November 2013 Cookbooks of the Month, Marcella Hazan Month: Pasta; Risotto and Polenta
- BigSal Oct 31, 2013 08:04 PM
Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from the November Cookbooks of the Month (Marcella Cucina, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, and Marcella Says):
Pasta (Marcella Cucina), pages 110 – 211
Risotto and Polenta (Marcella Cucina), pages 212 - 237
Pasta and Other First Courses (Marcella’s Italian Kitchen), pages 89 – 168
Rice (Marcella Says…), pages 133 – 146
Pasta Sauces (Marcella Says…), pages 147 – 180
Homemade Pasta and Gnocchi (Marcella Says…), pages 181 - 202
To post a review of any recipe, please select the appropriate thread below. If you are the first to report on a recipe, please reply to the original post. If a report already exists (please check before posting), please hit the reply box within the original report. This way all of the reports on the same dish will be together.
The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
Simple Tomato Sauce, Pg. 122, Marcella's Italian Kitchen
Sugo Fresco di Pomodori
Once again G stepped up to the plate, er I mean burners, to cook a very simple tomato sauce indeed. Full of fresh garden flavors this sauce is bursting with Italiana. This is not the famous onion and butter sauce, this is her thinly sliced garlic, EVOO, tomatoes, and hand torn basil sauce. A variety of pastas can be used with the sauce including Penne which G used. The prep is standard, the cooking time is 20 minutes, and subito! it's all done. The torn basil is added to the sauce off heat. That's the important part - to be certain the basil does not cook.
G always cooks macaroni a little too al dente for my tastes but I had to sample. Amazingly the macaroni and sauce were perfetto. Garlicy, slightly oily, with aromatic basil filling in between. I loved it and will be sure we make it again. As for G, he "liked it" thinking it was a little too oily. He still and yet prefers "our marinara" to any other. However, as usual he had THREE helpings! No, he didn't like it at all.
One last thing: The recipe calls for 1/2 cups of canned tomatoes (he used Pomi chopped) for 1 pound of pasta and that's what he used. G thinks there should have been a little more sauce for each serving.
Fettucine with tuna, garlic and cream sauce (p. 97, MIK)
Sounds good but certainly not as good as it was (for us). We all absolutely loved this pasta. You could think of it as almost a tuna carbonara (weird as that sounds). You make a sauce of canned tuna packed in oil, chopped garlic, parsley, 1 egg, softened butter, heavy cream, grated parm-reg, salt and pepper. Cook your fettucine, drain, add the sauce. Simple. Aside from using dried pasta and adding slightly more cream, I followed the directions exactly. Took maybe 5 minutes to put the sauce together. Maybe it was because we all have colds, maybe it was because dinner was served later than usual due to a doctor's appt., but we all thought this was great, and it was requested that it be made again, often.
Fettuccine with Tuna, Garlic, and Cream Sauce, Pg. 97, Marcella's Italian Kitchen
We made this last night and loved it. By "we" I mean, of course, my instructions G's execution. He follows a recipe exactly without deviation except for the times when I might insert my interpretation of "season to taste" or specify a type of cooking oil, etc. So last night's pasta was as written with the following exceptions: 1/2 lb dry pasta and 1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2 cream.
As LulusMom indicated it was quick and simple, and simply delicious. A really great recipe for those nights when you might want just that sort of meal. With a simple green salad or steamed vegetables on the side it's perfetto.
"Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
~ Federico Fellini
My husband and I were just talking about this. He said if I'd told him what we were having beforehand, he'd have tried to talk me out of it. And yet he loved it. It is easy (and inexpensive) enough that it won't be a huge loss if you end up not being as crazy about it as we were.
Just curious guys (or should I say ladies), do you think the flavors of this recipe would also work with canned salmon or sardines? If so, which do you think would be better? I love canned tuna but because my kids are still very young, I like to use lower-mercury alternatives when possible.
So I did make the sauce last night (yes with tuna) and while my son enjoyed it I thought it was just ok. Perhaps I went wrong by using half and half instead of cream, as I did think the sauce could have used more richness. But even with the cream, I don't think I'd love it. I probably won't try this one again.
