Homemade Lasagne and Mozzarella

Story and photos by Mark Bittman

My partner Kathleen and I made lasagne (each sheet is a “lasagna”; lasagne is plural), the other night. I never thought it was the kind of thing you needed much of a recipe for, unless you were making a fancy, sort of béchamel-and-mushroom kind of thing. But a) we’d been making fresh pasta with some regularity and b) we had some ricotta and some potential mozzarella from Caputo Brothers. (Which might consider changing its name to Caputo “Family” given that the family member on their videos is Rynn Caputo, a woman.)

Anyway. Kat is a lasagne expert, I think it’s a pretty easy thing, a friend’s dog had died (actually two friends’ dogs had died in the same day, but to one I sent flowers because she’s too far away for a lasagne), we had these cheese curds and some local (Glynwood, in fact) spinach, tomatoes, beef, and eggs, and some really good flour from Community Grains and Wild Hive, both, so on a lark we decided to make the best possible lasagne. Continue reading

Posted in Italian

I MADE FRESH PASTA!

Text and photos by Kate Bittman

To say I was nervous about making homemade pasta would be a gross understatement. I put it off for as long as I possibly could, and judgment day loomed large. I had the KitchenAid attachment, 4 ingredients (flour, salt, eggs, and beets to color it), and I was (not) ready to go. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Italian

Doggie Bag Dinner

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

By the second bite of the first meatball I knew the mountain of perfectly sauced fresh spaghetti dominating the bowl was coming home with me for frittata. I’m actually lying: I knew before the menus arrived at the table. Continue reading

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Italian

Talking Turkey

Photos by Pam Hoenig

I’ve never been a huge fan of turkey. I like it well enough to eat at Thanksgiving and again for leftovers the next day in gumbo. And as long as it’s the dark meat, most definitely not turkey breast.

But I am here to testify that I have most emphatically changed my mind. The reason? Porchetta-style turkey breast roast. Porchetta originated in Ariccia, a small town just outside of Rome. Prepared traditionally, an entire pig is deboned, the meat seasoned with herbs, then rolled up in its skin, and roasted in a pit to insane tenderness, with a crisp exterior.

Last week I was shopping the meat counter and saw what was being sold as “turkey breast roast.” There were three of them, all in those tight little net bags that keep everything even and together, and one of them was half covered with its skin. I didn’t buy one then but it got me thinking, what if I tried to do turkey porchetta style, working the flavor paste under the skin?

I went back the next day and just one roast was left, just shy of four pounds. It wasn’t the one with the skin, but I bought it anyway, along with half a pound of thinly sliced pancetta. Home I went.

In my little food chopper I combined 1/2 cup fennel fronds (picked from the stand of ornamental bronze fennel in my flower garden), 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, a handful of fresh sage leaves, salt, red and black peppers, and the zest of a large lemon and reduced it all to a puree. I pried the roast out of its netting and worked the paste all over and between the pieces of turkey breast that had been jammed together to comprise this “roast.” I reassembled them, then very unartfully wrapped the whole affair in pancetta and tied it together with kitchen twine.

Onto the grill: indirect, with a medium fire for 2 1/2 hours, until the center hit 155°F. I let it rest till it reached 160°F, then cut away the string. The pancetta had turned hickory brown. I cut the roast into thick slices; you could see the flavor paste lacing through the juicy breast. The taste was incredible—complex and aromatic. And it held up the next day when I enjoyed some in a sandwich, topped with a handful of arugula.

– Pam Hoenig

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Italian

HTCE Fast: Broiled Ziti

All the flavors of a classic baked ziti, but more bubbly crust and way less time. Crowd-pleasers don’t come much easier than this.

Salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the baking sheet
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Pepper
1 pound ziti
1 pound mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh
4 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 cup grated)

Continue reading

Posted in American, Italian, Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

For Perfect Pasta, Add Water and a Vigorous Stir

Flavio Pasta

On a clear fall day in Rome, I was sitting outside at Flavio al Velavevodetto, a restaurant in Testaccio, in a neighborhood that was once the city’s slaughterhouse district and is now inhabited by both older working-class people and gentrifying youngsters. Flavio de Maio, an elegant, middle-aged businessman turned chef, sat across the table from me; a translator sat between us. I had come at the recommendation of a friend, the Rome-based journalist and historian Katie Parla, who told me that if I was looking for the epitome of Roman pasta, this was the place.

I had a question for Flavio: Why did he think that the simplest pastas of all — pasta alla Gricia, pasta cacio e pepe and pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino — were the darlings of Rome, appearing on nearly every menu?

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Grant Cornett.

Posted in Italian, Recipes

A Family Affair

A Family Affair

Gianni Piscitelli, a home cook I met on a recent trip to Naples, grew up cooking with his grandmother, Maria d’Orsi, and later with his father, Attilio, in Montesanto, a residential neighborhood of the city. His grandparents were smart: They bought a sprawling place high on a hill with a view of the sea in 1933, when the area was still countryside — a home where the extended family could all live and cook together. What this family has always cooked is the food of Naples. Which is not what I thought it was.

If you grew up in Lower Manhattan when I did, 50 years ago, you might have thought you knew the food of southern Italy: Pizza, meat ragu, lasagna, stuffed shells and seafood “fra diavolo.”

Read the rest of this column and get the recipes here. Photo by Grant Cornett.

Posted in Italian, Recipes

Meaty and Mighty

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 9.08.11 AMEggplant is often called “meaty,” by which we mean what, exactly? Substantial? Versatile? Flavorful?

All of the above, for sure (as well as tough and chewy on occasion; not necessarily a bad thing). But the comparison is no more fair to the aubergine than it would be to call a piece of beef “eggplanty.”

Eggplant stands alone, a vegetable like no other. Actually, because eggplant is a fruit, like the tomato, to which it’s closely related, it’s safer to label it a food like no other, beloved and appreciated worldwide and deserving of respect, not as a meat substitute but as a treasure in itself.

Read the rest of this column, here.

Posted in Indian, Italian, Japanese

Exclusive Sneak Peek! Healthy One-Pot Meals from VB6 on iVillage

One-Pot-Pasta-and-Vegetable

Photo Credit: Daniel Meyer

The beauty of a one-pot meal is that you can get all your food groups in an easy to make, easy to clean up dish. It doesn’t matter if it’s vegetarian or laced with meat, a one-pot meal allows you to build textures and develop flavors in a simple manner. Pasta, tagine, stews… your options are limitless.

Read the rest of the article and check out the recipes, here.

Posted in Italian

Gnocchi: 4 Flavors, 4 Sauces

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A phrase often used (overused, really) to describe well-made gnocchi is “light as a cloud.” It’s not an especially instructive description for a piece of real food, and for cooks hoping to try their hands at gnocchi for the first time, it can be downright daunting.

It’s true that gnocchi requires a bit of technique, but achieving that cloudlike texture — “light” is perhaps a simpler, less intimidating word — isn’t actually that difficult.

Read the rest of this article, get the recipes, and watch the video with Mario Batali here.

Posted in Italian, Recipes