Thursday, December 20, 2018

CRAB SAUCE!!! From The Feast of the Seven Fishes Dishes

Nabaldee-Dabaldee Christmas Eve Crab Sauce

Serves 8
Remember the episode of the Soprano's when Tony and  Carmella where discussing being from Naples in the old country and the idiot son A.J., Chimed in, Naples? I though we were Nabaldee-Dabaldee?
If you have relatives from Naples, know what I'm talking about. If not, here is the explanation. The way the word Neapolitan is slurred out is by a second generation Italian American is Nabaldedon. There ya go.

Chef’s Note: Crab sauce is one of the Northeast things. Growing up in Connecticut, crab sauce was
ALWAYS served as one of the many dishes on that ridiculously large menu on Christmas Eve.
The crabs cook all day, making the house redolent with the sweet smell of the sea.
We always harvested buckets of blue crabs in the summer and then froze enough to
make the winter crab sauce. Fresh crabs are available at good fish markets and
Asian markets year round, but in a pinch a cluster of snow crab will work.
There is no actual crabmeat in the sauce, though you can add some
after the long cooked crabs have been fished out at the end of cooking.
Even though the hard crabs have been cooked to death, gnawing on them
and sucking the overcooked meat out of the shells is part of the messy ritual.
Get plenty of napkins ready.  

2 pounds dry spaghetti, imported please
8-10 blue crabs, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cans whole plum tomatoes
2 fresh or 3 dry bay leaves
Parsley for garnish
1 pound lump crab or claw meat (optional)

If your crabs are fresh they must be alive.
You have two options to end their life.
Method 1: (This method is the same for fresh or frozen crabs.)
The way with the most flavor is this.
Simply sear them in hot oil in your cooking pot a few at a time,
making sure they are touching the surface of the pan.
As they get red, remove them to a bowl and sear the rest in batches.
Reserve all the juices and get them into your sauce.
NOTE: They will keep moving for a while in the pan,
but they will also give off the delicious crab fat to the pan.
Method 2: This is for those of you who eat animals but live with guilt and loathing because if it.
(Get over it. Crabs are insects anyway.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Drop in the live crabs and cook for three minutes, or until they turn bright red.
Remove to a strainer and run cold water on them until they are cool enough to handle.
If your crabs are frozen you can skip this step.

Use a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.
Add oil to the pot and add the onions and garlic.  
Saute until shiny and soft but not brown.
Add the tomato paste and using a wooden spoon, stir it in well, allow it to fry a bit.
Stir in the white wine and mix it in well with the paste.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to get the wine/paste mix mixed in.
Rinse out the tomato can with 1/2  cup of water and add that too.
Puree the two cans of whole tomatoes in a blender and add those to the pot as well,
rinsing each can with a half cup of water,.

Add the crabs, a generous pinch of crushed red pepper and the bay leaves and bring to a rolling boil.
Once it boils reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for two to three hours,
adding a little water of it gets too thick.
Stir occasionally gently, trying not to break up the crabs.
After a couple of hours taste the sauce.
It should be sweet and tangy and have a strong aroma of crab.
If not, cook a little longer.  

Cook the spaghetti. While the spaghetti is cooking remove the crabs from the sauce
and put in a serving bowl. If using the canned crabmeat, add it now and stir it in.

To serve, put a pat of butter in each pasta bowl.
Top with cooked spaghetti.
Ladle on a generous amount of sauce.
Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve the crabs on the side with plenty of napkins.

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I also write food and wine blogs in Sante Magazine

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Handmade Cavetelli and Calabrese Sausage

Homemade Cavatelli and Bulk Calabrese Sausage

Chewy, satisfying Cavatelli is easy to make and is a family fun Sunday project. 
It is delicious with the crumbled Calabrese sausage (recipe below) and broccoli rabe or broccoli with olive oil and garlic but is also delish with a light tomato sauce or just butter and cheese. 

Make a double and freeze some for a quick weeknight dinner
1 cup plus semolina flour (plus more for dusting the pan)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch  of salt
about 1/2 cup of water

Mix together flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment.
Gradually add 1/2 cup water at medium speed dough forms. (If dough is too dry, add more water,
1 tablespoon at a time.)
Remove from the mixer to a very lightly floured board.
Knead dough until smooth and it springs back when gently pressed, about 5 minutes.
Wrap in plastic and let rest about 10 minutes.

