All My Firsts! ‘Chicken Scarpariello Recipe’

 As I reach this new phase of my life with the last of my kids planning her wedding, I wonder how I got here?  I think it all started with a bunch of firsts:

I was the first born American in a huge Italian family.

I was the first to go to school without knowing a word of English.

I was the first in my family to eat canned spaghetti. (I had no choice because it was served at the school cafeteria.  I had to eat it as the  Catholic nun was glaring at me to swallow.  I have to say it was the worst thing I ever had and so sad that mamma sent me to school without a bag lunch.)

I was the first to date a non- Italian ( It was a big revolt in the family over that first!  There was even a family council over this and major discussions with a wooden spoon. Ouch!)

And I ended being the first to marry the non-Italian ( I fought hard and won.  I think all my younger siblings and cousins should grovel at my feet for that.  Because gasp! I broke the Italian seal of approval!)

The first to go to college.

The first to get a job that didn’t involve food. ( I became an accountant)

I was the first grandchild to take my Nonna for a drive in my car. (I drove her over the bridge twice because instead of getting off the ramp I continued back on the bridge. Nonna was wondering where we were going while she held on to her rosary beads.  I lied and told her we had to take a detour while thinking I need to go to confession!)

Getting my car license really opened up my world of firsts.  Because of it, I picked up Mexican take out.  It was the first time I ate Mexican and introduced my mom and siblings to tortillas.

I had my first bagel at the Marist College cafeteria. I never tasted anything so delicious.  Who knew that bread boiled and baked could taste so good!

Not only have I come a long way but I paved the way for the rest of my American born family! When I think of my own children I am proud that I made their childhood a little more normal than mine.  Even what I keep in the refrigerator has changed big time. I go back to one odd memory of growing up. Of course, I didn’t realize it was odd because this is all my brother and I knew!  On Saturday mornings whilst my parents slept my brother and I would slyly raid the fridge. Peering in with our eyes wide open, the fridge was an adventure! While Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon played in the background we grabbed a lemon to share, cutting it in half and poured salt over the it.  We also grabbed the bottle of olives and helped ourselves to a few.  Reaching in further or I should say as I reached in because being the oldest I had the longest reach, I would find glistening in the rear  the red, green and yellow hot cherry peppers. Nick and I would grab forks and pierce a pepper each. If we were lucky there were leftover anchovies. What can I say? Was this weird? Or maybe there were other choices but our palates craved for what we knew I need to ask my children what snack did they sneak? I really do hope I gave them more normal options like bagels and cream cheese! Or maybe tortilla chips!  In honor of my Saturday ritual with my brother, I am sharing our restaurant recipe of Chicken Scarpariello.  It’s a little different than most recipes because we only used boneless chicken breasts. Hope you enjoy the hot cherry peppers as much as my brother and I do! Maybe you can put on Rocky and Bullwinkle and make it complete!

PS  I love hot cherry peppers so much that I make my own every summer!  I pickled them with black peppercorns, bay leaves and peeled garlic this year! Also Scarpariello means shoemaker.  Don’t ask! It makes no sense to me why it’s called that.

 

Chicken Scarpariello

serves 4

_DSC0130

Ingredients:

 

4 Boneless Chicken breasts about a pound

½ cup of flour

Salt pepper

Canola Oil for frying

4 cloves of garlic

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½  cup of white wine

½ chicken stock

½ cup of butter

4 hot cherry peppers packed in vinegar (slivered with seeds removed)

4 small Yukon potatoes (peeled and sliced in rounds boiled until tender)

 

Procedure:

 

