Archive for February, 2017
February 10, 2017
My friend Missy Casselli introduced me to the Ravioli Company more than 15 years ago. She asked if I’d ever been – that she met a nice couple and suggested I go. When I walked into their first store on Platt Street and smelled the smells, and took a bite of their homemade knot rolls I knew I was hooked.
This many years later, Dwight and Lauren Otis are great friends. It has been fun to watch their growth. They provide ravioli for many restaurants all around the Bay area, including Carmel Kitchen whom I consult for.
The care, passion, and love they put into each ravioli, lasagna, sauce, meatball is immediately felt upon the first bite of one of their homemade products. This is no ordinary mom & pop. They have a knack, a talent for making good food – and Lauren always greets you with a friendly smile.
Once I dropped 3 gallons of my homemade marinara sauce an hour before it had to be served. I panicked big-time. What will I do? I am very particular about what I serve to my clients – it all must be top quality and homemade. I called Lauren and Dwight and they hooked me up; and wouldn’t even let me pay. True friendship.
I remember walking in one day and Dwight making me a special caprese sandwich on one of their homemade knot rolls and handed it to me as I was walking out the door. It might be the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. But even better is their friendship.
I love walking into their shop on Manhattan and delighting in the labyrinth of smells as soon as my nose breaches the door. Wonderful goodness.
3413 South Manhattan Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33629
11:00am to 7:00pm – Tuesday thru Saturday
February 10, 2017
Tampa has such a rich Spanish, Latin, Cuban, and Italian heritage. I got my first inkling (or tasting) of authentic Italian food as a first grader at Most Holy Name Catholic School in Ybor City…right across the street from the old Garcia’s Instant Service station. While the school is long gone – I still drive by the huge old oak tree which is still there.
I often remember being invited to my friend’s home for dinner and being served tomato gravy made the true Italian way…and watching my friend’s mom make cannoli shells from scratch, even her ricotta cheese was homemade. Her tomato gravy (or sauce as us gringo’s call it) had pork, meatballs, and sometimes even chicken and hard-boiled eggs in it…which was always an extra treat.
I was the ripe old age of six was when I first became aware of Cacciatore and Sons, who have been serving Tampa for 100 years or better. Italian sausage is a mainstay in my home and if I am not making it myself – there is only one place I will buy it from – and that is Cacciatore and Sons.
Cacciatore and Sons
3614 North Armenia Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33607
Open Monday thru Saturday 8:30am to 6:00pm
February 10, 2017
I created this incredibly easy dish using fresh pappardelle pasta from the Ravioli Company and handmade Italian sausage from Cacciatore and Sons. We have so many great and wonderful local independent markets in the Bay area – we should really frequent and avail ourselves of the many bountiful fruits they produce.
This dish will take you no more than 30 minutes to prepare. Typically, tomato sauces like marinara take a while to cook down to reach its full flavorful melody. This sauce however, comes together quickly and it is as good the first half hour as it is the next day.
- 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 – 28 ounce cans Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 – 6 ounce can Tomato paste
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- ½ cup English peas
- 1 pound pappardelle fresh pasta from the Ravioli Company. Of course you can use dried – but why would you when we have Dwight and Lauren Otis from the Ravioli Company making it for us
- Parmesan cheese for grating
Step One – Roasting Sausage
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the Cacciatore and Son’s Italian sausage into 1/2 “ circular rounds, or even 2” to 3” lengths…depending on your preference. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes and bake until brown – about 10 to 20 minutes depending on how large you sliced the sausage. Set aside.
Melt butter with EVOO in heavy bottom pot on medium heat. Add onions and sweat until translucent but not browned. Add garlic, pepper flakes, stir and cook one minute. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Stir completely and bring to a quick boil on medium high heat. Add sausage and fresh basil. Stir and cover, and let simmer on low heat until ready to use – at least a half hour.
Add six quarts of water to a large pot and boil on high heat. Add 3 tablespoons kosher salt, stir and add pasta. Since it is fresh, you only need to boil 2 to 3 minutes. If it is dried, follow directions on the package – usually about 10 to 13 minutes. Drain pasta after it is cooked…but never rinse cooked pasta for you want the starch to remain on the pasta so the sauce will adhere to the pasta better. Also, if you are saucing a pasta – don’t finish with oil or butter or your sauce will slide right off the pasta. It is best to sauce the pasta immediately after cooking.
A Note About Salted Pasta Water
The most common mistake people make in cooking pasta is not using enough salt in the water. The water you cook pasta in should taste like the sea…otherwise it will be bland and tasteless. 3 tablespoons to 6 quarts of water is a good measuring gage. I prefer Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for all my cooking.
Toss pasta with sauce and sausage – add English peas. I use frozen Birds Eye – just run them for 30 seconds under warm tap water and they are good to go. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a basil leaf. Serve with a side salad, a piece of garlic toast, and your favorite wine. Enjoy!
- Add braised cremini mushroom and/or spinach, or blanch broccoli rabe in boiling water, then pan seared in a hot pan with EVOO, either would go well in this dish.
- Stir in a ¼ cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon soft butter, and 2 ounces vodka to the sauce right before it’s done for a delicious vodka sauce. Maybe throw in some sliced black olives and top with a dollop of whole milk ricotta cheese. It’s all good.
- Remember, a recipe serves as a guide only. Make recipes your own by adding your favorite touches.