Ricotta and Nutella Tart

If you’re a chocolate and hazelnut fan, this recipe is for you. It’s got a bottom layer of Nutella, covered with a ricotta mixture and drizzled with more Nutella on top. The first time I made the recipe, I used a ready made crust and it crisped up nicely, browning perfectly on the bottom. I loved the flavor combination but thought it could benefit from a doubling of the ricotta layer.

So the next time I made it, I doubled the recipe for the ricotta layer.

The filling tasted great, but the problem was that the crust was undercooked on the bottom, even though I left it in the oven a little longer than the recipe called for. It could be because in addition to doubling the amount of ricotta, I also baked two tarts in the oven at the same time, which may have caused the pastry to bake unevenly. Or was it because I forgot to prick the pastry before smearing on the Nutella? In any event, it’s worth making this tart, but be warned – bake only one tart in the oven at a time for best results.

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Ricotta and Nutella Tart
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup 2% milk
  • ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup plus ¼ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, divided
  • your favorite tart or pie crust dough, chilled
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine the ricotta cheese, milk and sugar, and blend until completely combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then lightly grease and flour a 9-inch tart or pie tin.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge.
  5. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a ⅛ inch thick circle.
  6. Place it in the prepared tin, trim any overhanging dough with a sharp knife and crimp the edges.
  7. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.
  8. Spread the bottom of the crust with 7 ounces of the chocolate-hazelnut spread.
  9. If the spread is too thick, soften it in the microwave or place it in a heatproof bowl on top of a pot of boiling water.
  10. Remove the ricotta filling from the fridge and pour it over the chocolate-hazelnut spread.
  11. Bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.
  12. Let the pie cool completely then drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread.
  13. Refrigerate the pie for 2 hours before serving.
 

 

Rice, Salami and Cheese Casserole

Hide your bathroom scales if you decide to make this one – it’s loaded with cheese, salami and eggs, but it’s oh so worth it. Just make sure to invite a lot of people over. Even after serving it to my Italian chit-chat group (and there were 16 of us at the table that day), I still had enough left over to share with two different neighbors, and for my own dinner. The recipe comes from my friend Milena, who hails from La Spezia, and who is part of that Italian chit-chat group. You can make it without the meat if you choose, but the salami gives it a nice, spicy accent. I used a mixture of a basic Genoa-type salami, and one that was coated with black pepper. You could skip the salami and use cubed ham instead if you prefer.

Here is the pile of cheeses that went into it – mozzarella, pecorino and parmesan. Milena’s original recipe also called for cheddar cheese, but I don’t think it needs it, so I left it out.

You mix the rice, cheeses and salami with some beaten eggs and milk and press it into a casserole.

Then poke holes all around the casserole and pour in more of the eggs and milk mixture.

Sprinkle some bread crumbs and paprika on top and bake for about 45 minutes.

It’s hard not to keep eating it, but with bathing suit season right around the corner, I had to control myself.

But not for long. Guess what was mid-morning snack the next day?

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Rice, Salami and Cheese Casserole
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12-16 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups rice (I used arborio but long grain white rice is fine.)
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ lb. diced Genoa salami
  • ½ lb. cubed or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used a mixture of parmesan and pecorino)
  • 2 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Cook rice in water and salt.
  2. Add the butter and mix well.
  3. Add the cheeses and salami and mix well.
  4. Beat the eggs and milk, and add half to the cooked rice mixture.
  5. Put the rice mixture into a greased, ovenproof casserole. (mine was 9½ inches by 12 inches)
  6. With a fork, poke holes on the top and pour the rest of the milk-egg mixture over the rice.
  7. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and paprika.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees, covered for 45 minutes.
  9. Let it rest for five minutes before serving.

Sausage and Cabbage Cake

Rachel Roddy, a Rome-based cookbook author and columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian, has been inspiring me for years, especially after the publication of her book  –  “A Kitchen In Rome.” I’ve worked my way through many of the recipes, but haven’t made this one – for sausage and cabbage cake – until now. I don’t what took me so long, since it’s pretty quick to put together and elevates pedestrian cabbage rolls to company-worthy fare. It all starts with this beautiful Savoy cabbage, a vegetable that, aside from being highly edible, deserves to be in a still life painting.

