Pasta with Grilled Corn and Roasted Garlic

Pasta

by David Latt 

Recently my wife and I spent a week in Sonoma County exploring restaurants, inns, and wineries, and came across a dish of grilled corn with a roasted garlic and butter puree at Jackson’s Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa.  It occurred to me that the combination would be great with pasta; here’s my adaptation:  

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Posted in Italian, Recipes

Ravioli Del Plin

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by Edward Schneider

Could filled pasta be the best thing in the world? No: there’s music that has it beat, and some would argue that Leonardo’s Ginevra de’Benci is better than pierogi. But come dinnertime, I’ll take cappelletti over Mozart almost any day. 

Jackie and I always yearn for filled pasta, and we sometimes take the time to make it ourselves. A little while ago, during our dill craze, we made some big ol’ tortelloni with this filling: a leek and a bunch of Swiss chard thoroughly cooked in olive oil, squeezed dry and finely chopped; a cup of fluffy, dry ricotta from Tonjes at the Union Square Greenmarket; a great deal of chopped dill; grated long-aged parmesan; one egg yolk; and salt and pepper. There was filling left over, and we froze it in a disposable plastic piping bag so that it would be ready for use. 

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Posted in Italian

Call it Pasta, Potatoes, and Chorizo

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by Edward Schneider 

I’m not entirely sure what Jackie and I had for dinner on Friday night. I am sure that it was delicious, felt great in the mouth and was fun to eat (with a spoon – the best tool), and I’m pretty certain about what it was not: it wasn’t pasta cooked like a risotto, because I didn’t gradually add liquid and keep stirring; it wasn’t fideuà (the paella-like noodle dish of Catalunya), because I didn’t brown the pasta or use a sofrito or leave the pan uncovered. It was … well, let me tell you how I made it, and you can tell me what it was. 

It came together as I was cooking, and it started with a yen for pasta. In the house was a farmers’ market treasure: small, firm new-season potatoes. There are Ligurian dishes of pasta and potatoes, often with green beans and pesto, and these are delicious, but I didn’t feel like making pesto (even in a food processor, which is really the most sensible way to do it) and, anyway, there were no beans. There were juicy new onions, though, and little Spanish chorizos – the ounce-and-a-half ones that come four to a vacuum-sealed pack – and parsley and a bit of chicken stock. And of course many shapes of pasta from the drawer that Jackie refers to as our pastateca. Oh – and half a cup of pan gravy from a roast chicken. 

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Posted in Italian, Mexican

Risotto as Sauce

By Edward Schneider

Last year some time, Jackie and I had the most wonderful risotto assembly at our friend Angela Hartnett’s London restaurant Murano: a layer of shredded braised oxtail, sauce and all, topped with a delicate leek risotto. Cottage pie meets Milan, with the creamy risotto acting simultaneously as a second sauce and as an integral element of the dish. (With a bit of imagination, you can see an antecedent in the custom of serving osso buco with saffron-scented risotto.)

I thought of this a while ago, when we were just starting to get tired of the leftovers of a braised pork butt we’d been pecking away at for several days. Also in the refrigerator I had some cooked peppers – sweet red peppers and a poblano – julienned and slowly melted in olive oil until the flavor intensified. As I reheated the pork yet again, I used a half cup of this pepper mixture to start a risotto: not the typical elegant kind, but something gutsier – a kind of in-your-face risotto that is becoming a habit in our house. This one was flavored only with that pepper “sofrito,” white wine and chicken stock, with plenty of black pepper. Continue reading

Posted in Italian

Smokin’ Hot White Pizza

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By Edward Schneider

Saturday was pizza night at our house. One regular Margherita (we even had basil in the house), and one not so regular, but delicious if you like smoky flavors. Onto a semi-baked crust (I find that this initial pre-baking is necessary in a regular oven with a maximum temperature of 500 or even 550 degrees F), I spread a mixture of about 1/4 nice fluffy, not watery, ricotta and 3/4 smoked mozzarella cut into little pieces, into which was mixed a generous ounce of chopped speck (smoked dry-cured ham, in this instance from Italy), a few slivered leaves of sage, some olive oil and salt and pepper. Watch out for the salt – there’s no predicting how much will be in your mozzarella.

The only danger with this – as, come to think of it, with any pizza – is that, for safety’s sake, it needs to cool a bit before the first bite. So pour a glass of wine, eat an olive or some of that mozzarella and be patient.

Posted in Italian, Recipes

Pasta in brodo

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I’ve written a little over at the Times about my recent illness and comfort food. 

But one thing I didn’t mention was what must be among the most soothing dishes ever: pasta in brodo.

There’s some history here. In case you were wondering, I’m not – at least to my knowledge – Italian. (My family tree looks like a 3-month old shrub, so no one really knows.) Yet when I was young, my mother made me pastina – which is essentially couscous without the cachet – when I was sick. Pastina and butter. God, I can taste it now. Continue reading

Posted in American, Italian

Laid-back Risotto

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I don’t know. I look at this story about how hard it is to make risotto, and I think, “Well, either Felicity Cloake – whom I don’t know – is making way too big a deal out of a simple dish, or I have no clue how to make risotto.”

Because as I detail below, risotto is a no-brainer. It’s true that the difference between bad risotto and pretty good risotto is technique, but the technique is not a big deal.

But the two biggest differences between pretty good risotto and great risotto are not technique-y at all. To make great risotto you need really good stock, and a lot of butter.

I’ve made risotto like this hundreds of times – the pix are of one I threw together last week – and I’ve rarely had it as good in restaurants.

Please. Do not let risotto scare you. Continue reading

Posted in Italian

On a Dare: Ramp Pizza

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By Edward Schneider

[Ed Schneider is a friend of mine, a contributor to the Times and the Washington Post, and among the best home cooks I’ve ever known. I love him, even if he does write about ramps. I remain unconvinced, but I'm going to try it - next spring. – mb]

I happen to agree with New York’s Newspaper of Record that Motorino’s is the best pizza in New York. I haven’t actually been to many of its competitors, but, since for Jackie and me pizza is a meal rather than a hobby, I’m happy to accept that as fact. Anyway, it is wonderful pizza.

Right at the very beginning of spring, however, they served a ramp pizza that we didn’t much like. For one thing, the chopped ramps were chewy and harsh-tasting, and for another it was a tomato-sauce-based pie, which I thought was a bad idea – I rarely like greens cooked with tomato, though I’m more open to the concept than I used to be. When I told Mark about this, he dared me (his word) to devise a ramp pizza that wasn’t a bad idea. I’m not one to rise to a dare merely to save face: I’ll do it only if I’m confident I can actually perform the stunt in question.

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Posted in Italian, Produce