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Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen: Bold Cooking from Seattle's Anchovies & Olives, How to Cook A Wolf, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, and Tavolàta Hardcover – September 21, 2010
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Fall into Cooking Featured Recipe from Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen: Mob-Hit Squid
Mob-Hit Squid is one of my favorite recipes in the book, clean fresh flavors, not too challenging to prepare and easy to serve at a party. It’s not so much "new" Italian as it is classic Italian with a playful name to make sure you know that cooking is meant to be fun for all. --Ethan Stowell
1 cup Controne Beans (recipe following)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
8 large squid, cleaned
1/2 pound Home-Cured Bacon (recipe following), diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the grill on high.
Pulse the beans in a food processor into a rough purée, then place in a bowl with the parsley and the olive oil.
Cut the tentacles off the squid bodies in one piece, keeping the legs intact and creating a large opening at the bottom of each squid body. Grill, turning once, until the tentacles are just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and give the tentacles a rough chop. Add the grilled tentacles to the bowl with the bean purée.
Place the bacon in a sauté pan over medium to medium-low heat and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the bacon slightly crisps and renders some of its fat. Drain the bacon and add to the rest of the ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Season with salt and pepper.
To stuff the squid, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, a resealable bag with a corner cut off, or a small spoon. Fill the bodies loosely because the stuffing will expand during cooking. After filling, close the top of each squid by threading a toothpick through twice.
Rub each body with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the squid until the bodies are opaque and the filling is heated through, 6 to 8 minutes.
1 cup controne beans
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
2 stalks celery
1 thick slice lemon
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Put the beans, garlic head, carrot, and celery in a large pot over high heat and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender. Remove the vegetables and strain the beans, then put into a serving bowl. While the beans are still warm, add the lemon slice, garlic clove, olive oil, and salt to taste. The beans will absorb the flavors and seasoning as they cool; they will be ready to serve after 10 minutes, but are equally good served at room temperature.
Note: To prepare the beans ahead of time, cook until tender, then cool in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator. Reheat in the liquid, then strain and proceed with the recipe.
Makes a heck of a lot of great bacon
2 to 3 tablespoons ground Aleppo pepper, to taste
3 pounds kosher salt
1 teaspoon curing salt
1 pound granulated sugar
1 pound brown sugar
Rub the pork belly top and bottom with the Aleppo pepper. Combine the kosher salt, curing salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large, nonreactive container and bury the belly completely in the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days.
Remove the belly from the refrigerator and discard the cure. Rinse the remaining cure off the meat and pat it dry. Set the belly on a baking sheet and loosely cover. Allow to sit in the refrigerator another 2 days.
Using a conventional smoker, smoke the belly until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. Once the belly is smoked and cooled, cut into 4 sections. Wrap the sections well in plastic wrap and foil and store in the freezer until needed, up to 3 months.
From Publishers Weekly
The title's "new" claim is apt; this is no red-sauce cookbook. The proprietor of three popular, ingredient-driven, Italian-inspired Seattle restaurants presents a collection of recipes rich with flavor and often featuring intriguing taste combinations. Cavatelli with cuttlefish, spring onion, and lemon has a hit of spice from chili flakes, and a roast quail is stuffed with pancetta, lacinato kale, and sage. As with any good chef-written book, readers will find gems of kitchen wisdom--like which parts of watercress to use in a salad and how to prepare beef to make carne cruda with the perfect texture--casually sprinkled throughout. A humorous chapter on cheese and desserts includes such intriguing presentations as La Tur with oven-roasted tomato; lemon verbena panna cotta with poached peaches; and roasted figs with chocolate-espresso ganache. Like the other recipes in the book, these showcase fresh ingredients and have a decidedly modern feel. (Oct.) (c)
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Like many a Swedish Italophile, this fine book hails from Berkeley. The good people at 10 Speed Press have come out with another winner. Yet I do not find Chef Stowell's "New Italian Kitchen" to be much Italian or even very new. There are lots of old goodies in here from allover presented in efficient effective recipes.
Steak Tartare is good old fashioned food. I am happy to read he argues against the lazy and sloppy reliance on the food processor. Too pasty. Too mushy. Learn to use a razor sharp knife, or better, one in each hand (Is this how chop steak became hamburger?) to slice, then cross cut and finally dice - two knives removes the steps. I am happier still how he makes it clear that your careful technique in trimming and chopping matter only if you use the best ingredients. Make the dish and love it or don't. Just do not go half way and hate it for a bad reason. I disagree only in that I do not find tenderloin is as suitable in flavor as it is in texture -- unless you are talking dry aged.
Chef Stowell is generous in his use of pictures. More importantly, He eschews glossy porno type that relies on well slicked fakery to get the juices flowing. He gives you basic black and white, un-posed shots to focus on technique. Do as you are shown and the rest shall follow.
