Posts Tagged ‘bell peppers’

Good news for Tom and me! After 18 years in hardcover and paperback, our book The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen has finally appeared in digital format for the Amazon Kindle. (With Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apples iTunes versions soon to follow, we hope.)

To celebrate the occasion, I decided to make several recipes from the autumn section of the book for a dinner party that we had already scheduled for the first day of fall. The main course would be Roasted Veal Shanks. There’s a small personal irony there, because the prelude to the digital book’s recipe for that dish has a silly typo, a minor error that is like a dagger through the heart of an author. The section called “About Veal Shanks” now appears as “About Veal Thanks.” Thanks to you for that, Grove Atlantic Press!

Well, the dish is lovely, anyway. I made two other dishes from TSOTIK (as we call it) to precede that main course, and as accompaniments to it, two more.

For cocktail snacks I made Frollini al Finocchio, tiny biscuits flavored with ham, cheese, and fennel seeds. They’re easy to make, very tasty, and very enjoyable light accompaniments to an aperitif of white wine or sparkling wine. Also, they have the virtue of keeping well for weeks in a tin.

The pasta course was Spaghetti alla Ciociara, a sprightly recipe that showcases the season’s best bell peppers. It’s basically a colorful sauté of red, green, and yellow peppers, along with some tomato and black olives. The pasta is finished in the vegetably sauce, and grated pecorino romano cheese is stirred in at the end. Because of the acidity of the peppers, white wine matches best with it, though you won’t be punished if you prefer red.

Veal shanks always make a good company dish; you don’t have to deal with the problem of “rare vs. well-done” meat preferences. In Italy, one of the favorite ways to treat them is to roast them whole, but that’s a bit awkward to manage in a home kitchen, given how big American veal shanks are, so Tom and I worked out a method of roasting smaller cuts of the shank (the size used for osso buco) that provides all the flavor of the whole roasted joint and the additional pleasure of access to the marrow.

When the veal pieces are half roasted, I take them out of the pan, add a mixture of chopped vegetables and herbs to the pan juices, replace the meat, pour on white wine, and finish the roasting. That procedure makes a delicious pan gravy. The entire dish can be made in advance and reheated in the oven at serving time. You can see the whole recipe here.

To accompany the veal, I made Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans with Green Sauce. The potatoes are another dish that can be prepared well in advance. They’re boiled in broth; mashed with milk, egg, and grated parmigiano; transferred to a gratin pan with more parmigiano; and gratineed either immediately or hours later. The beans – we were able to get our favorite flat beans, sometimes called Romano beans – do need to be done at the last minute. They’re boiled, drained, and tossed with a zesty hot dressing made with olive oil, wine vinegar, a little minced garlic, and a lot of minced parsley.

The veal and its luscious marrow called for medium-bodied red wines, which we went on to finish with a small selection of cheeses – for which of course we don’t have recipes. Dessert – not from TSOTIK – was a simple plum crunch with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We think the best meals end simply: Despite the Great American Sweet Tooth, if your dessert is the high point of a dinner, something went seriously wrong.

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