HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Old Stoves", Saveur Magazine and Donatella Arpaia's Mama's Meatballs and Ragu

        

         I’ve always been a huge fan of Saveur Magazine and not just because, over the years, they’ve published more of my food pieces than anyone else.  To me, the magazine broke the mold.  The relentless publication of Celebrity chef’s recipes in every other food magazine separates Saveur instantly.  Saveur has recipes you don’t find anywhere else.  They have a particular fondness for grandmothers’ cooking whether the grandmother is called “Opa” or “Ba Noi.”  One of the earliest grandmother stories I can remember was in a 1994 issue of the magazine. A food writer and cooking teacher, Peggy Knickerbocker, took us into the kitchens of a group of home cooks in San Francisco’s North Beach. This center of Italian American cooking was presided over by “Old Stoves”.
        
One of Saveur's "Old Stoves",
Rose Pistola 
Ms. Knickerbocker explained:" An "Old stove" is gentle, complimentary North Beach slang for someone who has put in a lot of time in front of a lot of stoves in his or her day. Old stoves are sometimes restaurant chefs, or retired restaurant chefs—but more often they're simply home cooks, with many years of experience making savory dishes for themselves, their families, and their friends. Old stoves are renowned throughout the community for their culinary skills. They're old souls, legends, well aged and cured. There is not one chance in a million that you'll have a bad meal at the hands of an old stove.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

Vegetarian Lasagna adapted from Saveur’s “New Comfort Food”



A few years ago, I got a call from a guest who was about two hours away from coming to dinner.  He’d called to tell me that he and his new wife had become vegetarian.   Quite frankly, my initial impulse was to continue cooking the dinner I’d planned and let the two of them survive on the baked potatoes I was cooking. They were the only completely vegetarian item on the menu that night.   I managed to control myself, eliminated the crisp pancetta from Martha Stewart's sauteed spinach recipe and ditched making the pie with its Crisco (lard) crust.  Instead I served the berries meant for its filling all by their lonesome.  I seethed with every change to the menu I made.  Since then, I've come a long way. I've embraced Meatless Mondays and lightened up on meat proteins in our diet. I'll never be anything other than an omnivore and meat will always find its way onto our table.  But today, I'm sharing a classic recipe that might just change even a meat-and-potatoes man into, well, a meat-and-potatoes man who loves his vegetables.