Dust your board with semolina flour. Divide dough into 8 pieces; keeping them covered
with plastic wrap or a damp towel until ready to roll. Roll one piece at a time into a long rope,
about 1/3 inch in diameter, then cut rope into 1/3-inch-long pieces. Using a serrated steak knife,
firmly press each piece and pull dough toward you so it lengthens slightly and forms a curl in the middle.
Transfer pieces to baking sheets dusted with semolina flour. Repeat with remaining dough.
Cavatelli can be refrigerated, covered, up to 4 hours.
(Or freeze on sheet; once firm, transfer to a resealable bag and freeze up to 3 months.
There's no need to thaw before cooking.)
You can also roll the the same way on a Gnocchi paddle for a lined pasta.

Bulk Calabrese Sausage
Chef’s Note: Making “bulk” sausage or sausage without casing is easy and fun if you have your ratios right.
The only two crucial aspects to be accurate about are fat and salt. As far as chiles herbs and other spices.
Have fun! For good sausage flavor you need the meat to be about 20% fat.
That is why, if grinding yourself, an untrimmed pork shoulder is perfect.
Most ground pork available at the market is somewhere between 85-15 and 80-20% meat to fat.
Ask the butcher. As for as salt goes, it is NOT just a matter of taste.
The salt helps to control the moisture content if the finished product. In general, raw,  
uncured sausages contain from 1.5-2% salt. Get the calculator and punch in some numbers.
Or if you use the metric system you don’t even need the calculator:
You need roughly 2 grams of salt per 100 grams of meat.
if you want a consistent product, weigh out your salt.

5 Pounds  (80 oz/ 2268 grams) ground pork shoulder
40 grams salt (about 6-7 teaspoons)  
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablepoons fennel seed, whole or ground
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes


Mix all ingredients together well. Vacuum seal in one pound packages and freeze or refrigerate.

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Clam Bellies and Apizza is My Memoir Blog and Podcast
One Million Stringbeans is my food makers and industry Podcast

I also write food and wine blogs in Sante Magazine

Gluten Free Gnocchi by Ric Orlando

Ric Orlando's Gluten Free Gnocchi
Yes you can!
Gnocchi are simple potato dumplings, easily done gluten free! The most important aspect of good gnocchi is the cooking of the potatoes! If you boil them , they will absorb lots of water. Who wants a soggy potato? Baking them will concentrate the starches and keep your gnocchi together! 
I like my Gnocchi to have a little spring and chew to them and these will. I don't like super dense leaden gnocchi on one end of the spectrum, but I HATE the little airy pillows that are referred to as gnocchi on so many menus even more. Gnocchi are "Piatti Povere" or poor people's dish ---designed by Nonni to fill you up cheaply! They need a little body.


Potato meat from baked potatoes
rice flour
tapioca flour
xanathan gum

You’ll need about 5 or 6 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes to yield 1 pound of "meat". If you have more, make hash browns tomorrow.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out the cooked potato meat. (You can fill the skins with cheese, chili, bacon, or whatever stuff you think would rock and bake as another dish tomorrow.)
It is best to press the potato through a ricer or food mill. If you don't have one, put the potatoes in stand mixer and mix until there are NO LUMPS.  (Note: If you have cooked the potatoes in advance and they are cold, warm them up in the microwave for a minute and they will go through your ricer much easier.)
 Put the all of the ingredients in a mixer in order, one at a time and blend to make a smooth dough or work it on a rice floured surface by hand
Divide into 3 balls. Use rice flour on your surface and using your hands roll out into a ½” thick tube. It takes a little working of the dough but just think Play-Dough! There is no gluten so you can't over work the dough. Just keep working it until you have a nice smooth tube. Cut into ¾ inch lengths and blanch in boiling, well salted water.  Once boiled, coat with a lil oil and store up to 4 days refrigerated, or freeze indefinitely.

Here are two sauces that work well with these hearty potato gnocchi

Tomato Butter Glaze 
1 small can plum tomatoes, squished through your fingers, juice reserved
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled sliced thinly
2 tbls onion, diced small
salt and crushed pepper to taste
Italian parsley, chopped
3 tbls butter 
Grated Grana Padano or Reggianato cheese

In a heavy skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. When the onions are beginning to become golden, add the garlic and cook until it gets a little golden color as well. Add the tomatoes and their juice all at once and cook at a nice brisk simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Taste. Add salt and a little crushed pepper to taste.
When ready to serve toss cooked hot gnocchi with the warm sauce, add the butter, a handful of chopped parsley and more cheese and toss to coat .

