Weekend Recipe: Pasta with Tuna and broccoli

4 of the top 10 things that guys, even more so heterosexual, don’t do naturally of their own free will are: their nails, shopping, ironing…and dishes, the later unless there just isn’t any more space left in or around the kitchen sink. You know, those leaning tower constructs of stained, somewhat brownish plates, glasses and silverware that seem to defy gravity as they glisten under the lighting, testaments to the meals of days gone by? I’ve been domesticated, hence I do all the above mentioned stuff, the dishes even while I cook  – under duress, admittedly, but I do them.

Still, I’m reticent about it so when I have the chance to limit the cleanup I do. There are several ways to do so. The most pleasurable is takeout – sushi, pizza and the like. But the former can get rather dear and the later tiring, say, if you’ve done it for 6 straight days. By the 5th evening the guys at the pizzeria have become so used to your 7:55pm arrival that they have your order ready for you even if you didn’t call it in beforehand. At that point it’s time for option 2: a one pot meal.
Once again there are a bizillion ways to make one. One rather yummy one, fast to boot, is this: Put the usual salted water on to boil, (the water should sort of be as salty as the Mediterranean sea,) and once boing, slide in the pasta – short noodles for this recipe, large bow tie or butterfly shaped, though any will do. 80-120 grams per person, depending on how hungry you are. Add a minute to the suggested cooking time, seeing as the addition of broccoli about mid-way through will lengthen the time necessary. You can use spaghetti if you want but if you do it would be better to sauté and mix in a pan before plating, which would mean extra cleanup. So.

Clean some broccoli, about one full handful per person, and divide it into small bite-sized pieces. If you want to use the stem part of the vegetable as well as the leafy part peal and slice the stem immediately and place it into the boiling water. Now, grab the main serving bowl. Take one garlic clove and squish it along the inside. Your hands will taste rather lovely like garlic for a day after if you scrunch the clove hard, but hey, you’re a guy. What’s a little garlic? If you want the end result to have even more of that fresh garlic flavor, rub the individual serving bowls with some as well. Check on the pasta to see it isn’t boiling over or sticking. Now, slice some datterini (or cherry, if you can’t find them) tomatoes from Sicily in half, about one palmful per person, and slide into the main serving bowl. Check the timer. If the noodles have about 5 minutes or so to cook (it depends on the size of the broccoli pieces you prepared,), slide them into the boiling water as well. Now for the main ingredient of the condiment.

Open one box of quality tuna ventresca filets in olive oil per two people. Remember, drain out the oil. Don’t be a guy about it. The oil will detract from the taste. Anyway, place the filets into the serving bowl and break them up a little with a fork. Now add a tablespoon per person of fresh, good extra-virgin olive oil. Then add a pinch of salt, a bit of fresh ground black pepper. Now check on the pasta for salt and tenderness. Add salt and adjust the cooking time as needed. Finally shred in a few basil leaves.

When the pasta is ready drain well and toss the noodles straight into the main bowl, mix, plate, and dribble but a few more drops of oil on top. You can add a dash of hot pepper optionally. And serve with a glass of medium structured, chilled white wine. It’s a light dish, which is a good thing. After dinner don’t forget you have the leaning tower of clothes to iron…..
PS: In alternative, you can can the broccoli and add 1/4 a grated lemon rind per person, which is just as delicious, maybe more, and will leave even less to clean….

Ingredient list for 2:
1 can or tin of tuna ventresca (or tuna filet) in olive oil
180 grams of short noodle pasta
2 cloves garlic
EV olive oil
1 (bio- no pesticide) lemon and/or –
– 1 small broccoli
10 ‘date’ tomatoes or other savory type
Salt and pepper to taste
(opt) flat-leaf parsley or sweet (small-leafed) basil, fresh hot pepper

link: endangered tuna: http://www.ourendangeredworld.com/species/sharks-fish/bluefin-tuna/


Wednesday Will: Tiramisu Sonnet 29

Tiramisu Sonnet 29*
“Thus do I pine and surfet day by day,/ Or gluttoning on all, or all away.” Sonnet 75, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Tiramisu Sonnet recipe is part of what food critics term the “Good Food” recipes in which Shakespeare exalts the value of traditional preparations and fresh, quality ingredients. In “Tiramisu” he proclaims the ability of a simple, “sweetest” dessert to brighten his outlook after a crap – filled day.

