These three simple recipes will give you a nice taste of what is in store for you throughout the Home Cooking Parties repertoire.They can be inexpensively prepared for a small party of four.
Linguini Carbonara with Artichokes
The carbonara in the name of this dish refers to the specks of ground black pepper as if they are little pieces of charcoal.This original recipe for carbonara does not include cream.You will find a wonderful creamy finish is achieved when the beaten eggs and cheese are rapidly mixed into the hot, drained pasta.This family recipe from the heart of Tuscany adds a special twist in substituting delicious artichoke for the normally used pancetta (Italian bacon).Be sure to use the very good grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for a robust flavor.
1/2 lb dry, uncooked linguini
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion; chopped fine
1 clove garlic; smashed and minced
1 egg; beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 medium jar (or 1 small jars) of marinated artichoke hearts; drained and quartered
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt; to taste
ground black pepper; to taste
Boil a large pot of water for the linguini.After the water boils, season it with a generous pinch of salt and toss in the dry linguini.When the pasta softens and sinks below the surface, give it a quick turn to stir and separate the strands.Do not add oil to the water, since this would interfere with the ability of the cooked pasta to absorb the flavoring of the sauce.Cook the pasta about 8 to 10 minutes, until it is al dente.Taste a strand.It should be softened all the way through but still firm in the center.Do not overcook the pasta.Drain it well, but do not rinse it.You want it hot and the starch on the strands to thicken the sauce.
When you put the water pot on to boil, quarter the artichoke hearts, chop the onion and mince the garlic.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.Add the garlic and onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until the pieces become translucent and the air is fragrant.Add the artichoke pieces and lightly season with salt and pepper (lightly! - you will be able to add more salt and pepper to taste later on).Stir well, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.Simmer for up to 15 minutes (actually, only until the time the linguini is cooked to al dente and drained).
While the linguini is cooking and the artichokes are simmering, beat the egg with the Parmigiano cheese.Add a pinch of salt and continue to beat until the egg and cheese are well combined.Reserve.After draining the linguini well, immediately add it to the skillet on top of the artichokes and onion.Turn the heat to very low.Pour the egg-cheese mixture all over the linguini and immediately toss the linguini.The heat of the linguini cooks the egg and makes the dish creamy.Toss with the artichokes and onion.Turn off the heat.
Evenly divide the linguini and sauce among 4 pasta bowls.Toss on another spoonful of grated cheese and a wild sprinkle of chopped parley.Serve immediately.
Radicchio Salad with Pecorino and Olives
There are over a dozen different varieties of Pecorino, sheeps milk cheese, produced in the southern and central parts of Italy.While there is a Tuscan variety, Pecorino Toscano, it is likely when you go shopping you will only be able to find the most popular variety, Pecorino Romano which oddly enough comes from Sardinia, not Rome.Regardless, enjoy this simple salad with the Pecorino cheese as a magnificent Contorno (side dish).
3 heads of radicchio; sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon; juiced
1/2 TBSP anchovy paste
12 black olives (any variety); pitted and cracked
1 TBSP capers; chopped coarsely
1/4 lb block of Pecorino cheese; sliced into 8 long pieces
salt; to taste
ground black pepper; to taste
Wash and dry the radicchio.Trim off any brown from the base of the stem and discard.Slice the radicchio into 1/2 inch thick slices.Slice through the stems, too, leaving them as part of the slice.Reserve.
Slice the Pecorino cheese into 8 pieces, as long as you can make them.Reserve.
Chop the capers.Crack and pit the black olives.Reserve.
Select a large salad bowl, in which you will be able to generously toss the salad.Before adding the radicchio, mix the dressing in the bottom of the bowl.Add in the anchovy paste and lemon juice and mix until well combined.Whisk in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and ground pepper.Whisk well.Add the capers and olives.Keep the sliced Pecorino cheese on the side to use as a garnish when you plate.Toss everything in the bowl coating the radicchio well with all of the ingredients.It is okay if some of the radicchio slices do not fall apart during the tossing.
Use flat salad plates.Evenly distribute the tossed salad on the 4 plates.Evenly distribute the sliced Pecorino cheese on the salads.Serve the salad on the side with the main course.
Panna Cotta and Berries
Panna cotta has been enjoyed in Italy in one form or another for more than a thousand years.Prepared this way it is a smooth, creamy delight.The zest will add a slight tang for your tongue in the backdrop of the sweetness.The berries provide fun colors and fresh, cool tastes.It is reported that in the early years of this dessert fish bones were used to provide the gelatin that set up the finished dessert.Thankfully we can skip that step.Using unflavored gelatin also lets us skip using the oven and a bain marie to set up.
1 cup whole milk
3/4 TBSP unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 TBSP pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP honey
1/2 TBSP granulated sugar
zest of 1/4 lemon
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
10X powdered sugar
Remove any stems in the berries.Wash, drain and chill berries.
Place the milk in a small bowl.Add gelatin and stir to combine.Set aside for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
Stir milk and gelatin a second time.Pour the milk-gelatin mixture into a saucepan.Place the pan over medium heat.Stir until the gelatin dissolves but the milk does not boil, about 5 minutes.
When you zest the skin of the 1/4 lemon into the saucepan in the next step avoid zesting down to the white pith of the lemon.It is bitter.
Add the cream, vanilla extract, honey, sugar, lemon zest and pinch of salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Stir the finished panna cotta and pour into 4 of your largest stemmed wine glasses so that they are 1/2 to 3/4 full. Cool at room temperature, slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.
Spoon the berries on top of the set-up panna cotta.Dust with a light coating of 10X powdered sugar.When you serve this, place a flat dessert or salad plate on the table beneath the wine glass at each setting.