Showing posts with label Mario Batali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mario Batali. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mario Batali's Chicken Saltimbocca with Asparagus

Mario Batali 
         A few months ago, I went to my friend Monique’s for lunch.  She served a phenomenal dish that Chef Mario Batali had offered up in Food and Wine Magazine.  Ever since I went to school in Rome, I’ve loved Saltimbocca alla Romana, the Roman version of a dish popular from southern Switzerland to all the way down to the capital city.  Saltimbocca translates to ‘jump in the mouth’ which is about as high praise as any dish can get.  The original dish uses Veal topped with prosciutto and sage.  In Rome, chefs add another dimension by rolling up the veal, prosciutto
Expensive but worth every penny.
and sage and cooking the rolls in dry white wine.  Sweet Marsala wine is an option but most Roman chefs think this overpowers the delicate flavor of the Veal.  Mario Batali has substituted chicken cutlets and he makes his sauce using Vin Santo, literally Holy Wine, a sweet dessert wine from Tuscany.  And there lies the reason why I had waited all these months to make the dish.  It was well worth the wait.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mario Batali's Ziti with Tuna and Salami

         I love pasta and I am always on the lookout for a new and different way to prepare it.   There are sauces that require hours on the stove and that are best made in huge batches. “Bolognese” falls into that camp. Whatever the recipe, there is something so entirely comforting about a pot of “Sunday gravy”, which is what many New York Italians still call their grandmother’s spaghetti sauce.  Stewing away on the stove all day, it requires an occasional stir and multiple tastings and sends out aromas that perfume the air with oregano, tomatoes and basil.  When it finally makes its way to the table, the anticipation has been cooking right along with it all day.  There’s inevitably enough left over to freeze or simply hide away in the fridge for a weeknight second helping. 
      Then there are the sauces that come together quickly enough to make a perfect weeknight dinner.  There are quite a few of these if you look under Pasta in our recipe list.  We lean heavily on the classics –Carbonara, Linguine with Clam Sauce, Linguine with Lemon Garlic Shrimp (better known as Shrimp Scampi).  But when I found this recipe from the incomparable Mario Batali, I’d never heard of any pasta dish like it.  And this is from someone who lived in Italy.   It’s from the Chef’s “Simple Family Meals”  (Harper Collins 2011).  Once I made it, I loved it. The dish blends the taste of very high-end canned tuna with the spicy counterplay of salami and red pepper flakes all wrapped up in a simple onion-y tomato sauce.  Extra points go to the ease with which you can make it.  It’s one of those under 30 minute wonders which deliver far more taste than their cooking time would indicate.   But I was still puzzled that I’d never heard of anything like it.  So I went to to see if I could find the roots of Chef Batali’s creation.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mario Batali’s Pollo Agrodolce or Sweet and Sour Chicken a l’Italiano

         I was recently involved in a Television program.  Every time I used a phrase that was French, (as in the expression “A certain je ne sais quoi”), the director would stop me and ask me to translate whatever I was saying into English.  He claimed that no one in America would understand a word I was saying. So I spoke English.  But even there I got into trouble using certain words.  Apparently, no one in America knows what a ‘cynosure’ is.  Or ‘grommets’.  Or ‘clerestory’.  I once read that the New York Times is written for an 8th grade reading level.  So why should I have been the least bit surprised that in Food and Wine magazine's February issue, they'd renamed Mario Batali’s classic recipe for Pollo Agrodolce "Sweet and Sour Chicken".

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Orange and Olive Oil Cake

         For us, fall starts bang on Labor Day.  That’s it for Andrew being at the beach.  His real estate business in the city totally takes over his every weekend.  We will be lucky if he gets to Bridgehampton once between then and Thanksgiving.  This leaves me alone out there because, between Monte’s Ham and the blogs I work on, I need to be there at least every two weeks.  What it also does, is pretty well rule out having a fabulous dessert to take to fall parties.  Because I don’t really bake any more at all.  It reminds me of the old joke about the Limousine pulling up to the Plaza Hotel.  The chauffeur opens the trunk and removes a wheel chair.  He then opens the car door and assists a young man into the chair.  The boy’s mother follows and as they reach the hotel door, the doorman says to the mother; “I am so sorry your son can’t walk”.  The mother answers: “Can’t walk? Thank God he doesn’t have to.”  Can’t bake?  Thank God I don’t have to. Except recently I did and the results were really well received.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet Corn Gelato and a simply delicious way to serve it.

