Friday, November 19, 2010

It's the best time of the year

I'm thrilled....just thrilled! I've taken next week off, and will spend a good portion of it making my filled pastas. I have lamented in a previous post about how impossible it is to find meat tortellini, so last year I made my own! It was a lot of work, but the results were awesome. So, I will make cappelletti stuffed with a chicken, ricotta, pork mixture.

If I am completely nuts, I might go ahead and make some agnolotti, which is a typical Piedmontese shape for filled pasta. I'm thinking of filling mine with a mixture of garlic, ricotta, mozzarella and kale. Then, I'm going to make some anolini, which is a small, round shape from Parma. I'm going to stuff those with a crab, ricotta and oregano mixture.

So why all the different shapes, because it's just fun! See how pretty the anolini are?

Once the forms are made, I'll freeze them individually on baking sheets, and once hard will transfer them to vacuum-sealed bags. There's nothing like a steaming bowl of pasta in brodo. I can't wait!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Birthday presents!

Hello my pretty pretty! I bought myself the very lovely food processor pictured here with my birthday money. I am so very excited. I can't wait to use this! It is the 7 cup model, which will help me immensely with pasta dough prep.

I am all about the traditional pasta method of cracking eggs into the well of a mound of flour, but when you make as much pasta as I do, this gets very time consuming. This will make the process much simpler and not as messy.

I am so very excited about my upcoming classes. September is pasta month. Again, we will be making fresh crab ravioli with a creamy shallot sauce, and farfalle (bowtie) pasta with a tomato vodka sauce. To die for! I am opening up Friday nights in September for my pasta classes, but if you want a Saturday lunch spot I do have one available!

The October soup classes are going to be great too. I also purchased a Silpat baking mat especially for this series of classes. To go along with the creamy tomato soup, we are making parmesan crisps, which will look absolutely lovely floating on the surface of the soup, and so easy to make. The Silpat is a genius non-stick surface, which will be fantastic for my crisps. Aaaahhhh I cannot wait for cooler fall weather! I still have Saturday, October 30 available, which would be 10:30 am till oh perhaps 12:30. First come first served!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oppa bay go may

When I was a tiny small child, I must have really loved the "Happy Birthday" song, because even though I was a toddler with an extremely limited vocabulary, I made up my own words to the song.

"Oppa bay go may..." I sang at a birthday party, and it immediately became family lore.

I will celebrate my birthday this Saturday (it's really on Sunday though). It will be tons of fun, but weird for a very silly reason for me.

I will not be cooking a dang thing.

We are getting Hog Heaven BBQ. If you have never had it and you are a Nashville resident for shame!!! They do an amazing pulled turkey with their white mystery sauce. The sauce is positively divine. It has a horseradish kick, and I love me some horseradish. And, if there's any sauce left over (hahahhahhahaha does anyone have a straw?) it is wonderful on fish, pork, anything really.

Now, for the normal person, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I loooooooooove cooking, so the thought of not using my cooking muscles, and having ANOTHER PERSON'S FOOD IN MY HOUSE is just plain weird. But, at least the food is rather awesome.

Oppa bay go may y'all!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Have I mentioned how I do not like being in the kitchen in the summer? With the grill just outside on the patio, it just makes so much more sense to use it. A lot of Italian cooking is by feel, which is completely up my alley. As long as you know your seasoning ratios, it is a snap to create something wonderful in no time.

I love going to my local Farmer's Market with absolutely no meal plan in mind, and then create on based on the produce I find from my favorite farmers.

The easiest way to cook with the least amount of clean up is to make tin foil packages. All you need to do is chop up your veggies into roughly chopped pieces. You do not want to make them too small, because they may cook too fast and become mushy. I have always preferred my vegetables to be more on the al dente side. Place the chopped vegetables on good-sized piece of heavy duty tin foil. Here's the fun part. Go wild with your spices! Have a clove of garlic? Chop it up and throw it in there. As for oil or fat, a little goes a long way, as most vegetables have a decent water content in the first place. I would use no more than a tablespoon of oil or butter. I always zip the package up with a splash of either balsamic or white wine vinegar as well...perhaps a teaspoon or two. Add your salt and pepper to taste, but remember that a little goes a long way.

