Italian Home Cooking

I do not want to write about just pasta but Italian home cooking in general. Although pasta is surely my favorite. There are so many different pasta recipes that you can have pasta everyday of the week and not have your head explode.

Italian home cooked dishes are purely traditional and have been influenced very little byPasta the cultures of other countries. Many popular foods such as vegetables, salad greens and wines were used in the days of Nero in much the same way as in present-day Italy.

The bases of the most colorful Italian dishes are tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Yet, foods in Italy are as diversified as they are traditional. It is not at all unusual to find an Italian who does not like tomato sauce or garlic. They probably have their spaghetti with a butter and cheese sauce and prefer melon and prosciutto to an ordinary antipasto course.

Taste Of Chicago

Taste Of Chicago

Growing up in Chicago in the 50′s and 60′s ( I know, I dated myself ) was a great experience and my family was very traditional when it came to food. Chicago is a wonderful city to grow up in and sample all the worlds foods, of course having an Italian mom can’t hurt. In the days to come I hope to help bring a cross section of Italian home cookery to your kitchen door. From the Alps to Sicily, from the rice and polenta eating north to the tomato loving south, it’s all good.

Most of these recipes are my traditional family recipes that came with my grandparents from Italy and is what I grew up on. Because of some hard to find ingredients here and translations, some may have changed through out the years.

Mangia – Eat!

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Salsa di Carne al Pomodoro (Tomato Meat Sauce)

In Naples it’s clam sauce, in Genoa it’s green sauce and in southern Italy it’s tomato sauce. Wherever you may travel in Italy, sauce is the crowning touch to pasta. The touch which transforms a plain flour and egg mixture into an elegant entree.

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic
1/2 lb. beef chuck
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
meatballs optional
7 cups tomatoes ( 2 #2 1/2 cans) sieved or run through a food mill
1 Tbls. of salt
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup (6 oz. can) tomato paste
1/2 cup water

 

Procedure

1. Set out a large sauce pot with a tight fitting cover.

2. Heat the olive oil in sauce pot and add the garlic being careful not to burn. Remove the garlic and add the chopped onion.

3. Add the beef chuck and Italian sausage (meatballs optional, I will post my meatball recipe also) and brown turning occasionally.

4. Add slowly the tomatoes, salt and bay leaf. Cover sauce pot and simmer over low heat for about 1  1/2 hours.

5. Add the tomato paste and simmer uncovered for another 1  1/2 hours stirring occasionally. If sauce gets too thick, add the 1/2 cup of water.

6. Remove the bay leaf, then remove the meat and place in a separate dish for serving. Mix with or serve over your pasta.

Yield: about 4 cups of sauce.

Mangia – Eat!

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Fettuccine Alfredo

In 1908, Alfredo di Lelio, a small restaurateur and chef, living above his small Rome restaurant with his pregnant wife, created Fettuccine Alfredo to tempt the palate of his wife who had lost her appetite. Alfredo decided that he would invent a dish that his wife could not resist. His wife loved it and legend says she cleaned her plate and a short time later, Alfredo II was born.

His restaurant, II Vero Alfredo, and the dish bearing his name became world famous in 1927 when Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, American movie stars on their honeymoon, ate at his restaurant and were impressed with the dish. They presented him with a gold fork and spoon in honor of his creation. From then on, he was famous for preparing it in the dining room of his restaurant before his guests, mixing it with a gold-plated spoon and fork.

Ingredients

For the pasta:
1 lbs Fettuccine pasta
6 quarts of water
1 tablespoon salt
For the Alfredo Sauce:
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/4 tablespoon of salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
parsley, chopped
 
 
 

Procedure

  1. Boil the water in a large pot, add the salt. Add the Fettuccine and cook per instructions, usually about 10 minutes. Stir often.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet at low heat.
  3. Add the cream and mix well.
  4. Remove from heat, add garlic, salt and pepper and one cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir well until blended.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to your sauce. Toss until it is fully coated and add the remaining Parmesan cheese, toss once or twice.
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. Serves 6.
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Maccheroni al Formaggio (Mac & Cheese)

Mac and cheese is an incredibly simple dish. The name pretty much sums up the recipe. Elbow macaroni, or some other tube shaped pasta that will hold up well to the weight of the sauce, layered with cheese and cooked with milk or cream. That’s all there is. But the simplicity of the dish is only part of its charm. Macaroni and cheese lovers add all sorts of their guarded secret ingredients. There are so many variations, I would have to start a whole new devoted blog named “Mac & Cheese Forever”(hmmm, may be an idea, your one stop blog for all that is Mac & Cheese). But yet, what would a blog with pasta as it’s first word in it’s title be without at least 1 Mac & Cheese recipe…

Add roasted garlic, make it a 3 cheese instead of just 1, make the sauce richer and thicker, the imagination goes on and on. I have a simple add on that gives it a completely different taste, add sliced tomatoes to the top of this mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Here is a base Mac & Cheese recipe that you can create variations from until you can no longer hold up the weight of your All-Clad 6 quart sauce pan.

Butter a 2 qt. casserole.

Melt in skillet, 2 Tbls. butter or margarine.

Stir in and set aside 2 cups soft bread crumbs.

Cook 2 cups of macaroni, I use Barilla pasta, it holds up to sauce very well.

Prepare a thin white sauce, in a skillet melt 1 Tbls. of butter or margarine, add 1 Tbls. of flour, salt, pepper to taste, heat mixture until it bubbles, remove from heat and gradually stir in 1 cup of milk then return to heat and bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly; cook for 1 or 2 more minutes longer.

Grate 2 cups process cheese, reserving 1/4 cup, add cheese all at once to the slighlty cooled sauce with 1/3 cup of minced onion.

Stir until cheese is melted. Place 1/2 of the macaroni into the casserole dish and cover with 1/2 the sauce; repeat. Cover top with reserved grated cheese and buttered bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly browned.

Serves 4.

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