Mario Batali is now associated with the L.A. Daily News food section. And so, therefore, are some of his collected recipes. (Titles link to source.)
Onions With Balsamic Glaze (Cipolle al Aceto) Redolent of the sweet, syrupy true balsamic vinegar, onions cooked like this are ubiquitous in the great delis of Modena and Bologna.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 pounds medium Spanish onions, halved 2 tablespoons sugar 1 cup regular balsamic vinegar 1 cup water 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add butter and cook until foam subsides. Add onions, cut sides down, and saute until light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add sugar, vinegar, water and rosemary and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Cook onions, uncovered, until just al dente and liquid has reduced to a glaze and onions are tender all the way through, about 20 minutes. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, add more water, 1/4 cup at a time. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.
Grandma's Pine Nut And Ricotta Tart (Torta della Nonna) This is the classic pine nut tart you will find in every bakery in every town in Italy - and for good reason. A cool afternoon softened with a slice of this torta and a glass of dry red wine, and the whole world comes into proper focus.
PASTRY: 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 large egg 2 large egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
FILLING: 2 cups fresh ricotta, preferably sheep's milk 1/2 cup pine nuts 1/2 cup sugar Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 3 large eggs 2 eggs, beaten, for egg wash
To make Pastry, in a small saucepan, melt butter with olive oil; let cool. Put flour in a medium bowl and make a well in center. Put egg, egg yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla and butter mixture in the well, and gradually stir in flour, bit by bit, until liquid in the well is too thick to stir. Work the remaining flour in with your hands, then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth. Allow to rest 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make Filling, combine ricotta, pine nuts, sugar, lemon zest and juice and 3 eggs in a medium bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.
To assemble, divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out one half to a 12-inch circle. Line bottom and sides of a 10-inch quiche or springform pan with the dough circle. Spread ricotta filling mixture evenly in pan.
Roll out remaining dough to a 12-inch circle, place over filling, and pinch edges together to seal. Brush entire top with the egg wash.
Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 35 to 40 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Let cool briefly on a rack, and serve warm or at room temperature, with vin santo. Makes 8 or more servings.
Jumbo Shrimp Marsala Housewife-Style (Gamberoni alla Casalinga Siciliana) The tradition of Sicilian cooking is well-documented in Anna Tasca Lanza's works, and she is the Zen mistress of all the island's fascinating food lore. Her school at Regaleali Winery is one of the best I have visited, and it was an experience to cook shoulder-to-shoulder with a modern national treasure. This is a variation on a dish from her first book, "Flavors of Sicily."
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice 1 rib celery with leaves, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 4 medium plum tomatoes, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon pine nuts 1 tablespoon currants 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed and drained 1 cup dry marsala 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined Salt and freshly ground black pepper Fennel fronds for garnish (optional)
In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add red onion and celery and cook until softened. Add tomatoes, pine nuts, currants, capers, marsala, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
Remove pan from heat and lay shrimp in one layer in tomato mixture. Cover, place over low heat and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and allow to stand 5 minutes, covered.
Serve warm, or allow to cool to room temperature. Garnish with fennel fronds, if using. Makes 4 servings.
Broccoli Sauteed In Wine And Garlic (Broccoli al Frascati) Cooking cruciferous vegetables without boiling them, as in this recipe, seems to make them more fragrant and heady - just the way the robust Romans like their food. 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic, sliced 3 pounds broccoli, cut into spears 1 cup frascati OR other dry white wine 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes Zest of 1 lemon Zest of 1 orange
In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, heat olive oil with garlic over medium-high heat until just sizzling. Add broccoli and cook, tossing frequently and gradually adding wine to keep garlic from browning, until stalks are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and zests, tossing well, and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.
Spaghetti With Green Olive Sauce (Spaghetti al Pesto d'Olive) This is a great example of a dish that can be made in 10 minutes with absolutely no shopping - all of these ingredients ought to be permanent members of your pantry.
Salt 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 3 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed and chopped OR 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained and chopped 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 cup green olives, preferably Ascolana, pitted and chopped Freshly ground black pepper 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until almost smoking. Add bread crumbs and toss for a few minutes, until toasted golden brown, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
In a 10- to 12-inch saute pan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring to dissolve anchovies, for 3 minutes. Stir in olives and cook 3 minutes, then add toasted bread crumbs, stir well, and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
Cook spaghetti in the boiling water until just al dente.
Drain pasta and add to the pan with the olive mixture. Place pan over medium heat and toss to mix well, about 1 minute. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
4 large meaty lamb shanks, rinsed and patted dry Salt and freshly ground black pepper 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 red onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice 12 cloves garlic 1 navel orange, zest removed (reserve for top), then cut into 8 wedges 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary 1/2 cup Gaeta olives 1 cup dry white wine 1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe follows) 1 cup chicken stock
Season shanks liberally with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over high heat until smoking. Reduce heat and sear shanks, turning occasionally, until dark golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add red onions, garlic and orange wedges to pot and cook until garlic is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rosemary, olives, wine, tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil.
Return lamb shanks to pot and return to a boil. Cover tightly, place in a preheated 375-degree oven and cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until meat is fork-tender.
Allow shanks to rest 10 minutes in sauce, then transfer to warmed plates, sprinkle with orange zest and serve. Makes 4 servings.