Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

The beauty of this dish lies in its Roman origins and it’s simplicity.

Pasta cacio e pepe (“cheese and pepper”) is made with Pecorino Romano and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

1 – pound spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, lightly toast the pepper in the olive oil, then turn the heat off and let it sit until the pasta is ready.
  3. When the pasta is done, turn on the heat to oil, add the pasta to that pan along with some of the pasta water. Toss, add the cheese, continue tossing, add more pasta water, season with salt; toss again and serve.
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Minestrone with Pesto

Forget the diner cliché; this hearty soup deserves respect!

Minestra is Italian for thick soup and minestrone is a large or rich minestra.

There is no rule for making minestrone. The only secret…fresh vegetables.

 

Cauliflower, turnips, carrots and other fresh vegetables may be used in place of or in addition to the ingredients called for.

Recipe:
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 lb. swiss chard
1/4 lb. spinach
2 small zucchini
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
2 japanese eggplants, peeled and diced
2 cups tubetti pasta
2 cups cooked white beans
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pesto:
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. grated parmigianno-reggiano

  1. Soak mushrooms in 2 cups warm water until soft. Remove, rinse, chop and set aside. Pour mushroom water through a coffee filter and set aside. Wash chard and spinach. Trim and discard stalks from chard and stems from spinach. Chop leaves.
  2. Bring mushroom water and 6 cups salted water to boil in a large pot. Add mushrooms, chard, spinach, zucchini, potatoes, eggplant and olive oil. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  3. For pesto, pulse pine nuts and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic and basil and drizzle in olive oil. Add parmiggiano-reggiano and process into a smooth paste.
  4. Add pasta to soup. Cook pasta for about 10 minutes; add beans and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir in 2 tbsp. pesto, reserving the rest for another use, and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with additional grated parmiggiano-reggiano.

 

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André Tchelistcheff is Alive and Well!

It is quite rare that we are offered the opportunity to taste a wine from our birth year. Tonight I had that privilege, and what an honor it was!

The 1968 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Estate Bottled ‘Beaumont’ Pinot Noir from Napa Valley.
For those of you who are new to wine or new to tasting older vintages, wines are truly like people…The great ones really do get better with age!

First of all, this wine is a very rare bottle of BV Pinot Noir from the time when the Latour family still owned the winery and the great André Tchelistcheff still had his hand in the wine-making process; a man whom Robert Mondavi referred to as…”a fascinating man, brilliant, stimulating, creative – a catalyst for the world of wine.”…“I know of no one who has been more helpful to the industry.  His teachings and consultations internationally, without doubt, improved the quality of winemaking in our country. 

When we first opened the wine, I thought…”it’s dead…it’s done…past peak…what a shame”. But we decided to leave it in the glass to see what would happen. Well…she opened up and began to express herself in all her glory!

A truly elegant wine with notes of truffles, dark cherries and licorice. The sweet nose was addictive and the fruit showed surprisingly well for a wine this old. It had all the qualities that you would find in a great Barolo but without the tannic grip.

We enjoyed it with herb-roasted chicken, which always pairs well with older red wines.

               

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MENU
Champagne Lallier Premier Cru Rosé Brut NV
Spicy Grilled Shrimp, White Beans & Smoked Bacon
Involtini of Eggplant, Ricotta & Pomodoro
Baked Clams

2004 Bouchard, Meursault Perriers
Fresh Linguine with Seafood, Garlic, Wine & Butter
Seafood Risotto


1968 Beaulieu Vineyard, ‘Beaumont’ Pinot Noir
1999 Luigi Einaudi, ‘Nei Cannubi’ Barolo

1998 Clinet, Pomerol
Herb Roasted Chicken, Rosemary Yukon Gold Potatoes

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage-Butter

For the Gnocchi:
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 cup sweet potato, peeled, roughly chopped and cooked
2 eggs
2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Making the Gnocchi:
See Recipe Here

For the Sauce:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves 
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have a toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped sage (careful, mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.
Add the warm gnocchi and gently toss to coat.
Finish with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve!

 

© Giovanni Cucullo 2010

Anolini in Brodo

Anolini is a small and round stuffed pasta, sometimes with crimped edges. The pasta is typically 1 to 2 inches in diameter and may also be called tortelli.

This recipe is centuries old and comes from Italy’s gastronomic capital – Parma.

  • Beef, bones and vegetables are cooked very slowly in wine and stock for 8 to 10 hours (think overcooked pot roast). When the meat begins to fall apart push everything through a strainer, extracting as much juice as possible. Discard the meat since all its flavor is now in the cooking juices. Place the juice back into a small pot and boil for about 10 minutes. Allow the sauce to cool.
  • Combine the cooled sauce with toasted breadcrumbs, lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a touch of nutmeg. Taste for salt. Add a few eggs to bind, blend well and refrigerate. If you feel the urge to splurge, add some chopped black truffles to the mixture.
  • When you’re pasta dough is ready, dot the dough with a row of the filling and top with another sheet of dough.

  

  

Cut out the anolini shapes using a 1 to 2 inch round cutter and press all the air out. Spread them out on a baking sheet coated with flour and corn meal.

To serve:

Bring chicken stock to a boil, add the anolini and cook until tender. Cooking time will vary according to how dry your fresh pasta is. Ladle the pasta and broth into soup bowls and top with a generous amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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© Giovanni Cucullo 2010