Fields of Corn at the end of Brick Kiln Road
Country Garden Farm Stand, Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton NY

         The two most anticipated vegetables of the summer on the East End have arrived:  Our sweet corn and the ripest, reddest tomatoes of the year!  It’s hard to know which is the most welcome but I found a very different way to enjoy them both in a wonderful appetizer.  I realize I am asking you to think outside the box but once you’ve tasted this incredibly delicious combination, it will not seem all that strange to you.  I pared a rich, creamy and supremely corn-tasting gelato with the peak of the summer’s tomatoes and the result doubles the pleasure of these two seasonal favorites.
Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria, 1 Fifth Ave. NYC
         I first read the recipe for Sweet Corn Gelato in a recent Bon Appetit.  It was one of those ‘request’ recipes where someone falls in love with a restaurant offering and BA manages to coax the recipe out of the chef.  In this case, the gelato had been a dessert course at Otto (1 Fifth Avenue, entrance on 8th St. New York NY Tel: 212-995-9559), Mario Batali’s  downtown Pizza emporium.  This Greenwich Village location has long been a favorite of mine.  I go back—way back—to when it was One Fifth Avenue, a restaurant that had a decidedly Deco feel to it—down to the chairs which the owners had purchased, from the former Cunard liner “Caronia”.  I felt right at home in them as I too had bought them right off the ship when it was laid up in Chelsea.  It was the only ship in history to get a New York City parking ticket for non-payment of its port fees.  But I digress.
Otto is supposedly modeled after an Italian railroad station.  I don’t get the connection at all but it hardly matters because it’s a great place for a pizza, a glass or two of wine, a really nice cheese platter and some extraordinary gelato flavors, like Sweet Corn.
        Of course it was served as a dessert course.  And initially I thought that would be how I would use it.  But when it came time and I tasted this delicious ice cream, I realized it was a great starter.  It tastes like the essence of corn and the wonderful sweetness is a perfect counterpoint to the acidity of a great ripe tomato.
       Before getting to the recipe, I wanted to share a piece of information about corn that came as quite a surprise to me.  I knew that the best corn was fresh-picked and cooked on the same day.  What I didn't know was that you should keep corn, unhusked, in the coldest part of your refrigerator and then husk it just before you cook it.  Corn starts turning sugar into starch the moment it is picked.  The sweetest corn is corn that has the least starch. We are incredibly fortunate in that Country Garden, the farm stand we shop at most often, harvests their corn every morning and, if there's any unsold at the end of the day, it goes into the feed bin.  It is never sold on its second day.  How's that for fresh? Now back to our gelato.
         Making Ice Cream is really quite simple. And if you have children in the house, it’s a great activity to share with them.  It does require a great deal of patience on their part as there are a number of hours of cooling and freezing.  But the results thrill them and guarantee a memory no store-bought ice cream can buy. The flavors you can achieve are astonishing.  A great book on the subject is David Lebovitz’  “The Perfect Scoop” (10 Speed Press, 2007).  But you hardly need to buy it to make Sweet Corn Gelato
However, you do need to have an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, please get yourself a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker.  They are an integral part of our summer.  There’s a ‘bowl’ which you keep in the freezer and haul out at the last minute. Turn the machine on and then in a final act of patience, you have to put the finished stuff in the freezer for an hour until it hardens up a bit. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Sweet Corn Gelato adapted from Mario Batali’s Otto Restaurant in NYC

4 ears of sweet corn, preferably white, husked

3 1/2 cups (or more) whole milk

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 cup heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the appetizer:

1 medium ripe tomato per person

Finishing Salt. (I use black Hawaiian “Kilauea” Sea Salt from Williams-Sonoma

1.   Cut kernels from corn cobs. This is easily accomplished by putting the ear of corn flat on a cutting board and cutting the corn off in one straight line.  The cut side then become the “bottom” as you remove the rest of the kernels.   Reserve the cobs and break each one into 2-3 pieces.

2.   Bring milk to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add corn kernels and cobs. Remove mixture from heat, cover, and let steep for 45 minutes.