Risotto coi Calamari e i Gamberi: Risotto with Squid and Shrimp (MIK, page164)
Pre-Thanksgiving, clean out the freezer time. I had some squid, some frozen shrimp from Costco, and about a quart of lobster remouillage so I made half a recipe.
In the book she presents a basic squid risotto with variations for squid and shrimp and for squid, shrimp, and clams saying the technique can be used with whatever crustaceans you choose.
The squid is chopped into smallish pieces and half the shrimp are finely chopped. The remaining shrimp are cut into about thirds depending on size. Chopped onion is cooked in more oil than I’d usually use, then garlic is added, then two-thirds of the chopped parsley, the white wine, and the chopped squid. After the wine has bubbled for a minute, you add canned or peeled fresh plum tomatoes (I used chopped Fire-Roasted Muir Glen since it was in the cupboard). The squid is cooked, covered, over very low heat for at least 45 minutes. Add the rice to the squid and begin adding water (I used about half lobster remouillage and half water) and begin the stirring process. After about 15 minutes, add the chopped shrimp, salt, and a generous amount of pepper. About five minutes before the risotto is done, add the shrimp chunks and optional hot pepper. When finished, stir in olive oil and the remaining parsley.
I very much liked the technique of using chopped squid and shrimp in this risotto to distribute the seafood throughout the risotto. But I don’t understand for the life of me why she uses only water for the liquid. Even using half remouillage, this risotto was a little insipid. (Forgive me, Mrs. Hazan, but I ended up adding grated Parmesan to give it more oomph.) If I make this again, I would definitely use a flavorful shellfish stock or broth.
Eight-Layer Spinach Lasagne with Veal and Four-Mushroom Filling (Marcella Says . . . , p. 187)
This is a fair amount of work: I did it over two days, making the mushroom and veal sauces and prepping the spinach for the pasta one evening, then making the pasta and béchamel and assembling the next afternoon for dinner that night.
A lot of mushrooms have to be prepped for the mushroom sauce: First, 3 oz. dried porcini are rehydrated in 1 ½ c hot water, drained, and chopped, with soaking water reserved. The recipe calls for a pound each of button, cremini, and shitake ( ½ lb. shitakes and ½ lb. chanterelles, in my case). I brushed mine rather than rinsing as they were all remarkably clean and then sliced them all by hand—tedious, but I didn’t trust my FP to do a good job slicing. MH says to use two non-stick skillets, but I could tell by the amount of mushrooms that I’d need my two large skillets (neither non-stick), each of which got heated w/ 3 T olive oil. I divided 1 ½ c finely chopped onion between the pans and sautéed it until it started to turn gold. (I started w/high heat as directed, but my onions started to burn almost immediately so my flame was more like med-med high.) The porcini were added; they cooked for a few minutes, and I then divided and drizzled the reserved soaking into the pans. Once it “bubbled away,” the fresh mushrooms were added, along with s & p. Everything cooked over low heat until the mushrooms were very soft. This took about an hour (rather than the 1 ½).
Veal sauce: 3 T butter go into a hot skillet, along w/ 2/3 c minced onion, and it is cooked until it starts to turn gold (on my stove, med. high heat did the trick in just a few minutes). The ground veal (1 lb) is added (w/ s & p ) and cooked a few minutes until it’s lightly browned. A cup of white wine is added and cooked until it evaporates and then the tomatoes (1 ½ c; I used canned San Marzanos) go in; the mixture simmers for about 30 minutes.
Spinach pasta: After blanching, draining, squeeze-drying, and chopping 6 oz fresh spinach, I added it, along w/ some fine sea salt, 3 eggs, and about 2 ¼ c flour (I ended up having to use a bit more flour when I got ready to roll it out) to the bowl of my KA stand mixture. I followed instructions for making and kneading the dough in it (rather than MH’s for the food processor). Once it rested, I rolled portions through the KA pasta attachment to make nice thin pasta sheets.
For the filling: Bechamel (made w/ ¾ c butter, 9 T flour, and 1 ½ qts whole milk, grated nutmeg, s & p) is folded into the now combined veal and mushroom sauces.
