Corn Pasta Squares with Beef and Mushroom Ragù

Cut Tacconi

If you like corn, but think it is only for polenta, get to know tacconi. This pasta is often seen in the regions of Molise and Abruzzo, and elsewhere in Italy’s Mezzogiorno. The dough is made of finely ground corn flour, wheat flour, whole eggs, and water. Toothsome, with a nice bite and full of corn flavor, these small squares are no delicate, paper-thin pasta. Rolled to a thickness of 3 to 4mm, tacconi are hearty, a great match for Italy’s rich, soul-satisfying sauces. I tossed them with a ragù enriched with full-flavored beef broth and porcini mushrooms.

Rotello cut Tacconi Read more of this article »

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My Old Le Creuset 9qtOven

With apologies to Tammy Wynette, singer and co-writer of the country standard Stand by Your Man, I’m calling this one Stand By Your Pan. This is a good news story, that in our age of lax, unconcerned customer service and “throw it away and buy new” mentality, I am both proud and pleased to relate. Read more of this article »

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Homegrown is alright with me.

Italian Garden Supplies

It’s never too early to plan a garden, and these days, with all the info on the Internet and all the mail order catalogs there is plenty to sift through. In just a few weeks it will be time to actually plant. Now is the time to do a little research.

Sure, if you are not in Italy, then you do not have the exact microclimate to grow a particular Italian vegetable or fruit. You do not have Italy’s indigenous soil either. But I am not going to quibble, and I am not going to let the purists stop me from growing my own, and neither should you. What greater joy is there than to walk into the garden with an empty trug and return to the kitchen, the trug brimming with fruits and vegetables grown with one’s own two hands, one’s own sweat and toil.

Don’t miss the thrill of seeing the tiny sprouting plants lift the dark, rich soil. Read more of this article »

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Homemade Cavatelli with Broccoli

This dish is simple, unfussy, and flexible. Maybe that is one reason why it is so good. Vibrant green broccoli and toothsome pasta are tossed with toasted pine nuts, peperoncino flakes, Parmigiano, and warm garlic-scented olive oil. And what oil this is. When I decided to write this article, it was going to be about how to make a simple dinner and the traditional pasta corta (short pasta) known as cavatelli, but once I tasted a spoonful of the Crudo Extra Virgin olive oil, my perspective shifted, and the dish ran away with the spoon. Read more of this article »

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Poalched Pear with Mascarpone

Their gentle sway, the round bottom that nestles in my hand, the succulent flesh of a perfectly ripe Comice – I love pears. Succulent and sexy, whether roasted in cream and sugar, baked into a tart or cake, transformed on the stove top into Pear Vanilla Butter, or eaten out of hand, pears are one of the gustatory delights of Winter.

I have a vivid recollection of my first taste of poached pears. Bosc pears, firm and tall with their stems intact, had been peeled and gently poached in sweetened, spiced Port wine. Their flesh yielding to a paring knife, the hostess lifted them from the garnet liquid and placed them in a pool of thick Creme Anglaise. She increased the flame under the poaching liquid and reduced it to a syrup. She dotted the Creme Anglaise with the syrup and deftly ran a paring knife through the dots, connecting them in an elephant walk chain made of linked hearts. A beautiful dessert took shape before my eyes, and I was transfixed. It changed the way I thought about food, and certainly how I thought about pears. It was one of those moments one never forgets, and although the word may be overused, it was a revelation.

Pears Read more of this article »

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