Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Fed By Silver Spoon, Part Two
Seven years ago, I fell in love.
With Isaac? No, not with Isaac...I hadn't even started dating him yet.
Seven years ago, I fell in love with Italy after only three weeks of time spent together; three short weeks, but three of the most beautiful weeks I've ever had in my life. I travelled to Italy with my parents and my aunt & uncle, and were escorted around by my cousin who was a European resident at the time, so though we did do some of the typical tourist stuff, we got to explore the country alot more than if we had gone on some tour package. Wherever we went, I loved seeing the passion the Italians have about life, about love, about family, about food. I fell in love so hard that I vowed that I'd be back.
Well, I haven't yet. But I will.
With all of this in mind, purchasing a copy of The Silver Spoon (newly translated English edition) at Costco the other day was a no-brainer. On one end of the authentic stick, this "bible of authentic Italian cooking"--this must-have item in the Italian kitchen--has recipes for stuff like calf's head and brain sauce. But on the other end of the authentic stick, it's got recipes for the simple yet flavorful foods that Italy is known for. I think Padua was our first stop in Italy, and I remember my aunt asking where they had pizza and spaghetti (you know, the kind you'd find in your local mall food court); I on the other hand, was happy as could be sitting on a ledge eating a simple sandwich of tuna, arugula, and sliced boiled egg on buttered bread while watching all the people go by. I still rave about the primi I had Genoa that consisted simply of a pasta and squid ink sauce.
As there wasn't a big chance that I'd be going for the calf's head as the first recipe to try, I decided to go the simple route and cook Spaghetti with Capers. The recipe called for a whole salted anchovy, but as that was way too much trouble to find, I went ahead and just used a couple of canned anchovy fillets which worked perfectly fine. I also added a few squirts of lemon juice and some grated parmesan.
Spaghetti With Capers
(adapted from The Silver Spoon)
-1 salted anchovy, head removed, cleaned & filleted, soaked in cold water for 10 min and drained OR 1-2 canned anchovy fillets
-4 tbsp. olive oil
-2 garlic cloves
-2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
-12 oz. spaghetti
1) Heat the oil in a pan.
2) Add the anchovy and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the anchovy has disintegrated and the garlic has turned golden brown.
3) Remove the pan from the heat, discard garlic and add the capers.
4) Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in large pan of salted boiling water until al dente.
5) Drain, toss with the sauce, add lemon juice and parmesan to taste, and serve.
The funky saltiness of the anchovies plays with the lemony tartness of the capers so well. So simple and so tasty. This is the kind of Italian food that I love.
On the side, I served some baby broccoli sauteed with garlic, red chile and olive oil. I wanted to follow one of the broccoli recipes in the book, but decided not to and just do it on my own. I became a little wary when two of the broccoli recipes asked for the broccoli to be cooked in boiling water for 15 minutes. A little lost in translation perhaps? Because if I cooked any broccoli in boiling water for a whole 15 minutes, it'd turn to mush. Maybe that's the way the Italians do it? Probably not, but I guess I'll just have to go back to Italy and find out. Either that or try alot more of these recipes, which I definitely intend to do!