The recipe for Simple Tomato Sauce in the Sept. 25 food section listed the incorrect can size of tomatoes. The correct recipe follows: SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE (Makes about 2 cups) 32-ounce can excellent quality tomatoes 1 1/2 tablespoons virgin olive oil 3 cloves garlic, halved and peeled Sprig fresh parsley Freshly ground black pepper Push the tomatoes through a colander or food mill to remove the seeds (or just mash tomatoes a little with a potato masher for a less refined sauce). Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole or pot and brown the garlic in it, pushing it around with a fork; remove the garlic and pour the tomatoes carefully into oil. Add the parsley sprig and fresh pepper and cook about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are reduced. This sauce should not be too thick. In Italy, Italians do not pursue the thick, thick sauce that many Americans cherish. Remove the cooked parsley and discard. Taste sauce and add salt if desired (canned tomatoes have salt added in the processing). If sauce is served on spaghetti or macaroni, add a bit of fresh basil or fresh parsley at the last minute.
One of the thrills of travel is the discovery of a restaurant that may not have made the guides but turns out to be a four-star memory. The pleasure is sometimes compounded when you are able to come home with the recipes, too.
My husband and I stumbled onto two such memorable places in Florence during a trip to Italy. The service was charming and the price moderate at each, and I was able to bring home recipes from one of them.
The first, called Ristorante La Maremma, Via Verdi II, was a family-run establishment with Mamma in charge. The specialities (not on the menu) included deep-fried zucchini blossoms, rabbit in casserole and wild pig (cinghiale) in prune sauce. Mamma gave me a copy of the extensive menu but was much too busy to recite recipes.
The other, Osteria Natalino (Borgo degli Albizi), was a different story. It is owned by four gregarious men who were terribly proud of the fact that they came from different parts of Italy, held four different political viewpoints and they were partners and it was working out very well. Such harmony is rare.
By the end of our two evenings there we were all old friends and Pasquale, the chef, later sent me by express mail some of the recipes we had enjoyed. They were a little difficult to translate as he gave no measurements but I figured them out. Pasquale is a transplanted Neapolitan and very imaginative in his tiny kitchen.
In addition to Pasquale's recipes and my simple tomato sauce, I will share my duplication of an unusual and tasty Roast Pork with Artichoke Sauce from the Garden Hotel in Siena. After having it for lunch, I was able to go to the kitchen where the chef shouted while I hastily scribbled what I thought he had said. In my own kitchen, it took five experiments until I was satisfied with my approximation. ROAST PORK WITH ARTICHOKE SAUCE (Garden Hotel, Siena, Italia) (8 servings)
Plan to roast the pork the day before serving. The meat should be sliced thinly and it is best accomplished when it is cold. This sliced meat can then be warmed up or served room temperature or carried cold to a picnic. 1 whole shallot, slivered 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin Pepper to taste 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons brandy 3 cups dry red wine 1/2 cup sweet vermouth 3 bay leaves 6 gratings fresh nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg FOR THE ARTICHOKE SAUCE: 8 unmarinated canned artichoke hearts, drained and squeezed (reserve 1/2 cup liquid) 3 teaspoons dijon mustard Freshly grated black pepper 3 gratings of fresh nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
Poke slivers of the shallot into holes in the roast and season the roast liberally with pepper. Using a heavy roasting pot, preferably (but not essentially) oval in shape, melt butter over medium heat and add oil. When the fat is bubbling, carefully add the meat and brown it all over. When meat is brown, add the brandy and boil 2 minutes. Add the wine and vermouth and bring to a boil again and add the bay leaves and nutmeg. Allow mixture to boil briefly and then reduce heat to a simmer. Place a sheet of foil on the roast and cover the pot and cook very slowly for 2 1/2 hours, turning it every half hour. (If using smaller roast, calculate cooking at 40 minutes per pound or done at 170 degrees internal temperature). Drain and cool thoroughly. Wrap in foil and refrigerate to use next day.