Seal up your package well, and throw it on your medium-preheated grill. After 10 or so minutes, you should hear it sizzling. It's ready! Carefully remove the package to platter, and carefully open the package. It should smell like heaven.

Now, if you want, you can throw a fillet or two of fish or chicken on top of the package before grilling...just be sure that the protein is on the thin side, so you are sure it is fully cooked. Have fun!

I'm off to make one of these awesome looking hats right now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fall Class Scheduling!

With fall fast approaching, it will soon be time to begin cooking classes! I have already gone through my waiting list, so my schedule is looking pretty darn good. I decided to do my fresh pasta class again in September since it proved to be very popular and delicious. The September menu is as follows:

Caprese skewers
Fresh Farfalle pasta with tomato vodka sauce
Fresh Crab Ravioli with creamy shallot sauce
Panna Cotta

I do still have one September date available, so the first four happy, hungry people to send me a message will get those slots. The class would be on Saturday, September 25, starting at 10:30 and ending around 12:30 or whenever. I never push people out of my home when they are enjoying a leisurely lunch!

I also have one date still available in October. That month will be all about delicious soups, perfect for the colder months. I cannot believe I am talking about soup and colder months, especially when my air conditioner is doing a valiant job trying to keep me cool. The menu for October is as follows:

Classic Minestrone
Canederli in brodo (sausage spiked soup dumplings)
Creamy tomato with Parmesan crisps
Pizzelle with mascarpone and nutella

The available October date is Saturday, October 30 from 10:30 till 12:30 or whenever. Again, the first four to send me a message will get those available slots.

You will come away from the class with a full brain and belly, recipes in a handy dandy "Cucina di Tina folder" and great memories!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Dinner Party!

I had two of my besties over last Friday, to celebrate the marriage of one of them and to celebrate the awesomeness of the other. I asked my friend what she would like me to cook, and she told me her beloved liked meat and cheese. Cannelloni immediately popped into my mind, so that's what I made!

Here's the finished product above. Y'all - this was certainly not the easiest thing I have made, but it might be one of the yummiest. First, I made the pasta sheets fresh, by hand, using 00 Flour, eggs and lots of elbow grease. The sauces were home made too. Besciamella went on the bottom, and a fresh tomato sauce went on the top. The meat mixture was beef, cooked ham, ricotta cheese and one egg. Parmesan cheese and mozzarella were thrown on top in copious amounts for good measure. Doesn't it look just beautiful? I was so pleased with how it came out, and my guests devoured it. I made two pans, and it was a good thing I did, because we had two left over...perfect for lunch the next day!

I also served my roasted garlic-garlic bread with the cannelloni, and a green salad. If you try my garlic bread, you will never buy that garlic dust in a can again. You take a garlic bulb, place it on a piece of tin foil, and drizzle with olive oil. Place the tin foil package in the oven on 350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the garlic bulb. When you can smell the garlic, it is done! Take it out of the oven to cool. Grab a stick of butter, and leave it out so that it can soften. Once the garlic is cool, take a sharp knife and lop off the top of the bulb. You should be able to squeeze the garlic cloves into a bowl. Combine with the butter, and that is your spread! After I spread the mixture on the bread, I sprinkled oregano on the loaves. So easy and flavorful!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let's play catch-up!

No lame excuses. Let's just say that life got in the way of me typing 'round here.

The one thing that made me the most tickled was receiving my first check from, where I have written about Italian food for months and months. With that money, I bought things that I have wanted forever!

I am truly allergic to buying single-use kitchen items, since I already am in dire need of space, but I decided to splurge with my spoils, so here's what I got:

Pasta drying rack. I love it. Now, instead of draping my pasta onto floured counters, and then getting covered in flour myself, I can now neatly hang my pasta, and save on precious counter space.

