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November 2013 Cookbooks of the Month, Marcella Hazan Month: Pasta; Risotto and Polenta

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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      14 Replies
      1. re: LulusMom

        I think my family would love this. Thanks for the review.

        1. re: Westminstress

          Hope it turns out for you as well as it did for us. On a chilly, busy night, this was just perfect.

        2. re: LulusMom

          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

          http://labellecuisine.com/archives/pa...

          1. re: Gio

            OK, LOVE the quote. And happy to hear we weren't the only ones bowled over by this simple and simply wonderful pasta. We also had a simple green salad on the side. When you find a really good pasta, everyone is happy.

          2. re: LulusMom

            I have looked at this recipe several times and thought, I can't imagine we'd like this but after reading your and Gio's reports, I am going to have to put aside my skepticism and give this a whirl.

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              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.

            2. re: LulusMom

              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.

              1. re: Westminstress

                WM... I think not with sardines. Personally I think the flavor of sardines is too strident for this recipe. Possibly salmon would work, she said hesitatingly. LLM may have a different opinion though.

                1. re: Westminstress

                  Totally agree with Gio. Sardines really wouldn't work. Canned salmon might though, can't really see why not. I think tuna would work best, but who knows?

                2. re: LulusMom

                  I made this tonight and thought it was "just OK". Certainly a fast sauce to pull together. Requiring only a bit more time and energy to make, this Company Creamed Tuna from Better Homes & Gardens is one I'd make instead. http://www.cooks.com/recipe/re0482qf/...

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    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.

                    1. re: Westminstress

                      Oh, so sorry we steered you wrong. I guess this is one of those things you either are crazy about or just think "eh."

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Yeah, I think we usually have pretty similar tastes, but not all the time apparently!

                  2. 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.

                     
                    1. 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.

                       
                      5 Replies
                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        A few more photos, such as they are:

                        ETA--sorry for those last two!

                         
                         
                         
                         
                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          That is a true labor of love! Thank you for the really detailed and comprehensive report. Too many non-mushroom lovers at my table to even consider spending that amount of effort.

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            The recipe sounds incredible and looks amazing too! Thank you for sharing.

                            It sounds like you do not use Hazan as your go to Bolognese recipe. Which one do you use?

                            1. re: BigSal

                              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.

                            2. re: nomadchowwoman

                              Stunning, NCW! Couldn't I just dive headfirst into that. Many thanks for the great report.

                            3. [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.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Gio

                                Hi Gio, that sounds like a good sauce, but it's not the famous butter and onion sauce. That one is even simpler than this one. Recipe here: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/101517...

                                1. re: Westminstress

                                  HI Westminstress!

                                  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.