Thursday, December 5, 2013

Marcella #3 tomato sauce

The legendary and incomparable Marcella Hazan passed away September 29 at age 89 at her home in Longboat Key. For our connection with this wonderful cook book author, see: In a tribute in the New York Times, fellow cook book superstar Mark Bittman talked about a day spent cooking with her, just a few weeks before she died. "She helped make her famous tomato sauce, a slow-cooked affair of canned tomatoes, a lot of butter and half an onion," he wrote. "It's about the best tomato sauce you can make without doing much of anything."
We agree. This is the sauce that we have on our web site:, under fresh tomato sauce. We call it Marcella #3 because it first appeared in her first book, "The Classic Italian Cook Book," under "Five Tomato Sauces", and of course, was #3 on that list.
It was always a major hit. In her recipe it calls for fresh tomatoes, of course. We make lots of it every summer with the very best, ripest tomatoes available, and freeze it for those winter months when its incredible odors and flavors bring back the summer wonders.
In Mark's article, and when they were actually cooking, several months ago, Marcella used canned tomatoes. He presented that recipe in a link in the article. We tried it. Of course, it works wonderfully! here is the canned tomato version:
  • two cups canned imported tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • five tablespoons butter
  • one medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • salt
Put the canned tomatoes in a medium saucepan, add the butter, onion and salt and cook uncovered at a very slow simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is at the thickness you like.
Stir from time to time and smash the tomato chunks with a wooden spoon. When ready, toss the onion. Correct for salt. That's it. Right amount for about 1 1/2 pounds of spaghetti.

Friday, September 20, 2013

summertime perfect!

This is the definition  of summertime perfect . . . 

Take a beautiful beefsteak tomato from our Farmer's Market, picked fresh that morning . . .

. . . add basil from our pot in kitchen garden . . . 

. . .  put these into the culinary hands of wife Carol (shown above basking in Rome, not slaving away in the kitchen) . . . and you have her favorite summertime pasta: spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. So simple, so pure, so perfect! And it takes less than ten minutes after the pasta is done.

Here is what she does when she cooks this delicacy for our summertime dinner:

Put plenty of water in the pasta pot, add salt and get to get to a raging boil. Put in (for us) about eight ounces of wonderful pasta di Gragnano spaghetti. While the pasta is cooking, peel and dice two good size garlic cloves, take one good size beefsteak tomato (we favor beefsteaks for this recipe because they break down into an absolutely fabulous sauce, capably of totally coating the spaghetti); about a full quarter cup of fresh basil leaves, torn apart by hand; a tablespoon of butter, a quarter cup or so of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and some salt and pepper.

When the pasta is properly al dente, drain and put into the pan. Over a medium heat, add the garlic. When, after a minute or so, the garlic starts to sizzle, add tomatoes and stir and let them break apart into a sauce and coat the pasta strands. Add salt and a couple of twists of freshly ground pepper, a couple of tablespoons of the Parmesan, and the butter and salt, and stir. 

When well mixed, then add the basil leaves -- you do not want them to cook, just get warm. Stir again and serve with some extra Parmesan.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fresh peas, mint and goat cheese

After a few temporary setbacks medical wise, we are back cooking, writing about and enjoying the world's singular best food -- pasta. In the next few weeks of this lovely summer season, we will be providing some of our favorite simple and flavorful pasta recipes - with the emphasis on simple: easy to prepare during the lovely summer, yet bright with fresh flavors and ingredients. Stay in touch and let us know what you think! Suggestions gratefully received.

We just discovered this recipe, tried it, and loved it, and present our adaptation of it here. We are indebted to Michael Bauer, restaurant critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, who gathered this recipe from Evan and Sarah Rich, proprietors of the wonderful eponymous restaurant of theirs in San Francisco: The Rich Table.

for the sauce:

  • one-half cup fresh English green peas
  • one quarter cup extra virgin olive oil
  • one clove garlic, minced
  • a small bunch -- about ten leaves - fresh mint, chopped
  • zest and juice of one lime (separate the zest and juice)
  • four ounces goat cheese, roughly chopped and at room temp
  • one-half cup vegetable stock
  • salt
  • two tablespoons unsalted butter
  • eight ounces of spaghetti
Bring the peas to a boil in a small pot of salted water. Cook for two minutes, remove from heat and set aside. In a saute pan large enough to handle the spaghetti, heat the olive oil, add the garlic and cook until the garlic starts to sizzle. 

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti, stir and cook until al dente -- definitely short of "dente",

Drain and add the spaghetti to the heated saute pan with the oil and garlic. Add the half cup of vegetable stock, teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Stir.Add the lime juice, the  peas and the crumbled cheese and stir. Cover the pan, turn up the heat to high, and cook over high heat for a minute or two. Add the butter, stir again, and toss with the half the mint. Add some fresh ground pepper, taste for salt. Serve and garnish with the lime zest and extra mint.