Into the bottom of a buttered pan (14 x 12 roasting pan, the closest I had to the 16 x 10 the recipe stipulates), blanched lasagne sheets are fitted and the lasagna assembled—pasta, filling, generous sprinkling of grated parmigiano. Using every bit of the pasta, I ended up with six (rather than eight) layers, which baked at 450F for 22 minutes (recipe says 15, not long enough in my oven) and then rested 7-8 minutes.
Since we had guests (and thus appetizer and dessert), I served a simple tossed salad on the side.
This makes a really delicious lasagna (and loads of it, so it would be good for a crowd: we’ve eaten it twice, I gave away two portions, and we’ve still got enough left for at least two meals).
Good as it is, I probably wouldn’t make it again simply because my husband prefers classic lasagne Bolognese—and that, frankly, is less work. I have used MH’s spinach pasta for that in the past and will do so again as I do love really thin spinach pasta sheets (though I’ve never achieved MH’s standard of being able to see newsprint through them). For mushroom lovers (guilty!), this lasagne will not disappoint--and if you have the time, I say, go for it. But I also love Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s mushroom lasagne, and while that’s still time-consuming, it definitely requires less effort. Still, I am very happy to have these leftovers in my fridge.
No, I use a recipe based on one given to me by an Italian woman I knew many years ago--no matter how many recipes I've tried, most of them wonderful, I always end up back at that one. We just love it.
But I am going to try MH's bolognese recipe this month, however.
And thanks, all, for your kind words.
[Spaghetti] with [Fresh] Tomatoes and Onions, Pg 143, Marcella's Italian Kitchen
This recipe seemed like Senora Hazan's famous butter/onion/tomato sauce that I've read so much about but never made. I should have because this was delicious. It was used to sauce Trader Joe's frozen but thawed turkey meatballs preparatory to making meatball sandwiches with Ina Garten's Garlic Bread. A heady conglomeration of intense flavors - a knock-your-socks-off bomb.
The Sauce: Pomi chopped tomatoes instead of 2 lbs of diced fresh plum tomatoes, 6 T butter, 3 cups chopped onion. Into a saute pan put the butter and onion. Heat over medium high heat a minute, cover pan, lower heat, cook till a "very pale gold." Do not brown. Uncover pan, add tomatoes, cook 6 - 8 minutes over high heat stirring often, add S & enough P to balance the sweet onions. Done.
Eventually I'll make the entire recipe with spaghetti because with all the other flavors going on with the sandwich the sauce was compromised. As it was though it was a wonderful slightly sweet and pleasantly assertive sauce. And, a pleasure to make.
Yes, I know it isn't the same sauce. I should have stated that another way: similar ingredients but different method of preparation. A million thanks for posting the link to her "Famous Sauce". though. I'll probably make it before the month is out. Glowing reports from others on the other thread about how much they Loved it can't be ignored. This other sauce was pretty tasty though.
Veal Pasta Sauce with Four Different Varieties of Mushrooms, (with a detour), Marcella Says; p.164
This recipe is pretty much the same as the mushroom/veal sauce nomadchowwoman made as part of her Eight-Layer Spinach Lasagna (upthread).
Fortunately, I was able to cook the both the mushrooms and the veal sauce at the same time, as Marcella suggests, using two large skillets, as the mushroom/chopped onion mixture takes approximately 1-1/2 hours to cook (this is after porcini are reconstituted, and a variety of other types of mushrooms are cleaned and sliced). But they were fabulous, and well worth the time.
Simultaneously (in my case), more chopped onion and ground veal are browned in another skillet, then deglazed with white wine. Chopped peeled & seeded plum tomatoes are added (I actually did this step, ugh!, but I would use canned tomatoes next time), and this mixture cooks for 45 minutes or so.
With both mixtures, I kept the heat at medium/medium high when cooking the onions to prevent them from burning (the recipe suggests a higher flame).
