Our first book was Lily Prior's novel La Cucina, subtitled A Novel of Rapture. We follow our heroine Rosa through the seasons of her life, beginning with the harsh winter she loses her first love Bartolemeo to a blood feud. Rosa purges her soul through her cooking. Who of us has not salved a broken heart with crusty loaves of bread, nibbles of freshly-baked cookies, or pots of braised meats and vegetables? While the spring of her life does not awaken until nearly 15 years later, Rosa meets a kindred spirit in L'Inglese. No longer using her kitchen as catharsis, Rosa enters a period of sexuality matched by her culinary creations. For a light read that is sure to "stir your juices," pick up a copy of La Cucina and discover for yourself how it resolves.
Now it was time to get down to some serious use of this wonderful cheese which reminds me of a cross between provolone and asiago. I decided to use one of my favorite pastas--cavatelli--with the Bolognese-style meat sauce I have made since I purchased my copy of The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan back in the early 70's. This incredible meat sauce does not freeze well, so must be used within a few days of making it.
Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style
2 tbs. chopped yellow onion
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter
2 tbs chopped celery
2 tbs chopped carrot
3/4 lb lean ground beef (chuck)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes (San Marzo is my pick), roughly chopped with their juices
I use my wonderful LeCreuset to make all my sauces.
- Put the chopped onion in with the oil and butter and saute briefly over medium heat until just translucent
- Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for about 2 minutes
- Add the ground beef, crumbling it with a fork; add 1 tsp salt and cook just until the meat loses its raw color; add the wine and turn the heat up to medium high; cook until all the liquid has evaporated
- Turn the heat back to medium, add the milk and nutmeg and cook until the milk has evaporated, stirring frequently
- Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly; when the tomatoes start to bubble, turn the heat down to the barest simmer and cook uncovered for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, stirring occasionally
- Taste and correct for salt
After cooking the fresh cavatelli and topping it with this flavorful ragu, I topped it generously with grated cacciocavallo. A few stirs and it melted beautifully. Along with my new, favorite garlic bread--use roasted garlic with just a bit of butter--I toasted Rosa and L'Inglese and added cacciocavallo to my arsenal of foods of love.