Homemade marinara sauce

Homemade marinara sauce
Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano (see Kitchen Notes)
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage (optional)
1 28-ounce can peeled whole Italian tomatoes (see Kitchen Notes)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (also optional)
12 ounces dry pasta, cooked to package directions (I used spaghetti)
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-low flame. Swirl olive oil and butter together in pot until butter is melted and fats are combined. Add onion and a pinch of salt, and sweat, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes, add garlic and oregano (the fragrance will be wonderful). Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently and lowering heat if necessary. You don’t want the aromatics to brown or burn; you just want the onion to be very soft.
2. If you’re adding sausage, brown it now in a separate skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium flame, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. You don’t want it crispy brown, just not pink. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.
3. When onions have softened, add tomatoes and their juices to the Dutch oven. Using a hand masher, break up the whole tomatoes. (You can crush them by hand in a bowl before starting to cook, if you prefer, but the masher is quicker and less messy – also, any juices you end up washing off your hands are juices that don’t end up in the sauce.) If you’ve cooked some sausage, add it to the pot now. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
4. Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. About halfway through the process, remove it from the heat and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce to the desired mix of smooth and chunky. Don’t overdo this – you want some texture and some chunks. If you don’t have an immersion blender, pulse (don’t purée) in a food processor. Resume cooking until the sauce is somewhat thickened.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Time it so the pasta is a minute or two shy of al dente when the sauce is done. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine, adding pasta water a bit at a time if it seems dry. Cook for another minute or two to finish pasta and let it absorb some sauce.

6. Divide among four shallow pasta bowls and top with some Parmesan, if desired. Serve.

Erbazzone Reggiano / Vegetable Pie

                                          Paul Waiter Ricca Stretcher Trial 1970 Chicago

Serve 12-16
2 sheets of puff pastry, commercially purchased, about 1-1/2 pounds
For filling
10 oz. pancetta, chopped fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onions, chopped fine
3 pounds fresh spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens combined, cooked
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, boiled mashed
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
2 medium eggs, beaten
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat pancetta with oil, and cook for 10 minutes, until the pancetta has released all the white particles.
Add garlic, stir well. Continue cooking for additional 5 minutes. Add onion, blend well. Cook for 5 more minutes until soft.
Stir in the poached greens well squeezed of their water. Blend well with the cooked ingredients, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
While cooling, add the eggs and Parmigiano to the filling. Season the filling with salt and black pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg.
Fill the puff pastry sheet. Pinch the edges, or seal them with a fork. Brush top with egg and milk mix for glaze. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F for 15 minutes. Cool slightly, and serve.

Hot Chef: Cooking with the mob

Just over the bridge in Collingswood is an Italian restaurant with strong ties to South Philly’s more, ahem, colorful characters. The Kitchen Consigliere is owned and operated by the infamous Angelo Lutz, who, in 2001, was sentenced to nine years in the pen for racketeering, gambling and extortion. (It seems the courts weren’t too pleased with his mob connections.) Lutz has used his public image as a cheeky theme for his former YouTube cooking show and then his crowdfunded restaurant, which opened in 2010 and more recently moved to a much bigger space. We caught up with Lutz to learn more about the business.

How are things going at Kitchen Consigliere?
We’ve been successful. We were in a small location, but then an opportunity to move to a bigger venue came up, just around the corner from where we started. It was a big undertaking and financially, we were in no position to do it. But I thought the risk would be worth the return. It’s a roller coaster of good and bad days, but we kept a good client base.

Where did you learn to cook?
I’m a self-taught cook, no training. My mother and her mother were great cooks. It comes naturally, like someone who can sing a tune.

 Where do you like to go on your day off?
I’m married to this business – seven days a week, 20 hours a day. So when I go out, I usually want anything that isn’t Italian. I will go to [Ristorante] Pesto on South Broad though. My friend Giovanni [Varallo] owns it. He’s a mentor to me.

You had a cooking show on YouTube with former Philly.com writer Marnie Hall. Any thoughts on offering cooking classes one day?
I liked working in front of a camera. I have a good personality and I like to exploit it. So if I ever did a class, there has to be some entertaining factor to it. It has to be a show, but you still walk away learning.

