Sunday, February 18, 2018

My Own Marinara Sauce

For one pound of Pasta. I prefer thin Spaghetti with this sauce. 

Mario Lo Pinto, whose iconic cookbook The Art of Italian Cooking is now out of print, makes his Marinara Sauce with onion and garlic. I like the pure unadulterated flavor of garlic alone.

Spaghetti with Mariner Sauce

4 tablespoons Olive Oil
3-4 cloves of Garlic
2 filets of Anchovy
Pinch Hot Pepper Flakes (optional)
Bay Leaf
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon Sugar
Large can of Plum Tomatoes

Crush the garlic with the flat of your knife and then chop it. Warm the garlic and the anchovies in the olive oil. Crush the anchovy while it is warming with a wooden spoon. It will disappear into the sauce. Add hot pepper flakes. When the garlic begins to turn golden, add the bay leaf and tomatoes. Go slow. Nothing tastes worse than burned garlic.

Cook rapidly for 5 minutes; then lower the flame and simmer for an hour. Add sugar, very little salt and pepper and cook for another 10 minutes. At this step, Mario Lo Pinto adds fresh chopped oregano. You might like basil. I generally use neither unless I can use fresh herbs right out of my herb bed. Fresh oregano is intoxicating. That dried stuff is an abomination.

If you can find a copy of Mario Lo Pinto's The Art of Italian Cooking, snatch it up. It is out of print. Take it from an Italian American, the cookbook is a masterpiece of pure Italian cuisine.

Treacle Bread

Treacle Bread is a slightly sweet Irish Soda Bread. It seemed an appropriate recipe for March because it is the month in which we celebrate St. Patrick"s Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and most Americans pretend we are Irish for a day every year. 

A thin slice of this bread buttered or jammed and a cup of black tea in the afternoon is one of the finer pleasures in life. This bread toasts nicely too so do not abandon the loaf when it gets a hard. I made this. Not difficult and worth the work.

Miss Peggy Daum's Treacle Bread

3 cups sifted all purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon granulated Sugar
1 scant teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Molasses
1 cup Buttermilk, divided

Sift all purpose flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking power into a large bowl. Thoroughly mix in whole wheat flour. Warm the molasses a bit and combine it with 1/2 the buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the buttermilk mixture. You want a soft dough. So add the other bit of buttermilk as needed.

Turn out on a floured board. Knead only enough to shape into a ball. You do not want to develop gluten. Flatten the ball of dough into a circle 11/2 inches thick. Place into a greased and floured 8-9 inch baking pan. Dough does not have to fill the pan. Cut a cross 3/8 inch thick across the top and down the sides of the loaf.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread 40 to 45 minutes or until bread is browned and loaf sounds hollow when you knock on it. Best sliced thin and lightly buttered, toasted or untoasted.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fun with Food

It is almost Spring and Easter is coming soon. Now is the time for Peeps Jousting. To arms!

Be my Valentine? - Pasta with Smoked Salmon

Italians make this pasta on Valentine's Day but it is too good to confine to one day of the year.

Pasta with Smoked Salmon

1/2 pound of Pasta, linguine or penne
1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of Smoked Salmon, thinly sliced and cut into shreds
1 Shallot, slice thin
2 tablespoons Butter, preferably unsalted
1/2 cup of heavy Cream
1 tablespoon minced Parsley
1 tablespoon Whiskey, Brandy, Vodka
Salt and Pepper

This is how I do it. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. This sauce is speedy (about 5-7 minutes) so do the sauce preparation work first and do not overcook the sauce or the pasta. Start the sauce after you put the pasta in the boiling water. Allow the pasta to drain thoroughly.

Saute the Shallot in Butter until it is transparent. Do not brown. Add the shreds of Salmon, cook a moment until the Salmon changes color, add the liquor and saute until the liquor evaporates. Very gently stir in the cream. Check the seasoning. Add the Parsley. Add the drained pasta to the pan sauce and gently turn the contents until the sauce covers all the pasta. Serve promptly. Ideally diners are already seated and salivating.

Serves two to four depending upon whether you serve as dinner or a first course. Yes, I put grated cheese on the table for those who like it on all pasta. Like me. This is Italian fast food. Whole operation takes 25 minutes start to finish.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Reading to Cats

This is the feel-good Pennsylvania story of the month. I love cats.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County PA has a program called “Book Buddies.” Children volunteer to read to sheltered cats. Via Reddit.
Have patience if you go to their website. Everyone is going there for more information, more pictures and to donate to this great program. The boy in the photo thought he was "too dumb" to learn to read. Nope. His reading and grades have improved tremendously. And the cats are finding forever homes. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Since You've Been Gone Valentine

since you’ve been gone
since you’ve been gone, I’ve been alone.
like an arm without a bone.
dangling limply like a phone that’s out of charge.
like homer without marge.
like an egg without a spoon.
like a dugong on the moon.
like a clownfish without nemo.
like twilight without emo.
like hardy without laurel.
like high ground without the moral.
like disney without walt.
like battery without assault.
like a pet shop without gerbils.
like hitler without goebbels.
like a dilemma without the di,
just a lemma and a sigh.
like déjà without vu,
I am nothing without you.
till the day that you come back,
I’m like whitney without crack.
- Bill Bailey (via acupofpoetry)