Analog scale. I love this. It has a copious bowl, and it shall be filled with pasta flour.... oh yes it will.

Pizzelle press. Awwww yeah. I plan on making my first batch this very weekend. My house will smell like waffle cones. Who wants to come over?

Three tier cooling rack. This also will help with precious counter space. I can put my pizzelle on here to cool off, and this will come in handy for Christmas cookie baking time.

A really nice apron. I have needed one forever, as my oil spattered clothing can testify to. I look like such a pro now!

I still need/want eleventy million other things, but this will hold me for the moment. So happy!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tuscan dreams

The radio bores me to distraction these days. It seems that the only artists that get any air time are Lady Gaga and that Beiber kid. No thanks.

So, the other day when I was at the lovely main branch of the library, I perused the books on CD section. I settled on Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I enjoyed the movie based on the book, so I figured it was a good choice.

Thanks to this book, I am completely enjoying my drives to and from work. Sometimes I take a longer route just to listen about her farmhouse renovation, the lovely markets she describes, and the fantastic dishes she creates in her humble kitchen, using the simplest, freshest ingredients that I absolutely covet.

When she goes into the formaggeria, the cheese monger knows (before the even orders) that she prefers the buffalo mozzarella over the cow version. Oh to have that sort of relationship, and the products that she has just over the hill in Cortona makes me positively jealous.

Her imagery takes me back to when I went to school in Italy, in Perugia, which is not far at all from Cortona. I remember walking down the block to the pizzeria and ordering my favorite pizza with funghi and prosciutto. It was cracker thin with lovely flavorful ingredients, and I washed it down with my favorite orange Fanta. Perfection.

I am so glad I am reading this in the summer, because if I read this in the winter, when good, local fresh vegetables are non-existent, I would be positively depressed. I have decided that, since it is summer, I will go to the Farmers Market for the bulk of my shopping, and only visit the big box grocery when absolutely necessary. And, since I'll be so close to Germantown, I'll hop on over to Lazzaroli pasta for some lovely fresh mozzarella, and whatever else tickles my culinary fancies.

I can't wait for the clock to read 5:00, so I can get back to my audio book. I'm at the halfway point!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer time...and the livin' is easy

Oh hi hello dearest blog. I have missed you, and I will try to feed you with more words. Let's see...where to start. My cooking classes are on summer recess. It is just too hot outside to be in a kitchen. And there are far to many lovely country roads that me and my husband want to find in his convertible. I will be starting up my classes once again when the weather is more temperate - in the Fall.

I have been thoroughly enjoying the bounty of produce at the Nashville Farmers Market. Seriously I do not know how I will bring myself to buy my fruits and veg in a big box grocery store again. I bought the most pristine eggplant at the Market the other Saturday, and I made (what I called) a deconstructed ratatouille with it, served over brown rice. But don't worry, I had ice cream for dessert, to balance out the healthiness of my meal.

When I go to the Farmers Market, I also go to Lazzaroli Pasta, just a hop and a skip away from the Market in Germantown. The proprietor has the loveliest home made pasta, pizza dough, salami and cheeses. It makes my soul smile. I picked up some doppio zero flour for future pasta creations, and a bag of Italian pretzels, known as taralli. But, my main reason for visiting them on a Saturday is very important.

She makes mozzarella on Saturdays.

Have you ever had freshly made, warm mozzarella? It is a gorgeous thing. All I do is slice it and dress it with freshly cracked black pepper, and perhaps a drizzle of a good balsamic olive oil.

There is also a fantastic appetizer that I make with fresh mozzarella, that I call an Italian quesadilla. It is so simple. You heat up a large skillet with two tablespoons of canola oil. Place a flour tortilla in the oil once it is hot, and then add slices of fresh mozzarella to cover, but try not to get too close to the edges of the tortilla. Add a dash of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Continue cooking until the mozzarella begins to melt, and then add a second tortilla, and flip it over in the pan, so that the tortilla you just added to the pan is now on the bottom. This is why it is important to let your mozzarella melt before you flip. Once the bottom tortilla gets golden on the edges, remove the Italian quesadilla to a cutting board, and cut it into wedges, and serve. It is so crispy, creamy and perfect, that you may be tempted to smack your guests hands away if they dare to take a wedge, but don't. Sharing is a Kindergarten principle y'all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where did April go?

