Pasta alla Norma

Pasta Alla Norma

Feeds 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound good-quality rigatoni, paccheri or calamarata pasta

  • 2 baby to midsize eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch lengthwise

  • 10 Roma or on-the-vine tomatoes, halved

  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Regular olive oil for frying (or use air-fried method)

  • 1/4 cup white or rosé wine

  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Equipment

  • Pot large enough for boiling pasta

  • Saucepan 

  • Frying pan for the eggplant (or sheet tray with rack, if air frying)

  • Strainer or large slotted spoon.

Method

  1. Lay out the slices of eggplant and generously salt, allowing moisture to come to the surface. Allow to sit for 30 to 90 minutes.

  2. Wipe off the moisture and salt with a paper towel.

  3. Cook eggplant with either the air-fry method or the shallow-fry method. Hold the slices in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.

  4. Set the pot of water to high heat

  5. In the saucepan, add 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. With a pinch of salt, simmer the garlic, stirring or angling the pan for full submersion. Just when the color of the garlic begins to change, turn off the heat and slowly add the wine, stirring to combine. Once the temperature has dropped, as indicated by the end of potential splattering, return the pan to medium heat, add the halved tomatoes and cover the pot.

  6. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove the lid, break up any large pieces of tomato with a wooden spoon and continue to cook at a moderately high simmer.

  7. Salt your pasta water generously, add the pasta and set a timer for 2 minutes shy of the shortest cooking time on the box.

  8. When the timer goes off, drain and transfer the molto al dente pasta to the sauce. Cook for the remaining 2 minutes. If the sauce seems too watery, add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour to the sauce, stir well and simmer for an additional 45 seconds.

  9. Add three-fourths of the cheese to the pot and stir well.

  10. Line two warmed plates with the oven-warmed eggplant slices and scoop the pasta on top. Finish with the remaining cheese and fresh basil leaves, if desired.

  11. Turn on Vincenzo Bellini’s “Norma.”

  12. Enjoy. 

Pasta alla Norma

Coconut Curry Corn Chowder

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to 4 ears of corn, cooked and removed from cob (or one 16-ounce bag frozen corn, cooked)

  • 10 ounces baby red potatoes, quartered

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or peanut oil

  • 5 anchovy fillets

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1/2 tablespoon green curry paste

  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated

  • 1 (16-ounce) can coconut milk

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

  • 1 tablespoon sugar or palm sugar

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  2. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add oil, onions and anchovies. Saute until the anchovies have dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste, ginger and coconut milk. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. 

  3. Stir in cooked potatoes and corn, followed by vegetable stock and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover; allow to cook for about 10 minutes. 

  4. In a serving bowl, add some cherry tomato halves. Pour chowder over the top, and garnish with tarragon before enjoying.

     

Nonno's Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

equal amounts 1 onion, carrots + celery

3 cloves garlic for every 1 onion, finley minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

equal amounts cannelini beans and red kidney beans

1/2 large can tomato puree

pinch of rosemary

3 times as much oregano as rosemary

to taste salt and pepper

to adjust thickness chicken or veg stock

to taste romano cheese

cooked pasta #40 ditalini (DeCecco)

 

1. Saute in olive oil: onions, carrots + celery until onions are translucient. Add garlic and cook till golden

2. Add oregano, resemary, salt and pepper. 

3. Deglaze with white tine and cook until alcohol is boiled off. 

4. Add tomato puree and cook for about 3 minutes. 

5. Take rinsed canned beans and puree half. add puree and whole beans to pot

6. Adjust thickness with stock

7. Add grated Romano cheese

8. Add pasta and cook for 3 more mintes. 

9. Serve with extra romano cheese

Pasta e fagioli Celenza
Pasta-e-fagioli-1.jpg
Pasta-e-fagioli-2.jpg

Ricotta Gnocchi

Serves 2-4

 

INGREDIENTS: 

1C ricotta

1 egg

1 1/4C AP Flour + another 3/4 cup for dusting and adjustments. 