Remove seven of the largest and unblemished leaves and blanch them for a couple of minutes, patting them dry after you’ve rinsed them in cold water.

You need to quarter the remaining cabbage, and blanch them for five minutes too.

In a buttered 8″ cake tin, place the largest and prettiest leaf. 

Layer in the other six leaves on top of the bottom leaf.

Push the sausage meat firmly inside the cake tin, using your hands to help conform to the shape of the pan.

Fill in with the rest of the cabbage, then fold in the overlapping leaves and press firmly. Dot with butter and place in a 350 degree oven for an hour.

I placed the pan inside another pan in case some juices spilled out during baking. as you can see, the top layer gets a little browned. Not to worry – that’s going to be the bottom when you serve it.

See, when you flip it out, it gets all show-offy, pretending to be a miniature oak tree.  (Be sure to flip it onto a plate over the sink because a lot of hot, watery juices will spill out).

I served it with a plain marinara sauce, but a cheese sauce, or a béchamel sauce would be right at home here too. Wine optional. No, revise that. Serve with a good glass of dry red or white wine – and some crusty bread.

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Sausage and Cabbage Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large Savoy cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (I used fennel pollen)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • about 1 pour very lean, well-seasoned sausage (without casings)
Instructions
  1. Remove 7 of the largest, handsomest outer leaves (discard any that are discolored or damaged) and wash them carefully.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the chosen leaves.
  3. Wait for the water to come back to a boil, then blanch the leaves for 2 minutes.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the leaves and drain in a colander in the sink, rinsing with very cold water to fix the color.
  5. Drain them well and spread them out flat to dry thoroughly on paper towels.
  6. Set them aside.
  7. Cut the rest of the cabbage into quarters and bring the same water back to a boil.
  8. Cook the cabbage quarters in the boiling water for 5 minutes, by which time the leave should be tender but the stems still firm.
  9. Drain the cabbage, rinse with cold water, drain again, and squeeze out any excess water.
  10. Cut away the hard central stem and separate the leaves into a bowl.
  11. Dress them with olive oil and fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease an 8-inch round shallow ovenproof dish with half the butter.
  13. Choose the largest and best-looking leaf from the 7 you have set aside and place it in the bottom of the dish.
  14. It should cover the base and come up the sides. (Mine didn't)
  15. Arrange the other 6 leaves so that they cover the sides of the dish, fanned out, overlapping a lot and hanging over the edges.
  16. Using a third of the seasoned cabbage, make a layer at the bottom of the dish and cover with half the sausage, pressing it down so it molds into the dish.
  17. Repeat the process, ending with a third layer of cabbage leaves.
  18. Press everything into the dish. Fold and bring in the overlapping leaves to cover the top and make a neat packet.
  19. Dot with the remaining butter and bake for 1 hour.
  20. (Readers please note, Ciao Chow Linda used half of the cabbage and all the sausage here, and finished with the other half of the cabbage, ending with folding the overlapping leaves. )
  21. Remove and allow the cake to stand for 5 minutes before inverting a serving plate on top of the baking dish and turning out the cake.
  22. Be careful, and do this over the sink, as there will be hot juices.
 

 

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

When you want a cake that’s not fussy and sure to be a crowdpleaser with adults and kids (alright so some of you who are from another planet may not like chocolate), this is the cake to turn to. Made with mini chocolate chips, that are less likely to fall to the bottom the way regular-sized chips do, this cake has a nice crumb and a delicious flavor, even without the chocolate glaze. So if you’re inclined to serve it without the glaze, at least give it a dusting of powdered sugar to elevate its plain Jane looks.

BUT, I highly recommend the chocolate glaze. I mean, come on, don’t you just want to stick your fingers onto that plate and lick those drizzles cascading down the cake? By the way, for baking, I almost always use Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate bars. You can buy them at the supermarket at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive brands, and years ago on a blind taste testing at America’s Test Kitchen tv show, Hershey’s Special Dark came out as the number one favorite. It’s delicious just for snacking straight from the wrapper too.