I cannot believe we are almost to the end of April. What a busy month. I taught two classes of lovely, happy, hungry students. The April menu was as follows:

White bean dip with vinegar-spiked pita wedges
Chicken Francese
Carrots with parsley and garlic
Panna cotta

All of these recipes can be found on Today's recipe is for a lovely fresh spaghetti with pesto sauce. So so good!

Speaking of basil....I went absolutely wild a few weeks ago buying herbs. My dear husband and I were at the Nashville fairgrounds for an event, and I noticed that the Herb Society was having a sale. So, when we were done with our event, we visited the Herb Society sale, and breathed deeply. It smelled positively gorgeous in that building! Mark grabbed an empty flat, and I started filling it with three varieties of basil, oregano, chives, lemon thyme, lavender, sage, mint, and I even picked up catnip for Scooter the cat. I have made some very pretty meals with the bounty now potted on my deck.

Ahhhh this weekend. Although it is supposed to rain, Saturday is a day where there is no agenda. Therefore, I feel the need to make something fantastic. But what? Oh I think some fresh pasta will be on the menu, but I as to the main course I have no idea. Something to ponder.

So let's talk about May! My May classes will be all about fresh pasta! The menu will be as follows:

Fresh farfalle (bowtie) pasta with tomato vodka sauce
Fresh crab ravioli in a creamy shallot sauce
Zabaglione with fresh berries

I will be offering classes on May 15 and May 29, starting at 10:30 a.m. Price is $45 per person, or $35 if you are a member of the Little Black Dress Club. First come, first served!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pasta pasta pasta!

I've been having so much fun making pasta! Yesterday I went to the grocery store, and perused the pasta aisle. I didn't pick up any dried pasta, because I knew I could make a more delicious product in my very own kitchen.

I've written articles about my pasta creations, and I can't stress just how easy it really is, as long as you start with the correct flour to egg ratio. Italians are on the metric system, so it seems natural to me to think of the ratio in grams. 100 grams of flour to one egg equals one serving of pasta. So, if you are making pasta for four, simply bump up your flour for 400 grams, and four eggs. You place your flour on a working surface, like a board, make a well in the center, and crack the eggs into the well. Scramble the eggs, incorporating flour from the walls of the well, until you have something you can work with your hands. Then you just knead, knead, knead until you have a smooth ball of dough. Wrap the dough in cling film, place in the fridge for 20 minutes, and your dough is ready!

You will need a pasta machine of course. Please don't get those plastic atrocities. Invest in a lovely metal, hand-crank pasta machine. Mine is made by Marcato Atlas, and I love it.
Hello my lovely!

Once you have your pasta cranked into thin sheets, you can make whatever shape you want. I decided to make farfalle (bowties) above, and I served it with a delicious pesto sauce.

My next classes are pasta heavy, so I cannot wait to teach my happy, hungry students how fun and rewarding it is to make your own pasta!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Goodwill hunting

I love going to the Goodwill store. I call it "going on safari," because it is like a hunt, and you never know what you will find.

My mother went to Goodwill this past weekend, and she picked up a cookbook for me. It is a fabulous, old-school Italian cookbook. All of the classics are there, but that's not the great thing about it.

There is humanity in the book.

The previous owner obviously used the cookbook, because there was a torn out recipe from a flour sack for a spice cake, an old business card for a realtor in Las Vegas, perhaps used as a place holder to get back to the pollo fritto recipe (fried chicken). Who wouldn't want to make that?

But I'm saving the best for last. This picture was also in the cookbook:

This polaroid was sandwiched between the recipes for Broccoli Florentine and Manicotti Tuscan Style. I wonder .... were they the cookbook owner's Nonni (Grandparents)? Did they perhaps send this to the owner, after moving to Las Vegas for the warmer climate? Did he ever remove that hat?