5 garlic cloves, halved

3TBSP Olive oil

6 medium sized on the vine tomatoes (quartered) or a container of cherry tomatoes (halved)

red pepper flakes

 

EQUIPMENT:

medium mixing bowl

large pot for boiling water

sauté pan with a lid

rubber spatula for scraping

clean rag

slotted spoon

 

METHOD:

1: Add the egg and ricotta in the mixing bowl, use the spatula to combine them well. Add 1 1/4C flour and mix just until combined, try not to over work the mixture, this should take less than a minute. Form a log, sprinkle with flour and cover with a clean rag while you make the sauce

 

2: In the sauté pan over medium high heat add the oil, the garlic cloves, red pepper to taste and a pinch of salt. Angle the pan to fully submerge the cloves in the oil, keep them moving and sizzling. Once you see some color (3-5 minutes) add the Tomatoes and about a 1/4C of water, beer or wine. Cover and reduce the heat to achieve a light simmer. 

 

3: Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour, Press the dough ball into a flat disk about 1/2" high, cut strips 1/2" wide from the dish and roll each into a rope about the thickness of a finger. Using the table knife cut pieces from the rope about 1/2 inch long. For added texture, hold the handle of a fork with its tines touching the work-surface and backside exposed. Take a gnocco and press it with your thumb into the back of the fork’s tines and downward toward the counter. Repeat with all gnocchi and continue through the remaining dough. 

 

4: Bring a pot of water to the boil

 

5: Salt the boiling water, swirl the water the slotted spoon and add the gnocchi, they will float to the top when ready. 

 

6: Remove the gnocchi from water and add to sauté pan with the sauce stir to combine. Finish with a grating of parmigiano reggiano and a little more olive oil. 

Celenza gnocchi

Spaghetti with Bottarga

Ingredients:

1/2 pounds spaghetti 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 pinch red chili flakes 2-4 anchovies 1/2 lemon, juiced 1-2 bunches arugula Bottarga STEPS: 1.) In lightly salted water, cook spaghetti for 1 minute less than the box instructs. 2.) Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, pepper flakes and anchovies to the pan. Cook until the anchovies dissolve, stirring to help melt them. Remove from heat and squeeze the lemon juice into pan; swirl to combine. 3.) With 30 seconds left on the pasta, add arugula to the pasta water and stir. Transfer all spaghetti and arugula to sauce pan. Turn heat to medium-low and toss, toss, toss! 4.) Remove to a plate. Grate bottarga directly overtop. Enjoy!

Equipment: 

Large pot for boiling spaghetti

saute pan

tongs

microplane

Method:

1.) In lightly salted water, cook spaghetti for 1 minute less than the box instructs.

2.) Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, pepper flakes and anchovies to the pan. Cook until the anchovies dissolve, stirring to help melt them. Remove from heat and squeeze the lemon juice into pan; swirl to combine.

3.) With 30 seconds left on the pasta, add arugula to the pasta water and stir. Transfer all spaghetti and arugula to sauce pan. Turn heat to medium-low and toss, toss, toss!

4.) Remove to a plate. Grate bottarga directly overtop. Enjoy!

 

 

Celenza Bottarga

Lamb Shank Red Curry

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound lamb shank

2 TBSP neutral oil like grapeseed

13oz coconut milk (about 1 can)

1 TBSP red curry paste

2 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

2 TBSP sweet or spice paprika

1C chicken stock

2 tsp fish sauce

 

EQUIPMENT:

medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan with a tight fitting lid

 

METHOD:

1: Set pan over high heat, add the oil followed by the lamb shank. Sear all sides well salting after the sear. 5-10 minutes. 

 

2: Lower heat to medium, remove excess oil if desired. Add the curry paste, garlic and bay leaves. Stir well until you detect the aroma of the curry. Add the can of coconut milk, paprika, fish sauce and chicken stock. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Add the shank into the liquid, adding more chicken stick if the lamb isn’t 50-70% submerged in liquid. Cover and simmer (braise) for 1.5 hours.

 

3: Remove the shank from the curry and set aside. Turn heat to high and reduce by 30%. Taste for salt, using fish sauce to add salt. Remove meat from the bone. 

 

4: Add the meat to a bowl or deep plate, pour sauce overtop, serve with coriander leaves. 

Celenza Red Curry

Illegal Spaghetti & Meatballs

Illegal Spaghetti and Meatballs. 

