Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Brother Joe

How do you say goodbye to your last sibling after you've already lost a brother and sister? 

How do you say goodbye to the big brother who held your hand from the time your were little and was always there for anyone in need?

How do you say goodbye to the little boy born in Italy, who easily adapted to life in the United States from the age of four, to become a college graduate, a successful businessman and community volunteer? 

 How do you say goodbye to the handsome sailor who served his adopted country proudly, and whose little sister still has all the bracelet charms he brought home to her from his tours of duty all over the world?

How do you say goodbye to the brother born on the eponymous St. Joseph's day, who cherished his Italian ancestry and his family in Italy and the U.S.?

How do you say goodbye to the man who loved spending time outdoors in nature or with family, including the large group of cousins to whom he always stayed close?

How do you say goodbye to the man who was never happier than when he became a grandfather, to his beloved Emilia?

How do you say goodbye? 

You say it with a heavy heart and with sadness, but with the knowledge that he made the world a better place just by example.

 You say it with love for the years you were lucky enough to have him as a brother, and the knowledge that his suffering is finally over.

Ciao, ciao, carissimo fratello. 

May God keep you in his embrace.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Piccolo Farrotto

If you're not already familiar with Anson Mills, you should be. I first heard of them on a trip to Charleston last year when I bought a package of grits at a farmers' market there. It's a company founded on the premise of bringing quality flavors from heritage grains back to the forefront of American palates.

I was really impressed when I first tried their grits last year and wrote a post about shrimp 'n grits here. In the last few months I've have had the opportunity to try several other of Anson Mills' products, due to a generous gift sent to us by our friends Ken and Cathy, who live in South Carolina. The package contained everything from white rice, to red beans to polenta. Even the white rice, which you'd think would be standard fare, was exceptionally good. 

I was really curious to try the farro piccolo, which looks like a stubbier version of farro. Most farro sold commercially has been "pearled," reducing its cooking time. The trouble is, it also removes the bran layer, where all the flavor is, leaving nothing but pure starch. Anson Mills does not remove the bran layer, but in order to speed up cooking time (which can take up two hours for farro), it suggests a very clever technique, which I followed. You simply place the grains in a food processor and pulse for a few minute, in order to crack the bran layer. 

It works beautifully, but don't expect the farro to cook as quickly as minute rice. It will still take from 45 minutes to an hour to cook, but it's so worth the effort to achieve the creamy, flavorful dish you'll want to eat over and over. 

Anson Mills' website has lots of recipes using their products and I adapted one of them here, adding a few ingredients of my own, including part of this round zucchini from my garden. 

Mince everything and sauté in some butter and olive oil.

I had some roasted red pepper so I added that in too.

I don't have a photo to show you of the grains being stirred in, but if you've ever made risotto, you'll cook it similar to that, adding the grains and some broth, a little at a time.

 As a reward for your patience, you'll end up with a hearty, delicious and packed-with-nutrients-meal that tastes nothing like the "pearled" farro in supermarkets. It's so good, you'll wish you had an endless bowl.

 Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Piccolo Farrotto

(recipe adapted from Anson Mills)

printable recipe here

6 ounces (1 cup) Anson Mills Farro Piccolo

1 quart chicken stock (or beef stock or vegetable stock)

1.25 ounces (2 1/2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

2 T. olive oil

1 large shallot, minced (3 tablespoons)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 bay leaf

1/3 cup finely diced celery

1/3 cup finely diced carrot

1/2 cup finely diced zucchini

1/4 cup roasted red pepper, cut into bits

2 ounces (1/2 cup) finely grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

    1. Turn the farro into a food processor and give it ten 1-second pulses to crack some of the bran that encases the grains. Transfer it to a small bowl.


      Bring the stock to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and keep the stock just below a simmer as you cook the farro. If you need more liquid at the end, use hot water.

    3. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 3- or 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, celery and zucchini and cook until softened somewhat. They will continue to cook with the farro, so don't cook them fully now. Add the red pepper and the farro, increase the heat to medium, and stir until the grains are hot and coated with butter, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced to a glaze. Add the bay leaf and 1 cup of hot stock and stir once to make sure the grains are covered with liquid. Cook the farro, uncovered, at the barest simmer; when the liquid has been almost entirely absorbed and the farro begins to look dry, add another ½ cup of hot stock, stir once, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the farro once again begins to look dry. Cook the farro in this fashion for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add stock as needed, until the grains have expanded and are tender throughout, about 20 minutes longer.


    Stir in the Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. The farrotto should look creamy, not wet or soupy. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the parsley and serve immediately.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Lobster Rolls

Quick - before summer's over, you have to make these. 

Big chunks of sweet lobster meat, seasonings and mayonnaise stuffed into buttered and toasted buns, combine to make these the best lobster rolls I've ever eaten - even in Maine! 

But homemade is always better, isn't it?

The Labor Day weekend is the perfect time for an indulgence before schedules get hectic and leisure takes a back seat.

You don't even have to cook the lobsters yourself, if your fish market, like mine, can do it for you. 

We brought home the cooked lobsters and let them cool long enough till we could extract the meat and mix with the other ingredients.

The recipe is from "The Jersey Shore Cookbook," by Deborah Smith, a book sent to me several months ago, but one that I put on the back burner until now. 

The cookbook features recipes from various restaurants up and down the coast of New Jersey, including this one, from Brandl restaurant in Belmar.

The recipe says it serves four, but we made two overstuffed ones instead. 

With some Jersey fresh corn and coleslaw on the side, it was one of my favorite meals of the summer. 

I hope you give it a try too.

 Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 

You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter. 

Lobster Rolls

recipe from "The Jersey Shore Cookbook" and Brandl restaurant, Belmar, NJ

serves four (or two, depending on how you generously stuff the rolls)

printable recipe here

3/4 cup mayonnaise

squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

a couple of pinches Old Bay seasoning

dash Worcestershire sauce

dash Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup diced sweet onion

1/2 cup diced celery

1 lb. shelled lobster meat in bite-size chunks (I used the meat from two 1 1/2 lb. lobsters)

softened butter

4 hot dog buns

Mix the lobster chunks with the rest of the ingredients. Chill, then stuff into hot dog buns that have been buttered and toasted.

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