The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘Big Mike’

SOUP’S ON!

In General Articles on November 19, 2011 at 11:47 AM

That was Big Mike’s call for dinner when he made his favorite Lentil Soup. Lentil Soup in those days, many years ago, meant opening a can of Lentil Soup, pouring the contents into a pot, taking several hot dogs, slicing them, adding them to the soup, heating the soup until the hot dog pieces puffed out, and then calling out to the family…’SOUP’S ON!’ I thought it was delicious, which was probably due to the fact that it must have contained three days’ worth of sodium.

Lentil Soup has nothing to do with the period of 40 days preceding Easter.  From what I have read, lentils have been around for about 10 millenia and their name is derived from the plant Lens culinaris, of which lentils are the edible seeds.

With the first days of winter only weeks away, soup is on the mind. So off we went to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients for Lentil Soup. This Lentil Soup takes a little more time than opening a can and heating its contents, but actually not much more time. The recipe came from Uncle Fred, who always had a few containers of it stored away in his freezer and which he generously shared with us upon our arrival at The Cape for the summer. Now I find myself assuming the role of Uncle Fred as I await the arrival of my children this Thanksgiving.

Crispy, Fried, Leftover Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce

In For Moms on the Go, Pasta, Recipes on April 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM

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Ingredients:

Leftover Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground Locatelli Romano cheese

Steps:

1.    Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan
2.    Add the leftover linguine and cauliflower, frying the pasta and cauliflower.
3.    Sprinkle the cheese on the pasta and cauliflower and stir and turn until fully blended.
4.    Keep frying and stirring until the pasta noodles become crispy.
5.    When done to your taste remove from the heat and enjoy.

See the Related Article at: Another of Big Mike’s Favorites

Big Mike’s Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce

In Pasta, Recipes on April 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce

Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
12 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, separated
1 pound of Linguine
Kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground Locatelli Romano cheese
Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce

Steps:

1.    Fill a six quart pot with water, bring to a boil.
2.    Add the cauliflower and cook until fork-tender.
3.    In the meantime, pre-heat a large cast iron frying pan on high, then add the olive oil.
4.    When the oil is shimmering, reduce the heat; add the garlic and sauté lightly, do not let it brown.
5.    Remover the cauliflower from the boiling water, remove 4 cups of the water for developing the sauce and reserve the rest for cooking the linguine.
6.    Add the cauliflower to the oil and garlic, and mash it in the pan continuing to break it down until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes.
7.    Raise the heat, allowing the moisture from the cauliflower to burn off and the cauliflower to begin to brown.
8.    Continue this process, by pushing the cauliflower to one side of the pan while adding some cauliflower water; scraping  up the burnt fond on the bottom of the pan and let it burn off again and again, until the mashed cauliflower takes on a nut brown hue.
9.    In the meantime bring the remaining cauliflower water to a boil, add the linguine and cook according to directions on the box.
10.    After tasting the linguine to determine if it is al dente, drain it in a colander.
11.    Add the cooked linguine to the cauliflower sauce and mix thoroughly, adding some of the reserved water if too dry.
12.    Serve in bowls for people to add their own grated Romano cheese and Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce.

Note: This pasta dish is best accompanied by a loaf of fresh, crusty, Italian bread to sop up the leftover sauce and a chilled bottle of white wine, perhaps a Soave or a Verdicchio.

LEFTOVERS: This dish lends itself to a great leftover, if there is any – Crispy, Fried, Leftover Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce.

Please see the Related Article at:  Another of Big Mike’s Favorites

Another of Big Mike’s Favorites

In General Articles on April 9, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Another pasta dish that was a memorable staple growing up in my family, one which we introduced to our children and they loved as well, was Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce. With this pasta dish the memory is olfactory. First, the less than pleasant smell of boiling cauliflower, quickly, and thankfully, followed by that of sautéed garlic, then the exquisite aroma of the finished product, which of course contains both Locatelli Romano cheese and Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce.