Were the cookbook owners Nonni like my Nonni? Did they accuse each other of cheating when they played cards or Rummikub? Did her Nonna hate onion? Did her Nonno do crazy things to make the famliy laugh? Mine did, and I am so thankful for the random memories.

On the back of the polaroid, someone wrote "Gess hoo" in phonetic English, just like my Nonna Rita would have done. So, I will keep the polaroid, comfortably nestled in the Tuscany section, between the Broccoli Florentine and the Manicotti Tuscan Style. I'm "gessing" that's where they would like to be.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boot is off....gloves are on!

I am so so glad I can now wear a whole pair of shoes now, rather than a walking cast and a shoe. I feel liberated, although I am still careful about making sure my left calf muscle is adequately stretched before walking for any distance.

And I am so so happy that I can finally get back to cooking properly in my kitchen, although I have enjoyed the soups and panini I have made...I am now extremely tired of quick cuisine.

I have my first cooking class since my injury coming up this weekend, and I am completely looking forward to it. We're going to make some classics, and my kitchen is going to smell like heaven!

With the spring weather, I have been giving thought to bringing my herb garden to life once again. It is such a joy to go out to the patio and snip whatever herbs I need for cooking. After my class on Saturday, I plan on getting herbs and dirt, and shall transform my patio into something lovely with green sprouts. Can't wait!

Thankfully, although I haven't been able to properly cook, I had an arsenal of delicious, well-loved recipes to share on Examiner. Stop by if you haven't already!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Too busy cooking

I know ... I know. Shame on me for neglecting my blog. I've been busy cooking up a storm, and writing articles at There are tons of fantastic, and seasonal recipes posted in my articles. Please visit and enjoy!

I'm ramping up for another cooking class this weekend. I really love teaching people what I can about Italian cooking, and it absolutely feeds the extrovert in me. My kitchen smells gorgeous, and we always have a blast.

Okay confession time. Please don't think any less of me for what I am about to say. Truth is important, so I hope the following statement is not too shocking. Please sit down before you read any further.......

I sometimes dine at Olive Garden.

It's true. I really love their salad, and some of the dishes are not extremely bad. I'm not going to say that it is authentic by any means, but sometimes their soup and salad for lunch really hits the spot. So, on Saturday, I made a pot of their Zuppa Toscana. It consisted of the following:

1 pound hot italian sausage
2 russet potatoes, cut in half and sliced thin
2 cups of kale
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Served with crusty bread, it made a mightly fine lunch, and I will have the leftovers tonight!

So again, sorry for not posting, but you can always find me over at Examiner!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pan Magic

This weekend it snowed, and boy did it snow! We got approximately 4 inches of snow. That is pretty much a blizzard in Nashville. It started just as I got to work on Friday, and then 2 hours later, my firm closed for the day, as did many businesses in Nashville.

This was a very good thing. My usual 25 minute commute took an hour. Once I got home that day, the car did not leave our driveway for a couple of days.

So, since I was home-bound, and itchy to do something that would result in a fabulous smelling house, I went to my kitchen.

I found a completely yummy recipe for a blueberry, walnut, orange zest bread in an old school cookbook that my mother gave me. So, since I had all of those ingredients, I made a loaf.

I have had a slice for breakfast every morning. It is divine.

That night, I made beef involtini. I always like to have a practice run on recipes that I will make with my class, even if I have made them many times before, just in case I get inspired to edit the recipe to make it more wonderful. Alas editing the recipe was completely unnecessary, but it inspired me to tell you about Pan Magic.

Pan Magic is what happens when you discover something delicious that can only be made when one ingredient melds with another, making something indescribably weak-in-the-knees fantastic.

I discovered this to be the case with my beef involtini. The beef bundles, once seared, simmer in tomato sauce (home made of course). One of the completely gorgeous ingredients in the beef bundles is a thin slice of mozzarella cheese. The cheese got a bit melty, and oozed out the sides, into the tomato sauce.

