Okay, so I couldn’t give it up. I was teaching what was supposed to be my last week in Italy and while I was there I got all hot and bothered about the idea of doing a week in Urbino in July. My girlfriend who lives in Urbino came to visit and I got to thinking it would be a whole lot of fun to do a week together. She could do the art and I could do the food. The restaurant space is taking forever to come through, so while I work on what is meant to be in NYC, why not have a little summer by the hills and sea of La Marche?
Piadina is one of La Marche’s greats. You can stuff it with sauteed greens and garlic or sausage or greens and sausage or just rip if off piece by piece and eat it with a glass of wine.
Make a well in 1 kilo or 2 1/4 lbs. of flour. Add about a tablespoon of salt. Drip in 200g or 1/2 pound of rendered lard (lard from around the kidneys is best, but if you cook off organic bacon, you can use that as well, but adjust the salt. Or even melted butter.) Rub together, adding a bit of water as you need to hold the dough together. Knead until completely soft to the touch, or about 5 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest. Portion into bits and roll each bit (about the size of an an apricot) into a flat pancake. Not too thin. Heat a heavy griddle. Cook on both sides–no need for extra fat and then if you have a gas burner, toast lightly directly on the burner to puff a little, on both sides.
Cook broccoli rabe in salted water for 5 minutes, drain, and saute with fresh, chopped garlic and red pepper flakes.
The birds sang through the night and I listened. I ate beef tongue for the first time in my life yesterday
and to calm my cow guilt I followed with a strong cup of coffee. I think if a cow were upset if you ate it,s tongue it would be equally upset about you chewing on it,s ribs, but somehow delicately slicing through somebody,s tongue felt like adding insult to injury. Guilt does not neccessarily have rhyme or reason.
For class we rolled out pasta on the kitchen table, had a stock simmering on the back of the stove that we fed to our meat sauce along with pours of deep red wine for a lasagna bolognese. We pulled the stems from a pile of Swiss chard, chopped them up and braised them separately from their leaves, then tossed them all with sautéed slivers of garlic and whole pepperoncino. We snacked on the sausages that we braised and seared to flavor our sauce once the sauce was cooked, we snacked on cucumber with dollops of mascarpone and fresh mint, and we kept on snacking on raw fennel with olive oil and lemon and then on roasted fennel.
We chopped up almonds as best as we could and then added just enough egg whites to hold them together and just enough sugar to sweeten them. We spooned it out into little hillocks on a cookie sheet and baked them until the tops looked nearly done.
Then we ate until we could eat no more.
Raining this morning with rolling thunder, but at 10 am the fog looks like it might be lifting, albeit with the hurry of a sleeping sloth.
All my people arrived by dinner. I ended up making lentils with fresh tomato, fresh shallot, fresh bay leaves, olive oil and balsamic (nothing cooked but the lentils), faro salad with braised asparagus and fresh fave that were quick sautéed in olive oil that had half a head of uncut garlic, fesh mint, fresh marjoram, fresh parsley already sautéed in there and at the end, once faro et al were tossed together, I smashed up a bit of the whole cloves of garlic, tore in some fresh basil, gave it a little more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and some zest. Plates of pecorino, prosciutto, salami, lupini (salted brined beans) and sweet gorgonzola with salad.
Completely forgot dessert so whipped up zabaglione and poured it into wine glasses with cut up strawberries on top. (1 egg to 1 T sherry to 1 egg yolk per person, beaten over simmering water in heatproof bowl til tripled in volume.)
And so is the sun, at least for a minute. I have bought fave, asparagus, pecorino, prosciutto and wine and I think no matter what else happens for dinner, the green and the good from Italy will be flowing through our veins. I have four people already here and I am waiting on six more, who will come when they come, but hopefully before the dusk makes every landmark, often a local tree, look the same.
Go to: http://dinnerlist.com/pg/videos/play/group:14/53230/lemon-tart for the visuals
and make a lemon tart to beat the band
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
rub the butter into the dry ingredients until nearly there. (some big bits, some small.) Press into a 9 inch pan. Bake at 400 til nearly golden.
Whisk 4 eggs and 2 yolks with 1 and nearly 1/4 cup sugar until light. Whisk in pinch of salt and 1/2 cup lemon juice. Stir over medium heat, pulling the pan from the flame when it steams. Continue until slightly thickened. Pour through a sieve and gently stir in half teaspoon finely minced lemon peel w/pith removed. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Pour over the crust and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool completely.
so it was chicken soup with orzo for Ferdinand and cream of asparagus for me.
The chicken with orzo is a no brainer and the cream of asparagus is right behind. All you need is 1/2 an onion chopped finely, 2 leeks and 1 stalk of celery, and a bit of fresh fennel if you have it, also chopped finely, a sprig of thyme, one of parsley, and 1 small potato, peeled and chopped. Saute everything but the onion until tender, add the potato, then cover w/water and add a pinch of salt. Simmer until the potato is cooked through. I used leftover asparagus, but otherwise, braise about 10 to 12 stalks of asparagus separately for 4 minutes, then chop up and add to the soup. Simmer for about 2 or 3 more minutes. Puree with an immersion blender and whisk in a little butter or mascarpone. Taste for salt.
Ferdinand: which one is mine, the one with the chicken or the green one?
Mom: the chicken.
