Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine: March 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's Been 2 Days and I'm Still Washing Dishes...

We had 12 people over for a 3 course dinner on Easter. Add in serving plates, pots and utensils and that adds up to a lot of washing! But it was all worth it. Dinner was a huge success.
The leg of lamb, pork shoulder, roasted vegetables, butter sage gnocchi (you get the idea), were all good; but my two favorite dishes of the day were the Pizza Rustica appetizer and the Ricotta pie dessert. Both are old family recipes that have been passed down to me. The Pizza Rustica from my father's family and the Ricotta pie from my mothers.
2 cups flour 3 tsp shortening 2/3 tsp baking powder 1 egg 1/3 tsp salt ½ cup ice water
Sift dry ingredients together. Blend shortening into sifted flour with fork. Mix egg with cold water. Add to flour and mix until a ball is formed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. FILLING 2 hard boiled eggs diced 4 oz. chopped prosciutto 8 oz. pepperoni, diced 8 oz. mozzarella, diced 4 oz. salami, diced 1 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese 3/4 lb Sausage meat browned 1 lb ricotta cheese 2 eggs 2 oz. ham, diced Combine ricotta, salt and Parmesan cheese. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add the various meats, cheese and hard boiled eggs. Mix well. Roll out pastry to line a 10 inch deep pie pan. Pour mixture into pan and cover pie with top crust. Fold dough under and back to flute thickly. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake in preheated oven, 400, for first 15 minutes. Lover temperature to 325 and bake 45 minutes. Ricotta Pie 12 eggs 1 tsp salt 3 lbs ricotta 2 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon lemon and orange zest Beat eggs well. Mix in sugar, salt, vanilla and ricotta cheese. Blend well. Add lemon and orange zest to taste Pour into a prepared pan Sprinkle cinnamon on top Bake for 50 minutes at 350

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

St. Joseph Cake aka...Zeppoli

The feast of St. Joseph, which is March 19th, is usually celebrated with a Sicilian pastry called the Zeppoli or just St. Joseph cake. Zeppoli's are deep fried balls of dough hollowed out and filled with either vanilla custard or ricotta cream. My personal favorite is the ricotta cream which is the same filling in a cannoli.
Growing up in South Philadelphia we always got our St. Joseph cakes from Termini Brothers. Although they started selling them at the beginning of March it was tradition in our house to have them on St. Joseph's Day. That's not saying we didn't have them several other times during the month of March.
Since moving to Phoenix 6 years ago, (yes, it's been 6 years) I've missed the Zeppoli I grew up with. This year I was able to find a close second at New York West Bakery in Sun City. They make their ricotta Zeppoli without a top, which is a little different than what I'm use to. But let's be honest...I really only want the cheese filling anyway. New York West Bakery 10101 Grand Avenue Sun City, AZ 85351 (623) 583-7620

Monday, March 10, 2008

So Many Recipes For Bolognese...So Little Time

My husband was channel surfing the other night, something he's very good at, and came across an episode of Food 911 where Tyler Florence was cooking Tagliatelle Bolognese. Intrigued by what he saw he asked me to track down the recipe on the Food Network's web page. That's one nice think about the Food Network; if you can remember even the smallest detail about the show you can usually track down the recipes online.
Bolognese is a meat based ragu typically made with several different meats and very little tomato product. Every chef seems to have their own recipe for bolognese; varying the type and amount of meat and tomatoes used. The only constant in these recipes seems to be the sofrito, which is a sauteed mixture of onion, celery, carrot and garlic.
This past week my cousin Marie was visiting us from NJ. So we gathered the family together for an Italian dinner at our house. My husband and I decided to give Tyler's Tagliatelle Bolognese recipe a try.
Tagliatelle are long flat pasta ribbons that are about 1/4 inch wide. Normally we would have made fresh tagliatelle but we were kind of pressed for time. Instead we found a nice dry tagliatelle alternative at our local AJ's.
I thought Tyler's bolognese recipe was really good and I liked the addition of red wine vs the white I've used in previous recipes. Two other bolognese recipes I've made and really liked are:
Mario Batali's, Parpadella Bolognese
Lidia Bastianich's, Sugo alla Bolognese
This is my contribution to the "Festa Italiana" celebration hosted by Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Basic Pasta Dough

There are a variety of "basic pasta dough" recipes available. Christine over at Chronicles of a Fledgling Home Cook asked if I would share the recipe I use. I've tried several and have decided I like the following combination of ingredients. I also find it easiest to make the dough in a food processor. Basic Pasta Dough 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading 5 large eggs Directions Place flour in food processor and pulse several times. (I use the regular blade not the dough blade) Add eggs 1 at a time while machine is running. Once the dough has started to form around the blade remove from the machine and continue to knead by hand. Adding flour as needed. Knead for several minutes until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at a time and keep the others wrapped. Run the dough through the largest setting of the pasta machine. Fold both ends into the center and run through the same setting. Continue to do this 5 times on the largest setting. Once that is done you continue to work the dough through each setting until you've reached your desired thickness. I usually go to 6-7 depending on what type of pasta I'm making. Once the pasta has reached the desired thickness you can cut it into the shape you want. Place the cut pasta on a floured baking sheet and cover with damp tea towels until ready to cook. (I find this keeps them very moist) Continue with the other 3 pieces following the same steps. Christine, I'm looking forward to reading some homemade pasta blogs from you soon!