Posts Tagged ‘Marcella Hazan’

These knobbly numbers are Jerusalem Artichokes.


They are doubly duplicitous.

The name has nothing to do with Jerusalem the town and even less to do with the noble globe artichoke.

It derives from a corruption of the Italian for sunflower–girosole--which, because of the way it sounds, morphed into Jerusalem.

Also known as sun chokes, sunroots, topinambor and earth apples they are a species of sunflower and originating from the eastern side of North America–their health benefits, especially for diabetics, are explained here.

Duplicitous, yes, but also delicious and especially here when mixed with capers, white wine and pieces of chicken.

Marcella Hazan devised this recipe.

One caveat–they do have a reputation for causing flatulence–but hey!

1 chicken–cut into pieces


2 tbs olive oil

1lb Jerusalem artichokes–peeled and sliced thin in a food processor

2 garlic cloves–chopped

2 tbs capers–drained

2 tbs parsley–chopped

1 glass/6 tbs/4 fl oz white wine

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a casserole with a lid and brown the chicken pieces (five minutes each side)


Park them in a bowl.

Add the garlic and sauté briefly.


Mix in the parsley, capers and wine before returning the chicken to the pan.


Turn everything again and add the artichoke slices.


Again turn everything over a couple of times and cover the pan.

Cook on a very low heat for 30 to 40 minutes.

It’s good to let the condensation moisten and tenderize the artichokes–so resist the temptation to lift the lid too often.

A couple of times is good to check the liquid–add a little water if it is drying out–and turn it all again.

IMG_1519We are seeing a movie tonight with some friends so I made this last night and stored it in the fridge.

I shall reheat it slowly when we get home and before you can say Jack Robinson or Jiminy Cricket, we’ll be sitting down tearing the chicken (and the movie) to pieces!

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Lunch today is an homage to Marcella Hazan who has died at home in Florida aged 89.



A hero passes.


She was in the line of Julia Child and Elizabeth David–self-taught talents who were cooks rather than chefs.

Marcella wrote in her memoirs:

“Cooking came to me as though it had been there all along, waiting to be expressed; it came as words come to a child when it is time for her to speak.”

Born in Italy, she settled in America with her Italian-American husband, Victor, confessing to no experience in the kitchen–only the memory of the smells from her Grandmother’s kitchen on the east coast of Italy.

She learned fast, built a repertoire of recipes and started running cooking classes in her Manhattan apartment. One day American food writer Craig Claibourne came to lunch.

The rest is history.

Her cooking was classic Italian, recognising the strongly regional nature of that cuisine.  She wrote in Italian–husband Victor translating–and she never lost her Italian accent.

An exigent cook by some accounts (so was Elizabeth David), “tough” was how she described herself in a late interview with Mark Bitman (another hero).

Her cook books are extraordinarily comprehensive and, like Elizabeth David’s, readable. The recipes feel authentically Italian.

Authentic and simple best descibe her cooking, with roots in the kitchen of her nonna, in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna, about 120 miles south of Venice.

She has inspired me for nearly 40 years. I love my well-thumbed, stained, patched-up copies of her books.

My friend, Marc Urquhart, who knew of my passion for her recipes, surprised me with the gift of her cookbook that he specially arranged to have inscribed by her.


Grazie tanto, cara Marcella, for the many hours I’ve spent cooking with you in the kitchen and sharing your food ’round our table.

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Easing back into the flow and with one foot–so to speak–still in Italy, I go to my comfort zone for guidance and authenticity.

my culinary Bible

my culinary Bible

Marcella Hazan’s first cookbook–still usable, though much patched-up and thumbed.

She doesn’t purée this nourishing and warming soup–though some do, she says.

I’ll go with roughly 1/4  whole chickpeas to 3/4  puréed.

I’ve also added a hint of fire! A couple of small dry red chilis left in the cooking tomatoes for five minutes and then fished out; or leave them in–but careful you don’t swallow them later.

I’ve used twice the liquid she suggests. Italians like to eat their soup almost solid.

3 garlic cloves–peeled but left whole

6 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp rosemary needles–chopped fine

8oz/200gm tinned (canned) tomatoes–chopped with the juice

14oz/400gm can cooked chickpeas–drained

450ml/1 pint stock–I use organic vegetable stock cubes

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic until it is well browned.
  • Take it out; it’s job–infusing the oil–is done.
  • Throw in the rosemary and stir once, then add the tomatoes with their juice.
  • Cook these down to a sauce–about 20 minutes, stirring often to avoid it burning.
  • Add the chickpeas and stir these around for five minutes to inform them with the tomato sauce.
  • Add three-quarters of the stock and stir it in.


