Category Archives: Italian

Total Hack: Ridiculously Easy Panna Cotta

OK, I’ve already taken you through my revelation that panna cotta is a cheat, but now I have a fool-proof recipe to prove it once and for all:

• One quart of cream
• 1/2 cup sugar
• Flavorings such as vanilla, cinnamon stick, Chinese five spice, grated lemon rind, etc.
• Two packets of gelatin, dissolved in water

Bring the cream to a boil while adding sugar and flavorings. Once boil is reached, mix dissolved gelatin in cream. Stir it up, pour it into ramekins, leave over night to set. Before serving, cut around ramekins, pop onto plate or shallow bowl, then top with a citrus syrup (sugar dissolved in water over medium heat, with tangerine and/or lemon juice). Done. DONE. What did I tell you?

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Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me Panna Cotta Was a Cheat?

I enjoy the panna cotta. As you might already know, a month ago I attempted to make some from scratch, using a recipe from the hallowed Silver Spoon cookbook, aka Il Cucchiaio D’Argento, with which Italians have been making proper chow (ciao?) since the ’50s. Only thing is I failed. Why? Because I overthought it, and used an ancient egg-based recipe. Yesterday, retribution came, with a nudge from the Big Yellow Cookbook and a stinky packet of Knox gelatin. When you cheat, panna cotta è spigliata! Good thing everybody cheats, even restaurants. Continue reading

The Feast of February 13: Wooly Pigs, Racked Lambs, Ravicarbonaroli, Batter-Fried Salads and Panna Not So Cotta

Contrasted to the din and bustle of a restaurant, a home cook’s status is positively monastic–solitary, filled with not-entirely-quiet contemplation. So it was with eagerness and a bit of apprehension that I teamed up with my friend Noah (aka Mr. Pushpush) to cook our wives an Italian-slanted four-star restaurant-grade meal on the night before Valentine’s Day. It was a success, but not without its fair share of “oh shit” moments. Continue reading

Sous Veni, Sous Vide, Sous Vici

As you might have heard, I played around with the SousVide Supreme for a review on Gizmodo. Basically I spent two weeks vacuum sealing meats into plastic bags, then cooking them at precise temperatures–you should read my review for a more clear description.

As overwhelmed as I was by having such a chef-grade tool at my disposal, I did whip up some nice food, though managed to bomb a few dishes too. (Would it feel right if I nailed every challenge? This is about failing and dealing as much as it is about getting shit right.) Anyhow, here’s a quick rundown of my sous vide concoctions, with some commentary I didn’t/couldn’t include in my Giz piece: Continue reading

Spaghetti Carbonara: Their Pic, My Pic

I was leafing through one of the final issues of Gourmet and spotted this recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. What caught my eye was that atop its mound of pasta was a poached egg. I am not good at poaching, but since I am temporarily in possession of a machine that can make a perfect 148ºF egg, I was like, “Let’s do this thing.” At left, you can see Gourmet took a pretty picture, but mine may actually be better–both the shot and the food: Continue reading

10 Reasons Bolognese Is No Baloney

Whenever I ask Jenny what I should cook for guests, her #1 answer, no matter what time of day or night, is “Bolognese.” Sure, it’s tasty, but there are many reasons why Jenny likes me to do it. Ten in fact… Continue reading

Gnocchi Gnotes

The Holiday of Eating came and went, and with gut officially busted, I am collecting my thoughts. We didn’t go turkey+stuffing+sweet potatoes+broccoli casserole or creamed spinach or whatever this year. Instead we did rack of lamb+butternut squash gnocchi+spinach salad with pomegranate vinaigrette+crostini di fegatini. Treasonously Continental in the eyes of those Teabagging types, but plenty good and festive to us.

Not much to say about the rack of lamb besides “Hard to screw up” and “I screwed up anyway.” (Note to self: Now will you buy a damn digital thermometer, you asswipe???) But the gnocchi was a success/failure of a different color. A nice lively orange color. Continue reading