To make the artichoke sauce, put artichoke hearts, liquid, mustard, and seasonings into food processor and process until a creamy consistency is reached. If too thick add water by teaspoonfuls. This yields 1 2/3 cups sauce, which is ample for a 3 1/2-pound roast
To serve, slice meat thinly and reheat slowly with foil covering. Serve on large platter, spoon sauce over meat and garnish with watercress if desired. This can also be served cold or room temperature. PETTI DI POLLO ALLA PASQUALE (Osteria Natalino) (4 servings) 1/2 cup dried funghi porcini mushrooms 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas 2 whole chicken breasts (4 or 5 ounces each), boned and separated Salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter 3/4 cup dry vermouth 1 ounce (roughly) thin slices prosciutto (Smithfield ham may be substituted if very thinly sliced) 4 thin slices fontina cheese 2 or 3 tablespoons tomato sauce (recipe below) or just barely cooked tomatoes
Soak mushrooms in 1/2 cup boiling water about 20 minutes. Defrost frozen peas in boiling water or parboil fresh peas very briefly, just to take the rawness out. Place breast pieces between pieces of waxed paper and flatten them by pounding. Drain mushrooms and reserve brown liquid. Chop the mushrooms by hand into small, but not fine, pieces. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Saute' in the oil and butter in a heavy skillet 1 1/2 minutes per side and place them on a baking dish and cover with foil; set aside.
Pour vermouth into hot skillet and simmer very briefly, scraping the bottom of the pan. Strain the reserved mushroom liquid into the skillet and stir. Arrange prosciutto, cheese, mushrooms, tomato sauce or tomatoes, and peas (in that order) on top of the chicken pieces and place in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE (Makes about 2 cups) 16-ounce can excellent quality tomatoes 1 1/2 tablespoons virgin olive oil 3 cloves garlic, halved and peeled Sprig fresh parsley Freshly ground black pepper
Push the tomatoes through a colander or food mill to remove the seeds. Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole or pot and brown the garlic in it, pushing it around with a fork; remove the garlic and pour the tomatoes carefully into oil. Add the parsely sprig and fresh pepper and cook about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are reduced. This sauce should not be too thick. In Italy, Italians do not pursue the thick, thick sauce that many Americans cherish. Remove the cooked parsley and discard. Taste sauce and add salt if desired (canned tomatoes have salt added in the processing).
If served on spaghetti or macaroni, add bits of fresh basil or fresh parsley at the last minute. In Italy this sauce is sometimes called sugo. If I am lazy, I avoid the colander routine and cook the tomatoes as they come from the can, and simply smash them down with a potato masher just a little bit. $&% CROSTONE ALL' ARCO DI SAN PIERO (Osteria Natalino) (6 servings) Children will love these baby pizzas. 6 slices french or italian bread 6 slices fresh tomatoes 6 slices whole-milk mozzarella
Fresh or dried oregano
On each slice of bread, place a slice of tomato followed with a slice of mozzarella and a sprinkle of oregano. Broil 3 minutes and serve. PAGLIA E FIENO ALL'ARCO DI SAN PIERO Hay and Straw (Osteria Natalina) (4 first-course pasta servings) 1 cup tomato sauce (see recipe above) 4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella (or the genuine imported buffalo milk item) 5 ounces fresh egg pasta (tagliatelle or fettuccine) 5 ounces fresh spinach pasta (tagliatelle or fettuccine) Freshly ground black pepper to taste 8 or 9 leaves fresh oregano or a pinch dried oregano Prepare tomato sauce. Slice the mozzarella into thin pieces. Heat broiler.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put tomato sauce over low heat. When water boils, add the pasta -- if it is very fresh and not dried it will take 50 seconds to cook, if it is dried but still slightly soft, it will take about 3 to 4 minutes, if it is rock hard in a cellophane container it will take about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain the pasta. Spread into buttered broiler-proof low casserole and stir sauce onto and into the pasta. Lay on the slices of mozzarella and sprinkle with pepper and oregano. Broil about 5 to 6 minutes and serve immediately.