  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pan and cook for fifteen minutes.
  • Take off the lid, stir well and taste for salt.
  • Add more stock if you like.
  • Serve it piping hot with a swirl of best olive oil.


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This is smelling mighty good at this moment–gently simmering on the stove.

A dish I’d bet Marcella Hazan ate regularly at this time of the year growing up in Senatico on Italy’s northeast coast.


Marcella is one of my heroes/mentors–though she doesn’t know it!

She married an American and left home with him to live in New York City in her early thirties.

She claims she had never done much cooking before this–the family meals were cooked by her mother, her grandmothers, aunts, the usual story of an extended Italian family.

Living with a new husband in a foreign land concentrated her mind she claims and she taught herself to cook. She says she remembered the way dishes smelt back in Italy and used this sense to judge if she was doing it right.

No memory of Grandma’s cooking for me but from the smell that’s wafting my way, things seem to be on course!

She cooks Italian/Italian not American/Italian and her books are wonderfully detailed.

There are just three ingredients here apart from olive oil and salt.

It’s a long slow cook.

for 4

1.5 lb piece of pork loin–more or less as required, the cooking time will be the same

olive oil


8 tblsps red wine vinegar

1 tsp black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

  • Heat the oil in a solid pan with a lid.
  • Sear the meat (brown it) all over then salt it.


  • Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and vinegar–and cover the pan tightly. It’s important not to loose too much liquid.
  • Cook for an hour and half or longer, on the lowest heat possible*.
  • Take out the meat and keep warm, covered with foil.
  • Carefully spoon off the fat.


  • Add three tablespoons of water and scrape off the bits in the pan.
  • Warm the gravy through.


*I cooked this tonight for two hours; it was good but next time I’ll reduce the time a little and use a diffuser.


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Meredith reminded me about this pasta a couple of days ago.


Our friend Hilton introduced us to this dish years ago (like me, he too is a fan of Marcella Hazan).

My version is a slight twist on her original–(using olive oil instead of butter and adding the lemon zest).

It’s the quickest, delicious pasta I have ever had–and so simple!

The sauce is made in 5 minutes while the pasta is cooking.

for 2

a large pan of water

100gms/4oz of wholewheat spaghetti–Meredith thinks that a flat pasta like fettucini would catch the sauce better–hard to find wholewheat fettucini though
three sprigs of fresh rosemary

4 tablespoons olive oil
3  garlic cloves–pulped
1 vegetable stock cube (I use organic)–crumbled
the zest a lemon

2 tablespoons parmesan–grated.

some chopped  parsley to add at the end–for the look.

  • Cook the spaghetti in the salted water until al dente–or to your taste.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil in a small sauce pan and on a low heat cook the rosemary and garlic until the garlic begins to colour–about 5 minutes.
  • Add the crumbled stock cube, stir thoroughly–and turn off the heat.
  • Drain the pasta and put it in a warm bowl.
  • Strain the oil through a sieve and add it to the pasta with the cheese.
  • Turn it all over to coat the pasta with the oil and sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley on top.
  • We picked the not-too-brown garlic bits out of the sieve and scattered them over the pasts too!

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This guy was still on the ice at the market with two companions, at 9.15 Saturday morning.


At 600 grams a little on the large size for two–but I couldn’t resist him and counted myself lucky he had not been claimed.

Two smaller ones would do just as well.

Freshness is all–what is available and looks good.

This is adapted from a recipe by one of my culinary goddesses–Marcella Hazan.

for 2

1 sea bream, 600gms/1lb 5oz in this case or 2 at 250/300gms–washed and patted dry

4 tblspns olive oil

juice of a lemon

a handful of fresh thyme–very hardy and easy to grow in pots

3 cloves of garlic--crushed


a couple of tblsps flour–I use chickpea flour

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil to hot in a pan large enough to hold the fish flat.
  • Season the flour with salt and pepper.


  • Turn the fish in the flour, pat off the excess and stuff the cavity with half the fresh thyme.


  • Add the bream and the garlic and sauté the fish for 2 minutes each side–


  • taking care when turning it over in the hot oil.


  • Turn the heat down to low.
  • Add the lemon juice and the thyme and season (s & p) the fish on both sides.
  • Cover the pan and cook until the fish is done, turning it over after five minutes.


  • About ten minutes should do it, depending on the size of the fish.

Mr. Bream with tail restored

  • Now comes the tricky bit–lifting off the fillets.
  • Not too tricky–in fact quite fun and no matter if it breaks up, it will taste the same.
  • Carefully ease the top fillet away from the backbone—-
  • and place it on a plate!


  • Peel the backbone away from the remaining fillet and


  • slide a fish slice (the spatula pictured)  underneath.


  • Voila!


  • I served it with sautéed spinach and we ate the garlic!

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Words to yesterday’s pictures!