When stuck in traffic after a bad day,

I alone am really, really pissed-off,

Victim of political office play,

Thinking of the boss I’d like to tell-off,

Dreaming I had more money in the bank,

A cooler car, a bigger house, a Wii,

Wishing I looked much cooler in a tank-

Top, leaner, with less body hair to see,

And just in general feeling like crap,

I say to myself, screw it, at least when

I get home I’ll go to the fridge and snap

Open last night’s tiramisu and then

With that sweetest, fresh dessert so creamy,

My loser’s life’s a bit less unseemly.

*First appeared in Alimentum.

The real recipe:
4-6 egg yolks

6 egg whites

+/- 1/2 cup of sugar to taste
Unsweetened chocolate (quality though)
1&1/2 cup of cream (optional)
Vanilla extract(optional)
400 grams or so of Mascarpone cheese (if you can get it fresh, all the better)
A large pot of very strong, good espresso
Good Rum(optional)
A couple packages of Lady Fingers (or better, Savoiardi Cookies)

It’s an assembling job, and you can vary it however you want: more cheese, less coffee, less egg yolk, more chocolate, a different liquor or cookie, etc. Separate the eggs. In one mixing bowl whip the egg whites, in another whip the yolks with a bit of sugar, a little at a time, in a large bowl work the the cheese with the rest of the sugar until smooth, and finally in a different bowl beat the heavy cream and a dash or two of vanilla (the cream and vanilla are optional. If the Marscarpone is fresh, I prefer and make it without.) Incorporate the cream into cheese by folding in with bottom-up movements, using a spatula, then the yolks then the whites. Mix the strong unsweetened espresso with a bit of good Rum (optional again, and if the coffe is good, like Illy, no need to add,) and place the mixed liquid in a bowl. Soak the ladyfinger cookies well either directly or by brushing the fluid generously over top in or with the coffee and rum then place on the bottom of a deep pan. Now spread a layer of the cheese mix, then another layer of soaked cookies, etc. On the final layer of Mascarpone generously sprinkle a layer of unsweetened chocolate, and refrigerate well before serving. Serve with a Moscato.
link – if you’re looking for a recipe that’s a bit more ancient: A baked Pudding after the Italian fashion, corrected.  http://www.godecookery.com/engrec/engrec30.html


Weekend Recipes: Fried polenta with Zola (cheese)

…yesterday fried polenta with fresh, creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Lombardia, the northern region of Italy (Milan), doesn’t have a coastline with the Mediterranian sea. Still, Italians, northerners included, are an expressively emotional lot by and large, tending always to remain connected sentimentally and interactively with something larger than themselves individually. Love, family, food, soccer, dialect… and the sea, sometimes the mountains. Lots of traditional songs of yearnings and conflicts, loss and place. It’s the nation of opera, after all, Puccini, Verdi, Bellini…. sentiment. Melodrama. Maybe that’s why the people in the Lombardian (and Piemonte) valleys and plains invented Gorgonzola (it’s a real city. See the photo below) cheese: to have something to miss when it’s not there.

…the recipe is straightforward, almost a no-cook. Simply make a ton of polenta – there are differing schools as to how, whether to stir all the time or leave it mostly alone but the end results are fairly similar. Unless you have a big fireplace and let it cook over the flames, just follow the instructions on the package. If you want it a bit richer, near the end of its cooking or as soon as you remove the cornmeal from the burner add some quality whole milk, like a glass per 4 people, and stir it in. The important thing is, of course, to use good corn flour – avoid cheap stuff.  And when it’s ready, pour all of it into a wet, smooth textured rag or towel and mold the steaming polenta into a loaf, slicing pieces after from the loaf with a wooden knife if possible. You can accompany it with pretty much anything, cheeses, cold cuts, rabbit, chicken of other liver, meaty ragu, ecc. Make too much to finish that day…leave the rest covered in the fridge.

The next day remove it, slice the cold polenta – not too thick, maybe half an inch at most but it depends on personal taste, and fry them up in butter until the slices crisp on each side then spoon on the hot slices a bit of the freshest Gorgonzola you can find. That’s it. Orgasmic. A little white wine or lightly structured red, let the flavor overwhelm your mouth and mind, close your eyes… and begin to miss the plains of Lombardia, even if you’ve never been there, from wherever you are….

link – gorgonzola cheese: https://cheese.com/gorgonzola/
and twitter: https://twitter.com/ReadTheFlavor?lang=en

Weekend Recipes: Polenta con Zola…

Ieri polenta fritta con Zola. Sapore avvolgente, profondo e quasi orgasmico. I Lombardi non hanno il mare. E per quello che hanno inventato il Gorgonzola: per avere qualcosa da mancare….

