Wednesday, June 29, 2011

bucatini amatriciana recipe

I'm so sorry I've been gone so long. This month was crazy! I had three major trips in June, plus a weekend in Napa and the remaining week was spent with a visit from my Mom. You have to forgive me.

Just like I promised and just like Rome... Before I left I was in the process of mastering the art of extruded pasta. I didn't get very far though. I tasted this bucatini amatriciana in Rome last year at Grano was hell-bent on duplicating it. I think I almost got there.

My first attempt with the pasta extruder attachment for the Kitchen Aid was with rigatoni. I was less than enamored. It was thick and heavy. I chucked it up to beginner's misfortune.

Before throwing the extruder out the window, I decided to try my hand again. This time, I made bucatini, the pasta that's kind of like big spaghetti with a hole in the center. This time, the pasta was incredibly tender, and delicate. When I closed my eyes and tasted it, I thought I heard Italian being spoken at the next table. But then I opened them and realized I was at home and it Carrie on Sex and the City in the episode when she's attempting to speak Italian.

But I'll tell you the trick to making great amatriciana sauce, I bought really good guanciale from Chris Cosentino at Boccolone. I think he makes some of the best. You know what guanciale is, right? It means cheek in Italian and specifically pork jowl. Oh, don't think about what jowl is, just eat it and enjoy the crispy golden outside and the juicy interior.

This is what you have to do to make this dish taste like Rome... Cut the guanciale into 1/4-inch cubes and heat a frying pan on medium high until the pan is hot. Fry the guanciale, tossing, until it's golden on the outside and then remove it from the pan, set it aside and proceed. Besides that, the recipe is pretty straight forward. Cook onions and crushed red pepper, add the garlic, reduce the white wine, add good Italian San Marzano tomatoes and season with salt. Don't forget plenty of grated pecorino.

And if you don't have the pasta extruder for your Kitchen Aid, either go buy one or buy some dry bucatini or spaghetti. You might just think you're in Rome.

Pasta Amatriciana

4 ounces guanciale, 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion. diced
Large pinch crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups Italian tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh bucatini pasta
Freshly grated Pecorino

Preheat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally until golden on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the olive oil and crushed red pepper to the pan and cook until the onions are soft, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the guanciale and stir together.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce. Serve with grated pecorino immediately.

Serves 4

To

Friday, June 3, 2011

roasted favas with green garlic recipe

Easy as pie.... No easier!

At the Farmer's Market on Saturday I also saw some fantastic baby fava beans. Not those grandfathers (I mean grand favas) that are tough but instead ones I wait all year for. There are a couple things you can do with them, either roast them in the oven or toss them in a light batter and deep fry them.

I opted for the second option since I was pressed for time and wanted something simple.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

I snapped the stem end off 1 pound of baby fava beans. I cut 3 stalks of green garlic into lengths that were the same length as the fava beans, about 3 inches. Then I took the end pieces and cut them in half lengthwise so they would all cook at the same time.

I tossed them in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, place them on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with salt. Roast them for 10 to 15 minutes until tender.

I couldn't stop eating them! And the best part... Sure beats the three steep process of taking them out of the shell, simmering for 30 seconds and popping them out of the skin!

Try it and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

crostini with ricotta, asparagus and mint recipe

Saturday I zipped over to the Farmer's Market. Beautiful day but it was crazy with locals, tourists and chefs. I saw Mourad from Aziza (love him), Brett and Elan from Contigo (love them), Ravi from Prospect buying purple asparagus (love him too) and Jason Fox from Commonwealth (yup, love him too).

I needed a few things so I grabbed some freshly dug new potatoes, English peas (a bag for eight bucks and I got 1 cup!), some asparagus, cherries, sheep's milk ricotta, green garlic, fresh spearmint and some tiny fava beans.

As I drove home I had to think quickly about what I was going to cook. In a matter of minutes Liam Mayclem of Eye on the Bay would be knocking on my door for a taping and interview for his show and website, Foodie Chap.

Ding Dong....

"Hi Liam!"

And the cameras started to roll.

As we talked, (thank God I can cook, talk, tell jokes and entertain at the same time) I quickly sliced some Acme rosemary herb slab and toasted it on my tostapane I bought in Italy. Peeled a clove of garlic and rubbed it on the bread, kind of like using the toasted bread as a grater.

"You're a fourth generation professional cook, right?" Liam said.

I took a cup of the sheep's milk ricotta, which was very dry, and put it in the food processor with a tablespoon of heavy cream and a good drizzle of really nice California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil. Don't forget the salt, I thought. I spread that on the garlic-ed toast.

"And you're taking a group of Americans to Morocco for a week of cooking and exploring in October. Can you tell us about it?" He said.

I shaved the asparagus with a knife into long diagonal pieces and cooked it in a frying pan in olive oil with a pinch of salt. I placed that on top of the ricotta. And I did a little chiffonade of mint. That's a fancy way of saying, I piled the leaves one on top of the other, rolled them up and cut them across into thin ribbons. I sprinkled that onto the top.

"Delicious!" Liam said as he ate about 5 crostini.

PS The show will air on KCBS the week of June 20 about 5 times a day for a week.


If you’re using a moist ricotta, drain for 24 hours in a cheesecloth-lined strainer. If it is dry, don’t drain.

1 cup ricotta, sheep or cow
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 spears asparagus, shaved diagonally into thin slices
6 slices of coarse-textured bread
1 whole clove garlic, peeled
6 fresh mint leaves

In the food processor, blend the ricotta, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt to taste until well blended.

In a frying pan, warm the remaining tablespoon olive oil and cook the asparagus until almost tender but still bright green. Season with salt.

Grill, toast or broil the bread until golden and lightly crisp. Rub the bread with the clove of garlic, using the crispy bread like a grater. Spread the ricotta mixture on the bread, spreading evenly. Pile the mint leaves on top of each other and roll them up. Cut across into thin ribbons. Top with the mint and asparagus and serve immediately cut into serving size wedges.

Serves 6