Minestrone Soup

Since the winter is long, we have time to cook.  This recipe takes a while, but the end result is worth it.  This is an old-fashioned recipe that your Italian grandmother (if you had one) would have made.  It has stood the test of time.

Serves 4

1 c. dried white Navy Beans
2 cans chicken Broth (10 + oz.)
1 small head of cabbage
4 carrots (1/2 lb.)
2 medium potatoes (3/4 lb.)
1 lb. canned Italian Style Tomatoes
2 medium onions (½ lb.)
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 stalk celery
2 zucchini (½ lb.)
1 large tomato
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
¼ c. parsley, chopped

Day 1 – In bowl, cover beans with cold water. Refrigerate, covered, overnight. Day 2 – Drain. Pour chicken broth into a 1 quart measure, add water to make 1 quart. Pour into 8 quart pan with 2 more quarts water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt on beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, cover for 1 hour.  Wash cabbage and cut in quarters; remove core and slice each quarter thinly. Pare carrots; slice diagonally, ¼ inch thick.  Peel potatoes; cut into ½ inch cubes. Add to soup with canned tomatoes. Cover and cook ½ hour longer. Peel onions and slice thinly. Heat ¼ cup evoo in medium pan, sauté onion, stirring about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Slice celery diagonally, 1/8 inch thick. Wash zucchini; slice into rounds ¼ inch thick. Peel tomato; cut into ½ inch cubes.  Add celery, zucchini, tomato and garlic to onion with ½ teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook slowly, uncovered, stirring occasionally 20 minutes. Add to bean mixture with ¼ cup parsley. Cover and cook slowly for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with grated Pecorino-Romano cheese and serve.

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Tagliatelle Bolognese

It is believed that pasta was brought to Italy in the 13th century by Marco Polo from his travels to China. It is widely believed that tagliatelle was invented by Zafirano a well- known chef from Bentivoglio, Italy for the wedding of Lucrezia Borgia and the Duke of Ferrara in 1487. Folklore has it that Chef Zaffriano created tagliatelle after seeing the blonde hair of Lucrezia Borgia.  Regardless of when, where or who invented tagliatelle, after making this recipe for Tagliatelle Bolognese, you will be glad they did.

Tagliatelle Bolognese
Serves 8

6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb Italian sausages (remove casing)
6 garlic cloves
1 c. red wine
14 oz. canned chopped plum tomatoes
1 lb. red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 red chilies, chopped (optional)
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. chopped oregano
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 lb. tagliatelle
salt & freshly ground pepper
Pecorino Romano  Cheese, grated

Heat large pan over medium heat and add half the evoo, beef and sausage. Using wooden spoon, break up meat and fry until brown, stirring occasionally. 20 minutes into cooking add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add red wine and tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer and continue stirring.

Using another pan heat the rest of the evoo, add the bell peppers, and fry, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until peppers begin to brown. Add chilies (optional) and vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and the oregano to the meat and season with salt and ground pepper. Loosely cover pan and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add more red wine to pan as needed.  Top with parsley prior to serving.

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the tagliatelle, bring to a boil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until tagliatelle is tender but still firm. Drain pan and add a little evoo.  Mix the meat sauce with the tagliatelle and serve adding grated Pecorino Roma cheese.

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Mussels in Spaghetti Sauce with Linguini

In Christopher Setterlund’s book “Historic Restaurants of Cape Cod” he describes the landmark restaurants that over the years that became synonymous with the Cape.  He provides the reader with a history of 39 restaurants which introduced locals and tourists alike to outstanding food.  In the era of the 1960s when great Italian food was not easily found on the Cape, Danny-Kay’s Italian Restaurant in East Falmouth was the place to go. The Bartolomei family operated the restaurant for over 28 years.  You might have found an old Italian recipe for Mussels with Linguini in Spaghetti Sauce at Danny-Kay’s.

