September 9, 2009

La Cucina Italiana

I received a subscription to the magazine La Cucina Italiana for my birthday. It originated as an Italian publication (it's billed as "Italy's premier food and cook magazine since 1929") and still is, but now has a version adapted for the American market. It seems pretty authentic, probably because it has such close ties to Italy… In any case, I really enjoy reading it.
I decided last week to make a point of actually trying the recipes in each issue -- not all of them or even a certain number of them, but several. It gives me something to look forward to and helps me decide what to make for dinner. Including the focaccia mentioned in my previous post, I’ve made 9 recipes from the current issue:
Penne e Ceci:
IMG_7244Penne and Chickpeas” with seared fish ( I used Mahi Mahi because I had it on hand) with a sauce of pureed chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Simple and hearty and very…comforting.

Then, linguine con pomodoro arrosto: pasta with roasted tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, oregano, and olive oil and topped with parmesan. Accompanied by insalata al crudo saltato e grana:  an escarole and radicchio salad with marinated mushrooms, crispy prosciutto, grana padano (I used parmesan), and olive oil.

Followed by frutta cotta speziata: apples, pears, and pineapples poached in prosecco with a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, peppercorns, anise, and a bay leaf. It tasted like Christmas…but in a summery kind of way…

In the final rush to get dinner on the table (you know, when everything is almost done and you’re trying to time it out perfectly so that it’s all hot and ready at the same time), I grabbed a block of cheddar instead of parmesan and grated it onto the salad. When I realized my mistake, I had a small fight with myself and picked it all off while Brian dug around and finally found the parmesan in the back of the cheese drawer. I made homemade spaghetti to go with the roasted tomatoes, but the pasta water spilled over and put out the flame on the stove.

I didn’t immediatly notice it was out, so the pasta soaked in hot water for 5 minutes while the gas ran… It pretty much ruined the pasta, but it was already after 9, and I was over being in the kitchen that evening, so we ate it anyway. The flavor was fabulous, even if the pasta was depressingly mushy. I made the dish again the next evening because I needed to redeem myself and I still had all the ingredients I needed. This time I did it with store-bought linguine and yellow tomatoes. I just love these colors!

IMG_7318We also had the salad again, only this time we added a splash of balsamic vinegar. It worked really well. I enjoyed being able to really taste the olive oil (even with the addition of the vinegar). I usually make a balsamic/Dijon vinaigrette that is very tasty, but masks a lot 0f the subtleties of the olive oil…so a simple oil and vinegar dressing was a nice change.

The next recipe on the list was a ragú alla Bolognese with fresh tagliatelle. This traditional meat sauce from Bologna includes ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, pork sausage, pancetta, red wine, and tomatoes! (among other things) It’s not the kind of thing you can eat every day, but it’s fabulous and totally worth the splurge.IMG_7338
IMG_7362 Up next, petti di pollo ripieni cotti alla brace: grilled chicken breast stuffed with ricotta, smoked mozzarella, fresh basil and roasted red peppers. It was accompanied by spinaci all’agro: sautéed spinach with lemon.


Well… they stuck to the grill pan, so they weren’t very pretty….

But who cares?

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