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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I buy my first Italian cookbook after all these years

Anyway I am not much on Italian as when I was growing up in Providence we many times went to either Italian or seafood places either on the East side or out near the Airport. I always ate the same old stuff in Providence when I grew up. What did I know? I liked it as a kid, the meatballs, spaghetti and the spumoni ice cream with claret sauce raspberry sauce on it. It was good but that is all I remember eating. Not a variety at all.

I just don't understand fine Italian cooking what makes Italian food better. I mean I don't understand paying for the same Italian stuff for twice the price or more which a lot of Italian places do. Do people like to eat the same Italian stuff at these restaurants so they can say they paid an exorbitant price? I don't know but for me Italian is Italian unless I find variety, quality and different types of Italian.

When I got to Kansas have not eaten much Italian until recently. I found that I liked the Overland Parks, Kansas Cinzettis the best not only for the variety, the quality. I think there is a plenty of good Italian food at this place.

One of these , Sue went to recently with her girl friends, is called North near the JCC in Overland Park. Very pricey. She got a veal dish which she said was good but nothing special. It must have been a small order too as she did not bring me any back to sample like she usually does ! I hate it when the restaurant is so "uppity" that sides are not included with the entree. I am still smarting from the day our group went to Buco Beppi in Kansas City and it was horrible.

While I have some Pizza and some other Italian type fare cookbooks, in all these years, I have never bought an Italian cookbook. I have tried recipes from food channel, Mario Batali etc. But I was looking for a special Italian book.

I grew up in Providence, RI. I knew about Al Forno and Lucky's restaurant when I came back. It is about a mile away from my brother's store in Providence next to the river.

Johanne Killeen and George Germon the couple that have inspired wood oven pizzas and much more. I were there before 1991 but all I can remember is a very hot orange harrisa sauce. Can't remember much else except we ate in Luck's upstairs and not in Al Forno side. Very good but I know I did not eat pasta, lasagna or something of the kind.

I was looking for special Italian dishes. I have not been to Lidia's in Kansas City (can't afford it) but I watch her TV show. My mother likes to try some of her recipes from the book I sent her. However, my mind stil drifted back to the very highly regarding Italian restaurnts in Rhode Island. While there are many, the one that stands out is Al Forno's .

While looking up what people thought about Al Forno's on Yelp and other sites for my blog (most said nothing but the best) , someone mentioned the latest new cookbook "On Top of Spaghetti" which was published in 2006. While I considered their first one Cucino Simpatica (which has become a classic) this new one sounded so good . Why?

What I liked about this book was the impressive different entrees that the couple placed in this book based on their travels, cooking experiences and trying out real different recipes and ingredients. On Amazon, I got the book for almost half.

It arrived. You know when Billy Joel and Danny DeVita and Rera Pearlman rave about the chefs and the recipes then there is something great going on inside.

When I review a book, I start looking for many things. In this case, besides the interesting recipes, each one had a background, where and how they came to know this recipe. Special ideas about the ingredients, tips of all sorts abounded throughout the book. I immediately look through all the recipes to see which ones I want to try. I wan't try at least half of them but where should I start?

I has a bunch of cherry tomatoes so I started with Spicy Roasted Cherry Tomatoes. Roast the vegetables and peppers, I decided to puree them and toss with spaghetti. Very tasty. 9.4/10. So what is the next way to kick it up a level.

I wanted to make something that was different then what I have made before but has a different spin in their book. I chose Sgaghetti and Summer Chicken Cacciatori. Not to difficult to make it did not use tomato sauce but just tomatoes. I was skeptical. I did not use panecetta but included everything else, I let it go for 40 minutes. It came out awesome.

The chicken was juicy and the tomato and the ingredients permeated the chicken. I would rate it 9.8/10. While I did not include spaghetti this time, I will use the sauce and left over vegetables for tomorrow. This makes a fine spaghetti sauce. I might not want to buy canned spaghetti sauce again (well almost).

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