Christopher Setterlund can be purchased on Amazon  https://www.amazon.com/Historic-Restaurants-Cape-American-Palate-ebook/dp/B071FPJ5TD

Mussels in Spaghetti Sauce with Linguini
serves 6-8

4 lbs. mussels, scrubbed & debearded
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, diced thin
2 lemons, sliced thin
2 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 c. red wine
1 1/2 tbsp. oregano
1 1/2 tbsp. basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 lbs. linguini fini
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Scrub mussels well in cold water, changing water several times to remove all sand – the little tuft of hair is easily removed by pulling it out and discarding it (this is called “debearding” the mussels).

Steam mussels until shells open then set aside. Saute onion and garlic in oil in 6-quart pot.  When onions are golden and soft, add lemon slices, tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, oregano, basil, peppers and salt.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.  Then simmer uncovered until sauce thickens.

Add cooled mussels to sauce.  Cover and cook over medium to high heat just long enough to heat mussels.  While mussels are being heated, cook linguini according to directions and toss with 2 tbsp. olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking. Cover linguini with mussels and spaghetti sauce. sprinkle parsley. Serve while hot.

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Chicken Vesuvio

The first restaurant in the U.S. to serve Chicken Vesuvio was The Vesuvio restaurant in Chicago. The Vesuvio restaurant was a well-known Chicago restaurant in the 1930’s.  Chicken Vesuvio’s popularity grew and it appeared on menus in Italian restaurants throughout Chicago. In fact, legend has it that Chicken Vesuvio was one of Al Capone’s favorite meals.  Capone used to frequently have dinner at Colosimo’s restaurant and he would order Chicken Vesuvio.  The owner of Colosimo’s “Big Jim” Colosimo and Capone evidently had a falling out, maybe on how the Chicken Vesuvio was cooked, but whatever the reason “Big Jim” was killed on orders from Capone.

Today Chicken Vesuvio is still served in Chicago restaurants.  Here is a recipe for Chicken Vesuvio from one of Chicago’s most famous restaurants.

Harry Caray’s Restaurant Chicken Vesuvio (bone-in)
serves 4

1 cup frozen peas
2 four-pound whole roasting chickens, cleaned and cut into eighths
4 large Idaho russet potatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, oregano, granulated garlic
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1-1/2 cups white wine
1-1/2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil the peas for one minute; then rinse with cold water. Peel and quarter the potatoes length wise.  Heat the olive oil in a large roasting pan over medium heat.  Add the potatoes and garlic cloves; sauté the potatoes until golden brown (about eight minutes).  Discard the garlic cloves.  Remove the potatoes and set aside.  Add the chicken to the pan and sauté lightly on both sides to golden brown.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by half.  Return the potatoes to the pan. Season the potatoes and chicken with the salt, pepper, oregano, garlic granules, and parsley.

Add the chicken stock and roast uncovered for 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees.

Arrange potatoes around the chicken on a serving platter.  Pour the sauce from the pan over the chicken, sprinkle the peas on top, and serve.

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Chef Kitty Morse’s Recipe for Carcioffi alla Romana

Chef Kitty Morse recalls her first taste of roasted carcioffi alla romana (artichokes).

I went to Italy after college, and stayed with friends in Rome.  Half century later, I still recall the tiny, roasted carcioffi alla romana my hostess prepared. If you grow artichokes, pick them when they are very small (1 to 2 inches in diameter.) Helene Beck, who owns an organic orchard of exotic citrus in Fallbrook, CA, that includes organic kumquat and persimmons and kaffir limes, let me pick my way through her abundant vegetable patch. YOU can order Helene’s cookbook, Jewels from my Grove, and her luscious persimmon and kumquat sauces and blood orange sauces and preserves at www.lavignefruits.com.

Be sure and look for Chef Morse’s new cookbook “Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion” published by Chefs Press. 2015, she writes that if you grow cilantro, let it go to seed, and add the delicate blooms to the salsa. http://www.chefspress.com

Carcioffi alla Romana

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare artichokes. Cut off stems. Remove all tough outer leaves until you have only the tenderest ones left. Cut off the top third. Cut the artichoke in half down the middle. Rub the cut sides with lemon juice so they don’t turn brown.

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Set artichoke halves cut-side up in a roasting dish and drizzle with olive oil mixture.
Roast until artichokes are tender, about 40 minutes. (Serve warm or at room temperature.)  Great roasted on the BBQ Grill.