  1. Cut chicken in chunks

  2. Place cut up chicken in a zip lock bag with flour, salt and pepper to taste and shake._DSC0121

  3. Place in a colander and shake off flour_DSC0124

  4. Fry chicken in Canola Oil

  5. Drain chicken on paper towels_DSC0126

  6. Slice garlic and                      _DSC0125

  7. Saute garlic in 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil until a pale brown_DSC0127

  8. Add wine, chicken stock, and butter and cook on medium heat ( salt and pepper to taste) _DSC0128

  9. Add cooked chicken and potatoes and cook until bubbly.

    _DSC0129

    Chicken Scarpariello

  10. You may add a few tablespoons of vinegar that peppers were packed in for extra tartness

  11. My Pickled Hot Cherry Peppers with black peppercorns, bay leaves and peeled garlic!    _DSC0131

Chicken Scallopini alla Francese

cartoon chicken ala francese  “My dad was the first of his brothers to leave the apartment life over the restaurant to buy a house in the countryside.   The first day in our new home was both exciting and scary.  Living only with our immediate family without all of our Italian speaking aunts, uncles and cousins was an entirely new experience for us!  I even got my own room!! Mornings were so quiet!  No more dishes, pots and pans clinging and clanging!  As much as it was strange for us to go from an apartment dwelling with my huge Italian speaking family it was strange for our neighbors to have Italian immigrants that barely spoke English move into their community.  

     The first little girl I met was a pretty red haired girl the same age as I was! I was intrigued by her beautiful straight red hair!  She was just as awestruck by my long unruly curly hair and olive complexion.   My first day of school was a little intimidating. It was hard for me to fit in.  My parents were really stuck on making sure I knew my roots and were afraid that I would lose my Italian heritage if I became Americanized. It wasn’t only my Italian heritage; my dad had this old world opinion of what girls should be allowed to do. Because of my parents’ immigrant mentality and old world views they were reluctant to allow me to participate in childhood activities that my friends were accustomed too.  But my new friend made things so much easier.  She introduced me to her four best friends.   But instead of ignoring me my little group of friends accepted me for who I was.  On the other hand, it wasn’t as easy with my classmates.  I learned early on to hide a part of myself.  I was known as the shy quiet girl.

   That little red haired girl and her friends were the only ones that got to know the real me.  I was myself with them.  I couldn’t help but let the loud Italian me out! They understood the struggles that I had with Italian and American culture and they helped me assimilate.  The little red haired girl taught me how to feed oatmeal to her baby sheep.   My short,  cute friend shared her beautiful Ukrainian Easter Eggs! My Hungarian friend shared her family ghost stories!  My other friend introduced me to cheese danishes. And then there was my friend who lived on the other side of town;  she showed me that Dads came home at 5 o’clock with dinner waiting for them!  I learned that I too could fit in the American melting pot!

  The bond that I made 50 years ago with those friends was never broken! In fact we still are the best of friends and love hanging out with each other. We are all grown up now with children and grandchildren. As different as we all became, living in different states with a menagerie of careers, we are exactly what the old saying says,”The more things change, the more things stay the same!”  We all share that one thing that has kept us together all these years – the willingness to accept each other for who we are.

  Some of us  met up this summer and spent a few days together. We went to the little red haired girl’s lakeside home and I cooked for them!  Please read on as I share the recipe I made for them!!”

Paula, Jodie, and Mary!!

Paula, Jodie and Mary!!


 

Francese Sauce

finished frances dish

 

Ingredients:

1 cup of chicken stock (unsalted)

5 TBSP butter

Juice of 1 ½ lemons (1/4 cup)

3 dashes of Tabasco

3 oz of sherry or white wine ( milder)

½ tsp salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

2 sprigs of chopped Italian parsley

*Prepared Chicken Scallopini

 

Procedure:

Add all ingredients to prepared chicken scallopini and the whole wedges of lemon. ( you also prepare sauce seperately and add chicken later)

add all ingredients to francese

and simmer on medium heat until reduced and slightly thickened about 10 minutes. Remove chicken  and wedges of lemon and finish simmering until thickened.  Just about 2-3 minutes.

francese reducing

 

This sauce can be used for veal, chicken, shrimp, filet of sole, soft shell crabs….

Plate chicken and pour sauce over.  Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

francese 2

*We used chicken for this recipe:

  A package of 2 skinless boneless breasts. Depending on the size of the breast…slice it into 3 horizontal slices .  Take each slice and cut it in half.  You will have 6 pieces.  Sometimes the meat departments will sell the chicken already in large scallopini slices which you will still have to slice in half.    