The recipe then directs you to combine both mixtures into a big bowl, then distribute it all back into the two (cleaned-out) skillets. This is when I took the recipe in a bit of a different direction - my original intent was to serve the sauce over pasta, but I could tell it wasn't "saucy" enough (and now I see how it would be great for a lasagna layer, or as a filling for ravioli). So, instead of combining the two, I put the veal aside to freeze, and worked on the mushrooms. I didn't want to dilute their flavor too much, realizing that additional liquid required for a pasta sauce would probably do that, so I swapped out the pasta idea for polenta. Then I just added a bit of tawny port and heavy cream to the mushrooms, and they were good to go. Spooned over polenta, they ended up being a delicious "variation", and I can add the veal to a tomato sauce at a later date.
Green Ravioli Pesaro-Style Stuffed with Lamb and Sauced with Yellow Pepper (Ravioli verdi d'agnello alla Pesare col sugo di peperoni gialli), Marcella Cucina, page 198. Plus the redux version.
This stuffing is SO wonderful. We were happy to have some left over from making the ravioli. I've never made a meat stuffing with this technique. The lamb (shoulder in our case) is cut into 3-4 inch pieces, and browned in olive oil with mashed garlic and chopped rosemary. Once the lamb is browned, white wine, salt, and pepper are added. Once the lamb is cooked, it is chopped in a food processor. The pan is deglazed with a little water, and this liquid is added to the chopped meat, along with a mashed potato, grated parmesan, nutmeg, and a little milk.
The pasta is made with the addition of a bunch of blanched and drained spinach, and the ravioli are stuffed in the usual fashion.
The "sauce" consists of only of sautéed, peeled bell peppers along with some onion. This sauce appealed to me, as I like my pasta very lightly dressed, often only a little olive oil and garlic, but that was not the general consensus at table. And I do have to admit that the flavor of the bell peppers was a bit much for the delicate tastes of the lamb stuffing.
But, all in all, these were a big success. This filling is just delicious, and a bit different. I took the leftover filling and stuffed lumaconi, then baked them covered in Marcella's béchamel. This was a wonderful dish also, and even more comforting than the bell pepper sauce version.
Thanks BigSal, qianning, and smtucker, for your kind comments! I definitely recommend this recipe for the lamb stuffing. The diners were lucky I didn't eat all of it before it went inside the pasta. And I do think it's lovely with the bechamel; I'd do it that way again in a heartbeat.
Egg Pasta - pp 115 - 126 in Marcella Cucina
Two ingredients + lots of hands-on time = homemade egg pasta.
Ingredients: 1 Cup flour, 2 large eggs
The extremely detailed instructions and cautionary notes were very helpful: e.g.
p.116 (regarding making the dough), "Press your thumb deeply into the center of the mass, and if it comes out clean without any sticky matter on it, no more flour is needed." and
p. 122 (regarding rolling the dough by hand) "Be prepared to waste quite a lot of eggs and flour until you find you have made something edible."
After 90 minutes of pretty steady work, my results were not thin, uniform or photogenic. I think the dough really needed to rest longer than the 20 minutes I allowed (recipe said 15 min - 2 hours) -- it fought back as I rolled/stretched it. And I did not allow the rolled-out pasta sheet to dry enough before cutting the noodles - they tended to cling together.
When cooked, the noodles were certainly edible and tender, but really no better tasting than the commercial fettuccine I cooked as a backup. And I couldn't tell a difference in how sauce was absorbed/held by the pastas although Marcella clearly could. She has more than a few pages describing when to use homemade and when to use commercially made pasta for different kinds of sauces.
While I'm happy to have tried this once, I won't be working on perfecting my hand-rolling technique. Commercial pasta is fine for our tastes and I'd rather spend my cooking time on a sauce, main or dessert.
Penne with Mushroom Sauce (MIK, p. 132)
Delicious. Melt a little butter and some olive oil, soften chopped onion, then garlic, then add 1 lb sliced mushrooms, S&P. Let cook until the liquid has evaporated. Add White wine, stir a few times, then add 1/2 cup canned drained chopped tomatoes, chopped anchovy, chopped parsley and cook more. Serve over the penne. I added a bit of the pasta water to my sauce because it was pretty dry. Drizzle olive oil over when serving. Really enjoyed this. Even though it was just regular button mushrooms, it did, as she says in her headnote, elicit the depth of flavor one associates with porcini mushrooms.
