Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feeling Grateful? Make Soup

Thrifty cooks make soup. And Italian cooks are notoriously thrifty. Not that they would ever compromise on quality. Still--they can make a lot out of a little--gnocchi from potatoes and water, Panzanella from stale bread.

Capri Flavors Chef Titna never wastes in her kitchen. If she's dredging in flour, she uses all the flour, all the bread crumbs, every speck of chopped parsley. Nothing is thrown away.

A lot of this thriftiness dates from WWII and the terrible shortages in Italy. (You can read more about Costanzo's war time experiences in this weeks upcoming Capri Flavors e-newsletter).

Hunger was everywhere in Southern Italy during the war. And even all these years later, Titina and husband Costanzo always feel a special gratefulness when they sit down to a nice meal.

This week they are feeling even more grateful because Titina is cooking at home. She is still very limited after her hip-replacement surgery but feeling well enough to do the thing she loves most--make wonderful food.

Here's one of those wonderful dishes--Titina's recipe for Pasta and Bean soup. It's super easy, very nutritious and a great way to make just 4oz of meat go a long, long way.

Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta with Beans

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 oz chopped Negroni pancetta
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large glove garlic, minced
1 can “Annalisapomodorini di collina (cherry tomatoes) 400 grams
1 can “D’Amicofagioli cannellini (white beans) 400 grams
2 cups plain water
1 cup ditali pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and chili pepper

Serves 4; Preparation Time:10 minutes: Cooking Time: 25 minutes; Level of Difficulty: Simple

Set a 3-quart (3 liter) soup kettle over medium heat and add the extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the chopped pancetta and let it cook for 3 minutes. Add the diced carrots and celery as well as the minced garlic. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Add the beans and the water, bring the soup to a gentle simmer and add the pasta, cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt and chili pepper to taste. At this point the pasta is “al dente,” sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chef Titina Out of the Hospital

She's not back in her Capri Flavors kitchen yet--but she is smiling again.

All signs are positive after Titina's joint replacement surgery and she is now recovering at home.
Husband Costanzo says she's feeling well and very upbeat about her rehab--

Titina expects to resume teaching her popular Italian cooking classes in late winter. It's too soon for an exact date...but we'll keep her students posted.

In the meantime, here's a kitchen staple that shows up in many of Titina's classes. Carote alla Scapece (translated boiled carrots with white wine vinegar) is a super-versatile side dish that is best when made ahead. It's usually sitting on the table when students arrive. In cooler months Titina like to serve it at room temperature.

Carote alla Scapece (boiled carrots with white wine vinegar)




White Wine Vinegar

Chopped garlic

Chopped basil

Chopped mint

Dry oregano

Chopped Parsley

Hot Pepper to taste (optional)

Boil carrots in lightly salted water until they are al dente. Drain well. While carrots are still warm add vinegar and seasonings. Mix well, cover and refrigerate. Best served cold or room temperature one day to one week after preparation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chef Titina Takes a Short Medical Leave

She's been in the kitchen forever--and that means standing on your feet. Now Capri Flavors Chef Titina has to have a new hip. Her joint-replacement surgery was just scheduled today and will take place mid-January at Rex hospital. But don't worry. It's hard to keep Titina out of her kitchen. She will be back as soon as possible.

Plan for "Lets Cook with Titina" classes to resume by early spring. Meantime, we'll keep her students updated via this blog (and maybe throw in an extra recipe or two to thank you for your patience)

Titina and husband Costanzo apologize for the inconvenience, especially to those who have already booked their classes. Titina loves teaching and was hoping to avoid surgery (aren't we all) but her condition worsened over the holidays. The upside of the story is that life should be a lot happier when she's pain-free in the spring.

If you'd like to send good wishes to Titina leave a comment and we'll pass it along.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Titina's Sardinian Menu plus a Bonus Recipe

Sardinia is dramatic, ancient and beautiful. The second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, this meeting of rugged mountains and blue water is one of the oldest inhabited lands in Europe.

It is famous for its wines. The island is also known for a hearty shepherd's flat bread, fresh, light seafood, lamb and sheep-milk cheeses.

Fregola is another Sardinian specialty. Called the couscous of Sardinia, this tiny semolina pasta was hardly known and hard to find in American until Giadia DeLaurentiis featured fregola on her popular Food Network show. Capri Flavors sold out almost over night. (They have since restocked)

A Fregola recipe from the Capri Flavors e-newsletter follows (sign up at Chef Titina's Sardinian menu along with her full Winter Class Schedule are also listed below.

Her Sardinian primi or first course features another unusual pasta--this time with sausage. Mussels follow and if you've ever wanted to know how to cook artichokes, this is your chance. A sweet ravioli rounds out the meal.

Malloreddus Con Dalsiccia (Malloreddus with Sausage)
Cozze Gratinate (Mussels au Gratin)
Carciofi alla Sarda (Sardinian Artichokes)
Sabadas’ (Ravioli with Honey)

Pasta e Cannellini (Cannellini Beans with Pasta)
Roast-Beef con le Castagne (Roast Beef with Chestnuts)
Fava alla Piemontese (Piemontese Fava Beans)
Nodi D’Amore (Love Knots)

Limoncello (Lemon Liquor)
Suffle di Formaggio (Cheese Souffle)
Aragosta alla Crema (Lobster in Cream Sauce)
Radicchio al Parmigiano (Radicchio with Parmesan)
Torta di Capri al Limoncello (Capri Cake with Limoncello)

Anellini con Melenzane (Anellini with Eggplant)
Pollo al Curry (Chicken Curry)
Piselli al Prosciutto (Peas with Prosciutto)
San Giuseppe Zeppole (Saint Joseph Cream Puffs)

Capri Dates--Monday: 1/4, 2/15, 3/1-- Friday: 1/8, 2/5, 3/5
Sicilia Dates--Monday: 1/18, 2/15, 3/15-- Friday: 1/22, 2/19, 3/19
Sardegna Dates-- Monday: 1/25, 2/22, 3/22--Friday: 1/29, 2/26, 3/26
Piemonte Dates--Monday: 1/11, 2//8, 3/8--Friday: 1/15, 2/12, 3/12

Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes

1 pound Fregola pasta from Capri Flavors
2 Knorr Chicken bouillon cubes
½ onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz) Titina’s Tomatoes from Capri Flavors
½ cup dry sherry
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 pounds of shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt, pepper and olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onion until soft. Add red pepper flakes, garlic and sherry. Cook until blended and fragrant. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your spoon. Return to a boil. Add half the parsley and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

Fill a large pot with water and add the bouillon cubes. Boil until cubes have dissolved, then slowly add the Fergola and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile add the shrimp to the tomato sauce and simmer until just pink and firm. Remove from heat. (They will continue to cook in the hot sauce)

Drain cooked pasta, toss with more olive oil and the remaining parsley. Pour shrimp and tomato sauce over. Stir and serve.