     Take one of the slices and put it in a plastic gallon size freezer bag ( freezer bags are thicker than the regular storage bags) using the flat part of the meat cleaver pound 3-4 times on one side and then flip to pound the chicken on the other side.  Do this to all the other 5 slices.  Using plastic freezer bags makes it easier to keep your kitchen clean and sanitary.

    Beat up three eggs in a bowl and put ½  cup of flour (you may need more)  in another bowl.  Salt the slices of chicken on both sides, dredge in flour and then in the beaten egg.  These slices are then fried in a pan with vegetable oil until  golden in color.  Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked through because we finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.  After all the chicken has been prepared we set it aside and make the Francese Sauce.

Buon’ Appetito!!

and as my friends taught me to say:

“Dig In”!

 

 

Deviled Crab Meat Stuffing

cartoon deviled crabmeat 003

      Trying to wake up my memory from the 1960’s when the restaurant first began I decided to study the first dinner menu. I counted 183 menu items.  In fact there was nothing anyone could want that wasn’t listed on that menu.  Not only were there many items but they were really odd entrees. On the cold appetizers category I noticed they had tuna packed in oil. (Did people really go into a restaurant and ask for tuna packed in oil on a plate?) Oh and let me point out that we had a California Fresh Fruit Cup listed on the menu!! (Is California fruit better than Florida fruit? Why not local fruit?) They also served veal kidneys, tripe and chicken livers! There was even a category for omelet’s. Through the years  the menu was shortened and thankfully they dropped the word California from fresh fruit cup. We stopped serving pizza and organ foods except for chicken livers. We tried to take chicken livers off the menu but the customers revolted and we apologetically put it back on the menu.

     The chicken livers entree on the menu was always a surprise to me. In the latter years these 2 lawyers came to the restaurant  that I recall serving when I was a little girl. They had retired to Florida and met up for a lunch date to relive the olden days and they both gleefully ordered the Chicken Livers Marsala. I was thinking to myself “Are you kidding me?” With all the most delicious things on the menu that the restaurant is famous for they ordered Chicken Livers????

    As I perused through the whole menu, I noticed that a lot of the menu consisted of Italian-American foods. Most of the entree are not served in Italy. My family is from Naples, Italy. I wanted to find something, anything that came from their hometown. I found that the menu represented a melting pot of items of all the places that my dad and his brothers worked before they opened up their own restaurant. They worked in American pizzerias, French restaurants, American Grilles, and Italian/American restaurants. They also consulted with their uncle Zio Monico who had a restaurant (The New Corner Italian Restaurant) which to this day is still open in Brooklyn from 1936. They used the uncle’s menu for ideas too! Now I know why the restaurant menu had 183 items. Not only did it represent every eatery they worked at but also their uncle’s Brooklyn restaurant.

  There were many different pasta and sauces. And lots of parmigiana entrees and even spaghetti parmigiana! But what exactly is parmigiana and did that come from Italy? I remember one year when we all went to Italy on vacation, we went out to eat and an American friend that came with us wanted Chicken ala Parmigiana. We were in Capri at a small local restaurant. You have to understand that in the Naples area when you go into a small restaurant there are no menus. The patriarch, aka my dad, asks what they have. For appetizers, it’s always the staples, some charcuterie and cheese or fresh caught octopus, shellfish etc…. For secondo- it’s always the pasta of the day that they prepare. And then the entrée is just a plain bistecca or some fresh caught fish. Sometimes they may have roasted chicken. I felt bad for my friend when he asked for Chicken Parmigiana. The waiter in his typical Napolitano way, hunched his shoulders, put his cupped hand up in a gesture, and with a look of utter disgust exclaimed in Napolitano “Where do you come from!”

     With a little research I found that Parmigiana has nothing to do with cheese or the Parma region! Parmigiana is a southern Italian dish based upon melanzane alla parmigiana, what we call eggplant parmigiana. (My family doesn’t put tomato sauce on eggplant parmagiana, it is individual servings of eggplant where an egg cheese mixture is sandwiched in between eggplant dipped in eggwash, floured and fried.) Adding veal or chicken in place of eggplant is an invention of the Italian immigrant communities in the U.S. The name itself may come from a Sicilian word, parmiciana — for the slats of wood in a shutter, which overlap in the same way as the slices of eggplant in the dish.

