January 29, 2005

Pasta with faves and ricotta

Pasta with faves, ricotta, and fennel – straight from my mom.


Green faves
If in a can, have to shell them.
But if in a jar, you can see that they are small, green, and no shell – prob. from Greece.

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until clear.
Pour faves in that and simmer.

Core fresh fennel and remove outer leaves, cut the very tops off until you get the tender part. Slice up the bulb and the top and all of it and put it in the pasta water – boiling salt water – until it’s fork tender, not mushy. Use a big pot to make this because you’re making a lot of food!

Cook ditalini pasta in the water. Drain the pasta when done and save some of the water – don’t drain it dry, leave it moist.


Dump the faves in the pasta pot, turn the stove back on, add some good ricotta a tablespoon at a time, as much as you want, and then leave it on the stove a bit because the ricotta is cold (from the fridge) and when it’s all warm, it’s done!

Serve with ricotta salata if you have it or parmesan.

January 20, 2005

my mom's bread crumb and stuffed artichoke recipe

Get some quality bread, Italian preferably. Not the stuff made at the grocery stores! The inside of that stuff is gummy. Get bread from a real bakery like Panera or Continental. Cut it into pieces and let it dry out thoroughly. But not stale...
...it's 2017 and I will say, if you get bread from a decent grocery store bakery it's better than it used to be.  
To make the bread dry but not stale, get a whole loaf of good fresh bread that is not sliced, and cut it so the insides will show, i.e. down the middle (longways) to expose the white. Then cut it again into big pieces. Then leave them out on the counter on a tray and check them, switch them around 'cause you might see one side get drier than the other. Leave them overnight for 3 days. You could always stick it in the oven and get it hot but not toasted, and then when you pull it out it will get dry quicker. Taste them and make sure they don't have a stale taste before you grind them up.
Grate the bread in the food processor.
Add 1 cup of grated cheese for every 2.5 cups of bread crumbs.
Add some green onion, maybe 3 per batch (as she said, all of this depends on how much bread crumbs you intend to make. Let's pretend it's a full bowl on a food processor. The green onion is an ESSENTIAL part of this recipe). Add lots of fresh garlic, a pinch of oregano, several fresh leaves of basil, and process these ingredients until fine and add to the crumbs and cheese mixture. She told me not to overdo it on the oregano, but not to worry about overdoing the fresh garlic. Too much oregano can ruin a dish; I'm not sure there can be too much garlic!
Buy a slice of cured ham, preferably Hamilton brand. Wash and dry the ham. For every 3 cups of bread crumbs add ¼ cup of ham diced into little cubes.
I didn't ask her about salt and pepper. The cheese and ham will add some salt. Taste the raw crumb mixture and see if they need any salt. You don't want them too salty!
You can freeze this recipe, and use it for alot of different recipes. We use it to stuff artichokes, bread pork chops and chicken...

For the artichokes - buy some nice looking artichokes that are not the pointy kind preferably - you know how some are more flat and round on the top? I prefer those.
Cut off the tops of the big leaves (use a knife to slice the top flat). You're just trying to remove the tips of the leaves that have thorns on them. Not remove most of the thing like non-Italians on TV tend to do. Leave the choke - it's easy to eat around. Cut the stems off so the artichokes will sit flat on a plate. Peel the stems and set aside. Spread the leaves and wash the artichokes thoroughly, then set them top down on paper towels to drain.
Stuff the bread crumbs into every crack and crevice on the artichokes. Spread the leaves and aggressively stuff the artichokes until they are huge. Set them in a big pot so they are tightly enough together that they will not tip over. You can put the peeled stems in here, too - they are yummy. *CAREFULLY* add some salted water to the pot, just an inch or two or three, not too much or you'll wash out the stuffing from the artichokes; not too little or they'll burn on the bottom. Drizzle some olive oil on top of each artichoke. Cover and steam until they are tender. Keep an eye on the water and add as needed to make sure they don't burn on the bottom.
When they are done - eat 'em! The larger leaves you must scrape with your teeth then set aside. The smaller leaves can be eaten whole. The choke cannot be eaten, but the heart of the artichoke below the choke is delicious.