Friday, May 3, 2013

risotto with fresh green beans

By almost unanimous vote in out house, if we are looking for our number one comfort food for an evening's meal, it will be a risotto dish. And now that it is fresh vegetable Farmer's Market time, our risotto will be even better -- risotto and fresh vegetables are a coming together made in culinary heaven.

We got a half pound of fresh green beans, and, with the usual risotto accompaniments, we were off -- and the result was as wonderful as we had anticipated.

Here is the link to the complete recipe, which also has links for more detailed instruction and help on making a great Italian risotto:

For this evening we used Carnaroli rice rather than Arborio and liked the result even better. And another big help: we do roast chicken quite often, for the chicken of course but also because it allows us to take the bones and remnants and create a really great chicken broth -- ideal for a risotto.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

asparagus now!

Spring! Asparagus! Now! We have a variety of pastas (and risottos) with this wonderful spring vegetable in a variety of presentations. Go to and on the Home page there is a search machine. Enter asparagus (or peas or any of the wonderful spring vegetables and get a variety of pasta presentations.

Here is is one of our favorites --fusilli with asparagus and pancetta --  simple and wonderful.

for the sauce:

  • three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • four ounces of pancetta or bacon, chopped in quarter inch squares
  • three cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • one medium onion, finely diced
  • one and one-half pound asparagus, before trimming
  • one tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • one tablespoon butter
  • one quarter cup freshly grated parmesan
for the pasta:
  • one pound of fusilli (even better for the advenurous -- make hand made orechiette or garganelli)

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Curt each stalk, slicing on the diagonal, into one-half inch pieces.

In a saute pan over medium heat, put in one tablespoon of the olive oil and then add he pancetta or bacon. Saute for four or five minutes until the pieces are well browned (not crisp). With a slotted spoon remove the pancetta/bacon and put on a paper towel.

Drain the olive oil from the saute pan and then add two fresh tablespoons of olive oil. Over medium heat, add the garlic, and twenty seconds later, add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent about four minutes. 

Add the asparagus and saute until tender, generally just a few minutes if the stalks are small and fresh. Add a half teaspoon of salt, some freshly ground pepper and then add the pancetta/bacon back in the saute pan. Stir and cook for a minute or more.

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of salt,Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente (test by constantly tasting). Reserve a cup oif the pasta liquid and drain.

Combine the pasta with the sauce over a medium heat. Add the parmesan and a tablespoon of butter. Stir thoroughly. If it is not moist enough add some of the reserved liquid. Taste for salt and peooer. Cover the pan and turn up the heat to high for one minute. This gets the pasta steaming hot, as it should be.

Serve on heated plates. Add the parsley and extra parmesan as a garnish. Enjoy!!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Cannelloni are one of the jewels of Italian food. We made cannelloni our holiday extravaganza this year. We had a "factory" going, taking sheets of pasta, cutting them in to five inch squares, cooking the squares, adding our favorite filling which is a veal and sausage filling, rolling them up and then having them ready for immediate baking or, equally doable, freezing them for easy access for a later day. We made fifty the first go-around.

It doesn't have to be holiday time -- actually Valentine's Day is coming up soon, so why not for that love-feast? All the details are at There are step by step illustrated instructions on making the cannelloni, plus a variety of fillings for your choice. Go to:

Happy Cannelloni days!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

farfalle, sausage, mushrooms and peas

This is such a simple and classic pasta dish: doesn't take long to do, great taste treat, and a favorite with grandchildren. If you can find it, the classic Milanese or Monza pork sausage, Luganega, will be ideal here.

for the sauce:

five tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
two cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
one pound Luganega or other sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from the casing and    roughly chopped
eight ounces white or brown mushrooms, Crimini preferred
one ten-ounce package of frozen peas, defrosted
salt and freshly ground pepper
two tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
one tablespoon butter
one half cup freshly grated parmesan

for the pasta:

one pound of farfalle (one evening, out of the farfalle, we substituted rigantoncini. Worked perfectly)

De-stem the mushrooms and slice them in thin slices.

Put two tablespoons of olive oil into a saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausage; turn the heat to medium high, and cook until starting to brown. Break up into lumps with a wooden spoon while cooking. Keep the wooden spoon action going to make sure the lumps are all gone. Takes about five minutes. Set aside.

Heat two more tablespoons of olive oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and cook for sixty seconds. Add the mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms lose their moisture and are soft. About five minutes. Add the defrosted peas and continue cooking for another two minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Return the sausage to the pan, stir, and cook another two minutes, until all the flavors are intermingled.

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to  boil. Add two tablespoons of salt and stir. Continue cooking until al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta liquid. Drain.

Combine the pasta with the sauce over a medium heat. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of butter and stir well. Add reserved pasta liquid if needed to keep moist. Taste for salt and pepper. Here we take a minute: cover the pasta, turn up the heat, and steam for sixty seconds. This insures that the served pasta is hot!

Serve on heated plates with freshly ground parmesan. Enjoy!