The Dumpling Diary

Dis cooking so you cooking too.

Italy Strikes Again (From a few days ago) October 31, 2010

I love going on food tangents. My house has smelled like a goddamn basil plant for the past few days, because I recently had some nice talks with Rob (you know, the one who moved to Nice, France not too long ago) and his friend Francesco. Rob went to Napoli to visit Francesco this past weekend, and as a severe comrade of mine, he complied in reporting all things Italian Foodstuff to me, and did a damn fine job of it! My East Coast rampage has died down, and I’ve eaten nothing but homemade Italian food for the past few days (okay, and a bag of Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar, fuck off). At this point, I feel I owe a blog post to both of them. …Man, I could really save on Christmas gifts if I just gave out dedicated blog posts…
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Anyhow, in all seriousness, I thought this fierce Adriatic wind of a cooking storm deserved to be on the interwebz. So, here’s what I’ve been up to. The first night, I made my old-school marinara recipe (see below), with fusilli. Very good. That’s been documented, so moving on. That night, I made a delicious Molise-style country bread, hearty and crusty and insanely soft inside. Probably because I kept getting sleepy and forgetting the dough was rising… Oh well, punch it down, rise it again. I think in the end, it went through 4 or 5 risings. HAH. Super-gluten. But, honestly, I think that might have made a big difference in how wonderfully it turned out! My dad enjoyed it, as did I.
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So, from the bread, around rise #4, I cut off a hunk of dough and made myself a pizza. A nice, little abstract-looking thing with the previously-made marinara, mozzarella, fresh basil and olives. Goddamn delicious. Here’s a picture.
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That day, my dad came over for dinner, so we used up the rest of the marinara, cooked some rigatoni pasta, mixed in some olives and tons of mozzarella and Romano, baked it in the oven, and died of happiness. So, with that, three meals out of bread dough and marinara. I think the total was around $6, not counting this little tidbits of things I already had around the house (olives, basil, etc.). Three meals to feed 2 or 3 people. Pretty good, right?!
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So, tonight, I was lurking around Italy Revisited, an amazing site, which I visit regularly. The big draw for me is that the majority of the recipes are from Molise (family!) and generally, all of them are authentic. I cannot express my love for that. I’ve learned a lot about the region (which is TOUGH, because it’s the smallest in Italy), but know a good deal about the food culture there. Something I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time now is homemade cavatelli. I don’t even think I’ve seen it in stores anywhere, but I certainly have looked. Well, I had a lot of free time, so tonight, I wore thumbs down to mere nubs (not really, but they hurt a bit ahah), shaping the little buggers by hand. I made the dough in my Kitchen-Aid  mixer, so as not to kill myself. Then I wrapped it in plastic wrap, let it rest for an hour or so, and started cutting out strips after rolling it 1/8″ thick. Then into little 3/4″ pillows. Then pressing with my thumbs on each one (two at a time!), and dragging it along the board until they were little shell-like things. Wonderful! So, let them dry an hour, then cook in boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes, till they come to the top. Nice! So economical, too. Mixed up with a garlicky ricotta-spinach sauce, even more delicious.
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But, wait! There’s more! The ricotta. I made it. From scratch. Seriously, it is so easy, you will be smug as hell afterward, if you make it yourself. I used 8 cups whole milk (homo or no-go!), scalded it (just until it starts to boil lightly and then take it off the heat), added about.. half of a 1/3 cup measure of white vinegar. Let it sit ten minutes, stirred in half a teaspoon of salt, then poured it into a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl. Let the whey (the yellow-y liquid. Little Miss Muffet?) strain out, and you’re left with little, soft, creamy curds of cheese. It’ll keep about a week in the fridge. SO EASY. SO GOOD. I am so impressed with that stuff.
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Anyhow, that’s the score for now. If you’re interested in any of the recipes, lemme know! I’m glad to share them. I’ve got some cavatelli that needs a stern talking to, so I’m off to that!
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Megohm over and out!

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2 Responses to “Italy Strikes Again (From a few days ago)”

  1. Vivian Says:

    I love all the Italian recipes! All things Italian food is always a good way to go, and thanks for the website about Italy 🙂

  2. Christine Says:

    OMG I FN howl at some of the sh@t you say…..keep it coming girlfriend….maybe Food Network Night time R Rated next …lol


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