Of course nothing sings "Italy" like fried Ipswich clams, rolled in newspaper. Well, Chef serves it up with aioli because, after all Seattle is really Genoa West. But it is only mayonnaise! I know he knows it is garlic that aioli from mayonnaise makes. Oh well, at least he makes use of canola oil for both high heat frying and for clean dressing. Just make sure it is not the cheap canola that is processed using cancer causing heavy metal. Go with an organic, such as Spectrum.
Chef Stowell Americanizes his Giardiniera by swapping out pepperoncini for jalapeno, but that is for you to choose. Oddly, aioli turns up a few pages hence, this time for soft shelled crab. This time, when referring to aioli, the book refers to a different page from where the aioli recipe had previously appeared. This one is a couple of hundred pages later and this time it says garlic aioli in the reference. So when I go to the back of the book to look, the page is entitled "Mayonnaise". Porca Miseria! At least, this time there is a little box on the page that indicates putting garlic in. Can somebody find me an editor?
But small matters as these cannot remove a single star. These are winning recipes. You get plenty of important advice. He knows his scallions, or should that be green onions. Ever the Swede he takes you through a whole sections of "Nibbles and Bits" sounding more like the dog food. But they make wonderful starters. On to soups, which he rightly calls the measure of a cook. Except summers, I make a lot of stock. Chef Stowell gives us soups that are suited to water to bring out the essence of things like artichoke. Farmer's Market soup is perfect for summer. Some faro and fava. And the sorrel and yoghurt. He recommends a good Greek yoghurt to stand up to the soup.
I use a lot of hard grating cheeses. I leave the last half inch to the rind and save it for soup. He does the same, as shown in the Parmesan Brodo, which takes near a pound of these end pieces.
On to the starches, Chef Stowell has the most useful photo sequence forming potato gnocchi I have seen. From the ricer on, he shows you every step. He even gives the fine points of using a gnocchi paddle or a fork. Do yourself a favor and make your ricotta at home, especially if you have access to high quality milk. Take his Seattle locality to heart. There is ample seafood included in this volume. He does not neglect what he calls his big meat dishes either.
Sure he has a duck egg fascination, and a touch of the now obligatory macho chef such as nettles, rabbit paws and goat. You might find the chance to do one. But he gives you six ways to do artichoke and knows real capers come in salt. I will be keeping this off the shelf for a while, and right in the kitchen heavy use pile. There are a number of complaints in the reviews about either the level of cooking experience or the availability of the ingredients. To be sure this is not a cookbook for a novice. If you are in the intermediate range, you will be able to do most of these as intended. Again, his illustrations fill in most gaps. As for the ingredients, I reviewed this book in Fort Worth, Texas. I was able to find two-thirds of them. Some others were just seasonally unavailable. For half of the rest we are given specified substitutes. When he calls for a Yukon Gold potato and not a baking potato it is because they cook differently. So that leaves perhaps a dozen or so exotic ingredients, including several types of mushrooms I had to go to Dallas to get. I hope that gives some context. The objections are real, just not worth three or four stars in demerit.
I don't do much cooking out of cookbooks, but enjoy them for inspiration. This is good for inspiration, but so many of the recipes use obscure or hard to find ingredients -- and very specific ingredients -- that there are probably only a handful of recipes I'd actually ever really want to tackle. But even the ones I'd never make are fun to look at. There are also a fair number of simpler recipes, but some of them are so simple that I'd think anyone with the skill to make the not-so-simple recipes would already know that you can put onions and tomato in a pot to make tomato sauce.
I did make Stowell's Butternut Squash Risotto, and it was mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. It was also a little too rich, thanks to the addition of a cup of parmesan at the end -- a step I wouldn't repeat, since risotto is already so "cheesy" even without the addition of cheese. I think, though, that I could have just as easily used the Joy of Cooking risotto recipe and just added squash, and it would have turned out just as well. But! I did get the idea from Stowell, even though I already had the squash on hand (or ground, since it came from my garden).
All in all, if you're a cookbook collector and love cookbooks for the ideas, more than for the recipes, I think this is a good buy. It would also probably be a good bet for anyone who loves Italian cooking but wants to get a little more adventurous. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to a beginning cook, or anyone with an aversion to seeking out very specific ingredients.
If you like modern Italian food (classic techniques with perhaps unconventional or more regional ingredients), you should have this.
Clean, simple, relatively straightforward prep, and a great book design (to the point where you could make this a coffee-table piece). And it's food you could actually make at home, with a bit of planning and/or substitution (for the more exotic ingredients) - and it's going to look like you slaved.
My one quibble would perhaps be that this seems more geared to West Coast readers - here in Connecticut it can be difficult finding things like Sea Urchin...
However, based simply on the quality of these recipes, next time I'm out there, I'm looking for one of his restaurants.