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Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons. vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used sour cream)
  • 1¼ cups mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • FOR THE TOPPING:
  • four ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer of a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until well combined and fluffy, about two minutes.
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and beat on low until combined.
  6. Add the Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and beat to combine.
  7. Add the remaining half of dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Do not overmix.
  10. Spray a small, 10 cup bundt pan with a baking spray with flour or use a light spray of baking spray and dust the inside of the pan with flour. (I smeared butter inside, then sprayed with a cooking spray, then dusted with flour.)
  11. Spoon the batter evenly into the pan and smooth the top of the batter. It will be thick.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven for about 55-60 minutes or until the top of the cake is set, with no jiggling.
  13. Allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cooling rack or serving platter until completely cool.
  14. When ready to ice, add the chocolate to a small bowl and heat the cream until almost bubbling.
  15. Add the warmed cream to the chocolate, cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap, and allow to sit undisturbed for five minutes.
  16. Stir to combine and add in the corn syrup, if desired.
  17. Pour over the cake.
 

Not Your Mamma’s Egg Salad

Happy Pasquetta! That’s the holiday after Easter when Italians all have off from work and school and take off to the country for picnics and another day of rest. Typically, they eat cold foods like leftover frittata or pizza rustic, but many people have leftover hard boiled eggs too and use them for egg salad mixed with mayonnaise.

Instead of the typical egg salad, try this different version (no mayo at all) from culinary legend Paula Wolfert, the most famous cook you’ve never heard of. Born in the U.S., she’s written nine cookbooks and has lived in Morocco before it was a travel destination on every Millenial’s to-do list. Sadly, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and the book “Unforgettable,” by Emily Kaiser Thelin, tells of her journey from a childhood in Brooklyn, to living around the world and bringing her recipes to American cooks through her cookbooks and magazine articles.

The book also addresses Wolfert’s disease and how she is dealing with it through a brain-healthy diet. If you’ve never heard of her before, you’ll learn a lot about this influential cookbook writer in this book, and find lots of intriguing recipes too, including this one for a mint-laced egg salad.

Oh, and if you want a fail-proof primer on making perfect hard-boiled eggs, click here.

Buona Pasquetta!

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Not Your Mamma's Egg Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs, boiled (see Ciao Chow Linda archives on "How to make perfect hard boiled eggs"
  • 1 to 2 cups slivered mint leaves
  • (depending on the intensity of the mint)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 teaspoons mild red pepper flakes, preferably Marash
  • 2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • flaky sea salt
Instructions
  1. Peel the eggs.
  2. Using the large holes of a box grater, and working over a large bowl, grate the eggs.
  3. Add the mint, green onions, and red pepper flakes and mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice to taste, then drizzle over the egg mixture and toss to coat lightly and evenly.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits

Still undecided about what to make as your main course this Easter? For us, it’s typically lamb, or sometimes ham, but if you want to try something different, yet festive, easy and delicious, then give this recipe a go. Roast pork and fruit are a delicious pairing and perfect for any holiday or special occasion. It won’t keep you from your guests for long, since it can be prepared ahead of time and takes only a half hour to cook. You can roast the meat while you’re sitting down to pre-dinner drinks with friends and family. Stew the fruit the night before to save time, but even this takes only 15 minutes. I bought an assortment of dried fruits – peaches, apples, pears, prunes and apricots, plus some orange and lemon peel – and covered them with boiling water, a bit of sugar and a cinnamon stick and whole cloves.

The fruit can sit in the fridge overnight, and you can reheat it at the last minute, while the meat is resting. After you slice the meat, arrange the fruit around the sides, and pour both the meat juices left in the roasting pan, and the fruit juices all over the meat.

Buon appetito e Buona Pasqua a tutti.

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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1½ pounds each)
  • Dijon mustard
  • salt, pepper (or herbed salt)
  • herbs de Provence
  • about two cups of mixed dried fruits (apricots, prunes, apples, pears, peaches)
  • water, to cover
  • ½ cup sugar
  • a few strips of orange peel
  • a few strips of lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a couple of whole cloves
Instructions
  1. Bring the meat at room temperature and dry with paper towels.
  2. Smear a little olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan.
  3. Place the meat on the pan and smear with a light coating of Dijon mustard.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (or herbed salt) and a light sprinkling of herbs de Provence.
  5. Place the meat in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 140-145 degrees. (The temperature will continue to rise for a bit when you take it out of the oven.)
  6. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minute, then slice.
  7. FOR THE STEWED DRIED FRUIT:
  8. Place the fruit in a saucepan with water to cover.
  9. Add the sugar, the citrus peels, the cinnamon and the cloves.
  10. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  11. Remove the citrus peels, the cinnamon stick and the cloves.
  12. Remove from the heat, and serve along the sides of a serving platter with the sliced meat.
  13. Pour the juice from the fruits and any juice from the meat (on the carving board) over the sliced meat.
 

