Saturday, May 22, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
My mother made good olive salad also, but she often stared with bottled olive salad and added chopped black olives from a can. She added mashed anchovies which really punched up the flavor. She also added whole thinly sliced lemons which were very edible having marinated in the olive oil. mmm.
So I have altered the recipe to fit my tastes. I have kept the anchovies and lemons, use good black olives and I have added artichoke hearts. Obviously this is a work in progress for each generation. I remember both of them when I eat it.
3 Generation Olive Salad
1 anchovy filet
2 cups, coarsely chopped black olives (the better the olives, the better the salad) This does not mean what is sold in a can as chopped black olives, it means black olives that you have chopped.
3 cups, coarsely chopped cured green olives with pimento
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced raw carrot
1 very very thinly sliced lemon, including any juice that can be saved
Boiled quartered baby artichokes, about 10 artichokes, fresh is best – This is about 2 packs of frozen, boiled and cooled. Canned can be substituted in a pinch, but the taste is inferior
1 cup finely diced raw cauliflower (optional)
4 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup capers, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped, or 6 tablespoons dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Mash the anchovy with a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bottom of the bowl you are using. Mash until it totally dissolves into the oil. Add all ingredients except olive oil and oregano. Mix the ingredients. Add enough olive oil to just barely cover the mixture. Use a fruity olive oil. Stir well so that the mixture is even, without clumps of like ingredients. After an hour taste the mixture. If it needs more acidity add a bit more lemon juice to taste. Because of the olives and anchovy this mixture will probably not need additional salt, but add it if you like.
This recipe is very forgiving and flexible.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
As a teenager, my mother wanted to know how to make Nanny’s biscuits, so she asked for the recipe. Nanny didn’t have a recipe. She didn’t use recipes. She grabbed fistfuls of flour, spoonfuls of Crisco, heaping piles of collard greens, and never measured or timed a thing.
So my mother decided that she would write a recipe for Nanny’s biscuits. My mom was either in high school, or just out of high school, and she was on her annual summer vacation visit to Nanny’s kitchen in Paris, Tennessee. My mother followed Nanny around the kitchen one day while she made biscuits. Nanny would grab a handful of flour. My mother would stop her, hold out a measuring cup, and ask her to drop the handful of flour into the cup. Of course, it was never an exact ½ cup or 2/3 cup, but some nebulous measurement in between. Nevertheless, my mom would write down the measurement as best she could, wave Nanny on, and Nanny continued cooking. My mom continued this way with the buttermilk and bacon grease. She watched her work the ingredients into a dough, and wrote down Nanny’s descriptions. “You want to incorporate the flour into the buttermilk and grease until all the four is moist, but not too wet, not too sticky.” My mom watched her create a well in the flour with her knuckles; pinch the dough into ‘golf-ball sized pieces’; pat the balls with her knuckles into little disks; and so on. My mother followed Nanny, measuring, timing, transcribing every action.
She went home with the recipe. She bought the right ingredients. She followed her directions. To this day, they have never tasted the same.
You will also need too-many cooks. Three in a small kitchen should do. Make them related. A mother, father, and daughter should do well. And some Louis Prima to taste.
Take the mother and have her heat a medium soup pot over medium heat.
Take the daughter and have her fumble with a bouquet of parsley as she tries to determine exactly what constitutes a handful before cleaning and cutting all of it and throwing it into the food processor. It is best to put the daughter in charge of the part of the meal that is supplementary- the gremolata. She is only learning.
Take the father and put him in charge of the veal dumplings…sorry, meatballs… whatever you want to call them. Make sure the meat is really cold so that he complains about the fact that the meat is really cold as he dives with his tentative pair.
Since there are three cooks in a small kitchen, make sure there is little counter space to spare. The mother should be cutting her celery, carrots, and onions on the corner space by the stove. The father should monopolize the entirety of the space below the microwave and make it hard for the daughter to get the food processor out of the cabinet.
The daughter can use the space in front of the toaster to chop the parsley and garlic. You can have her unplug the toaster oven to use the outlet for the processor, but keep in mind she will probably forget and her parents will yell at her in the morning. Parents like these tend to use the toaster in the morning and assume that it’s plugged in. Children should not forget to restore the toaster plug because it will anger her parents unnecessarily, but more importantly, because they will want to sleep and extra hour in the morning.