Charred Tomato Amatriciana
6 medium ripe tomatoes
olive oil
1 onion, cut into thin, short strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 strips bacon, pancetta or guanciale, diced small
chopped parsley
crushed red pepper
Pecorino cheese
Preheat oven to 400.
Remove the cores from the tomatoes.
Put tomatoes on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until softened but not mush.
Remove from the oven and, using a blow torch, burn all of the skin until it is black and peeling.
Use a heavy skillet here, not a pot.
Add some olive oil and add the bacon. Cook over medium low heat until golden. Keep the fat in the pan.
Add the onions and sprinkle very lightly with salt. and caramelize, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add a pinch of crushed pepper to taste.
Add all of the tomatoes and any accumulated juices.
Turn heat to high. Using a spoon, break up the tomatoes as best as you can.
Cook for 4-5 minutes to “melt” and fold in  lot of parsley.
Toss with the cooked gnocchi.
Add plenty of cheese.
Serve hot!

Visit my Blogs and Podcasts!
Clam Bellies and Apizza is My Memoir Blog and Podcast
One Million Stringbeans is my food makers and industry Podcast
I also write food and wine blogs in Sante Magazine

Friday, August 10, 2018

Ric's Basic BBQ Brine and Rub

Ric’s Basic BBQ Brine and Rub

Brining and rubbing is the best way to achieve succulent BBQ where the flavor delivers from the crust to the core of your meat.
There a lot of variations on both but these are basics. I urge you not to use pricey things like exotic salts in the brine. Save that for your rub.
You shouldn’t brine things like a good steak that you may cook medium rare. Brining is best applied to slowly cooked meats like pork, beef ribs, turkey, game and chicken. You don’t so some much taste everything in the brine out front as much as feel it in the meats juices.
The special stuff is best used in rubs.

Basic Brine Recipe
1 cup salt
1 gallon water
¼ cup sugar
Other things to enhance?
Bay leaves, rosemary or fresh thyme for aroma.
Chopped onions
Allspice berries
Cumin seeds
Red wine ( for game)
Citrus slices (not juice)

FInd a vessel to brine in. You want to submerge your neat for at least 4 hours but not longer than 24 hours.
I find a small cooler lined with a garbage bag works great. The garbage bag makes clean up easy.
Mix your brine.
Submerge your meat and tie the top of the bag. If you don;t have enough room in the fridge just top with the bagged meat withice to keep it cool while brining.

My classic BBQ Rub.
Yes there a million variations on this but the essence is salt, pepper and sugar.
Those three components, combined with the fat of the meat and the tanginess of your sauce will hit ALL of your tastebuds!

Basic BBQ Rub
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cumin
1/4 cup ancho chile powder
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/2 cup ground black pepper
1 tbls  cayenne
1/4 cup chipotle powder
1 cups paprika
2 tbls celery seed
Rub this into your meat all over well before cooking.
after 10 hours at 190 degrees you''l have this!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Zoodles with Shrimp and Ramp pesto

Podcast Recipe
Episode 1


Episode 1 Recipe
Zucchini Noodles with shrimp and ramp pesto.
My recipes are easy, BUT I want to impart the experience I have gathered into your cooking. Too many cooks make make tasty food but just miss on technique. Chin up, don't be daunted, my recipes are not just lists of ingredients but roadmaps to cooking more professionally at home. 
 Among other things this recipe with teach you to add the cheese to pesto AFTER it is out of the food processor so it doesn’t get gummy, AND to par sear your shrimp before assembling the dish so they don’t get cooked to rubber!
This dish is just as easy to make vegetarian, and to make it vegan, substitute nutritional yeast for the Romano cheese to taste

2 large zucchini OR 12 oz pre cooked spaghetti
12 large wild gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
Olive oil and neutral oil like sunflower or safflower oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A handful of cherry tomatoes , cut in half
¼ cup good quality olives, pitted and roughly chopped if they are real big
1 bunch of ramps, about 8
1 small bunch basil leaves
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted golden brown, divided into two piles
¼ pecorino romano cheese
Juice of half as lemon

Zucchini noodles.
If you have a vegetable noodle cutter, break it cut and prep the zucchini noodles into spaghetti size strands. I have also seen vegetable noodles precut in local supermarkets recently as they are all the rage.
If you are doing spaghetti, put on some water and get it cooking; you know how.

