Jul 29 2009

Techniques of Italian Cooking at ICE

by Marisa

ICE tableThe Institute of Culinary Education on 23rd Street in NYC offers this recreational course a few times each semester. Two years back I had taken Techniques of Fine Cooking about the classic French way of doing things and enjoyed it. I decided to check out this class that was tailored to my favorite cuisine. For four and a half hours a day/ five days straight you learn how to prepare authentic Italian menus.

We worked on antipasto, salad, vegetable, pizza, risotto, meat, dessert and of course pasta was on the forefront of the menu! Most of the recipes I was already familiar with in my own kitchen but I definitely was able to take away some new ideas and add to my rolodex of staple recipes. For instance, how does Ragu Napolitano sound? A sauce filled with Italian sausage, beef rump simmering in red wine, plum tomatoes, olive oil and a bouquet of herbs. Or Pasta ‘ncaciata? A Sicilian eggplant and cheese Timbale, Italian for “drum”. There were also delicious lamb, pork and chicken dishes and enough desserts to give you a sugar rush. But what I found most interesting and useful were the days we made fresh pasta and gnocchi-three ways! My favorite was the Gnocchi Di Ricotta Con Sugo De Funghi – they are made from ricotta cheese and a lovely, creamy sauce that is a heavenly mixture of exotic mushrooms. Admittedly, I work and grew up with mostly dry pasta (as most Southern Italians do) so this was a real treat for me. Easier and quicker than expected, this will definitely be a new practice in my kitchen as soon as I get that Kitchen aid pasta attachment. Presents are welcome.

Although more recipe intensive than technique driven, I found this course helpful and fun. One suggestion, although not as profitable for the school, would be to decrease the size of the class so each student can get hands-on experience with all recipes. Overall, a no lose course – knowledgeable Chef instructors (Hello, Loren Banco!), quality ingredients, a free, fresh and filling lunch with unlimited wine and leftovers to take home…can’t beat that! Below are some photos to entice you further.

ghnoccicream saucegnocchipasta sheetsfettfresh fettragudrum

Jul 11 2009

Pasta Baby

by Marisa


Proof that my love affair started early! Even to this day a satisfying bowl of pasta makes me this happy. As you can tell it doesn’t have to be complex. Ditalini pasta and sauce probably won’t make an appearance on Mario Batali’s next menu but I am sure he would also agree that simplicity is best. I still believe that like all Italian food, less is more. The key is having few but high quality ingredients. This is the pasta sauce I grew up on and through my college and non-cooking years my mother, Maria, would prepare in batches for me containers of  sauce so whenever I wanted could get a taste of home.  It is this ‘plain sauce’ as it’s called in my family (NEVER GRAVY!)  that made me fall in love with all food! Included is my mom’s sauce recipe, a much prized possession as people in our hometown paid money for it. Best with some capellini or penne and topped with freshly grated parm, cracked black pepper and some basil chiffonade…perfection!

  • sautee olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan + a little more) with garlic until golden
  • add canned crushed tomatoes and basil
  • add salt (go easy)  and pepper(fresh ground)
  • bring to boil and then quickly turn to simmer
  • adjust salt during cooking if needed
  • cook at least 1 hour until consistency is as desired, add tomato paste to thicken if needed and cook out

Jul 7 2009

Pasta dish of the week: Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage

by Marisa


Orecchiette or ‘little ears’ in Italian is a fun shape to work with. My favorite thing to marry it with is ground Italian sweet sausage and broccoli rabe. Super simple but still a hearty and satisfying dish. It finally becoming summertime, I like to try to keep things lighter sometimes so in this version I used Italian style turkey sausage which I find a close healthy alternative to the real thing. With the use of crushed red pepper flakes to give it some kick, giving a more mild heat vs just using Italian hot sausage which can become overpowering.  The bitter green of the broccoli I could eat with anything, hands down my favorite veg! Top it off with a sprinkle of some cheesy, salty parm and maybe a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and you are set.

Try it tonight with this fast and easy recipe….


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, stemed and trimmed
  • 1/2  pound orecchiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound turkey Italian-style sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • Grated Parmesan to taste

Directions (yields 2-3 servings)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant then add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until brown.

Meanwhile, cook the broccoli rabe in a pot of boiling salted water for a minute. Transfer the broccoli rabe into cold water to shock it and stop the cooking process, leaving it bright green. Save the cooking water and bring it back to boil and add pasta. Should take about 9 minutes to cook the orecchiette so it is al dente, strain.

Strain the broccoli rabe and add it to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat; then add the pasta and stir in the cheese.

Jul 2 2009

Union Square’s Pasta Museum: Buitoni Ads

by Marisa

ravoli with bacon

Introducing Buitoni’s new ad campaign. I found it while exiting the Union Square station on the day I started this blog…it was kismet.

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