Y'all, it was the bits of mozzarella that hit the tomato sauce on the corners of the beef bundles that was the most scrumptious bite.

So that got me to thinking of other dishes that lovingly simmer in sauce....lasagna, manicotti, chicken parmesan.....I am making myself hungry.

March is going to be pasta pasta pasta for my cooking classes, but for April I'm thinking we need to do an old school, smack-me-with-a-cannoli-good, classic chicken parmesan. I think this is necessary because one must pay its respects to the classics, and people just need to know the love that is Pan Magic.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pizza Memories

I grew up in East Meadow, New York, and I absolutely loved it. I was a short bike ride away from Eisenhower Park in one direction, the library in another, and the grocery store, Italian bakery, and fish market were right down the street.


The pizza place was also close by. I remember it well. We never called in an order. We would drive to Pizza Kings, place our order, and wait. I would look at the frescoes of idillyc Italian vistas and chubby waiters and cooks on the walls, or count the tiles that were everywhere.

But still we waited. The restaurant smelled like pizza, and you could feel the heat radiate from the ovens that lined one wall.

If us kids were lucky. There would be one regular cheese pizza, and one Sicilian pizza. A real Sicilian pizza is a divine experience. Thick, crusty, and square....the corner pieces were the most coveted.

I want one right dang now.

Transporting the pizza home was a two-person operation. One of the parents would drive, and one of us kids would hold the pizza perfectly level on our lap. This involved lifting the pizza ever so slightly on the end closest to our bodies, and the other end was on our knees, that would get progressively warmer and warmer as the journey towards home progressed.

It was worth the heat. Even if I happened to be wearing shorts.

The perfect slice of cheese pizza is foldable, and if it is the right temperature you should slightly burn the roof of your mouth. You know, so that a tiny part in the middle of the top of your palate, right behind your two front teeth, burns and blisters.

Gross I know, but again it is part of the perfect pizza experience.

If there was leftover pizza (usually unheard of) it turned into the perfect cold breakfast the next morning.

When chains started popping up in the late 80's (like Domino's) we thought it was just nuts. Commercials for pizza on TV? Delivery? It can't be good. And boy it wasn't. There is just no comparison to the neighborhood slice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January cooking classes

I met some wonderful ladies this month!

The first class consisted of Kimberly, Vanessa, Jill and Amy. They were delightful, and really enjoyed the class.

The second class consisted of members of the Nashville chapter of the Little Black Dress Club. What a fun group! I am a member, but my schedule has never aligned with the fantastic events that they put together. I am sure that someday I will indeed go to their events! Angee, Marla, Ruth and Cat were just lovely people, and I look forward to seeing them again, and meeting more members of the club.

We made the same dishes for both classes. The menu was as follows:

White bean dip with vinegar spiked pita chips
Caprese skewers
Braised chicken with red potatoes and artichoke hearts
Sweet frittura with marscarpone and blueberries

Students not only saw the technique involved in making the dishes, but they went home with copies of the recipes, and they were all very excited about creating the dishes at home. Hooray!

I am pleased to say that February is filling up nicely. If you would like to take a class, please contact me! The menu for February will be:

Stuffed roasted red peppers with pesto
Involtini with polenta (savory beef bundles)
Green beans with almonds and lemon
Fresh orange granita

Looking forward to February!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Saturday bread

It did not snow last Thursday. Nashville got what I like to call "snow dust." Snow dust is enough to send the town into and absolute panic though, because once the snow dust melts, it quickly turns to ice, and it did. My side roads were very slippery, and rather scary.

We did receive a very pretty snow on Saturday, and it lasted the entire morning and afternoon.

It was necessary to make bread, at least in my mind.

I was not wearing makeup. Please don't be frightened! Here I am kneading the dough. Such a great workout for the arms!

Behold the finished product! I had some trouble actually making the braid, since I've never done a four strand braid before, but I can assure you that it was delicious! Since it is not my original recipe, it can be found at this link.

