WE CAN COOK, BUT CAN WE DIVIDE? APPARENTLY NOT. IN LAST WEEK'S RECIPE FOR SPAGHETTI ALLE OLIVE WE MULTIPLIED WHEN WE SHOULD HAVE DIVIDED AND WE'RE NOT EVEN GOING TO DISCUSS WHAT WE DID WITH THE DECIMAL POINT. THE 100 GRAMS OF SPAGHETTI MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION TRANSLATES TO APPROXIMATELY 3.5 OUNCES NOT 2.8 OUNCES. (PUBLISHED 06/30/99)
Tutti a Tavola students receive recipe booklets for each day's entire meal. The following recipes are from one of them.
We have adjusted the recipes in some cases because they assumed an intimate familiarity with cooking techniques that not everyone has.
As to measurements, for example, the women of the Italian cooking program know them almost instinctively--though a scale in each kitchen verifies those instincts. Keeping in mind their principle--use "as much as you need"--we've given our best guidance. But when the recipe says "to taste," that's really what it means.
As to timing, when making a meal such as this one, the chefs recommend preparing as much as you can ahead of time. For this menu, the zuccotto can be done a day or so in advance. The tomatoes and onions can be prepared in the morning and set aside. The chicken strips can go in the oven while guests are eating the first course or pasta.
Note: Since the ingredients in these first three recipes rely so much on the individual cook's taste, we have not supplied nutritional analyses.
(Grilled Bread With Fresh Tomatoes and Basil)
(Plan on 2 to 3 pieces per person)
Firm ripe tomatoes
Basil leaves, stripped from the stems
Freshly ground black pepper
Sugar, olive oil, vinegar, to taste
Italian bread sliced on the diagonal
Garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Remove most of the seeds and liquid and dice the tomato. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces.
Mix together the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, a tiny bit of sugar, olive oil and a little vinegar to taste. Set aside.
Grill the bread; rub the slices with the cut raw garlic. Spoon the tomato mixture onto each slice.
Cipolle al Forno
Round, flat white onions, 1 or 2 per person, depending on the size
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Dried bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Peel the onions and place them in gently boiling water for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and cool slightly. Drain the onions and halve them horizontally.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle a little olive oil onto the foil. Transfer the onions to the baking sheet, cut-sides up. Sprinkle each onion half with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, drizzle with additional olive oil and adjust the seasonings to taste.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours--until the tops caramelize a bit. Check the onions from time to time; if they appear to be too dry, drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pomodori al Forno
These, like the baked onions, can be made in the morning, covered and set aside. In any case, you'd want to eat them at room temperature.
2 ripe high-quality tomatoes per person
Salt and oregano to taste
Dried bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Remove most of the seeds and liquid, turn upside down and drain.
Drizzle a little olive oil onto a shallow pan or rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the tomato halves, cut-sides up, in the pan.
Mix together the salt, oregano and dried bread crumbs. Fill the tomatoes with the bread-crumb mixture, drizzle with more oil and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours--until the tops caramelize a bit.
Spaghetti Alle Olive
(Spaghetti With Olives and Raisins)
(4 to 6 servings as a main course, 8 servings as a starter)
The cooks at Tutti a Tavola ordinarily recommend 100 grams (2.8 ounces) of dry pasta per person, but for this sauce, they suggest reducing the amount of pasta to about half that--again, to suit your own taste.
The amounts for the sauce ingredients are up to the cook. However, if in doubt, a workable ratio is about 4 times the amount of olives as raisins, fewer almonds than raisins, and fewer capers than almonds:
1 1/2 cups mixture of top-quality green and black olives, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons capers, squeezed of juice
3/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in water to cover for about 30 minutes and drained
1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled
Dried bread crumbs to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Preheat the broiler. Set a large pot of water to boil.
Mix together the olives, capers, raisins, almonds, bread crumbs and enough olive oil to bind the mixture.
Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and mix with the olive sauce. Spread the spaghetti mixture in an earthenware pan or in a rimmed baking sheet, and place briefly under a broiler until golden before serving.
Per serving (based on 6): 816 calories, 24 gm protein, 140 gm carbohydrates, 18 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 458 mg sodium, 6 gm dietary fiber
Spiedini di Pollo
(Skewered Chicken Strips)
(Makes about 12 skewers)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds) 1/2 medium onion, minced
Dried bread crumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Fresh bay leaves (may substitute fresh sage leaves but not dried bay leaves)*
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Have skewers ready.
Place the chicken on a flat surface. Holding a knife parallel to the surface, carefully slice each breast in half horizontally. Cut the chicken into strips approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.