Annoyingly, I'm still waiting on the library book I ordered (Essentials), so to participate I'm having to make do with what recipes I can cull off the internet. I made the carrot gnocchi which are from 'Marcella Says'. I compared a couple of different ones I found online to ensure that the recipe I made was as close to the original as possible.
This recipe actually annoyed me quite a bit. I'm starting to think that – and this may be heresy – my style and Marcella's don't really mesh, even though I know so many love her recipes, including people whose food I really adore. I have never felt the urge to own any of her books (hence waiting on it from the library) and I think I will pass. The food I've made has often felt a little fussy and bland, and I did feel this way about the carrot gnocchi.
First of all, the recipe calls for 5-6 medium carrots, which should weigh half a pound. I don't see how this could ever be possible: I used 5 very small carrots and it still came to 14 ounces i.e. almost a full pound. I ploughed on, nonetheless, and it worked out perfectly. You peel the carrots and cook them whole, drain and slice them, cook some onion in butter, and add the sliced carrots. Blitz in a food processor and, when cool, add parmesan, flour, egg yolks, salt and pepper and nutmeg. The resultant carrot mash was so, so delicious: I would have been happy to stop here, but continued.
You then bring water to the boil and drop spoonfuls of the carrot mash into the bowl, then, once cooked, into a bowl of ice water (I don't have a freezer, so I'm afraid it was just a bowl of cold water). You then place the cooked gnocchi in a gratin dish or similar and bake in a 200C oven with some sage (I didn't have any so used garlic) and parmesan.
The gnocchi themselves were so divine but the portion was tiny – too small as a side for two, I think – and I really think I would have been happy to just have it as a carrot mash. Again, recipe reviewed with the caveat that, not being directly from the book, it may have been mediated or edited somewhat.
Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs. MIK pg. 134
A half pound of ground pork in need of a use led me to this recipe. A half batch and a simple green salad made for a very nice supper. It's not a stunning dish, just a the sort of dish one keeps pecking away at until, well, it's all gone.
The meatballs were particularly nice. Nothing unusual here, ground pork, milk soaked bread, garlic, parsley, egg and grated cheese. The mix is fairly moist, but does hold together. Formed small and then rolled in flour, the meatballs are pan fried in o. oil. I don't know why, but they had a particularly pleasant texture, a thin crispy crust, with a surprisingly light textures and tasting filling. I will definitely use this meatball recipe again.
As for the actual dish, rigatoni (rotini for us) boiled and drained, mixed with a bechamel and some grated cheese, toss in the meatballs, here MH instructs baking the mix in a springform pan, which seemed a bit ridiculous to me, so a gratin dish it was. Bake for 15 minutes. The result, a pleasing mac and cheese, balanced and not too heavy.
Homemade Ravioli with Asparagus and Scallops, page 192, Marcella Cucina.
This is a slightly fussy recipe, with a lot of steps. The asparagus is peeled, then soaked in 2-3 changes of water, then boiled and drained, then sautéed with onion in butter. The scallops are also sautéed with onion in butter, removed from the pan, and any liquid the scallops have shed is boiled off. Then the scallops go back into the pan. Then the asparagus goes into the pan. Then everything goes into a food processor to be chopped.
At this point the taste of the filling was a hit. The scallop taste was subtle but evident, and the asparagus was present, but did not overwhelm the scallop. I wasn't at home when I made this, and didn't have any kind of a pasta cutter, and a knife wasn't working that well, so I used an empty tomato can to cut the ravioli. The can was too small to make the half-moons that I wanted, so I made gibbous moons.
Once cooked, the ravioli are tossed with butter, shredded basil, and parmesan. Sad to say, we felt this was a waste of some excellent plump, dry, bay scallops. Their taste just didn't come through in the cooked dish, and I am at a loss to explain why. I like this style of non-saucing, just tossing. It's the way I always prefer my stuffed pasta. But I would have much rather had a plate of asparagus ravioli with a couple of beautiful seared scallops on top.