Merlino fighting to stay out of jail; restaurant opens


OUTSIDE THE courthouse last month, Joseph Merlino laughed off his upcoming prison stint as an opportunity to take his workout routine to the next level and "get my sixpack back."
But, come on, do you really think "Joey Sixpack" wants to spend four months doing crunches in a jail cell?
Lawyers for the ex-mob boss are asking for a postponement of his sentence while they appeal a judge's ruling that he violated the terms of his probation while living in Florida.
At a court hearing on Oct. 24, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ordered Merlino to report to prison on Nov. 24 after detectives testified that he'd been spotted with John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini in a Boca Raton cigar bar in June. Merlino was on supervised release for his 2001 racketeering conviction.
Merlino's lawyers claim in a motion filed late Wednesday that the Ciancaglini meeting was a "chance, casual encounter," not a "planned and prolonged" meeting that would constitute a probation violation. They also are arguing that the feds failed to issue an official violation summons prior to the end of Merlino's supervised release Sept. 6.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, who maintains that Merlino is still an active member of La Cosa Nostra, said yesterday that prosecutors would fight the latest motion.
"The judge ordered him to report in 30 days," Troyer said. "He should report in 30 days."
Meanwhile, the new Boca Raton restaurant where Merlino will be working - it's called Merlino's - apparently has opened for business. It sounded packed last night when the Daily News called.
"He's not in tonight," a woman said, before taking a message for Merlino.
The restaurant's owners include Florida businessman Stanley Stein, who testified last month that he had offered Merlino a full-time job as a "maitre d' or host." Merlino's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., has said that his client might be more of a manager there.
"We're gonna have the best Italian food in South Florida," Merlino had said after his last court hearing. "All my mother's recipes."
The cocktail menu includes the $14 "South Philly Beet Down" with dry gin, beet, ginger and lemon, and the $16 "Olde City Fashioned."
For dinner, try the $19 Gnocchi Mamma Rita, named after Merlino's mother.
The after-dinner-drink menu includes everything from a $9 tawny port to a $500 whiskey drink called "The Experience" with whiskey from now-closed distilleries.
Too rich for your blood? Compromise. The blend of 1,200 cognacs that are between 40 and 100 years old goes for just $240 for 2 ounces.

Pasta with clam sauce

•           24 to 48 littleneck clams (the amount depends on size and your budget, or luck; in any case, more is better), scrubbed
•           Salt (probably not much) and pepper to taste
•           12 ounces long pasta, like spaghetti or linguine
•           ¼ cup olive oil, or more
•           ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
•           2 cloves sliced garlic, or to taste
•           Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
1.         Steam the clams in a covered pot (a glass top is very nice, voyeuristically speaking). You don’t need any liquid other than what the clams will release. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
2.         After the clams open — it could take as little as 10 minutes — uncover and cool. Take the meat out and strain and reserve the liquid; make sure to leave any sand behind. Chop the clams if they’re big.
3.         Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water. Put 1/4 cup olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the clams and continue to cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved clam liquid.
4.         Drain the pasta when it’s nearly done and stir it into the clams. Cook, stirring, until the pasta is tender and the mixture is saucy. Add more clam-cooking liquid (or hot water or white wine), if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little more oil if you like. Garnish, and serve. 

Italian Rabbit Stew

                                                           "Mad Dog"Charles Gargotta

3 pounds rabbit, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
2 onions, finely diced
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
6 cups water
4 cups red wine
4 medium-sized potatoes, diced
1/2 cup sliced sautéed mushrooms
Using 3/4 cup flour, coat the pieces of rabbit, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Brown the floured rabbit on all sides. Add the celery, carrots, onions, salt, pepper, bay leaves, water, red wine, mustard, and tomato paste. Stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Cover and stew for about 2 hours or until meat is tender. Add the potatoes 45 minutes into the stewing process. Once the rabbit and all the vegetables are cooked, use a small amount of water to form a paste with the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Stir the flour mixture into the pot as a thickener. Add the already sautéed mushrooms to the stew and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings,

Lobster Gnocchi. Source: News Corp Australia

1kg potatoes
1 small egg
200g plain four
1 teasp salt
1 teasp pepper
50g lobster meat
50mls tomato passata
1 teasp chilli oil
1 teasp garlic oil
20 ml cream
10 ml white wine
1 teasp basil
2 shallots chopped
■ Steam the potatoes for 25 minutes. Mash while hot, add the flour, egg yolk, salt and knead until a soft dough.
■ Shape the dough into long rolls of 1.5cm diameter and cut into 2cm pieces. Add to salted water a few at a time and remove as they rise to the surface.
■ Heat the lobster meat in a pan with garlic and chilli oil. Season and deglaze with white wine. Add tomato and cream and simmer until the lobster is just cooked. Add basil, shallots and the gnocchi. Serve.


This is a simple platter of very good things to eat, vary the quantity according to your likes and pocketbook.
1/4 pound Prosciutto de Parma
12 slices Genoa salami
8-12 slices hot soppressata
1/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 pound or less of Parmesan-Reggiano
1/4 pound or less of Pecorino cheese
1 cup your favorite olives
1 cup roasted peppers in olive oil
1 cup marinated artichokes
1 loaf crusty, locally made bread
A few blueberries and a few peaches
Prosciutto should always be thinly sliced, don't worry about making an artful presentation, just clump it up in the middle of the platter. The salamis, yes, soppressata is in the salami family, can be arranged thoughtfully if you like. The Parmesan, the king of cheeses, should be carefully sliced into small curls, never grate it for this sort of application. Pecorino is a sheep milk cheese that is semi-hard and can be mild to piquant in flavor. This cheese is for adult palates. Arrange everything on your favorite platter and serve with a good bottle of wine. Please remember to always serve cheese at room temperature.