Italian Archive

Saturday, February 27, 2010

baked rigatoni with tiny meatballs

tiny meatballs, baked rigatoni

Did you hear a resounding whine/sigh/moan the volume of the entire Eastern seaboard? Because there’s a fresh foot of snow outside for the 200th time this year and friends, I love snow. I get so excited when it is going to snow. But this? Lacks charm, likely because the first day of this anticipated four day storm was three to four inches of mucky slush.

sleet day

Anyway, I still maintain that complaining about the weather is dull, thus if any one good thing can come of this, it is that pasta, meatball and cream sauce season just got extended by at least another weekend. After the excitement over Marcella Hazan last month, I wanted to share a recipe from her on the opposite end of the spectrum, sort of the Italian version of Italian-American baked ziti. Except, the ziti is rigatoni, which she insists holds up better to being cooked twice (plus has large hollows that nicely slurp up their surroundings). The red sauce is a white sauce. The cheese is subtle and oh, there are wee meatballs scattered everywhere.

about to make the meatballstiny meatballs, one dredged in flourshaking off excess flourbrowning the wee meatballs

Continued after the jump »

Friday, February 12, 2010

spaghetti with cheese + black pepper

black pepper and cheese spaghetti

Alex and I had an accidental date a few weeks ago, accidental in that we set out to take a walk but the conversation quickly turned to “I wonder if we could get a table at Lupa.” The answer, by the way, should be no. One can never get a table at Lupa. They don’t take many reservations, they’re not very big and just about everyone in New York City loves to drop in there for a meal. It is for this pile of reasons that we’ve never been. Or we never had been. Because that evening, there was exactly one eensy little table free and there we were, having an impromptu dinner out on a weekday night, something that would have been nothing out of the ordinary, say, five months ago but as parents to a young dough ball, it was nothing short of earth shattering.

lots of freshly, finely ground black pepper
finely grated romano

I ordered a beer and the spaghetti, well, the bavette or linguini fini, but for the purpose of this story, it will be spaghetti because it was just that humble. When I trust that a place won’t disappoint, I have a tendency to order the plainest thing on the menu, hearkening back to my deep-seated belief that great chefs make you wonder why you’ve wasting so much time with gimmicky sea salts and foie anything when you could be eating a perfect bowl of spaghetti. And this cacio e pepe? It sang to me. Well, sang and then admonished, as food often does in my presence, “seriously, lady, why haven’t you made this yet?”

spaghetti, al denteish

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, January 17, 2010

tomato sauce with onion and butter

tomato sauce with butter and onion

I could no longer resist this sauce, and frankly, I don’t know why I even tried to: food bloggers obsess over it, and they’re not a bad lot to base a recipe selection upon. Adam of Amateur Gourmet fell for it five years ago. Molly at Orangette raved about it over two years ago, with a bonus approval marking from Luisa at Wednesday Chef. Then Rachel Eats fawned over it too, and Rachel, you see, she lives in Rome right now — I want to be in Rome right now — Rome, where you can get authentic, perfect tomato sauce a zillion places every single day. And yet she stayed in and made this one. That sealed the deal.

tomatoes + onion + butter
telephone cord pasta

So what is it with this sauce that it moves people to essays over it, tossing about exclamations like “brilliant!” and “va-va-voom” and promises that “something almost magical happens”? Is it garlic, a slip of red pepper flakes, a glug of red wine or a base of mulched carrots, onion and celery, as so many of us swear by in our best sauce efforts? Is it a spoonful of tomato paste or a pinch of sugar? Is it the best olive oil money can buy? It is none of these things, not a single one: It is butter. And an halved onion, cooked slowly as the sauce plops and glurps on the stove, then discarded when it is done.

love these tomatoes

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, December 19, 2009

mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes

mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes

People, I’m about at the end of my ordered-in dinner rope. It’s not that — as the front page of this site might suggest — I haven’t cooked anything since the baby arrived, it’s just that I’ve largely cooked things that could be assembled during naptimes, and most of Alex and my conversations about meals go, “What should we do for dinner?” “I made mushroom toasts and a bowl of butterscotch sauce today!” “Right, so what should we order?” And so on with the pho, cracker-thin pizza and hummusiot dinner deliveries. For three months. At 93 days, even shakshuka broiled with haloumi gets tiresome.

snailsshroomsparmesanmarsala

Now, I don’t expect any violins, especially from folks without the East Village’s globe of food delivery options at their fingertips, but I am sure you all understand what it means to desperately crave a homecooked meal. And I don’t mean a 5-hour braise or hand-sheeted pasta (though, ahem, I wouldn’t push either away); even a simple sautéed chicken, which I managed to eek out a few weeks ago, stands out as one of the best things we’ve eaten in a month.

artichokes, thimbles, cheese

Continued after the jump »

Monday, April 6, 2009

artichoke-olive crostini

green crostini

My husband and I have different packing personalities. First, I need a clean apartment, you know, before I wreck sections of it at a time. Then I need to go through every single thing we own before any of it gets packed and determine whether it should stay or does it need to go. I cannot stand the thought of moving, well, useless baggage to a new and supposedly clean slate of an apartment. Then each box has to have a separate topic; if desk stuff gets in with book stuff, I get itchy and start pacing the floor. How does Alex pack? Oh, he puts stuff in boxes until everything’s packed. I probably don’t need to tell you who is better at getting the job done.

olives, capers
artichokes, olives, etc.

Continued after the jump »


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