Thursday, March 19, 2009

Now That's Italian

The Arthur Avenue CookbookHere are two dishes right out of The Arthur Avenue Cookbook. Author Ann Volkwein totally captures the spirit of the real Little Italy with encyclopedic research, great vignettes, and personal interviews. It's awesome to walk into the shops and see her characters come to life.  I've been dying to take a stab at some of the recipes, but am - as you know by now - easily distracted. What with spring break and a lull in the day-to-day routine, I finally had a chance to sit down and bookmark a few favorites.

Everything in the Arthur Avenue Cookbook is straightforward. There aren't a lot of obscure ingredients and the steps couldn't be simpler. The best part though, is everything can be found from vendors just a couple of blocks from my front door; a couch potato's wet dream.
 
Farfalle con funghiLemon & capers chicken cutlets
Short of some internal compass, who can really adequately explain how the eye and brain work, but one look at the Farfalle con Funghi and I knew I had to make it. And what better foil for a rich, creamy mushroom sauce, than a light, tart lemon chicken cutlet? Any mama mia within a six-block radius would be proud to call me mio figlio after this meal.
 
Primo - Farfalle con Funghi
Base for the mushroom sauceThickened mushroom sauce
Thickened sauce run through a food processorToss bowtie pasta with broken down sauce
  • 1 lb farfalle pasta
  • 2 oz dry porcini mushrooms
  • 10 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and diced
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, bring 1 pint of water to the boil, and add the porcini mushrooms. Allow to boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let mushrooms steep for 15-20 minutes. Drain the porcinis, saving the liquid. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and sauté shallots until lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Chop the porcinis and add them along with the button mushrooms to the pan. Sauté 4-5 minutes until the button mushrooms are lightly golden. Reduce heat to medium and add the mascarpone and cream. Stir slowly until everything blends. Add half the porcini cooking liquid and the Parmesan cheese. Reduce the sauce for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove form the heat and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook to al dente, about 8 minutes. Put the cooled mushroom sauce into a food processor and pulse until the mushrooms are broken down into small pieces. Toss the sauce over drained pasta in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Serve hot.
 
Secondo - Chicken with lemon & caper sauce
Coat chicken cutlets in seasoned flourSauté floured cutlets in butter
Fresh lemons, parsely and zestFinishing the sauce for lemon chicken cutlets
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • flour for dredging
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp capers
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Salt to taste
  • lemon slices and chopped parsley for garnish
With a mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken breasts until very thin (¼ inch or less). Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. In 2 large sauté pans set over medium-high heat, melt the butter (2 Tbsp each). Sauté chicken for 2 minutes, then flip. (You're not looking for it to brown.) Stir in lemon zest, capers, lemon juice, pepper and white wine. Simmer 2 minutes to reduce. Salt to taste. Plate the chicken with some of the pan sauce and lemon slices. Garnish with parsley and serve at once.
 
photo: Tara Bradford
Copper pots and 19th-century stoves in good working order (detail).
There's a nice little wine shop in the neighborhood with some extensive Italian selections. The proprietor steered me to an excellent Jermann Pinot Grigio which perfectly complimented the chicken and brought the pasta course into balanced contrast. Dang, that was meal! The kind of dinner you can't wait to show off and brag about for days. I'll be taking my bows now.
 
 
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
 
 

1 comment:

Bu Triathlon team said...

I love that cookbook Mike!!!!! I also love your blog. I'm looking forward to a meal with you in NYC when I return....with Wolf. I've showed him your blog and he likes it. It's great for teaching him new words and sarcasm!!!!!!!!!