Because in Italy these two should never be on the same plate, no joke - they’ll start screaming and yelling, But everywhere else and especially in New York, Spaghetti and Meatballs are a red sauce staple - here’s how I make mine, simple and delicious. 

Ingredients:

8oz ground beef

8oz ground pork (if you’re not a pork eater double the beef, or use ground veal)

1oz of white bread, no crust

1oz (by weight) half and half

2 all spice berries, ground in a mortar & pestle, or between two napkins with a hammer

6 black pepper corns, or 3 twists of a pepper mill. 

1 TBS kosher salt (plus more for the pasta water)

1 TBS tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4c extra virgin olive oil

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes

6 fresh roma style tomatoes. 

4oz freshly grated parmigiano reggiano 

1lb good quality spaghetti like deCecco

Equipment: 

digital scale

mixing bowl

stock pot

heavy bottomed pot large enough to contain the sauce, meatballs and eventually pasta. 

cookie tray 

parchment paper

Method:

  1. Fill the stock pot with at least a gallon of water and set over high heat. 
  2. Combine the bread & the half and half, mix well until combined
  3. Add all of the ground meat, all spice, pepper, kosher salt and tomato paste - mix well until combined. 
  4. Form 1 oz balls, by weighing a piece of the mixture first and then rolling/forming the ball between your hands - they should be slightly smaller than gold balls. Set them onto the cookie sheet lined with parchment
  5. Heat your heavy bottomed pot over medium heat (250ºF) add the extra virgin olive oil and the meatballs, in batches if necessary - because they need about 1/2 an inch between each other. 
  6. brown on all sides, remove and set aside on the cookie tray (parchment removed). 
  7. Add the garlic to the oil, when fragrant add the crushed tomatoes and the fresh tomatoes. bring to a simmer
  8. Add the meatballs back in the the pot (now the sauce)
  9. Lower heat so that the occasional bubble breaks the surface. 
  10. When the water is boiling, add a a good handful of salt (about 1.5oz per gallon) 
  11. Dump the spaghetti in and give it a good stir - cook 2 minutes shy of the box’s instructions! 
  12. When you’re 2 minutes shy of the box’s instructions, add all the pasta to the sauce, and bring the heat back up - stirring continuously for, you guessed it, 2 minutes. 
  13. Add in the cheese and stir for for an additional 30 seconds. 
  14. The pasta and cheese will absorb a lot of liquid and thicken your sauce, if it’s too thick for your liking add some pasta water, and if you already dumped that, add some regular water that’s warm. 
  15. Serve with basil, parsley and/or a bottle of wine and some nice bread. Enjoy a dish that’s totally outlawed in Italy - but legal in all 50 states. 
 Delicious

Delicious

Pastasciutta Method

Pastasciutta is simply store bought, dried, boxed pasta. It is neither better nor worse than fresh home made pasta, rather a completely different beast. One which can and will be your best friend it you follow a few simple concepts.  

When purchasing dried pasta, you'll see a wide variety of shapes and prices between brands. As a general rule, pick the pasta shape that will do well with what you're going to be pairing them with. As an example, large rigatoni work well with similarly sized chunks of sausage, eggplant or butternut squash. These bulky ingredients would NOT pair as well with spaghetti or the smallest stelline. With this in mind, it becomes fairly obvious that dried pastas pair really well with hearty flavors and textures. The finest butter or seafood sauces are more suited to the delicate textures of homemade fresh pasta. I pair oil based sauces exclusively with dried spaghetti or linguine and almost nothing else - the action of twirling and the texture of multiple strands of pasta cooked perfectly al dente are heaven with oil-based sauces. 

When cooking pasta, I look for good texture, excellent flavor (of the pasta alone) and a marriage between the pasta and the sauce. To visualize this let's imagine a sponge, a pot of water and a pan of tomato purée. If we squeeze that sponge in our bare-hand, submerge it into water and release, it will soak up all of that water and be saturated. Now if we put it in the tomato purée, not a whole lot is going to happen - the sponge and tomato will remain seperate entites. However, if when submerging that pre-squeezed sponge into the water, we only release halfwayand then do the final release in the tomato purée, it will indeed soak up some of the tomato purée. Obviously the sponge is a metaphor for the pasta. The point is that; when cooking pasta, the marriage between pasta and sauce must be a strong, eternal bond. In fact in Italy, the pasta is the lead singer of the band, not the sauce (Stateside the pasta tends to be relegated to back up vocalist). Let's go over 3 simple steps for better pasta. 

