3 Truly Fantastic Italian “Relationship Recipes” from La Festa della Donna

A “Relationship Recipe” is a recipe I’ve developed over my whole life, but especially over the last 20 years as a restaurateur, to create, encourage and strengthen our connections to those around us – Friends, colleagues, family and loved ones, using food shared and time spent around the table. The sharing of food is a very personal and intimate experience. Cooking and eating use almost all of our senses – Sight, smell, touch and taste. When we cook together and eat together, we know that we are part of a community (a family, a group of friends, a couple) and the sharing of that experience reinforces our knowledge that we are important to others and that we love and are loved in return. It feeds our soul in a manner that cannot be done any other way.

For my recent event celebrating La Festa della Donna, one of my cooking specialists, Luca de Matteis, and I worked together to select a few of his recipes that were simple enough for a non-cook to prepare, had opportunities for others to help in the cooking of the dish (being a part of the experience of creating the meal) and were universal in their appeal. Luca and I both wanted to impress on everyone that food does not need to be complicated to be delicious. He and I agree that the simpler and easier something is to prepare the more inclined a person will be to actually cook it and share that experience with others.

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Recipes provided by Luca de Matteis.

Pasta alla Puttanesca (Olive and Capers)

Ingredients:

•Spaghetti: 400gr or about 1lb
•Black Pitted Olives (kalamata olives are ok):150gr or about 6oz
•San Marzano Red Tomato sauce: 400gr or about 1lb
•Capers: 2-3 teaspoon
•Italian Parsley (chopped): 2 tablespoons
•Extra Virgin Olive oil: 5 tablespoons
•Salt as needed
•Pepper if preferred
•Garlic: 1 clove
•Anchovies: 3-4 filet

Instructions:

1. In a large sauce pan, saute the garlic until a bit brown (do not burn).
2. Add the anchovies and cook until those melt and add pepper if desired.
3. Add capers, olives, and parsley in this order.
4. Leave each ingredient to sizzle for a few minutes.
5. Add the San Marzano red tomato sauce and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes.
6. In the mean time, boil water in a mid size pot, add the spaghetti and cook as indicated on the package (it shows the number of minutes).
7. Drain pasta and mix it in the sauce pan with the previously prepared olive, capers and tomato sauce.
8. Garnish each plate with a sprinkle of the chopped parsley and fresh black pepper.

Eat while it’s hot!

Serves 4-5 guests

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Tagliatelle or Linguine with Panna, Prosciutto, Funghi e Piselli

Ingredients:

•Linguine or Tagliatelle (egg pasta preferred): 300gr or about 2/3 lb
•Creme Fraiche: 8oz (panna in italian, if not available replace with heavy cream)
•Prosciutto cotto (ham): 300gr or about 2/3 lb (cut in small cubes)
•Dried Porcini Mushrooms: 40gr or about 1.5 oz ( before cooking, re-hydrate the mushrooms in warm water for 30 min)
•Green Peas: 150 gr or about 6oz (great if frozen)
•Onion: 1 chopped in small pieces
•Butter: 1 tablespoon
•Extra virgin Olive oil: 2 tablespoons
•Parmesan cheese: 1 teaspoon per person or plate
•Chive: 1 teaspoon per person or plate finely chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add olive oil.
2. Add the chopped onion and cook until lightly brown.
3. Drain the revived mushrooms (funghi in Italian) and add to the sauce pan along with prosciutto cotto (ham) and frozen green peas (piselli in italian) straight for the bag.
4. Let it sizzle for 1 or 2 minutes and then add the creme fraiche or heavy cream (panna in italian).
5. Let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
6. In a mid size pot, boil water and add the tagliatelle (or linguine). If egg pasta is used once it raises to the surface remove from the pot with tongues and add straight to the sauce pan, mix it on a low heat. Otherwise, drain pasta and add to sauce pan.
7. Garnish the plate with Parmesan cheese and chopped chive.

Eat while it’s hot!

Expert tip for boiling water: When cooking pasta, make sure to bring water to a boil, then add salt before adding any pasta. Usually a couple of tablespoons of fine salt is sufficient. Based on the sauce you are preparing, modify quantity of salt. If the sauce is already salty do not add any salt to the boiling water. This is a great reason to always taste your sauce while cooking it!

 

Serves 4-5 guests

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Sanguinaccio (Chocolate Dessert Cream)

Ingredients:

•Cocoa power (100% cocoa, good quality e.g. Valrhona): 100gr or about 3.5 oz
•All purpose flour: 50 gr or about 1.75 oz
•Cane Sugar: 200 gr or 7 oz
•Whole milk: 400 ml or 14 fl. oz.
•Dark chocolate pieces: 50gr or about 1.75oz
•Cinnamon powder: a couple of pinches
•Vanilla extract: 2 teaspoons
•Orange peel of one orange

Instructions:

1. In a mid size pot, mix cocoa powder, flour and sugar.
2. Bring to a uniform dry mix with no clumps. Add whole milk (room temp) and turn on the stove to medium heat.
3. Cook for about 20 minutes and use a wooden spoon to stir continuously, until the mix thickens.
4. When lifting the spoon up, the cream should fall like thick syrup (it will harden slightly when cold).
5. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract for about 1 minute and turn off the stove.
6. Turn off the burner add the dark chocolate pieces (it will melt immediately), keep stirring during this step.
7. Poor into espresso cups. Depending on the portion, you can fill up to 10 cups.
8. Sprinkle an orange peel on each cup and serve with lady fingers cookies or your favourite cookie.
9. No need to refrigerate. Great at room temperature.

Expert tip: If the mix appears to be too thick or not fluid enough, add a little bit of extra milk while still hot, stir throughout.
Serves 6-10 guests

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