3.   Remove cobs from milk; discard. Purée mixture in batches in a blender. Set a coarse strainer over a large bowl. Strain mixture, pressing on solids; discard solids. Add more milk if needed to measure 3 1/2 cups.

4.   Bring corn mixture, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and cream to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

5.   Set a strainer over a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium heat proof bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture; return to saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until custard registers 175° on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.

6.   Immediately pour custard through strainer. Place bowl with custard over a large bowl of ice water. Let stand until cold, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate custard for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

7.   Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container; freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. 

8.   Make the Appetizer.  Slice the tomatoes and fan the piece out on the plate.  Take one medium scoop of Sweet Corn Gelato and center it on the sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle sea salt over both tomatoes and gelato.  I use white sea salt on the gelato and black salt on the tomatoes.  Garnish with a sprig of basil and serve at once.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant and Sausage, Parmigiano Cheese Bread and a Honey and Pignoli Tart that’s to die for.

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 Last weekend we had a post Thanksgiving dinner party.  Since everyone was pretty well stuffed with Turkey, we wanted something completely different -- a crowd-pleaser on a cold night.  So we went for a dinner that's 'tutto italiano' from main course to desert.  Now baked pasta dishes are a risky business.  Those giant pans of baked ziti come to mind. I remember going to a long ago dinner party when one wag, seeing that very dish on the sideboard, described it as being “like having dinner at Riker’s” (New York City’s jail).  But the recipe for Baked Rigatoni was intriguing because its author, Tyler Florence, not only has a last name in common with Italy but a very deft hand at making wonderful Italian Food.  What’s nice about this dish, from Tyler’s Ultimate series, is the way the top gets completely crusty while what lies beneath is layers of pure flavor—of mozzarella, sausage and eggplant and the pasta itself moist and delicious.  Served with a really beautiful green salad, this dish was a big hit.
Keith's Green Salad was a big hit
Accompanying our Baked Rigatoni, I made Parmigiano Cheese Bread.  Now my version is not specifically an Italian creation.  Bruschetta may be its cousin but most people consider this wonderful garlic-y, buttery invention as strictly American.  It’s relatively easy to make and it is wildly popular—we literally had a guest microwave a piece on his way out the door. 
Finally, Andrew topped off the meal with a truly wonderful and very Italian dessert.  It’s a “Crostata di Miele e Pignoli”, a honey and pignoli nut tart that combines a sweet and slightly salty filling with honey and pine nuts. Now this recipe has a great pedigree.  It is from Gina di Palma, whose “Dolce Italiano” is a treasure trove.  Ms. di Palma is the pastry chef at “Babbo”, Chef Mario Batali’s first big hit restaurant in New York.  Her cookbook is described as being ‘for those home cooks who, like Gina, lie awake at night in bed dreaming of the perfect dessert’.   I haven’t noticed Andrew losing sleep over his desserts and this one is so good, you wouldn’t.   Andrew described it as a kind Italian pecan pie.   I adore pecan pie but I’d have to say, I actually liked this better.  And we got to use our fabulous “Bee’s Needs” honey that’s made in the Hamptons by my friend, Mary Woltz. This pie, topped with a tiny scoop of Vanilla Gelato, was completely devoured by our guests.  Not one slice was left. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Visit to Eataly yields a delicious Veal Pasta Sauce

        Eataly, in case you haven’t heard, is a 42,000 square foot grocery emporium that’s just opened at 200 Fifth Avenue.  And everything in it hails from or owes its existence to Italy from the on-premises cooking school to the rooftop beer garden.   The original Eataly opened in Turin in 2007.  At 50,000 square feet, the mother ship is even larger than this enormously impressive store in New York.  And Turin was followed by the opening of smaller branches in Bologna and Milano and even smaller ones in two locations in Japan.  The full name of the store is Eataly Alti Cibi which translates to “High Food”.  But think “Specialty Foods” and you get better idea of both the selection and the price points. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes

        Out on Long Island, the apples are coming into play as we head into Fall and go back to wanting to eat something more substantial than summer fare.  Right near us, there’s a tremendous Pick-Your-Own Orchard run by the Halsey Family on Mecox Road in Water Mill.  Now Halsey is a name that dates back to the original English settlers who arrived on the South Fork in 1640.  Imagine, the descendants of the Pilgrims who landed on Long Island from the Massachusetts Colony are still farming the land, 370 years after their ancestors arrived!     
        You can wander among their trees and pick a cornucopia of apples—this week, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Empire, Mutsu, Idared, and  Stayman varieties can be combined in ½ bushel bags weighing 20 lbs for $30.00.  You can find out which varieties of apples of the 20 they grow are ripe for picking by going to .  Now half a bushel may sound like a lot of apples.  But they keep surprisingly well for a good long time.  And read on, because your future may not belong to Apple Pie alone. The Orchard is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  You can also find your own Halloween pumpkin sized for ½ lb to 150 lbs.  There are gourds and squash too.  And directly across the lane from the Halsey’s “Milk Pail”, another one of our great farming families, the Ludlows, have a Corn Maze that’s an annual tradition for families out here. 
        With all those apples, I was pleased to find a recipe that used them as part of a delicious main course—a whole dinner when you add some fingerling potatoes!  It came from Sara Jenkins.  Now Sara is better known for her Pork.  In fact, we featured a riff on her recipe for Porchetta right here.  ( is the Chef/Owner of Porchetta  (110 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10000 (b/n 1st Street and Avenue A); 212-777-2151;   She’s also the author of the highly praised ‘Olives and Oranges” which Mario Batali is quoted as saying makes it clear that Sara has
“olive oil in her veins and blood oranges in her heart”.  
Remember how good crispy chicken skin tastes?
        This recipe for Chicken is an example of Sara’s gift for taking the simplest ingredients and making something fresh and clean and easy.  It uses one skillet to steadily build flavor in the pan.  First you cook the chicken in olive oil until the skin is crispy and crunchy.  Then you add the apples, next the potatoes and finally the garlic, escarole and white wine.  I confess that this was my first foray cooking escarole and it strikes me as the perfect green for this time of year with its slightly bitter taste that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the apples.  This is one quick one dish dinner that’s satisfying comfort food and perfect for a Fall evening meal.

Recipe for Chicken with Escarole, Apples and Potatoes courtesy of Sara Jenkins

12 ounces small new potatoes

4 8-ounce boneless chicken breasts with skin

Fine sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 semi-tart apples, such as Empire or Macoun, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths

1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled

1 pound escarole, leaves torn

1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Heat oven to 250°F.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and place on a plate in a single layer to cool. When potatoes are just cool enough to handle, flatten each one slightly by gently pressing on it with the side of a chef's knife. Set aside.

3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in batches if necessary, and cook until skin is golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and cook, until underside is slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking pan, cover with foil, and place in oven.

4. Drain oil from skillet, return to medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons butter. Add only as many apples as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning apples as they brown, until golden on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with any remaining apples.

5. Add 2 more tablespoons butter to skillet. Add only as many potatoes as will fit in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until potatoes are warmed through and golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with any remaining potatoes.

6. Add garlic and as much escarole as you can comfortably fit into skillet, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring, until escarole starts to wilt and you can add more, about 1 minute. Add remaining escarole and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute more. Add wine and cook until escarole is tender and wine is slightly reduced. Add apples and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

7. Remove chicken from oven and pour any juices from pan into skillet with escarole and apples. Stir to combine.

8. Divide potatoes among four plates, then add chicken and escarole mixture, leaving juices in skillet. Return skillet to high heat, bring juices to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Whisk in remaining tablespoon butter. Season sauce with salt and pepper, pour over chicken, and serve.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mario Batali’s Pasta Primavera

        The other day I told Andrew I wanted to cook “Pasta Primavera” for dinner.  He was a little leery and asked if the recipe didn’t call for heavy cream.  I had to admit that the original dish, when I first tasted it at the old Le Cirque, where it was invented in 1974, I seemed to recall swimming in cream sauce.  But right after he left for work, there was Mario Batali, who recently lost something like 20 lbs.,  preparing a Pasta Primavera with no cream whatsoever—just a reasonable amount of heart-healthy olive oil. It's from Mario's new and ninth cookbook "Molto Gusto:Easy Italian Cooking". And this recipe sure fits that bill.