This is a classic Mediterranean dish and everyone has a way to do it– as is clear from the comments left after yesterday’s Wordless Blog.

(I want to try a courgette parmegiagno this week–where the courgettes/zucchini are griddled as aubergines/eggplants are in the classic dish and then as here mixed with tomato and cheese).

Italian style because it’s inspired by a Marcella Hazan version and is a little different to the Elizabeth David’s French gratin in Delicious Dishes for Diabetics.

  • Prepare 3 good size courgettes/zucchinitop and tail them and slice them thin–a food mixer appliance does this nicely.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the sliced courgettes, a chopped garlic clove and half a teaspoon of salt. 

  • Turn everything over several times to coat the vegetables lightly in the oil.
  • Cook on a low heat until the courgettes are wilted.

  • Set the courgettes/zucchini aside.
  • Make a quick tomato sauce with
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1k/2lbs fresh tomatoes–cored and roughly chopped or 2 large tins of tomatoes–drained of their juice and roughly chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves–peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • A few basil leaves–chopped.

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic.
  • Soften it briefly–being careful not to let it brown too much or burn.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook over a high heat–stirring often–until the loose liquid has evaporated and little pock marks appear on the surface.
  • If you can part the Red Searunning a spoon through it–it’s done.
  • Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
  • Grate 3 to 4 tablespoons (about 40gms) parmesan cheese.
  • Heat the oven to 200C/450F.
  • Smear the base of an oven proof baking dish of suitable size with some of the tomato sauce.

  • Then cover this with a layer of courgettes/zucchini.

  • Season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle a layer of parmesan.

  • And repeat the layering, starting with a layer of tomatoes.
  • (Not forgetting to season lightly at each layer.)

  • Topping it off with the last of the parmesan.
  • Put the dish high in the oven for about 20 minutes or until it displays an inviting crispy brown top.

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“Just when you thought you’d had enough green beans for a while…” Meredith sighed at lunchtime, as she bit into a piece of this green and yellow discus–a frittata with green beans.

Discus-like thing

Frittata is an Italian omelette–made the opposite way to a French omelette.

I’ve been guided in their making by the incomparable Marcella Hazan–the queen of Italian home cooking.

The “trick” is in the time it takes.

It’s cooked over the lowest heat, for about 15 minutes–a French omelette over the highest heat, for probably less than a minute!

The French version is fluffy–the Italian firm, but not dry; more like a pastry-less quiche–served in slices.

What they have in common, apart from eggs, is that you can fill them–frittatas or omelettes–with pretty much what you fancy.

In this version, green beans and onion:

1 onion–peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz/250 gms green beans–cooked to tender, drained, and plunged into a bowl of cold water, then patted dry and cut into short lengths, ready to go into the frittatta mix

2 0z/50 gms parmesan cheese–grated

6 eggs

salt and pepper

a thumb-size knob of butter and a little more olive oil

  • Sauté the onion in the olive oil until it colours nicely–set aside to cool.
  • Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them lightly to combine the yolk and the white.
  • Whisk in the grated cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beans and the onions to the bowl and mix them in.
  • Heat the butter and the extra oil in a medium sauté pan [10 inch/26 cm] to hot.
  • Fold in the egg mixture and turn the heat down to the lowest available–even use a heat diffuser too if you have one [the object being to keep the frittata moist through slow cooking].
  • Cook for about fifteen minutes until there is just a little lake of liquid left on top.
  • Heat the grill to hot and place the pan under it for a couple of minutes, just to firm it up.

“Great finish to the bean season,” acknowledged Meredith, after helping herself to a second slice….

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  • Red cabbage is a member of the strangely named cruciferous family of vegetables (the four petals of their flowers are in the shape of a cross), together with broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy. These are super vegetables with many health benefits claimed for them.
  • Adapted from a Marcella Hazan recipe it has the advantage of being an all-in-one dish. The chicken stays beautifully moist under its warm overcoat of collapsed cabbage.
  • 1 chicken–cut up into eight or more pieces
  • IMG_4655
  • 1 red cabbage (at least 1lb/450gm)–quartered, the white stem removed, and thinly sliced
  • 1 largish onion–peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic–peeled and roughly chopped
  • IMG_4657
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • Choose a casserole or terracotta pot large enough to hold the chicken pieces in one layer.
  • Soften the onion and garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to colour–about 10 minutes.
  • IMG_4659
  • Add the cabbage and coat it well with the oily onion and garlic mix. Cook for 15 minutes, turning it over from time to time.


  • IMG_4661
  • Season the cabbage well, then bury the chicken pieces underneath it.
  • Pour over the red wine and cover the pot.
  • Cook for 40–45 minutes, turning the contents over from time to time and taking care it doesn’t burn.


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