 

 

Cassata Siciliana

If you’ve ever been to Sicily, you know that one of the classic desserts from that island is cassata Siciliana, a  delicious sponge cake layered with a ricotta filling, traditionally edged with almond paste and topped with candied fruits.

I was fortunate enough to have Fabrizia Lanza show me how to make cassata when I stayed at her farm in Sicily last spring. Fabrizia, who lived and worked in Bologna in the field of art history, moved back to Sicily to take over the cooking school founded by her late mother, Anna Tasca Lanza. The school offers lots of different programs from food writing to sketching, and even a ten week intensive course called “Cook The Farm.” Click here for more information.

Cassata Siciliana may look complicated to make, but Fabrizia breezed through the various steps in short order without working up a sweat. With Easter just around the corner, this would make a mouth-watering, show-stopper dessert.

The first step is making the marzipan, using pistachios, almond flour, and a few other ingredients, including the traditional green food coloring. Make the marzipan without the food coloring if you prefer, or if you don’t want to use the marzipan at all, you can omit it, and just cover the entire cassata with the confectioner’s sugar icing.

Roll out the marzipan and place strips of it in a tin specially made for cassata. These pans are not easy to find, but a pie plate makes a good substitute. Line it in plastic wrap first to make it easier to flip.

The sponge cake (pan di Spagna) is sliced in this manner, contrary to how I presumed it would be sliced (through the middle in horizontal layers).

Place one layer of the slices on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with limoncello, or Grand Marnier liqueur.

Spread a layer of the ricotta/sugar mixture on top.

Then repeat with another layer of the sponge cake and liqueur.

Pat it down firmly.

Then place a serving plate over it all and flip it over (fingers crossed).

Remove the pan and the plastic wrap.

Drizzle the confectioner’s sugar glaze on top.

Then decorate with candied fruits. They’re quite common in Sicily, and infinitely better in quality than what we get here in the states. If you can’t get good candied fruits, just keep it simple and use some homemade candied orange peel, (recipe here) rather than ruin your cassata with “industrial” candied fruit. Besides, the larger pieces, like the whole candied orange, are mostly decorative anyhow.

Just looking at the interior of this cassata Siciliana brings back some delicious memories and a strong desire to return to that fascinating island.

Part of the reason this cassata was outstanding was the quality of the ricotta that went into it. Fabrizia used sheep’s milk ricotta, but if you can’t find it, (admittedly not easy), use cow’s milk ricotta, well-drained. Our ricotta couldn’t have been any fresher, since we went to the farm that morning, where the cheesemaker made the cheese right before our eyes.

We could thank these sheep for the ricotta, who just a short while earlier had been milked.

Much of the pecorino cheese is drained in plastic molds, but here are some that were being drained in traditional reed baskets. Thank goodness for people still making food in the time-honored traditions of their ancestors, and for people like Fabrizia Lanza, who is helping disseminate these old world customs and recipes. If you really want to slow down and treat yourself to a unique experience, book at week at her farm, Case Vecchie and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of authentic Sicily.