       Okay! I am beginning to understand the thought process to this menu. But where is our Italian Napolitano roots represented in this menu! There must be something! In my last blog I was surprised that they didn’t even call espresso by it’s name but by demitasse.

     And there it was! At a quick glance I thought it was a typo…..but over and over …..like a glowing firefly in the dark. There it was! The very essence of my Napolitano roots!! Finally!!!

     I wished they highlighted it or capitalized the letters. Or maybe they should have made the font bold and huge! Wait for it!! Here it comes!!

They spelled mozzarella….muzzarella!!!

     Muzzarella is the Napolitano pronunciation for mozzarella. Muzzarella is like music to my ears. It is home! And there it was on the first menu…… Muzzarella! The only thing Napolitano on that first menu that represented the three immigrant chefs!!

You will never see that word written! But  you may hear an Italian/American say that word in it’s shortened version…..Muzz!


Deviled Crab Meat Stuffing

“This stuffing has been a favorite amongst our customers through the years.  It has been a sought after recipe.  The only reason of  our reluctance to share was only that there are so many steps in making this coveted dish.  I believe this recipe originated from a dish served at one of the restaurants that the brothers had worked at in the 1950’s.  I want to say it comes from Nick Beni’s Anchor Inn. I am sure it has been tweeked from the original recipe. Take your time and enjoy!!”

Ingredients:

16 oz Crabmeat (lump or claw)

9 oz Sherry

3 large mushrooms

1 medium onion ( 2cups of finely chopped onion)

1 ½ sticks of butter ( 12 TBS butter)

1 quart of whole milk

¾ cup of clam juice ( reserved from 4 cherry stone clams) or buy clam juice in a bottle at grocery store

4 cherry stone clams finely chopped, optional

19 oz flour

10 oz corn starch

10 oz shortening

1 ¼ tsp egg food coloring

¾ cup of water

11 oz water

1  TBS salt

1 ½ tsp ground black pepper

1 ½ tsp oregano

Utensils:

2 medium pots, 1  large (2 gallon) pot 1 bowl, whisk, knife,  measuring cup, measuring spoons.

Procedures:

  1. Finely chop onions. Set aside.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 052
  2. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Slice and dice whole mushrooms (stems and all). Set aside.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 054
  3. Coarsely chop crabmeat. Set aside.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 057
  4. Combine the 2 cups of finely chopped onions, ¾ cup of water, 12 TBS butter in a pot over high heat until it comes to a boil then lower the heat to simmer.  Continue simmering  on low heat while the rest of the ingredients are put together.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 053
  5. Corn Starch preparation: In a bowl with 1 cup of cold water  slowly add 10 oz of corn starch whisking vigorously to avoid clumping.  The mixture will set up and become thick. Set aside.  Don’t worry if corn starch sinks to the bottom.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 058
  6. Rue: In a very large pot ( all the ingredients will be combined in this pot)  melt  10 oz of vegetable shortening on low heat. Turn off heat and remove pot from the burner. Slowly add flour  until all the flour is mixed in and the  rue becomes thick.  End product should be the consistency of a thick paste.  Deviled crabmeat stuffing 059
  7. Clam Juice: Either buy a bottle of clam juice found at your grocer. Or shuck 4 cherry stone clams reserving ¾ cup of the juice and chopping the clams and adding it to the mixture. One may even add small tiny shrimp to this.  We have done both in the restaurant.
  8. In a separate pot warm 1 quart of milk with 1 ¼ tsp of yellow food coloring over medium heat.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 060

 

      At this point there will be 3 pots and a bowl.   You will have the large pot with the rue, smaller pot with onion mixture, small pot with the yellow warm milk and a bowl of cornstarch mixture.  At this point we will start combining the prepared ingredients.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 062

 

