Sunday, April 12, 2009

Learning from my cookbooks!

I admire people who can speak several languages…how lucky those children are that grow up using two or more language because their parents speak them at home! I am, unfortunately, a one language girl. I took French in high school, back in the dark ages, but I don’t remember much. My language skills have developed slightly over the last 40 years because I know “cookbook” Italian and French and a little German. But, don’t expect me to carry on a conversation!
Let me give you an example of what you can learn about speaking Italian from a cookbook…… may come in handy in a restaurant.

Alla Genovese: In the style of Genoa, which means "with basil, garlic and oil."
Alla Bolognese: Means in the style of Bologna, and usually refers to a slow-cooked meat sauce with vegetables and tomato
Alla Caprese: In the style of Capri, meaning made with tomato, basil, olive oil and mozzarella cheese.
Arrabbiata: A tomato sauce flavored with chili to make it spicy
Arista: Loin of pork
Agrodolce: Sweet and sour
Burro: Butter
Brodo: Soup
Bistecca: Steak, usually beef
Crema Pasticcera: Pastry cream, a thickened cream of milk and egg used in desserts.
Crostata: Flat, open-face tart, sweet or savory.
Frutti di Mare: Seafood.

That takes us through the first few letters in the alphabet, but I want to stop here and share a few recipes with you. The first one is so good, and I have made it with other vegetables, so experiment. Just make sure your frutti di mare is fresh! This recipe calls for small clams, or vongole in Italian. Sure, you can toss in a can of baby clams at the end, but the fresh clams make it so much nicer!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Clams and Sweet Italian Sausage
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds loose sweet Italian sausage, shaped into mini-meatballs, I use Jasper’s
4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, or to taste
Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme
30 small clams, cleaned and scrubbed
2 cups Somerset Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
1 pound orecchiette , a small pasta, shaped like an ear
Sea salt to taste
2 small bunches broccoli rabe, stems removed
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
Take another large saucepan (big enough to hold clams) and set over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and loose pork sausage. Cook over medium heat to render fat and get color on the sausage. Once the sausage is browned on all sides, remove and place onto a paper towel-lined plate. To the same pan, add the chopped garlic, red chili flakes and thyme leaves and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn up the heat, dump in the cleaned and scrubbed clams and white wine. Cover with a lid and steam for about 10 minutes until the clams open.
While clams are steaming, cook the pasta. Add orecchiette to boiling water and cook. With about 3 minutes left, add the broccoli rabe to the same pot and cook until tender. Drain pasta and broccoli and place into the saucepan with the browned sausage. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine. Place into a large serving bowl.
Now return to the clams. Remove the lid and add the cubes of cold butter and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil as you stir. Once the sauce thickens slightly give it a final seasoning with pepper and a little salt (go easy on the salt) then take the whole pan and pour on top of the orecchiette and broccoli rabe. Shower with fresh Parmesan and parsley.

and for dessert......

Nectarines and Berries in Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ambrosia Dessert Wine

serves 6 to 8

1 pound nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/4" thick slices

1 quart strawberries, hulled, sliced 1/4"thick

1/2 pint raspberries

1/2 pint blackberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups chilled Ambrosia Dessert Wine from Somerset Ridge Vineyard

Place the prepared fruit, sugar, Grand Marnier and lemon zet in a large serving bowl. Toss well

and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Just before serving, pour the wine over the fruit. Tast for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.

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