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Cassata Siciliana
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SPONGE CAKE:
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups (150 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest
  • 1¼ cup (150 grams) flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons limoncello or Grand Marnier
  • FOR THE MARZIPAN:
  • 2¾ cup (350 grams) almond flour
  • 1¼ cup (150 grams) pistachios, ground
  • 1½ cup (200 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon glucose
  • green food coloring
  • candied fruit, for garnish
  • FOR THE ICING:
  • 3 cups (370 grams) powdered sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon, strained
  • FOR THE RICOTTA CREAM:
  • 2 lb. (1 kilo) ricotta
  • 1½ cups (200 grams) sugar
Instructions
  1. FOR THE SPONGE CAKE:
  2. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan.
  4. Put the eggs into the bowl of a mixer and beat for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the sugar and lemon zest and continue to beat until the mixture forms a ribbon when poured, about 15 minutes.
  6. In two or three parts, gently fold in the sifted flour.
  7. Pour into the springform pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a needed inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a cake rack and set it aside.
  9. TO MAKE THE MARZIPAN:
  10. Mix the almond flour, ground pistachios and sugar.
  11. Make a well and add a teaspoon of glucose, 2 tablespoons of water and a few drops of food coloring.
  12. Combine ingredients like a dough, then roll out on a workspace dusted with powdered sugar
  13. Cut long strips lengthwise into ½ inch thick slices.
  14. Roll out three of the slices into strips about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick.
  15. Knead the remaining marzipan into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and store in the refrigerator for later use.
  16. Line a 9-inch cassata pan, or a 9-inch pie pan with sloping sides, with plastic wrap.
  17. Wrap the marzipan strips along the inside edge of the pan, slightly overlapping the ends.
  18. Press against the pan to form a smooth layer.
  19. Cut the cake from top to bottom into ½ inch thick slices and trim off the crust
  20. Put a layer of slices on the bottom of the pan, drizzle the layers of the sponge cake with limoncello or Grand Marnier.
  21. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with sugar using a spatula until evenly distributed.
  22. Spread the layer of sponge cake evenly with the ricotta cream.
  23. Carefully place another layer of cake slices on top, drizzle again with limoncello or Grand Marnier.
  24. Flip the cake on a large serving plate.
  25. Carefully lift off the pan and peel off the remaining plastic wrap
  26. Set the cassata aside while you are making the icing.
  27. Sift half of the powdered sugar into a bowl.
  28. Add half of the lemon juice.
  29. Stir the liquid into the sugar, breaking up any lumps.
  30. Sift the remaining sugar into the bowl and add the rest of the lemon juice, until it has a thin spreading consistency and forms a smooth, shiny icing.
  31. Ice the top of the cassata, leaving the marzipan sides of the cake visible
  32. If you are not using green marzipan, ice the entire cake.
  33. Decorate with whole and cut candied fruit.
  34. Refrigerate and allow to set for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.
 

 

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Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

Although the calendar says Spring, there’s still a nip in the air most days, and it will be a while before we in the Northeast U.S. can reliably leave the house without wearing a jacket or sweater. So for those days in between seasons, when it can still feel a bit chilly, this mushroom beef barley soup is like a warm hug at the dinner table. You can make this without the beef, but I found it an ideal way to use up a small bit of leftover pot roast I had made a couple of days earlier. It was only a couple of ounces, but when shredded and added to the soup, it added a real depth of flavor.

Use any kind of mushrooms you want – from supermarket white button mushrooms to shiitake. I used baby portobello mushrooms. I also added a parmesan rind to the soup as it was simmering, something I do with many kinds of soups.

It takes only about forty five minutes from start to finish to make this satisfying and delicious soup, and with a side salad and a good loaf of bread, dinner is ready.

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Mushroom Beef Barley Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup minced carrot
  • ¼ cup minced celery
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portobello mushrooms, but use any mixture you like)
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 leftover parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 cup shredded leftover beef stew (optional)
  • salt, pepper
  • minced parsley
Instructions
  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in the olive oil over low heat, until limp.
  2. Add the butter and mushrooms and sauté a few minutes.
  3. Add the barley, the broths, the water, the parmesan cheese rind, the leftover beef stew plus the salt and pepper.
  4. Cook over low heat for about 30- 45 minutes or until barley is softened and flavors have blended.
  5. Add parsley at the end, and serve with grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.
  6. The barley will swell as the soup cooks and if the soup gets too thick, add more water.
 

 

 

Marcella Hazan’s Ragù Bolognese

Before there was Lidia, there was Marcella. I’m talking about Marcella Hazan, who reigned as the doyenne of Italian cuisine until her death in 2013. Her cookbooks are classics in the Italian food repertoire and are the first place I go to when I’m looking for a traditional recipe like basil pesto or gnocchi alla romana. Born in Italy, she wrote her cookbooks in Italian, and her husband, Victor Hazan, translated them into English. Married for 58 years, theirs is a love story that continues even after she is gone. Victor has taken over Marcella’s Facebook page since her death, and occasionally posts beautiful tributes to her, including these lines: “I am at life’s end and in looking back I can see how Marcella and I were squeezed from a single lump of clay.” Or these: “Where cooking was concerned she didn’t need to check how others were doing it. She didn’t have to because Marcella didn’t have doubts, she knew, and out of that knowledge, whose mysterious creative source had always been a wonder to me, she produced the pure, expressive taste of her cooking.”