  1. To the pot with the onion mixture add the 9 oz of sherry , chopped mushrooms, chopped crabmeat, chopped clams (optional) and  ¾ cups of clam juice.  Keep simmering on low heat.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 061
  2. Start warming up the rue again and when it starts to bubble slowly add the yellow milk mixture and vigorously whisk so that no lumps form and the yellow mixture is thickening. Keep stirring until you take it off the heat or it will burn. It should become a very thick and smooth.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 063
  3. Turn off heat on onion mixture and slowly pour into the yellow rue and stir until smooth.  Bring to a boil.   You will see bubbles and popping.  Turn off heat.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 066
  4. Add the seasoning: 1 TBS salt, 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper, 1 ½ tsp oregano
  5. Taste it and see if it to your liking. This is the time to adjust the seasoning. Add a little more salt if you like.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 067
  6. Stir the cornstarch mixture in the bowl. If the cornstarch sank to the bottom and will be hard just keep stirring until it is all blended again.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 058
  7. Put the yellow mixture on medium heat until it becomes bubbly again. Add the corn starch mixture in small doses ( like in 10  parts) .  Whisk the corn starch continuosly. Continuosly stirring and completely incorporating the cornstarch during each addition. It will become very thick where it is hard to turn the whisk. You may want to have someone hold the pot in place as you stir.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 068Deviled crabmeat stuffing 069
  8. Let it cool and then place in refrigerator to set.

 

This is a large batch and it yields 11 cups of stuffing. You can freeze it.  But it needs to be portioned out in balls and wrapped  individually and put it freezer.  We never froze it in the restaurant but for the home cook these are large portions.  I even stuffed clams shells and wrapped each one and then froze them.  The frozen balls can then be put on shrimp or wrap filet of sole around them and placed in oven.

** Suggestion:  Timing is critical in this recipe.  Have all the ingredients and utensils ready.  Please be sure to have all the pots of ingredients boiling hot when they are added except for the milk. You can turn off the heat while you get to next stage but be sure to bring to temperature when you are ready to add to the final stage.  (Milk should be hot but not boiling as it will burn.)

 

For  stuffed clams the oven is preheated to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle paprika on stuffed clams and drizzled with olive oil. Bakes 20-30 minutes depending on size and amount of stuffing.  I generously stuff the clams.  Bake until the tops of clams are light brown and crispy.  Then serve.Deviled crabmeat stuffing 070

 

For stuffed shrimp:   Roll a large a heaping table spoon of stuffing into a small log and place in the middle of a shrimp. 3-4 shrimp per person.  Put in a casserole with a little water on bottom top with mozzarella cheese and drizzle with melted butter.  Bake in  350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Buon Appetito!!


 

Pork Scallopini al’Arrabiata

arrabiata sauce cartoon pics 002

    “It wasn’t just my mamma’s voice that my brother and I experienced coming through the window of our apartment. As my brother and I would gaze through the window overlooking the restaurant kitchen skylights, we could almost see a swirl of aromas lifting through the air toward our window.  We both stood tall breathing in while our stomachs sucked in and our our chests swelled out. We pulled all those wonderful aromas curling up from the skylight all the way up into our nostrils! “ Yummmmiieee yum yum!!”, we would both exclaim to ourselves!  Some mornings we didn’t need alarm clocks to wake us up  because the scent of simmering tomato sauce coming from the restaurant kitchen  was the perfect wake- up call!

     Before you all get jealous on how my brother and I were raised on the restaurant foods let me set the record straight.  You know how the old saying goes that the “shoemakers children have no shoes!”, well we children felt like “chefs kids didn’t eat chefs meals”! My mom and her sisters insisted that we were on a regiment of healthy eating.   Soft boiled eggs for breakfast while lunch consisted of soups.  My one Zia made very brothy bland soups while my other Zia made soups that were so thick that you can eat them with a fork! In the early years mamma didn’t cook at all because she was always working. My brother and I were soon disappointed to find out that mamma cooked much the same way! Dinner was just an unseasoned broiled piece of meat and a plain vegetable. If I think back I don’t think my Zias ever served pasta!  Of course dessert was out of the question! I can still picture myself with my cousins sitting at the dinner table staring down at our plates confused. It was so difficult to enjoy our healthy meals surrounded by all those wonderful restaurant food aromas.  We all realized early on that the papas were the restaurant chefs who made the most delicious meals while the mammas were the home cooks who made sure the children ate healthy foods!  You can bet that we children looked forward to Mondays!  It was the day the restaurant was closed.  It was a special day.  Not only did we get spend time with our papas but we got to experience the chefs’ cooking.  We even got dessert!  Some Mondays all three families would go to my nonna’s house where we ate good there too! In fact our Nonna was a phenominal cook! Monday was my brother and I’s favorite day of the week! It is funny how to this day I still associate Monday as a day of family, love and good eats!”