Ramp Pesto.
Bring small pot of salted water to a boil.
Remove the roots from the ramps, then cut the stems right up to the beginning of the leaves into small pieces and reserve half..
Plunge the leaves and half of the stem pieces into the boiling water for 5 seconds and then remove them with a spider or slotted spoon and run cold water on them until they are cool. Leave the water at a simmer.
Use a towel and squeeze out and excess water from the ramps.
Roughly chop the leaves and put them in a food processor with the basil, parsley, half of the sunflower seeds and a generous pinch of salt.  Pulse the machine to chop up the mix.
Now add a few tablespoons of the neutral oil and a bit of water a few drops at a time while the machine is running to make a relatively smooth pesto.
Remove from the processor to a bowl and fold in the cheese.
Taste for salt and adjust to your taste.

The dish.
Use a large heavy skillet. Heat it with enough olive oil to coat the pan until shimmering. Add the shrimp to the pan, not overlapping,  and season with a little salt. Cook the shrimp on one side until they are golden, then turn them over. Cook just another 30 seconds and then remove them from the pan and reserve.
While the pan is still hot add the cherry tomatoes and the reserved chopped ramp stems and saute to soften.
Add the olives and return the shrimp to the pan.
Now stir in about three quarters of the pesto.
Top this with a big mound of zucchini noodles. They will reduce to about a third of their volume when they cook.
Add a 2 ounces of the salted blanching water the the pan.
Cover it with a lid and let it gently steam for about three minutes.
Remove the lid and toss to coat everything with the pesto.
Hit it with a squeeze of lemon.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve it garnished with the remaining sunflower seeds.
Serve the remaining pesto and more cheese on the side.

Macaroni and Farmstand Peas

Podcast Recipe Episode 2
Macaroni and Peas
Episode 2 Recipe
My affair with peas, fresh pea soup and mac and peas.
The first days of summer is around the corner and the local veggies are just starting to pop. It has been a slow start this year here in the Hud-Val. Though we have have a few hot days, the chilly weather has lingered a little longer than usual. But now, past mid june, the early pop of peas and strawberries are upon us. It’s time to get to work.


Peas are an interesting early crop. The can be so delicious when fresh, but are bland and starchy if handled incorrectly. The trick with peas is to use them as soon as you can. As soon as they are picked from the plant, they begin the process of turning the natural sugars into starches. So if you get peas from the farmers market and you want them to be magically sweet, process them right away.


I have learned my lesson. Too often I would buy a big bag of fresh peas from the farm stand, bring them home and throw them in the fridge.  Two or three days later I would deal with them.. The results were always chalky and bland, So there is no time to waste. Pick em, shell em and cook em, or blanch them for one minute, shock them in ice water and then freeze them.


Oh yea, then you have frozen peas! Well, that ain’t so bad. Most frozen peas are always sweet because they are processed and frozen within 12 hours of picking. And--they are great in recipes, especially quick pastas and rice dishes.
So don’t DAWDLE. Eat em of freeze em the day you buy them!


My absolute FAVORITE dish when I was a kid was
Macaroni and Peas.
It was my mom’s go to dish to fill me up on a busy school night.
Elbow macaroni with sweet peas, butter, Parmigiana and black pepper. Nothing else. It is so simple and so perfect. In an Italian home, this was our version of mac’n’cheese. But better, way better.


Bring your salted water to a boil.
Serves 4
1 lb elbow macaroni
2 cups fresh shelled peas.
Half a stick unsalted butter (2 oz)
¼ cup grated Parmigiana cheese, or sardo, or Sonoma jack ( nothing processed please!)
Plus more on the table
Black pepper to taste, push it!


Drop the elbows in amply salted water to cook.  
When they are about almost ready add the peas. When the pasta is done, remove it from the pot with a spider to a large serving bowl.
Add about 2 oz of the pasta water and the butter.
Stir. Now add the cheese and about 6 twists of the peppermill.
Stir and serve hot.
Hit it with fresh grinds of black pepper and more cheese as you go.



Hudson Valley Garlic Festival Recipes for 2019

Sunday, September 29th I am back at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties cooking some garlic recipes. These two side dishes are ...