On the top of my mother’s food list:
floating islands (which she always talked about, but I never saw her eat)
tomatoes grown outside her kitchen window
My mother loved her sugar. I don’t ever remember her buying anything baked in the beginning; she had a rule that if we wanted dessert we could make it. Penuche and donuts were the only thing we would pile in the car for.
“Once every five years” she’d say, when we’d ask when we could stop as we were driving past Hilliard’s.
And then, “Has it been five years?”
And from the beltless back seat,”It’s been twenty years!”
When it came to rhubarb, there wasn’t a choice if we wanted one. Nobody sold anything rhubarb by us; everybody made stewed rhubarb or upside down rhubarb cake or rhubarb pies with their own two hands. We never used cornmeal in a crust but it’s a crunchy, sassy addition.
Stew 3 cups of rhubarb for a bit on top of the stove w/1/2 cup of sugar, a piece of lemon zest with the pith removed, a whole clove and a piece of cinnamon stick until it goes a bit soft, about 5 minutes. Toss w/4 peeled or unpeeled sliced granny apples, a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of flour, a pinch of ground clove and 1/4 cup of sugar.
Pour into a prepared crust (double this for the pie):
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
7 tablespoons cold butter cut into small cubes
big pinch sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of yogurt or sour cream and enough water
Rub the butter into flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar until just before you think it’s ready. Stop. Add sour cream and ice water a few drops at a time, moving the dough with your hand, until it comes together. Freeze for half an hour. Roll out and press into a pie tin. When your filling is in, cover with the second piece of dough, tucking the top edges into the bottom, and the bottom edges up and over the bottom to crimp. Brush with beaten egg and dust with sugar. Cut vents in the center. Bake at 400 degrees, setting the pie tin on a cookie sheet, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender.
Are you stressing about how to pay your mortgage or how to make your knees work like new? Forget it.
Think about something easy like what to do with watercress. You could make it into a salad w/endive and radicchio. You could
make into a sandwich with a little horseradish dressing and roast turkey. But I’m going to make the decision for you. Soup.
The secret of how to make it into soup: blanch the leaves for 1 minute, throw them directly into a bowl of ice water and then squeeze them dry. Get your classics of a chopped leek and peeled chopped potato going in a little bit of butter with salt, pepper and a bouqet garni (celery top, bay leaf, thyme sprigs&parsley tied together.) Simmer in a pot with a lid, just covered to the top of the potatoes w/half water and half whole milk until the potatoes are nearly tender. Add the cress and let it simmer another 10 minutes until the potatoes are completely tender. Remove the bouquet garni and smooth into creaminess with an immersion blender. Taste for salt and pepper.
I do not accept that you won’t buy beets because of the mess they make. Think of painting, gardening, surgery, and feeding a two year old. Life is not neat.
Think of a beet like a messy potato. Sure it might stain your fingers for a few minutes, but it all comes out in the wash, you get massive health benefits like Vitamin C (in particular the top greens), Iron, Folate, fiber and Manganese and glycine betaine (great for your blood vessels.) Plus, you don’t even have to cook it.
Grate a beet on the large holes of a hand grater or by using the grating attachment of your food processor. Make a dressing of a dash of red wine vinegar or balsamic, a good squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, a spill of maple syrup, a teeny ween bit of dijon and a good pour of olive oil. Shake in a jar. Add to the beet, some capers, paper thin sliced radish, a few chopped flat leaf parsely leaves, a few chopped arugula leaves, and chic peas. Pour the dressing over and taste for salt.
Ferdinand is on a mission for an ipod. He already has the ipod 4 and just spent all of the money that everybody ever gave him plus anything he found on the sidewalk for a refurbished ipod 3. He did his research and told me that read somewhere (WHERE??!!) that if you regularly leave your parents notes about the type, color and advantages to a particular electronic device and you are are regularly super agreeable and helpful around the house, your chances of actually getting that particular electronic device increase about 300 times.
I can already feel myself weakening into a statistic. Who doesn’t like to have their clothes folded? There was a sweater on top of the pile that I haven’t seen for months. He cleared my dishes, he did his homework, he SANG A GOOD MORNING SONG TO ME.
There is not one thing complicated about it.
Even against better judgement, nice to the mother equals a better chance at gift of choice.
Food is the same. Simple wins. Asparagus that looked like they had just been picked showed up at the vegetable cart on my corner yesterday.
Egg, herb, cheese and pasta.
You could roast the asparagus and set them on top of grilled piece of crusty bread with a soft boiled egg on top of that.
You could saute them with fresh basil and a whole unchopped garlic clove and fold them into a frittata.
You could slowly melt gorgonzola and mascarpone over a double boiler and drizzle it over 4 minute steamed asparagus.
You could shave the asparagus and toss them with fava and pecorino shavings.
I snapped the asparagus where they bent and poached them for 3 minutes. I chopped 3 cloves of garlic and 1 shallot w/a handful of flat leaf parsley and sauteed until about to go golden with a bit of sea salt and a grind of pepper. As half a box of pasta boiled I tossed the asparagus with the garlic and shallot. I mixed an egg with a fork, slowly added about a quarter cup of the boiling pasta water (save more water from the pasta in a pyrex cup in case you need it) with a handful of parmigiano reggiano and when the pasta was seriously al dente, I drained the pasta, dumped it back in the pan with the asparagus and stirred in the egg mixture.