1. Use an abundant amount of boiling water 10x the water by weight vs the pasta you plan to cook. This is will keep it from sticking to itself, not olive oil or any other hocus-pocus(if anything. the oil clogs the pores of the pasta preventing adhesion from the sauce, and it's a waste of olive oil). A rolling boil and lots of water are the secret to pasta strands that cook perfectly without sticking to each other. 

2. Salt the water like you mean it! A teaspoon of salt in the water? is that a joke? the water needs to taste like something. about 1-2% salinity is what you'll need for salt to do anything at all. Now, for the sake of ease, I'll use the metric system, this means that if you have 5 liters of boiling water, (5000g) you'll want to use 50-100g of salt! and no more than 500g of pasta (a little more than a box). it's a 100/10/1 ratio of water, to pasta to salt. this is why I say "make the water taste like the ocean" because it's more like a giant palmful of salt, rather than a teaspoon, that you should be dumping in the water. The best way to do this is to wait for the water to boil, add some salt, stir and allow the salt to dissolve and taste it. Yes, dip a spoon in, cool it off with your breath like mom used to de before giving you a spoonful of soup as a child, and taste it. In actuality, the ocean is too salty and you'll probably need to over-salt the water once to know where the correct level of salt is.. But - the pasta should taste flavorful and amazing right out of the water, this is how that's achieved. Lastly, keep in mind that 90% of that salt will stay in the water, so you're not going to be consuming 50-100g of salt, don't worry. 

3. Don't over cook it! I'm a fan of cooking 1-2 minutes under the lowest recommended cooking time listed on the box, this is where the sponge analogy comes in. the first 85% of the pasta's cooking is in salty water - and the last 15% is in the sauce, whatever it may be, with the occasional ladle of salty pasta water. this is the only true way to have an excellent marriage of pasta and sauce. enjoy. Oh, and serve it right away! 

Crispy Skin Fish Method

This is my method to simply cook a large salmon filet that will feed two or more people.

It's very important that prior to cooking, the skin of the salmon has been both scored with a knife (to prevent buckling under heat) & patted dry with a paper towel. Any type of fat that is added to the skin hereafter will be able to reach a much higher tempurature because of the lack of water moisture (which would limit temps from going above 212º until complete evaporation, at which point this fish might well be fully cooked and the skin soggy).

I like to use nothing more than slices of citrus, paprika and salt when preparing my salmon. More often than not, I'll heavily season the flesh side leaving the skin side totally bare and able to crisp, uninhibited by anything other than the cooking fat of choice (oil, butter etc.) 

There are 2 ways to go about this: the first is with an excellent heavy bottomed non-stick pan. Get it quite hot - add your fat and place the salmon skin side down in the fat. season the flesh side with salt, paprika and the slices of lemon. Try to cook 90% on the skin side - you can watch the heat come up the sides of the fish by monitoring the color change. A simple kiss of heat on the other side of the fish is optional. Aim to cook under temp rather than over. 

The second method is to place the lemon wedges on a sheet tray season the flesh side of the fish with salt and paprika and place it flesh side down, on top of the lemon wedges (which do double duty as a non sticking agent and a flavor agent). With the skin facing upward the slits that you've made will be staring you in the face - butter or salt or both in those slits are a great idea. The tray then is inserted about 6" below your broil, which will be set to high - cook for 5-7 minutes, again aim for under temp, you can always add more heat, but it can never be taken back.  

Regardless of which path of cooking you choose, the salmon should be presented on a family style platter, skin side up. Herbs such as tarragon, dill, basil, mint or parsley can be hard torn overtop or lightly dressed in a simply oil / vinegar dressing and then sprinkled over top. When slicing each piece it's important to allow the knife to work through the skin, gently saw until you've cut through without damaging it. This is my go-to method for cooking salmon, I hope you enjoy it, send me a message on instagram @FrankieCooks and let me know how it went for you.  

Below are photos of the oven broiled salmon (on a wooden board) The pan cooked crispy salmon in a pan - and the final result (on a plate).