While the mother is opening cans of cannellini and tomatoes puree over the sink so as not to spill on her white and blue tiled floor, the daughter will make the mistake of opening the anchovies incorrectly and get fish oil all over her shirt. This will probably ruin the shirt but the daughter shouldn’t care too much. The mother may fuss and make a small argument of things. Mothers tend to argue with their daughters over small disagreements such as these. If an argument happens, bring this argument to a medium boil and the mother will break the tension with some ridiculous remark and cause laughter.
If the expression was particularly funny, you have a good mother, the root of all good recipes. Mothers are best when they do silly things that entertain their family: facial expressions, certain noises, or say something funny in a funny voice. The daughters should repeat whatever made her laugh again and again until the argument has boiled over. Have the mother bring down the heat as she takes a sip of white wine before pouring the measured cup into the soup pot.
If the father is still complaining about the cold meat, have the mother get a pastry thing. If you don’t know what a pastry thing is, look it up in the “thing” glossary under “pastry.” Mothers often refer to “things” when they are too busy to say what the item actually is. You should understand the meaning of “thing” even if the meaning is changeable. This is the most important skill to learn in the art of cooking with your mother.
The father needs the pastry thing to combine the veal with the Italian breadcrumbs, and parmigiano romano cheese. He will save his hands from cold meat but his hands will be helpful to measure ingredients rather than venturing across the kitchen to get the measuring cups. Make sure he doesn’t forget the egg.
He might not forget the egg but he will certainly forget the nutmeg, which mustn’t be forgotten. He will probably have shaped half the meatballs to his wife’s specifications before realizing he forgot the nutmeg. He will have to do everything over again. Let father sit to the side while making meatballs and turn your attention to the other ingredients. The mother will also need time to look for her misplaced noodles as the daughter zests a lemon until it is perfectly naked. The gremolata ingredients are almost ready to be combined in the food processor.
Make sure the mother finishes preparing the stoup before the other two are done. She should watch carefully as each ingredient go into her pot, including undivided attention to an entire carton of chicken stock as it pours. Have her bring the pot to a moderate boil before the father places the veal meatball/dumplings into the pot to cook. She can sing Keeley Smith’s part during “That Old Black Magic.” Her husband can take Louis Prima’s part and the daughter can be sure her parents love each other.
After the song is over, the daughter will probably question when the meal will be ready to eat. Daughters are very anxious over their mother’s cooking. Especially osso buco, which is one of her, like, favorite meals ever! She can continue to zest the lemon while the father starts the dishes. The mother will thank him after for doing so, but he will not do all of them so there will be some things to clean up after the meal.
It should only take about 6 mother minutes to finish the stoop – a term that perfectly blends both “stew” and “soup.” This means the mother will sit in the living room talking with her husband and, stopping mid-sentence at the very moment it is done, she will let the family know. The smell should permeate the house. A good aroma defines a house. The table should be pre-set by the daughter. Have her place the now sliced naked lemon on the table, too. Forks, knives, spoons, napkins optional. The salt and pepper, although they may not be used in on this perfectly crafted dish, should take their place on the table as they always do. Make sure the father cuts the bread because he does the best job. The daughter, having made more gremolata then necessary, can spread over it the semolina bread with sweet cream butter and some of the extra romano.
Get your own dish. Serve yourself out of a shallow bowl with some gremolata, which might be a little fishy because the daughter put in too many anchovies. Just a tablespoon. A glass of seltzer water with some fresh squeezed lemon would pair well with the meal.
Finish with a compliment to the mother, because it doesn’t matter that she only cooked 33% of the meal, this is her house, her kitchen, and her culinary genius. Praise her as all mothers should be praised. Clear the table for her and finish the unwashed dishes.
Yield: Four perfect servings, one for each of the too-many cooks and you.
"How to Make Zuppa Osso Bucco" was first published in Interrobang Magazine's inaugural issue in the Spring of 2009.
CORINNE WAHLBERG is a novice of everything and a master of nothing. A graduate of Rhode Island College, she recently moved to New Orleans to make art and make art happen: theatre, music, writing, et. al. To read more musing on food, visit her baking blog at http://baketolive.blogspot.com/