 


January 15, 2015

Well hello again!!

I hope you are all enjoying the recipes!  We had a request for Pork Arrabiata recipe. This will be recipe number 4.  We have over 50 sauce recipes to share.  It will take time to go through all of them.  If you are especially wanting a recipe please feel free to request one and I will try to fit it in earlier! The Arrabiata Sauce falls in line with our garlic and oil sauce base. This recipe was quite popular in the latter years of the restaurant.  In many recipes arrabiata is often associated with a spicy hot tomato sauce.  Our version has no tomatoes in it.  We call it arrabiata because it is spicy hot! As long as you remove the seeds from the hot cherry peppers it will be mildly hot and palatable!

We use this sauce on pork scallopini but it will be just as good on chicken scallopini.

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The way we prepare pork scaloppini is different than the way we prepare chicken.  We don’t use an egg batter for the pork.  We only dredge it in flour and not eggs!  We started off this recipe with 3 thick center cut boneless pork chops which we sliced through horizontally yielding 6 slices.  You may find the scaloppini already sliced for you at the butchers.  Place a slice in a thick freezer quart size zip lock baggie.  Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer and pound 3-4 times on one side and flip it over and pound another 3-4 times on the other side.  Do that with all six slices.  You may need to pound longer to get a nice thin slice of pork scaloppini.  Salt the meat and dredge in flour.  In a skillet fry up the meat in vegetable oil on each side.  Remember you don’t have to worry if it not quite done.  As long as it gets a light golden crust on it you will be fine because you will be finishing it off in the sauce for 20 minutes!

 

pork arrabiata 6

Pork Arrabiata

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients:

3 cloves of sliced garlic

1 Tbs of chopped Italian parsley

2 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup of white wine

1 ½ cups of chicken stock

Slice 4 hot cherry peppers into large chunks ( make sure you remove all the seeds or it will be too hot)

¼ cup of vinegar that the hot cherry peppers are packed in

3 Tbs of salted butter

1/8 tsp of salt

Procedure:

Saute sliced garlic in olive oil until golden over medium heat.garlic sizzling  Quickly pull skillet off heat and drop in chopped parsley.  garlic and parsleyAdd the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the butter is melted. pork arrabiata 5 Then placed  the pork scallopini in the sauce and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.pork arrabiata 3

 

 

Bon’Appetito!!

 

pork arrabiata 8


Aglio e Olio

  spaghetti garlic and oil 002 

After  the lunch crowd my mom would come upstairs to the apartments.  As she climbed up the steps we heard the faint jingling of coins. My brother and I  would jump up with joy running to get hugs!! As mom sat down at the kitchen table with her two sisters to compare notes  of what the day brought she would pull out wads of dollars from her uniform pockets dividing it out equally between the three of them.  My brother, my cousins, and I would often sit quietly near watching this daily ritual. Sharing was so easy between the sisters.  While my mom worked the sisters would take care of the children. They were all in it together.  

   It didnt happen everytime but sometimes my mom would scoop up her change and my eyes would widen as she poured her fist full of change into my cupped hands.  I was the oldest and I was entrusted with the important task of dividing the change amongst all the children.  As soon as the kids observed this transaction everyone ran to get the piggy banks. This next part I remember quite vividly.  I am almost blushing as I think back. Although I counted out the coins evenly I kept the shiny silver ones for myself while my younger brother and cousins got the brown coins.  Placing the coins in our piggy banks my coins kerplinked while everyone else’s coins kerplunked!”

 

Hello everyone! 