This pasta dish (sorry Dad – macaroni dish) was another favorite of my father and was great during those meatless Fridays when Catholics had to ‘suffer’ by abstaining from meat. When it comes to food, Italians have a knack for turning suffering into a joyful feast; just think La Vigilia the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes!

See the recipe for Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce for the technique of preparing this delicious dish.

If you have any of this pasta dish leftover, which is highly unlikely in my house, then you are really lucky and you can use ‘the leftovers’ to make Crispy, Fried, Leftover Linguine with Cauliflower Sauce.

Of course my father was not the only cook in the house, my mother also had her repertoire, which was frequently focused on what was good for you. Please read Eat It! it’s Good for You!, to get a better understanding of what I mean.


Spaghetti with Del Monte Sauce

In For Moms on the Go, Pasta, Recipes on April 9, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Ingredients:

¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
2 12 oz. cans of Del Monte tomato sauce
1 pound of spaghetti
Kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground Locatelli Romano cheese
Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce

Steps:

1.    Fill a six quart pot with water and bring to a boil.
2.    In the meantime, pre-heat a mid-sized sauté pan on medium then add the ¼ cup of olive oil.
3.    When the oil is shimmering add the garlic, sauté until it becomes light gold in color.
4.    Add the oregano and stir quickly.
5.    Reduce the heat to low, add the tomato sauce, return heat to high and bring to a boil.
6.    When the water is at a full boil, add a dash of kosher salt or sea salt plus the tablespoon of olive oil.
7.    Add the spaghetti and cook according to the instructions on the box.
8.    After tasting the spaghetti to determine if it is al dente, drain it in a colander.
9.    Transfer the sauce to the large pot, return the spaghetti and mix thoroughly.
10.    Serve in bowls for people to add their own grated Locatelli Romano cheese and Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce.

Note: This quick, easy to prepare dish is best accompanied by a simple salad with Homemade Italian Dressing, a loaf of fresh, crusty, Italian bread and a bottle of Chianti Classico.

Please see Pasta Memories

Pasta Memories

In General Articles on April 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM

My earliest Pasta Memory, one filled with nostalgia for the simpler times in life, is Spaghetti with Del Monte Sauce. This was a ritual many Friday nights in our 3½ room apartment in the Inwood neighborhood of northern Manhattan, when I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s. First came the savory aroma of sliced garlic sautéed in hot olive oil, then the pungency of dried oregano added to the pan, finally the sizzling sound of canned Del Monte tomato sauce as it hit the hot oil and the fragrant aroma of tomato was released into the apartment. With the water for the spaghetti already at a boil, dinner was less than 15 minutes away.

My father, Big Mike, the designated Friday night cook, (he learned to cook from his mother, but I suspect that he perfected this meal while serving with the CCC out West) would sample the macaroni (he never called it ‘pasta’) after about 9 minutes of boiling and announce that it was al dente; that was the signal that we should take our seats at the table. After draining the spaghetti in a colander, (a ‘skoola pasta‘, in the Sicilian dialect he learned from his immigrant mother) he would return it to the pot, mix in the sauce, stir it well and scoop it into bowls. The spaghetti was always accompanied by freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese, which was to be sprinkled liberally over it, by all. All that is, except my mother, Dorothea, who disdained cheese on her macaroni, as she claimed it detracted from the flavor of the sauce. Instead, she would heap one or two teaspoonfuls of her homemade Hot Pepper Sauce onto her bowl, as if that did not detract from the flavor of the sauce! She then proceeded to cut the spaghetti with a knife and fork and eat it with a spoon, so as to ‘get the spaghetti together with the sauce in one mouthful’.

Big Mike working for the CCC (circa 1934)

After my wife and I married, Spaghetti with Del Monte Sauce became a regular meal in our household, though not every Friday night, as it was quick, easy, inexpensive and delicious. Big Mike had another pasta dish that he enjoyed cooking and eating, and Another of Big Mike’s Favorites was also a regular Friday night dinner.

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