The bread was sliced for lunch that very day, and we enjoyed panini filled with genoa salami and fresh mozzarella. A delicious feast!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I hope it snows

They are calling for snow tomorrow...1-3 inches of snow, which is equal to blizzard conditions to Nashvillians. The temperature is not supposed to get above freezing, so if it does snow, I'm staying home. One does not drive on ice, it is called sliding, and there's nothing you can do but say a prayer and hope for the very best.

I'm just not fooling with Mother Nature, the Cold Miser or Snow Bird this time.
Oh sure, I've done the drive to work in the snow before, and found myself often the only employee that showed up, and then twiddled my thumbs until quittin' time.
Snow Bird is rather accurate y'all, oh and friendly.

If I am off I won't waste away on the couch, oh no not me, not when there are the ingredients in my kitchen to make bread.

Isn't it lovely? I haven't made it in a while, but I do have a dead simple recipe for bread, which I have previously posted on this site. Time to make this again. I think this would be wonderful as a grilled cheese sandwich, the Italian kind of course, with fresh mozzarella sandwiched between the slices, then tossed in a pan with some olive oil.

Can't you just smell how wonderful the house will be when this comes out of the oven? I imagine Heaven smells like baked bread.

So bring on the snow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cappelletti Quest Realized

There is not much that I miss about New York. I have a wonderful life here in my beloved Nashville. There are only two things that are missing here:

1. My extended family, and

2. Cappelletti

What is cappelletti you ask? They are the smallest tiny tiny version of the tortellini form. Cappelletti literally means tiny hats, and believe me ... they are tiny. They are usually stuff with a mixture of meats, ricotta and nutmeg. And it is extremely impossible to find them down here. I would settle for meat tortellini, their larger sibling, but the stores only carry cheese tortellini.


So I did what any crazy person would do....I made my own.

The pasta was easy. My ratio for pasta dough works like this:

100 grams flour + plus 1 egg = 1 serving of pasta

My ratio is in grams....I know. I blame this on the fact that I am left-handed, and wear a tiara when I vacuum.

I made my recipe for 7, because I like odd numbers....again blame the left-handed person that I am.

So on your big surface, board, marble-top counter, whatever, you pile up your flour, and make a big well in the center. Crack your eggs into the center, and start gently scrambling the eggs, incorporating a little bit of flour as you scramble. Once you have dough that you can handle, start kneading, and knead until you have a smooth ball of flour. This will take some time, and is a great way to get out aggression. Then, wrap the dough in cling film, and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Time to assemble the filling. The filling was very important to me, so being the crazy that I am I contacted a possible distant in Italy (isn't Facebook wonderful) whose family lives in Modena, not far from where my branch is from, and asked him to ask his mamma what she puts in her cappelletti. He e-mailed back her recipe in no time, and this is what I used:

400 grams turkey (I used dark meat)
1 pork chop
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

I ground the cooked turkey and pork chop in my food processor, and combined this with the ricotta, eggs and spices. So so easy.

Your pasta should be ready to take out of the fridge. Run it through your pasta maker (the old fashioned hand-crank kind please) until you have thin, rectangular sheets. Cut the sheets into even squares.

Now let me get to the pain in the posterior part. Assembly. Remember how I said that cappelletti are tiny tiny? I wasn't kidding. You basically fill the 2" square of pasta with a pea-sized amount of filling, and then fold into the classic eleventy million times.

Once I had a baking dish (lined with wax paper) full of cappelletti, I put them in the freezer, and once the individual cappelletti were sufficiently chilled I put them in a big container, and put them back into the freezer.

And then I sat down to collect myself.

Cappelletti are traditionally served in a bowl of broth. I use chicken, but it can be any meat broth. Once you bring the broth to a boil you drop in your cappelletti, and once they are all floating on the broth surface your soup is done. This was delicious, but I can completely understand why this is only eaten around Christmas time. It is very time consuming, and you really need a holiday break to get this made!