…superfluo spiegare, comunque: fai la polenta il giorno prima magari con fegatini di coniglio, ma farne piu che serve. Il giorno dopo tagli la polenta a fette e friggerle, accompagnare con gorgonzola fresca e dolce di qualita. Aggiungi quello che vuoi tipo noci appena sbucciate ecc., ma non serve altro. Con un buon vino bianco ricco, magari un traiminer…. e c’e il mare della Lombardia.

Wednesday Will – Stewed Goat Sonnet 126

Stewed Goat Sonnet 126

   “Nothing but sit and sit, and eat and eat!” The Taming of the Shrew, 5.2

Though technically not one of his Sonnet recipes – being merely a series of 6 rhyming couplets instead of 6 interlocked rhyming lines followed by a single rhyming couplet – “Stewed Goat” is nevertheless one of Shakespeare’s more acclaimed 12-line dishes. Its central theme is one of William’s favorites – making sure that a food’s flavor is not undone through overcooking or bad saucing: “keep a clean flavor…thou goat soup of our pleasure!” In an unusual twist, Sake instead of more traditional acidic options is used to counterbalance the goat fat. Though not the most popular of Will’s plates, it is one of our favorites.

O thou my lovely pot, who in thy low heat
Dost hold my stewed goat, the luscious melting meat
That hast by cooking shrunk, and therein it mixed
Its flavor within the vegetable broth fixed –
With Sake, sovereign liquor with some game
As the fat liquefies itself into the same
It keeps it to this purpose: that the texture
May not be disgraced, and keep a clean flavor.
Yet smell it, O thou goat soup of our pleasure!
The fat may threaten but still not subvert this treasure.
Our dish, though slow-cooked, fast eaten will be,
And with good red wine its quietus see.

The real recipe:

Ingredients per person: 
Goat, lamb or rabbit pieces, with the bone, about 250 grams
1 carrot
1 firm zucchini
1 potato 
1 red onion, medium sized
1 garlic clove
1 white beet
Chicken broth (see Henry Vth)
Salt and pepper
Extra-Virgin olive oil 
1 celery stick
Cinnamon or 5 spices (optional)

Few things are easier to make, fewer things more satisfying to eat, and you can change the flavorings to taste, ie use ginger root or wild anise, don’t add the rosemary or cinnamon, use a meat broth or water, cook the potatoes apart, ecc. The idea is good meat stewed low and slow. 
   Make sure to clean the meat well, not leaving much fat. You can marinade the pieces particularly if it isn’t the most tender, in red wine, garlic, rosemary, pepper and a dash of cinnamon but if the meat’s of good young quality there’s no need. Just sear the pieces after a quick brush of olive oil in a deep, large pan or shallow pot on high heat, then add the roughly chopped onions or scallions, celery, then the garlic, ecc. and after a minute or two pour in the Sake or other liquor-wine. Once evaporated, season, adding a pinch of cinnamon or 5-spice if you like the taste and didn’t marinade, add the chunks of carrot, potato, onion and beet – make the pieces large as they will slowly cook – whatever herbs, then pour over enough broth to barely cover the whole. Partially cover, reduce the heat and cook slowly for 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender all the way through, almost falling by itself off the bone. Add water if necessary as the sauce reduces. Alternatively you can cook only the meat in the pan and first boil the potatoes (in bite-sized chunks) in broth for 10 minutes, adding the zucchini pieces 2 minutes into the boiling, remove from the flame and cool by in ice cold water. In turn remove the vegetables from their pan and set aside. Later, once the meat is ready, pass the veggies in a pan with butter flavored with diced garlic and chives or sage or whatever to your taste. Toss the vegetables in the butter a few minutes, adding salt and pepper just until they begin to brown, add a little milk if you’s like a creamier texture, toss as the liquid reduces, and serve immediately. Near the end, check on the stew and uncover to evaporate – depending on the consistency you prefer for the sauce. By the end of the stewing it shouldn’t be at all watery, but cream-thick. Serve with a healthy, robust red like a good Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

link: For to stewe mutton: http://www.godecookery.com/trscript/trsct047.html

on twitter https://twitter.com/ReadTheFlavor?lang=en