinegar until tender (just minutes) and then press and drain for about 15 minutes. Dry at room temperature, uncrowded on a very absorbent surface (towel + cardboard) for 24 hours.
                                                                                        My light mushrooms were very dark after this -- I don't know why the ones pictured in the book are still white in the jar.
                                                                                        The seasoning for these mushrooms is delectable! I crushed fennel seeds to add to the red pepper, garlic, and oilve oil. After marinating at room temp for 2 days then it goes into the refrigerator, covered in oil. Wait 2 weeks to enjoy. I did not wait the 2 weeks -- I kept sampling, it was delicious the first day, no one would be able to stop sampling.
                                                                                        Pictured is the last of it, not quite 2 weeks old -- I should have put it on bread rather than toast -- the toast flavor crowded the recipe flavor, didn't absorb the oil as well. Highly recommended--sort of a hassle, but so good! The green is just parsley, not in recipe..

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                          Did you use wild fennel or just regular fennel seeds?

                                                                                          1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                            Just regular fennel seed from a jar, crushed a little with mortar and pestle. It must be a different flavor, I know, but a few places online say it's an OK substitute, so I figure it's similar.

                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                              You've made so many interesting and varied recipes this month BR. I Loved reading your reports.

                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                Thanks, Gio.
                                                                                                The standout always-and-forever dish I got from this book is the page 53 tomato sauce that some of you have known about all along!

                                                                                          2. re: blue room

                                                                                            Your review of these has inspired me - I adore marinated mushrooms! I'm contemplating how much to make. Did you use the oyster mushrooms she calls for, blue room? Five pounds of those would be a bit of an investment, not having as she does a father who forages them for me.

                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                              I used plain grocery store white button mushrooms. The recipe says to "tear the mushrooms into strips", of course not possible with buttons, I just sliced them in half. (Each was about 1 1/2 inches diameter when whole.) Any mushroom would work, I would think!

                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                Thanks, good to know. I bet a mixture of types would be nice, too.

                                                                                          3. Cavolo Cappuccio con Pepe Nero (Braised Cabbage w/Pancetta and Black Pepper), p. 267

                                                                                            I always love Savoy cabbage, so when I spotted it at WF, I remembered this recipe and decided to give it a whirl last night.

                                                                                            You prep the cabbage by halving, coring, and cutting it into 1-inch (or thereabout) strips and then cooking that in boiling water for about three minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water before draining it. While cabbage is draining, add 2 T OO to a large, hot skillet, then 3 oz chopped pancetta, and cook until it "softens," but isn't browning yet. Add 2 garlic cloves (that have been peeled and halved), and cook for another minute or so. At this point, the drained cabbage, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and the reserved cooking water are added to the pan, to braise until "the liquid evaporates and the cabbage starts to glaze a bit, about 10 minutes."

                                                                                            It actually took about 20 minutes for my cabbage to dry out, and it never did develop the "glaze," which no doubt would have added some flavor. Not that this was flavorless--I added a lot of freshly ground black pepper, and it was good, just not great. I couldn't help thinking that it wouldn't have hurt to brown the pancetta a bit and that there was too much moisture involved for the cabbage to develop a glaze before cooking away to nothing. (This cooked down so much that we ate the whole head at one sitting--and the portions weren't extravagant.) Even as was, it proved a lovely side for braised pork chops and a few mushroom ravioli.

                                                                                            I might try this again, but think I would brown the pancetta, and I'd probably slice the garlic to enhance its potency and decrease the amount of water for the braise.

                                                                                            1. Peperoni Fritti (nope, grilled) con Acciughe, Whole Fried Sweet Peppers w/ Anchovies, pg. 241

                                                                                              Removing my tags to get the book ready to return to the library and there were several recipes I'd wanted to try but didn't get to...that's always the way, isn't it? But anyway, this simple little stuffed pepper was to easy to pass up, especially as I had just the right kind of peppers. But frying wasn't on last nights agenda, the grill on the other hand was already in use. So, per the recipe I cored a sweet red Italian pepper, stuffed an anchovy filet into the pepper, but then instead of frying it, I grilled it. Once cooked, I peeled the skin off, sliced them into serving pieces and drizzled with a little evoo. I thought they made a very nice little relish/side, and I enjoyed the anchovy saltiness playing on the sweet pepper flavor, Mr. QN was less impressed, but then he doesn't love sweet peppers as much as I do anyway.