Mix the onion with approximately equal amounts of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add salt to taste.
Pour some olive oil into a shallow dish. Dip the chicken strips first into the olive oil and then into the bread-crumb mixture, being careful to coat both sides completely. Fold each chicken strip in half and thread the meat onto the skewers, alternating each strip with 1 bay leaf. Transfer the skewers to a baking dish with 1 end of the skewers resting on the rim. Bake in the preheated oven until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
* Note: Fresh bay leaves are available in the produce section of Fresh Fields stores.
Per skewer: 110 calories, 15 gm protein, 3 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 136 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber
(Mixed Peppers and Onions Simmered With Tomatoes)
(6 servings) 1 pound onions, peeled and sliced
2 pounds bell peppers (a mixture of red, yellow, orange--not green), seeded and sliced
Salt to taste
1 pound fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled, drained and chopped into chunks
1/4 cup high-quality black olives, if desired
Balsamic vinegar, if desired
In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in the olive oil until soft. Add the peppers and cook until slightly browned. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes. Cover and cook for 30 to 45 minutes over very low heat.
Add salt to taste and the tomatoes to the onion-pepper mixture; continue to cook over very low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes to eliminate accumulated liquid. (Everything will cook down considerably in volume.)
Before serving, add the garlic and parsley to the onion-pepper mixture along with a few pitted black olives, if you like them, and balsamic vinegar to taste.
Per serving (based on 6): 110 calories, 3 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 51 mg sodium, 5 gm dietary fiber
(12 to 16 servings)
For the sponge cake:
Butter for greasing the pan
5 eggs, separated
5 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons flour
For the semifreddo:
2 cups very cold heavy (whipping) cream
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for garnish
About 5 ounces unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, chopped into bits
About 2 ounces hazelnuts or walnuts, roasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a jellyroll pan and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper. Line a 2-quart (or larger) round mold or mixing bowl with plastic wrap.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in another bowl until the mixture forms a ribbon when the beater is lifted and the color turns to a pale yellow. Set aside.
In a standing mixer or with a wire whisk, whip the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form.
Stir the flour into the egg yolk mixture. Stir a large spoonful of the whipped egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Transfer the mixture to the prepared jellyroll pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until set, 7 to 8 minutes. Be careful that the cake does not become too dry.
Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a damp cloth. Sprinkle the top generously with the rum; set aside to cool.
For the semifreddo: In a standing mixer or with a wire whisk, whip the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the chocolate bits and nuts.
To assemble: Invert the cake onto a flat surface and then invert it a second time so that the cake faces right-side up. The long horizontal sides of the rectangular cake should be parallel to the edge of the surface.
Think of the cake as the back of a closed envelope: Use the tip of a knife to draw the envelope flap. Cut through the lines and remove the triangle. Set aside.
Carefully lift the cake layer, holding it by the long, uncut side. As you slip the cake into the mold or bowl, bring the points up to form a cone that sits up and lines the sides of the bowl. The diagonally cut sides will meet, forming a seam up the side of the bowl. The cake should completely line the mold. Gently pat it into place.
Fill the mold with the whipped cream mixture. Trim any cake extending over the edges of the bowl.
Cut the remaining triangular piece of cake into pieces and fit the pieces over the entire surface of the whipped cream.
Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer; chill for at least 1 hour.
To serve, place a serving plate over the mold and invert. (The pieced portion becomes the bottom of the zuccotto.) Carefully remove the mold and plastic wrap and sprinkle the zuccotto with confectioners' sugar. Serve with zabaglione (recipe follows), chocolate sauce or berries.
Per serving (based on 16): 236 calories, 4 gm protein, 17 gm carbohydrates, 18 gm fat, 108 mg cholesterol, 9 gm saturated fat, 46 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
(Makes about 2 cups)
6 egg yolks*
3 tablespoons sugar
1 small glass (about 4 ounces) dry Marsala wine
1 small glass (about 4 ounces) white wine
Set the bottom of a double boiler or a pan of water to boil. In the top of a double boiler or a bowl, stir together the egg yolks and sugar. Stir the Marsala and white wine into the egg yolk-sugar mixture. Place over the gently boiling water and cook, whisking constantly, until frothy, about 5 minutes. Be careful to never let the mixture boil. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Serve the zabaglione over peaches or strawberries or with the zuccotto (see preceding recipe).
* Note: Uncooked egg yolks may be contaminated with salmonella and should be avoided by young children, the elderly and anyone with immune system deficiencies.
Per 2-tablespoon serving: 41 calories, 1 gm protein, 2 gm carbohydrates, 2 gm fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 3 mg sodium, 0 gm dietary fiber