Monday, March 19, 2007

From the "Small World" Files

Last week I received a nice email from a lady named Barbara Marx telling me how she’d found La Cucina and enjoyed the recipes. That brought a smile to my face. She mentioned that she made Nana’s Tomato Salad to accompany a recipe she had been given for a Sformato di Cappellini. Incredibly, she is from New Mexico and the dinner she was preparing was for our former neighbors in Corrales, of all people! Bill and Irene lived across the road from us and are sweet people. Receiving the email made us reminisce about our village and neighbors.

How funny that Barbara searched the internet, found my recipe, noted I’m from the same state, and that we have common friends. Kinda cool, huh?

She shared her recipe so I’ml passing it along to you. She said she obtained it from Italian-in-America friend, Daniela Ford.

Sformato di capellini 6-8 people

1 # capellini
2 eggs, beaten
1 # Edam, mozzarella or similar well-melting cheese, finely cubed
1/4 # butter, plus butter for the round casserole baking dish
3/4 C gratred parmesan
1/4 # finely cubed boiled ham
S & P to taste...freshly ground

Generously butter the oven-proof casserole & cover the butter fully with bread crumbs...shake out the excess crumbs. Boil pasta in 6 qts of water, for about 3 minutes, keeping it/molto al dente/ since it will also bake in the oven. Melt the butter in large pan. Mix beaten eggs & grated parmesan with S & P, to taste. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the pasta. Toss the pasta well in the melted butter, so that it is all coated with the butter. Add egg/parmesan mixutre & toss again to cover. Place half the capellini in the casserole, spreading it well to the edges. Scatter cheese & ham cubes evenly over the first layer, then cover them with the second half of the pasta. Spread pasta evenly, dot with flakes of butter & more breadcrumbs. Bake 40-45 min. til top bubbles & turns crispy on the top. Place serving platter up-side down on the casserole & upturn the two together to remove the pasta from the cassserole. ( I simply cut & served it from the baking pan.) Serve with a butter-based tomato sauce or Valerie's fresh tomato "salsa" recipe.

Thanks, Barbara!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lamb-Stuffed Artichoke Hearts

This dish is Greek-inspired, though it tastes very Middle Eastern with the spices and lamb. Though it dramatically raised my butcher's eyebrows when I requested the ground lamb, it is very delicious.

About 1/2 pound of ground lamb
2 TBSP minced parsley
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. each coriander, cumin and cardamon
1 egg, beaten
Combine all together, mixing well. Set aside.

1 small onion, chopped
2 TBSP pine nuts
about 2 TBSP olive oil
Saute the onion until golden, then add the pine nuts. Stir until the nuts begin to color. Cool.
Add this to the meat mixture.

Clean 5 or 6 artichokes, pulling off all the tough outer leaves and cutting about 1/3 off the tops. Slice in half and scoop out the hairy choke. Fill each with the meat mixure, mounding it up. (Alternatively, if you are able to find frozen artichoke bottoms you can use those for a faster and easier dish!) Place in an oven-proof baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and about one cup of water. Pour into the bottom of the baking dish, cover and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the artichokes are tender and the meat is cooked through.