I don’t know why it took me this long to make her ragù Bolognese, but I’m glad I finally tasted for myself what Marcella followers have known for decades. It doesn’t get better than this. It takes a long time to simmer, but it’s worth the long wait.

Start by sweating the vegetables in olive oil and butter – carrots, celery and onion,

Add the ground meat and cook until it loses its pink color, then add the wine.

Next comes the unusual step of adding milk and seasonings that include a generous grating of nutmeg. It looks curdled at first, but after it cooks and the milk gets absorbed into the meat, it will look more blended. Be patient, it may take a while for this step.

The tomatoes are added last, after the milk has become absorbed. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer for at least three hours – even longer if you have time.

After the lengthy cooking at low temperature, you’ll be left with this rich, dense ragù.

Perfect for adding to a bowl of pappardelle, as I did, or if you prefer, use tagliatelle, or fettuccine.

The recipe makes more ragù than I needed for the pound of pasta I cooked, so I served the leftover ragu another night with a bowl of polenta. It was equally as good and soul satisfying. Grazie Marcella, for this gem of a recipe. And grazia, Victor, for keeping those memories alive through Marcella’s Facebook page.

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Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Ragù
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound ground lean beef, or a combination of beef, veal and/or pork
  • salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups canned whole tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
  • 1 pound pasta - tagliatelle or pappardelle (you'll have leftover ragu)
Instructions
  1. In a Dutch Oven or large heavy pot, add the onion with the oil and butter and saute briefly over medium heat until translucent.
  2. Add the celery and carrot and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its red, raw color.
  5. Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium, add the milk and the nutmeg, and cook until the milk has evaporated. This may take a while.
  7. Stir frequently.
  8. When the milk has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly.
  9. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down until the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer, just an occasional bubble.
  10. Cook, uncovered, for a minimum of 3½ to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  11. Serve with tagliatelle, or pappardelle, and a good sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.
 

Celery Root Soup with Crispy Shallots

How many times have you passed the vegetable aisle in your supermarket and walked right by the celeriac, without giving it a second thought? This gnarly, under appreciated root vegetable, also known as celery root, deserves some love.

For those of you on a low carb diet, it makes a fantastic substitute for mashed potatoes. Find a recipe for that here. But it also makes a really delicious, velvety soup, that’s perfect for this time of year, when winter’s chill is still upon us. Use chicken stock, as I did, or vegetable stock if you’re a vegetarian. And skip the cream if you’re counting your calories (although it’s a scant 1/4 cup for about four to six servings) But please don’t skip the crispy shallots on top. They really dress it up and make it company worthy.

Everything gets cooked in a pot, then the bay leaf and thyme get removed and the soup is blended until smooth.

You can make this soup and be sitting down to eat it in a half hour start to finish – less time than it would take to get take out from the store.

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Celery Root Soup with Crispy Shallots
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large celery root (celeriac), about 1 pound, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • 2 T. butter
  • ½ cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 apple (I used honey crisp),cored, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or water or vegetable broth)
  • ½ cup white wine (you can use dry or sweet, I used Riesling)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • salt, white pepper
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, optional
  • FOR THE CRISPY SHALLOT:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the onions.
  2. Cook the onions until they are translucent, then add the rest of the ingredients, except the cream.
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook until everything is fork tender.
  4. It should take about a half hour.
  5. Remove the thyme and bay leaf from the pot.
  6. Using a blender or stick blender, puree everything until very smooth.
  7. Adjust seasonings if necessary, and add cream.
  8. If soup is too thick, add some water or broth.
  9. If it's not thick enough, continue to cook until the soup is reduced a little.
  10. TO MAKE THE CRISPY SHALLOTS:
  11. Place the olive oil in a saucepan and add the shallots to the cold olive oil.
  12. Turn up the heat and let the shallots fry until crispy.
  13. DO NOT leave the stove because they can easily burn.
  14. The leftover olive oil, once cool, is fabulous to use in salad dressings.
  15. Pour the soup into bowls, drizzle with some of the olive oil and top with the crispy shallots.