January 19, 2005

My Mom's Suca/Sugo (Spaghetti Sauce) Recipe

>
> 2 - 32 OZ CANS OF ITALIAN BRAND ROMA TOMATO PUREE
> 1 32 OZ OR 2 16 OZ CAN(S) OF ROMA TOMATOS
> ½ TO 1 LB GROUND BEEF
> 2 - 3 EGGS
> ½ CUP ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS (reference bread crumb recipe if you want the best)
> ½ CUP GRATED ROMANO CHEESE
> ¼ TO ½ POUND OF PORK NECK BONES OR SOME OTHER CUT IF YOU WANT
> 1 MEDIUM ONION
> 5 CLOVES GARLIC
> 1 OR 2 TABLESPOONS OF GRANULATED SUGAR
> 1/8 CUP OR SO OF FRESSH CHOPPED BASIL
> 2 TBSP. OREGANO
> 1 WHOLE BAY LEAF
> SALT & PEPPER (GUESS AND TASTE TEST AS IT COOKS)
>
> FOR MEAT BALLS OR MEAT SAUCE
> ADD ¼ TO ½ CUP OF ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS, EGGS, 1 CHOPPED CLOVE OF GARLIC, 1 TBSP. OREGANO. 3 OR FOUR LEAVES OF FRESH CHOPPED BASIL TO GROUND BEEF AND MIX ADDING A LITTLE WATER UNTIL THE RIGHT CONSISTANCY AND EITHER MAKE MEATBALLS OR LEAVE AS IS. ps she never left 'as is' - always meatballs, and thus I do not like 'meat sauce' with it all crumbled up in the sauce -
>
>
> BROWN MEAT IN SKILLET AND DRAIN SET TO SIDE
> IN BIG POT SAUTEE ONION IN OLIVE OIL AND THEN ADD GARLIC UNTIL TRANSLUCENT
> ADD TOMATOS AND BREAK APART WITH FORK AND LET COOK 10 MINUTES ON MEDIUM HEAT
> ADD PUREE AND 2 CANS OF WATER (64 OZ)
> ADD SUGAR AND SPICES - SALT AND PEPPER
> COOK ONE HOUR ON LOW
> ADD MEAT AND MORE WATER AS NEEDED COOK ON MEDIUM FOR 30 MINUTES
> REDUCE HEAT TO LOW, COVER POT AND COOK FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR
> STIR OFTEN AND CHECK TO SEE IF WATER IS NEEDED AND ADD A LITTLE AT A TIME - TASTE TEST BY DIPPING A BITE SIZE PIECE OF BREAD INTO SAUCE AND RESEASON AS NEEDED.
BE SURE TO STIR DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE POT. OTHERWISE THE SAUCE MAY STICK, AND THEN BURN, ON THE BOTTOM OF THE POT.



Best served with imported sheep's milk Ricotta Salata, or Pecorino Romano; some good Italian bread, and a sort of skinny lasagne noodle like either Margheritina or Elina Piccola shaped pasta. You can also use something like a Penne.

January 9, 2005

Sunday January 9

I feel like shite. Sheeeeeit. I went to Rojo last night and met up with Keith and Lee. I drank several vodka and cranberry drinks. Urgh.
I was going to go kayaking today but a couple of things got in the way. First, it appeared that the local river we chose (Mulberry Fork) didn't get enough water to run. So I told my friends I was going to go to the lake and practice rolling instead. Then last night I found out that the river DID get water; someone posted on alabamawhitewater.com that it was at a great level thus the online gauge is wrong (probably stuck). But by then I had already called off the run with my friends, who both confessed that they really had other stuff to do anyway. Then my contact tore in my left eye, so it's scratched a bit (it is irritated this morning and making my nose run and generally contributing to making me feel like shite). So now it's not good for me to even go roll practicing because I could get my eye infected. I dunno. It's PERFECT for rolling - the forecast is to be near 70 whereas later this coming week it will be very cold; so say the prognosticators of weather. F Word. Of course, yes, the water in the lake is cold, so I would have to wear my drytop and fuzzy rubber pants and pogies on my hands.

Stuff going on: went to look at a lead on a cave in Talladega County. We will have to go back during the summer when it's dry to really see if it's a cave or not. It's in sandstone but could have limestone underneath. All of the water from this stream disappears into this place. It was too wet to dig out yesterday. Digging is required to push the lead.

I have borderline high blood pressure. I don't have the results of my cholesterol test yet. I have to lose weight and eat less salt and be good, and maybe in 6 months when I go back to my doctor she'll decide that I don't need blood pressure medicine (she didn't put it on me yet; I am hoping not to have to take more medicine). I like writing things in parentheses. (did you notice?) So I am following the South Beach Diet Phase II and also the DASH diet. I'll link the DASH diet because I bet you haven't heard of it before. It's a diet for reducing high blood pressure. The two diets are very similar. Essentially, it's this: You Have To Cook. And use healthy ingredients. Time is the issue, the recipes are yummy but they take TIME. No throwing frozen pizzas into the oven, or calling Pizza Hut either. No white flour, no white rice, no white pasta. As a person who used to eat either white rice or white pasta EVERY NIGHT, this is a challenge. Also no fried food. None of this is particularly hard, even not binging on pasta and rice, but finding time to cook is hard. I bought a set of nice kitchen knives and a Cuisinart as Christmas gifts to myself to facilitate the cooking part.

Hmmm other stuff: I get mopey about not having kids. I have been listening to the new U2 album alot. This lady at the cave lead (one of the property owners I guess) commented that she couldn't believe how I, and Dave's wife Valerie, show the grey hair we have instead of dyeing it. I am grooving on the Cruella DeVille look, however. I think my stratocaster is not staying in tune like it should. The high E string tuner has alot of 'play' in it for any kind of adjustment. I am considering buying some instructional DVDs on guitar playing.

I was pontificating last night, fueled by vodka and cranberry juice, on the fact that artists must associate their pain with the pain of the common man (to use a cliche) or their art is not a succesful communication of anything. What I mean is that artists tend to segregate themselves, mentally, from the 'everybodies' around them. We're 'special'. We're enlightened, gifted, better. After telling yourself this drek for years there comes a time when you realize that nobody else cares about what you are 'saying' with your art, even were you to pay for a giant billboard of it, or a screeching speaker set on the top of your car. Because, think about it: great art has a UNIVERSAL ABILITY TO TOUCH EVERYONE who allows the touch, of course. How can you touch everyone when you consider yourself above everyone? I have been thinking about this alot.



January 8, 2005

great eggplant recipe

peel an eggplant and cut it into slices about 1/2 inch thick.

preheat oven to 350.

put slices on a baking sheet OR two sheets of foil (what I did)
drizzle slices with olive oil.
shake Italian seasoning (herbs) on them.
squirt some lemon juice on them (not too heavy handed with this).
sprinkle grated parmesan or romano on them.

Cook 20 minutes or so.

YUM YUM YUM