     As promised I am sharing the first 2015 recipe.  I have thought long and hard about this.  Which recipe should I start with?   There are so many.  I finally narrowed it down to the sauces.  We made more than 50 sauces throughout the years in “the restaurant”.  I am going to start with the most basic of all the sauces that is often used as the  base of many of the other sauces. The following sauce is very  simple yet difficult to achieve perfection. Allow me to introduce our first recipe for 2015….Spaghetti Garlic and Oil or as we would say Spaghetti Aglio e Olio!  Just 5 ingredients – extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, parsley and red pepper flakes. But I am going to share the secrets to getting it perfect.    Garlic is the most important ingredient and should be treated with the utmost care. First it has to be fresh!  (Do not use the chopped garlic that comes packed in oil.)   When picking out the fresh garlic you will have the option of choosing between American garlic  or Chinese garlic.  Most of the American fresh garlic is from California. It is the best.  You can tell the difference because California garlic still has it roots and stems.  It is much more dense and heavy.  The American garlic flavor far surpasses the garlic from china.

 

garlic pic

     After peeling the garlic you need to choose whether to chop, slice or crush the garlic. Garlic contains a sulfur compound. The more you chop and crush the garlic the more sulfur compound is released.  ( Imagine all the sulfur smell trapped in one of those jars of chopped garlic packed in oil!  That’s why fresh garlic is best!)  Depending on how intense of a flavor you want in your cooking will lead you to your preference of chopping, crushing, or slicing.  “The restaurant”  recipe for Aglio e Olio  was to get a sweet mellow taste to the sauce.  So we thinly sliced our American garlic.  We put the sliced garlic in a small skillet with the extra virgin olive over medium heat.  Carefully watching the garlic until it reached a golden color, we then added the chopped Italian parsley taking the skillet off the burner. ( Make sure the parsley is the flat leafed italian parsley.  Curly parsley has no flavor.)  This is another secret that most people don’t know about.  Throwing the chopped parsley in the skillet just as the garlic turns golden will stop the cooking process keeping the garlic from turning into the dreaded dark brown color. (Turn off burner taking the skillet off the burner)  The dark roasted garlic has a bitter burnt flavor that will ruin the sauce! After the parsley add red pepper flakes and salt. Now it’s all set for you to either pour over the pasta or you can add the drained pasta to the skillet to coat it.  If you prefer it to be extra moist you can add a ladle of starchy pasta water.

garlic sizzling

Aglio e Olio

served over 1 lb of pasta 

Ingredients:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 medium cloves of garlic thinly sliced

1 tsp of salt

2 Tbs of chopped fresh Italian parsley

Red pepper flakes

Procedure:

Sauté thinly sliced garlic in extra virgin olive oil until golden yellow. garlic sizzlingTake it off the burner and  add chopped parsley followed by adding  red pepper flakes to taste  (we just added a pinch) and 1 tsp of salt.garlic and parsley

Add this to your choice of pasta aldente.  Some like to add some pasta water to the sauce.  But I prefer it with just oil.  That’s the way we always served it in my family.

   


 

My New Year’s Resolution!

2015 "the restaurant" recipes!

My brother and I huddled together by the window of our apartment and quietly listened amidst the sounds of the clinging and the clanging of dishes, pots and pans for that beautiful melodic song. And then like a ray of sunshine that burst of song penetrated upwards through the skylights. Up, up, up, through the air, through the window of where we sat, that voice….those words…that beautiful melody squeezed us like a warm mother’s embrace. “I am orderrrriiiinnnggg!”.

You see in 1961 my parents and their siblings opened up a restaurant. We lived in an apartment above the restaurant. Those first few years were hard for my brother and I as we adjusted to restaurant life. Although we missed my mom as she worked long hours alongside my dad, the sound of her voice was music to our ears and we took comfort. Hours were spent by the window listening and hoping to hear her voice singing out those beautiful words!  “I am orderrriiinnnng!” That was the phrase the wait-staff used, to yell out customers’ orders to the chefs in the kitchen.  Of course my mom’s distinct soprano voice was a great asset in the noisy busy kitchen of “the restaurant”.

That is the first vivid memory I have of ”the restaurant”.  I thought that I would start off 2015 by going back…. For my 2015 New Year’s Resolution I am going to share with you “the restaurant” recipes enhanced by the stories. Happy New Year!!!